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Intel NUC D54250WYK SFF System Review - Haswell Update

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: Intel

Going Inside the NUC

Because the Intel NUC is a bare bones system, you have a little bit of work to do before you can start installing an OS on it.  You'll still need to purchase memory and an mSATA storage device and you can also pick up an mPCIe wireless card if you don't want to have to use Ethernet for connectivity. 

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For our testing Intel tossed in the box the necessary components to get up and running.  First up is 8GB of DDR3L memory running at 1600 MHz from Crucial.  These run at 1.35v to keep power consumption low; a nice gesture but really only needed when these components are used in Ultrabooks the U-series Haswell processors actually REQUIRE DDR3L to operate.  Getting two 4GB SODIMMs gives us a TON of memory for a small form factor system and if you want to be able to make this a multi-function device it could come in handy.

Plus, you know, $65 for 8GB of memory!

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Next up is storage - you need it and the NUC (in its standard case at least) requires an mSATA product.  Intel tossed us the new Intel SSD 530 series drive at a 180 GB capacity that has an MSRP of about $199.  You can get drives from under $100 on and other locations (at about 100-120 GB capacity) so even though I love the performance of this SSD I realize many users will be trying to keep costs down for this build. 

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Finally, if you want to use a wireless data connection, you'll need a mPCIe WiFi adapter.  The new Intel 7260 card is an 802.11ac dual-band device that will make sure the NUC is ready for top speed wireless connectivity.  Oh, it also includes Bluetooth.  You can find it at Newegg for under $35.

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Opening up the NUC is pretty easy with just four screws on the feet of the chassis.  You may need a guitar-pick or something like it to pry it open without scratching the sides.

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Once you take the bottom of the NUC off you'll be met with the 4x4 motherboard in all its glory.  All the parts you need to install can be easily accessed without needing to remove the motherboard completely. 

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The SODIMM slots are stacked and are easy to install.

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Here you see the Intel 530-series SSD installed in the mSATA slot with a single screw for retention.  Note the bright-friggin-blue SATA connection - obviously Intel has built this Haswell NUC for expansion to other cases where utilization of standard SSD or an optical drive is possible.  As it stands now though, the SATA connection is kind of useless for our purposes.

Intel did include a SATA-style power connector on the motherboard too though you will need a female-to-female power cable to use it.

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Under the SSD is the wireless mPCIe half-length slot where our Intel 7260 resides.  You might remember from our first NUC review that we had issues with stability when running wireless file copies as it was heating up both the wireless and SSD controllers beyond thermal limits.  We ran some testing with the new Haswell NUC and this model did not exhibit any problems. 

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Of course we had to remove the motherboard from the case to see what was on the other side.  Once you take it out you can clearly see the promise of such a small, but standardized platform for high performance hardware like Haswell.  Modders are bound to find interesting ways to take advantage of the small form factor and low power and cooling requirements.

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On the bottom of the motherboard you'll find the cooler covering up the Core i5-4250U Haswell processor. 

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The fan is small and looks just like some of the cooling solutions we've seen in notebooks recently.  The fan's size might have been a problem in terms of noise but even under an hour of looping 3DMark, the fan never really got loud enough to be audible over standard office din.  It's not silent, but it's definitely not loud.

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The cooler for the Core i5-4250U has a copper base and aluminum fins.

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And to conclude our look inside the NUC, a shot of the Haswell processor itself.  Sorry we didn't take the cooling interface material off before the photo, but you get the idea.

September 27, 2013 | 03:23 PM - Posted by Barry j Fliegelman (not verified)

great product i would love one

September 27, 2013 | 04:04 PM - Posted by monstercameron (not verified)

what about performance and power consumption vs. the amd a6-5200?
any news on the gigabyte brix with amd a6-5200/intel haswell?
what about power draw during video?
what about any relevant gaming benchmarks vs amd?
any interedting use cases for such a sff design?
what about any competitors?

the 3dmark score of the a6-5200 is very close to this haswell piece
here is my quick review of it...would have been great to compare this instead of the a4-5000, the power consumption numbers would be similar/lower for amd as well.

amd - 30500
intel - 32700

September 27, 2013 | 06:49 PM - Posted by Lorash (not verified)

Aha! My new htpc.

