Intel Skull Canyon NUC is ready to crack some heads

— 9:56 PM on March 16, 2016

We've tested a few of Intel's NUCs over the course of the platform's existence. While those machines are perfectly competent mini-PCs, we've often found ourselves wanting more gaming muscle from their tiny footprints. Intel's newest NUC appears set to address that.

Codenamed "Skull Canyon," this machine uses a Core i7-6770HQ CPU with a 45W TDP. That chip offers four cores and eight threads running at 2.6GHz base and 3.5GHz Turbo speeds. More importantly, though, the i7-6770HQ has Intel's Iris Pro 580 integrated graphics processor with 78 execution units and 128MB of eDRAM cache on board, according to Ars Technica.

The Skull Canyon NUC is built for speed in other ways, too. The machine includes a Thunderbolt 3 port that can hook up to external graphics enclosures like Razer's Core. Dual M.2 slots with four lanes of PCIe 3.0 connectivity each are ready for zippy NVMe SSDs, and this NUC can swallow up to 32GB of memory, too. HDMI 2.0 and Mini DisplayPort 1.2 outputs, four USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, and Gigabit Ethernet round out the port cluster.

Like other NUCs, the Skull Canyon version will ship as a barebones kit. Builders will need to provide their own memory and SSDs. Intel says the base unit will carry a suggested price of $650, and it estimates that a build with 16GB of memory and a 256GB SSD will cost about $1000. This mean machine will begin shipping in May.

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