Storage, Power Consumption, Pricing and Conclusions
With the M.2 slot capable of both SATA and PCIe storage, the performance of the NUC in this area can be outstanding.
Using the Intel SSD 530 with the SATA interface we see performance hitting as high as 540 MB/s read and 500 MB/s writes.
Things get kicked up a notch when we move to the Samsung XP941 using PCI Express on the M.2 slot. Reads reach over the 1.0 GB/s mark and writes hover around 785 MB/s exceeding the SATA performance by 86% and 57% respectively. Clearly you have the option of some amazing storage performance in the Intel NUC5i5RYK should you want it, though it is fair to wonder how often that will be utilized in a form-factor like this.
Power consumption is compared to the previous generation NUC and Gigabyte's Brix powered by the same Broadwell architecture as Intel's latest option. Idle results are improved by 2 watts over the Haswell iteration of the NUC and CPU load power draw drops by 2 watts as well. Compared to the Gigabyte Brix, that uses a higher clocked Broadwell chip, actually uses 7 watts more power which is considerable when you realize that is a 34% delta. Under a 3D graphics load the Intel NUC5i5RYK uses 36.6 watts, matching the Brix courtesy of the higher end GPU and running 7 watts higher than the Haswell NUC.
Pricing and Availability
These new Broadwell units are just now starting to creep out into the market, but the NUC5i5RYK that we are reviewing today has an MSRP of $369 in its barebones form (Amazon.com has listings starting at $400 as I write this). Of course, you have to add some components and software to that to make it functional.
|Intel Broadwell NUC5i5RYK Build
|Intel NUC5i5RYK Kit - $369
|Kingston HyperX Impact Black 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 - $71
|Transcend 256GB SATA M.2 SSD - $99
Samsung XP941 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD - $509
|Windows 8.1 OEM - $91
|$630 - Full Cart on Amazon.com
A fairly conservative build with the Intel NUC will cost you $630 including memory, a 256GB SSD and a full version of Windows 8.1. If you already have an OS you can shave ~$90 off of that and if you decide to step up to a larger, faster SSD you can go with the Samsung XP941 at $243.
As I have stated in all of my NUC stories, the small form-factor Intel platform is not small in cost and it does not rival the budget builds we see floating around forums and on reddit everyday. These prices are indicative of the Ultrabook-basis for the build - you are essentially using the components of a high end Intel Ultrabook for the NUC and the prices reflect as much.
Is $630 too much for the performance and features you get out of the Intel Broadwell NUC build we priced above? I don't think so considering the capability of the device. But for many PC users that are more traditional DIY-ers I can easily see the perspective that it is.
Intel's team continues to iterate on the NUC platform and the NUC5i5RYK is a great example of how just a couple of changes can really improve a device. Of course the NUC benefits from the 14nm Broadwell processor upgrade from the 22nm Haswell but embedded wireless on the PCB and a smaller overall chassis size help this version to differentiate from the previous models - at least slightly.
Maybe the most damning thing you can say about the Intel NUC5i5RYK is how similar it is to the Haswell NUC and really even the original Ivy Bridge NUC. Smaller, better, faster - all of that holds true. But consumers are always looking for more in these nearly-annual upgrades and hopefully Intel can deliver on that with Skylake next year.
After this review was posted, we interviewed Intel's Alan Clampett, Technical Marketing Engineer, about the NUC platform and its future.
For consumers or business that want the latest hardware for a small form-factor PC that can be put just about anywhere, hidden away or on the desk in full focus, nothing on the market beats the quality you'll find with the Intel NUC today.