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Intel NUC5i5RYK SFF System Review - Broadwell NUC

Manufacturer: Intel

Intel Pushes Broadwell to the Next Unit of Computing

Intel continues to invest a significant amount of money into this small form factor product dubbed the Next Unit of Computing, or NUC. When it was initially released in December of 2012, the NUC was built as an evolutionary step of the desktop PC, part of a move for Intel to find new and unique form factors that its processors can exist in. With a 4" x 4" motherboard design the NUC is certainly a differentiating design and several of Intel's partners have adopted it for products of their: Gigabyte's BRIX line being the most relevant. 

But Intel's development team continues to push the NUC platform forward and today we are evaluating the most recent iteration. The Intel NUC5i5RYK is based on the latest 14nm Broadwell processor and offers improved CPU performance, a higher speed GPU and lower power consumption. All of this is packed into a smaller package than any previous NUC on the market and the result is both impressive and totally expected.

A Walk Around the NUC

To most poeple the latest Intel NUC will look very similar to the previous models based on Ivy Bridge and Haswell. You'd be right of course - the fundamental design is unchanged. But Intel continues to push forward in small ways, nipping and tucking away. But the NUC is still just a box. An incredibly small one with a lot of hardware crammed into it, but a box none the less.

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While I can appreciate the details including the black and silver colors and rounded edges, I think that Intel needs to find a way to add some more excitement into the NUC product line going forward. Admittedly, it is hard to inovate in that directions with a focus on size and compression.

Continue reading our review of the Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK SFF!!

On the front of the new Broadwell based NUC you'll find a pair of USB 3.0 ports, one of which (in yellow) supports fast USB charging for your phone or tablet. A single 3.5mm port for headphones/microphone connections keeps the face clean and simple.

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The plastic top of the NUC defaults to a piano-black finish with the power button (with embedded power light) and storage access light is removable, one of the few changes to the chassis design. In theory you would be able to remove the lid and replace it with a multi-colored replacement or maybe use an NFC-enabled cover similar to what we saw on the Gigabyte BRIX with Broadwell a couple of weeks back. 

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Around the back we find the power input, mini-DisplayPort and mini-HDMI connections for external displays, a Gigabit Ethernet connection and two more USB 3.0 ports for a total of four. The mini-HDMI connection is recessed in the body again, a trait that was accidental in last year's design and questionable in this one; I honestly would have liked to see a full-size HDMI connection to remove complication of new cables or adapters. 

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In fear of your NUC being stolen off your desk? Then you can appreciate the Kensington lock connection along the side.

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The Intel NUC 5i5RYK is small - small enough that you could be forgiven for mistaking the computer for the power adapter, both of which are near the same size! 

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Intel has included a 65 watt power adapter though you will likely not see power consumption near that level. The cord attached is 10 feet long so you shouldn't have to worry about getting any kind of extensions. I know that some consumers hate these style of power adaters that plug directly into the outlet, but it is thin enough that it does not interfere with other standard plugs!

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It's hard to talk about the NUC without gushing about the size of it - it really is incredible to hold and use in person. Technically it all makes perfect sense - I have seen plenty of Ultrabook motherboards and designs, and compressing that into the 4" x 4" block is reasonable. But...just look at it. This size allows the NUC to be placed in locations you might not have otherwise considered: the back of TVs or monitors, discretely in a home theater setup, in a drawer, etc.

Video News

February 23, 2015 | 11:53 AM - Posted by Chaitanya Shukla

Crucial has a M.2 series of ssds. Do you plan to get those? also its quite a bit cheaper compared to Samsung's XP series ssd.

February 23, 2015 | 12:01 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Old benchmarks (Sandra 2013, Cinebench R11.5)
no recent AMD hardware (A10-7600 45W?)
no video playback tests
no gaming tests

Is this a review or a product placement?

February 23, 2015 | 12:36 PM - Posted by Screwyluie (not verified)

I agree, video benchmarks would be nice since I think, outside the office, the real draw for these is an HTPC.

can it stream hulu/netflix/amazon without a hitch, can it stream hd/uhd from a NAS/workstation

hell can it even display UHD?

stuff like this would be nice.

