New Intel PCN Addresses NUC Overheating Issues

July 20, 2013 - 03:29 AM |
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Intel recently posted a Product Change Notification (PCN, number 112432-00) regarding one of its first NUC bare-bones systems, model number BOXDCCP847DYE. The PCN seeks to address the overheating issues that several hardware review sites encountered when performing large file copies across the network using the built-in Wi-Fi card. Intel has reportedly found a solution by adding a 9.5mm thermal pad to the underside of the top cover. The thermal pad will make contact with the mSATA SSD and facilitate heat transfer from the drive into the metal chassis.

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The overheating problems spotted by PC Perspective (in our review) and other tech sites lead to system freezes and restarts. When transferring large amounts of data across the network, the built-in mPCI-E Wi-Fi card would heat up, and because the SSD is mounted just above the Wi-Fi card, the system would lock up or crash when the SSD overheated. Thus, Intel’s workaround is to improve the cooling of the SSD such that it (hopefully) will no longer overheat and users will not have to resort to buying a USB Wi-Fi dongle or running an Ethernet cable to the switch.

According to the PCN, the solution works and system retailers should expect shipments of the BOXDCCP847DYE with upgraded cover to arrive as early as August 1st. Notably, Intel is planning to ship out all pre-modification inventory before moving onto shipping updated bare-bones systems. It may be some time before consumers can be sure they are getting the updated model. In the meantime, users can always opt to use one of the many third party NUC cases that take full advantage of passive cooling techniques.

Source: Intel (PDF)
July 20, 2013 | 09:15 AM - Posted by razor512

Seems like a bad fix. A thermal pad that large will not work well, and is likely only keeping the components a little cooler, (just enough to stop that crashing issue).

This will likely mean reduced component life due to poor thermal management, which is unacceptable from an overpriced computer.

July 20, 2013 | 12:18 PM - Posted by KngtRider

Using the chassis as a heat-sink is VERY common, either in electronic devices or PCs. It is a proven and effective method for situations where active cooling is not possible.

CRT Apple iMac used this method for the CPU and PS3 used this also AFAIK.

Pads are commonly used in motherboard VRM areas (on enthusiast boards under the L shape heat sinks)and on laptop MXM cards.

Here is the 7970M MXM out of the MSI GX60, the other half of the pads are on the heat sink.

http://www.nitroware.net/images/stories/msi_gx60/gcn.jpg

The surface area is much larger than the mSATA 520 SSD you claim is 'large'. However the photo shows a unusually thick pad.

Intel would have validated this solution before issuing the PCN. PCNs are not like a motherboard vendor issuing a "beta bios" to the public which has been minimally tested. I think they know what they are doing.

With new Haswell i7 NUCs due for release, the old ones are not as relevant any more.

July 20, 2013 | 11:17 AM - Posted by Robert512351 (not verified)

Intel should create a separate stand alone package for that thermal pad and offer it for free to anyone who purchased the old cases.

It's the right thing to do.

July 20, 2013 | 12:22 PM - Posted by KngtRider

Intel then becomes responsible if there is any stuff-ups.

I don't think it was meant for the NUC's motherboard to be changed, like many OEM PCs it was meant for user upgrade of expansion modules only.

There is precedent though, years ago Dell XPS gaming systems with flawed nForce motherboards that were advertised as upgradeable but turned out not to be and he settlement of the issue was end users received an upgrade kit of motherboard, CPU, thermal goop, front case bezel.

July 23, 2013 | 01:11 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Intel will send you a thermal pad if you are experiencing the problems. I have received mine and can confirm that it has solved the problem for me. My NUC runs cooler and I have not had one issue with the SSD since. I was actually quite impressed with the support I received from Intel and was shipped the thermal pad within days.

July 20, 2013 | 12:02 PM - Posted by FanlessTech (not verified)

This is merely a patch up job. The NUC is a fantastic idea but poorly executed.

Their main concern was the size when it's just a gimmick really. I would prefer a slightly bigger PC but a solid state / no moving part one. This is the future!

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