Report: First benchmarks of Intel's Hades Canyon NUC surface

Gerbils, I'm sure I don't have to remind you about Kaby Lake-G. The marriage of Intel's "Lake" architecture with a recent Radeon seems fit to make the smallest PC-gaming powerhouses we've seen yet, and systems bearing it are supposed to launch this month. The first such machine appears to be Intel's NUC8i7HVK—more easily identified by its codename, Hades Canyon. We're as eager to learn how Kaby Lake-G runs as any of you are, and we found what appears to be the first review of a Hades Canyon NUC over on Korean hardware and gaming site Playwares.

If you're curious about the specifications of the NUC, you can check its Intel ARK page, which will probably tell you most of what you want to know. The short version is that the reviewed kit comes with the faster of the two existing Kaby Lake-G chips (the Core i7-8809G). That part carries the hottest integrated Radeon in Intel's lineup so far: the RX Vega M GH. That chip's connected to two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots supporting memory at 2400 MT/s or faster, and to a pair of PCIe 3.0 x4-only M.2 sockets for storage expansion. The NUC comes with every whiz-bang connectivity option you could imagine, including two Thunderbolt 3 ports, dual Gigabit Ethernet, a plethora of USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a USB 3.0 Type-C port, and even an optical audio out.

Playwares does a full unboxing and teardown of the machine to reveal a copper heatsink cooled by dual fans, and the KBL-G package itself. The site also took a bunch of shots of the RX Vega control panel. Interestingly, there's no AMD branding to be found anywhere in the device's software; the control panel is a blue-and-gray Intel-skinned version of Radeon Settings. Radeon ReLive is supported along with Chill and every other Radeon-specific graphics technology.


Of course, what you're here to see is the performance. Playwares put the Hades Canyon NUC through a variety of both synthetic and real-world game benchmarks at stock clocks and also with a bit of GPU overclocking. Most of the tests use a resolution of 1920x1080 with "ultra" or "very high" in-game settings. At those settings, the performance of the Radeon RX Vega M GH is a bit of a mixed bag. Playwares describes the chip's performance as falling between desktop GeForce GTX 1050 Ti and GTX 1060 cards, or around where an RX 570 sits.

It's important to remember that the system in question is an engineering sample and may not have fully-tuned firmware or software. It's also worth remembering that this is a NUC. Equipped with two SO-DIMMs and a Samsung 960 EVO SSD, Playwares' sample of the NUC8i7HVK drew just 140 W from the wall on average with a peak of 155.3 W. Even overclocked, the power draw only peaked at 186 W. The NUC comes with a 230 W power adapter that should be solid for the lifetime of the machine. Curiously, Playwares reports that the CPU did not throttle even as it approached 110° C.

Overall, Playwares seems to have come away from Hades Canyon impressed with the little machine. The site remarks the NUC gets very noisy when overclocked, but also says that since the RX Vega M GH's HBM2 runs at a relatively low clock rate, overclocking it is "essential." Playwares ultimately says the system's gaming performance is adequate in general and impressive given its size. The Google translation of the article is fairly comprehensible, so even if you don't read Korean you still might enjoy heading over to Playwares and check out the review. Thanks to TechPowerUp for the tip-off.

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