September 27, 2013 | 10:36 PM - Posted by justme (not verified)

HD 5000 is basically Iris Pro without the embedded ram (and lower clock I guess, but same 40 EUs),

interesting to see it being 20% faster than the MacBook IGP (same IGP),

is this only caused because the mac is running to hot (lower clock), or did apple make something stupid like, using single channel memory??

September 28, 2013 | 09:32 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Yeah, this is likely because of the dynamic clock differences.

September 27, 2013 | 10:45 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

no thunderbolt.....disappointed. i was hoping to use it with apples thunderbolt display.
I guess I have to wait for the haswell mac mini and run bootcamp on it!

September 28, 2013 | 09:33 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

You can still use the mini Display Port connection with that monitor, you just won't get support for the accessories.

September 28, 2013 | 06:07 AM - Posted by KocKa (not verified)

For 600$ you can probably buy any HTTP computer you want, so what's the point of this again?

September 28, 2013 | 07:57 AM - Posted by justme (not verified)

regular HTPC is not going to be as small as this.

September 28, 2013 | 10:38 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yup, great idea but the crazy high price is what kills it.

September 28, 2013 | 11:11 AM - Posted by jonny (not verified)

In a fanless case kit the NUC becomes interesting.
Say No to fans already! :)
We dont want quiet, hardly audible- we want inaudible!
Plus, in another case you may install a real SSD.

October 7, 2013 | 08:00 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Exactly. Fanless, absolute silence with this level of performance would be interesting to me.

September 28, 2013 | 01:01 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

OMG...HTPC !!!

September 30, 2013 | 06:40 PM - Posted by cyberwire

What's the availability date?

October 3, 2013 | 10:31 AM - Posted by Adrian (not verified)

Some say end of october ...

October 11, 2013 | 02:14 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Intel, make the next 14nm generation 7Watt and fan-less already!

October 11, 2013 | 10:42 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You can buy a Mac mini for that price which includes the operating system and warranty and you get things like thunderbolt, and an sd card slot, FireWire.

Intel NUC seems like a solution looking for a problem. Too expensive for what you get

October 19, 2013 | 03:06 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

But the mac mini does not come with SSD, you could shave off probably 150 dollars if you could put a mech drive in. Also take the mac mini up to 8 gigs of ram that is at added cost now your mac is running close to 900+ dollars. I know i had one. I had the i7. I have one of the i3 nucs with windows 8.1 and it is very fast, i only have a 60 gig mSata in it tho i do have a 128 here but not installed it have not needed to yet.

October 14, 2013 | 12:00 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Your costing is misleading. You include a $200 180GB SSD for the NUC but only a $105 128GB OCZ for the comparison.

October 23, 2013 | 03:55 AM - Posted by PwnHkr (not verified)

How long is that OCZ SSD going to last you? not very long. I've had to replace 3 in the last two weeks that are only roughly a year old.

October 30, 2013 | 04:23 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Are there any new haswell compatible fanless NUC cases?
This looks good but not haswell (ivy only) compatible as one can see from the screenshots.

October 30, 2013 | 09:11 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Akasa told that support for the Haswell based NUC fanless cases will be available in a rather short time :)

November 28, 2013 | 11:12 AM - Posted by It's there (not verified)

Newton H fanless case for 4th Generation Intel® NUC boards

December 5, 2013 | 05:57 AM - Posted by WANT ONE!! (not verified)

February 1, 2014 | 08:14 PM - Posted by mens fitness (not verified)

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February 1, 2014 | 08:16 PM - Posted by mens fitness (not verified)

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February 25, 2014 | 04:57 PM - Posted by Scott (not verified)

I am running 50 of these NUCs in a corporate environment. They are mounted on the back of ASUS 23" monitors. The users like them as they take up no space, no wires running over the desk, and they are a lot faster that the Dell OptiPlex 755 they replaced.

Intel D34010WYK (Core i3-4010U)
Intel 525 series (120gb)
Crucial 8GB 204-Pin DDR3 SO-DIMM DDR3 1600
Logitech Wireless Keyboard and mouse

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