Intel Dawson Canyon NUCs are ready for tinkering

The idea of taking what's essentially laptop hardware and packing it into ridiculously tiny enclosures didn't start with Intel's Next Unit of Computing (NUC) mini-PCs, but the series has been one of the most successful examples of that concept. Intel sells NUCs to end users, but it also offers some embedded models in kit form, as well as in board-only format. The company just released six new "Dawson Canyon" models packing Kaby Lake CPUs.

Intel NUC7i5DNHE with 2.5" drive bay

All six of the new machines are based around the same system board, with either a Core i3-7100U or a Core i5-7300U processor on board. Besides that difference, you get to choose whether you want to buy a bare board, a slim-line kit with casing and power adapter, or a fatter (but still compact) kit with a larger casing that accepts a 2.5" drive. Regardless of model, you'll need to provide your own storage and DDR4 SODIMM memory. The handy-dandy chart below will outline the differences in the models.

Intel "Dawson Canyon" NUCs CPU Includes kit? Includes 2.5" bay?
NUC7i3DNBE Core i3-7100U Board only N/A
NUC7i5DNBE Core i5-7300U Board only N/A
NUC7i3DNKE Core i3-7100U Case and power No
NUC7i5DNKE Core i5-7300U Case and power No
NUC7i3DNHE Core i3-7100U Case and power Yes
NUC7i5DNHE Core i5-7300U Case and power Yes

Intel NUC7i5DNBE

If you compare these machines to the other Kaby Lake NUCs that Intel is already selling, they might seem a bit anemic hardware-wise. That might be because these Dawson Canyon models are apparently aimed at the enthusiast and embedded markets, which is to say folks who will tinker with their toys. These NUCs still support the same technologies that more feature-packed machines do, including Rapid Storage Technology caching using an Optane module.

Front and back of an Intel NUC7i5DNKE

External I/O for all models consists of four USB 3.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet jack, and a pair of HDMI outputs. Internally you'll find two USB 2.0 ports, another USB 3.0 connection, a SATA port, two M.2 sockets, and a regular old serial port header. One of the M.2 sockets is intended for full-length 80-mm devices like SSDs, while the other is a short 30-mm slot meant for things like Wi-Fi adapters. The NUC kit models include an Intel 8265 wireless card meant for just that slot, though you'll have to provide your own wireless card if you buy one of the board-only NUCs.

If these look like an exact fit for your next project, you don't have much longer to wait. Intel says the new NUC boards and kits will be available in Q4 this year.

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