Intel ‘Hades Canyon’ NUC hands-on
“‘Hades Canyon’ is essentially the most highly effective NUC but, however Intel’s driver assist has one thing to show.”
Packs AMD Radeon RX Vega M graphics
Can drive as much as six shows
Some elements may be changed
Nerdy light-up cranium
Dearer than any NUC up to now
Driver assist stays an open query
At CES 2017, we noticed Intel’s first NUC constructed for players. Known as Cranium Canyon, the NUC mixed an Intel quad-core with the corporate’s strongest Iris built-in graphics. It was presupposed to be a showcase of Iris’ potential – nevertheless it didn’t fairly work out. Our overview discovered efficiency left a lot to be desired, and driver woes meant some video games by no means launched correctly.
Intel is again at CES 2018 with one other gaming-focused NUC, Hades Canyon. However this yr, it’s not utilizing its personal built-in graphics, however as an alternative options Intel Core i7-8809G. That’s essentially the most highly effective model of Intel’s Eighth-gen Core with AMD Radeon RX Vega M graphics, and whereas we haven’t examined it but, its specs look promising. The Vega GPU contains 24 compute items. The Vega 56 graphics card, as its title suggests, has 56 – and it may possibly play some video games at 4K decision. Intel’s personal knowledge suggests the i7-8809G will compete properly with Nvidia’s GTX 1060. Intel even says Hades Canyon will be capable of deal with VR. Given its specs, it could simply meet the minimal necessities for many headsets – however even that may be spectacular.
That makes Hades Canyon immediately appear to be a winner. Sure, the dimensions of the system has greater than doubled over final yr, nevertheless it’s nonetheless just one.2 liters. That’s smaller than the Alienware Alpha, or any of Zotac’s pint-sized gaming desktops. Measurement apart, its has stored a broad, rectangular look that offers loads of area to cram in ports. A whole lot of ports. That features a twin DisplayPort, twin Thunderbolt, and twin Ethernet. As much as six shows may be linked concurrently, which is an unimaginable quantity for such a small system, and twice as a lot as final yr’s Cranium Canyon NUC.
Nice wants nice drivers.
Like different NUCs, Hades Canyon helps a shocking quantity of customization. Eradicating six screws permits you to carry off the highest, offering entry to the RAM, two m.2 exhausting drive slots, the Wi-Fi card, and some different minor ports. The RAM slots had been stuffed on the unit we noticed, however there was room so as to add a second exhausting drive. The Intel Eighth-gen Core with AMD Radeon RX Vega M graphics is soldered on, in fact, so it may possibly’t get replaced, however the system’s upgradability is in any other case significantly better than you may anticipate.
And there’s yet one more cool contact – a light-up cranium. The brand new NUC will not be referred to as Cranium Canyon, however Intel has stored the cool cranium brand. This time, although, its backlit – which makes it twice as superior, in fact. It additionally makes the brand customizable. Wish to change the colour? You are able to do that? Wish to flip it off totally? You are able to do that, too. I’m certain some will assume it foolish, however I feel it’s a pleasant contact that the majority players will get pleasure from.
On paper, the Hades Canyon NUC sounds good. It has a quick processor, moderately quick graphics, and gobs of connectivity, all in a small kind issue. But there’s nonetheless cause to be skeptical. Nice wants nice drivers. Whereas the driving force interface will likely be an identical to AMD – solely branded as Intel – we’re instructed driver releases will come from Intel. We’ll simply have to attend and see how that goes. AMD releases drivers steadily, in fact, and we’d wish to see Intel ship at an identical cadence, however that hasn’t occurred previously.
Intel might want to get critical about drivers if it hopes for Hades Canyon to face an opportunity in hell, however the undertaking in any other case appears to be like promising. And if Intel does show dependable, this NUC might encourage a brand new wave of small, console-like gaming PCs. That will be a win for everybody.
Hades Canyon will ship in March beginning at $799 for the much less highly effective Core i7-8705G version, or $999 for the Core i7-8809G.