How does Intel’s new NUC with a quad-core CPU stack up?

Despite the recent launch of the high-powered Hades Canyon NUC, that doesn't mean the traditional NUC form-factor is dead, quite the opposite in fact. Intel continues to iterate on the core 4-in x 4-in NUC design, adding new features and updating to current Intel processor families.

Today, we are taking a look at one of the newest iterations of desktop NUC, the NUC7i7DNHE, also known as the Dawson Canyon platform.

While this specific NUC is segmented more towards business and industrial applications, we think it has a few tricks up its sleeves that end users will appreciate.

Intel NUC7i7DNHE
Processor Intel Core i7-8650U (Kaby Lake Refresh)
Graphics Intel UHD 630 Integrated
Memory 2 X DDR4 SODIMM slots

Available M.2 SATA/PCIe drive slot

Available 2.5" drive slot

Wireless Intel Wireless-AC 8265 vPro
Connections Gigabit Ethernet
2 x HDMI 2.0a
4 x USB 3.0
Price $595 – SimplyNUC

The biggest addition to this Dawson Canyon NUC is the inclusion of 8th generation Intel processors, in the form of the Core i7-8650U. While we’ve seen the i7-8550U in notebooks, this is the first product we’ve seen the slightly higher clocked 8650U.

Other than the new processor, little has changed from a pure specification point of view. Users are still expected to bring their own RAM and storage to complete the system build. This specific NUC pairs the DDR4 SODIMM memory with an M.2 Slot for SATA or PCIe storage, as well as a built-in 2.5-in SATA drive bay.

For our configuration of the NUC7i7DNHE, we decided to go for 32GB of DDR4-2667 memory, paired with a more modest Sandisk 256GB 2.5-in SATA SSD. The idea here was to build a workstation for productivity users who tend to have the capability of utilizing large amounts of RAM, but don’t see much of an advantage from super-fast NVMe storage.

From a physical design perspective, the Dawson Canyon NUC remains largely unchanged from NUCs of the past.

One change we very much appreciate is the move to a matte black finish and top lid. The previous NUCs used a piano black NUC, which tended to scuff almost instantly after taking it out of the box. This stealthier appearance will also help the NUC7i7DNHE fit in better in an office environment than past NUCs.

The available interface options on this NUC are relatively spartan compared to other NUCs. Available on the front of the device are 2 USB 3.0 ports.

On the back of the device, we find two more USB 3.0 ports, 2 HDMI 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet. Notice, there is a distinct lack of analog audio connections.

From an end-user perspective, we would have liked to see Thunderbolt 3 integrated here for more expansion possibilities such as Graphics cards and high-end PCIe-based video capture devices.

Taking the NUC apart is as easy as ever. Just remove the four thumbscrews on the bottom of the device, and pull off the panel to reveal access to the M.2 slot, and DDR4 SODIMM slots.

We would have liked to see slightly longer power and data cables for the 2.5-in drive bay, so that you could leave these connectors attached and the drive bay off to the side instead of having to disconnect them and risk damage.

As has been standard with the NUC for several generations now, the lid is also a user removable part. Intel has open-sourced the design files for these NUCs, and there is now a healthy third-party market add-on, ranging from everything such as TV tuners to RS-232 serial interfaces for industrial use.

This ecosystem of add-ons interfaces with the NUC motherboard, which exposes significantly more connectivity than is available on the rear of the device. Connections such as embedded Display Port, RS-232, additional USB 3 ports and more are available for users looking to integrate the NUC into their specific scenarios.

Additionally, the Dawson Canyon NUC adds the ability to mount some of these port expansions on the interior of the NUC itself, through a small cutout and bracket system on the back of the device.

As you might have noticed from the back of the device, the Dawson Canyon NUC features a “Protected UHD” HDMI port.

Once enabled in the BIOS, “persistent display emulation” means that the display will always appear from within Windows, despite if you have a monitor plugged in or not.

This might not be useful in a lot of scenarios, but for users who want a headless machine that they remote into via RDP or VNC, this is a lifesaver. Instead of having to rely on weird software solutions like a display mirror driver, you can simply flip the option in the BIOS.

Review Terms and Disclosure
All Information as of the Date of Publication
How product was obtained: The product is on loan from Intel for the purpose of this review.
What happens to the product after review: The product remains the property of Intel but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.
Company involvement: Intel had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
PC Perspective Compensation: Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by Intel for this review.
Advertising Disclosure: Intel has purchased advertising at PC Perspective during the past twelve months.
Affiliate links: This article contains affiliate links to online retailers. PC Perspective may receive compensation for purchases through those links.
Consulting Disclosure: Intel is not a current client of Shrout Research for products or services related to this review. 
« PreviousNext »