February 23, 2015 | 12:45 PM - Posted by xenoid (not verified)

Yes, I actually came here for this, but OK.

February 23, 2015 | 01:16 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

We played back 4K YouTube video and it played without issue. Using Flash, that is likely the biggest stress you'll have on it. 

I'll hook it back up and try some other sources if you would like anything specific!

February 24, 2015 | 05:05 AM - Posted by Screwyluie (not verified)

I would really like to know if it can handle streaming some high bitrate video, wired/wireless, with something like plex or xbmc. Does it support advanced audio outputs like dolby HD or ATMOS, DTS, etc. perhaps that headphone jack is also an optical port? if not, will it at least pass the the correct audio over hdmi?

I want to make sure if I drop $600 on one of these little buggers, it's going to streaming all my content and output my audio correctly.

I think another good test would be steam's in home streaming, I don't think it'll have a problem with that, but a useful test for sure.

hmm I think that's all the questions I have off the top of my head.

February 23, 2015 | 12:17 PM - Posted by I would like gaming benchmarks like LoL and dota 2 and WoW (not verified)

More benchmarks pls

February 23, 2015 | 12:43 PM - Posted by larsoncc

This is a good review- I always like to look at Ice Storm Unlimited as a test though - it can be compared across platforms including phones.

The move toward tablets and small form factor "PC"s feels like PC builders are being left out in the cold. There's no move to standardize or component-ize smaller parts, so we're left with these monster size PCs (compare this to an ITX even!).

The problem is that there's no motivation on Intel's side to let anyone compete here. Want a better NIC, a 'laptop' GPU, the option to update your CPU, a better sound solution, or just in general different features on your motherboard? Too bad.

Think about it this way - if any one of those components go bad, you have to throw away the whole thing, or attempt a repair on something that's been wave soldered (good luck).

Consumers need to form a standards group or something - it's going to get ridiculous until there are virtually no choices left.

February 23, 2015 | 01:05 PM - Posted by pond (not verified)

One thing that will help advance the whole NUC idea (form factor, speed etc) is usb 3.1.

Intel will not support usb 3.1 until when, 2016? So next year, maybe, we will see new possibilities in SFF based on Intel chips and chipsets.

February 23, 2015 | 01:17 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

It would help for external connectivity support, no doubt. I did really like the Thunderbolt option on the first NUC.

February 23, 2015 | 01:20 PM - Posted by Cristian (not verified)

Hmmmmm, that M.2 port directly over the wifi card. I don't know about you guys, but the first thing that comes to my mind is interference, and severe one!!!

February 23, 2015 | 01:46 PM - Posted by Simms (not verified)

Amazon is showing the XP941 for a price of about $510
$0.29 per GB would be nice, but not yet

Samsung XP941 512GB M.2 80mm PCIe x4 SSD - MZHPU512HCGL

February 23, 2015 | 06:28 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

OR for $260.00 you can get a complete pc with windows 8.1.
perfect for htpc with a nas

February 24, 2015 | 08:40 PM - Posted by Samuel Aldrich (not verified)

Bro, lets be serious. That PC you linked was around 25-35% of the performance this NUC offers. Not even in the same ball park.

Don't bring that weak Celeron stuff around here.

February 24, 2015 | 03:50 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Might finally pull the trigger on one of these. Will the mini HDMI or Display Port run a Dell u3011 @ 2560x1600? I only ask because I could never get that resolution to work on an i7-3570k's integrated GPU.

March 11, 2015 | 02:15 PM - Posted by Taarun Jain (not verified)

Can this mini pc run modern titles like far cry 4 nfs mw or cod advanced warfare above 25 or 30fps if we lower the graphics quality to medium or low?

March 14, 2015 | 12:57 PM - Posted by Jim from Austin (not verified)

Does the 3.5mm audio jack support digital audio stream so that a 3.5 mm to TOSLINK (spdif) may be connected so it can be plugged into stereo preamp for decoding dolby digital?

March 25, 2015 | 06:43 AM - Posted by joris (not verified)

does it support 1,5v ram cards? instead of the 1,35v ram cards.

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