Intel spills the beans on Coffee Lake NUCs


Machines in Intel's NUC line of compact computers have offered a good bit of performance inside of a 4" x 4" (10.2 cm x 10.2 cm) package since their introduction. The company is now stuffing its 28-W eighth-generation Coffee Lake processors into a new NUC family, available with Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 chips. Form factors include both slim and tall barebones versions, tall Optane-infused complete systems, and bare board configurations. As is tradition with Intel's NUCs, the main difference between the slim and tall versions is the presence of a 2.5" drive bay in the larger chassis.

The NUC8i3BE bears a Core i3-8109U dual-core processor with Hyper-Threading that clocks as high as 3.6 GHz when conditions allow. Stepping up to the NUC8i5BE nets a four-core, eight-thread Core i5-8259U CPU that can reach single-core speeds as high as 3.8 GHz. The top shelf NUC8i7BE's Core i7-8559U chip doesn't get any extra cores or threads compared to its Core i5 sibling, but the maximum boost clock swells to a lofty 4.5 GHz. None of the new NUCs' integrated Iris Plus Graphics 655 is going to challenge the 3D chops of the larger Hades Canyon NUC and its AMD-sourced, on-package GPU.

The rest of the new NUCs' specification sheet is pretty much exactly what one would expect. Up to 32 GB of 2400 MT/s DDR4 memory fits into a pair of SO-DIMM slots. For storage, all versions have a single M.2 slot that works with NVMe or SATA SSDs, plus a single SATA port for use with 2.5" devices. The slim-chassis kit can't use the SATA port effectively, though, given the lack of room for a 2.5" drive inside the case. Wireless connectivity comes courtesy of Intel's in-house 9560 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5 combo card.

The Core i3 and Core i5 complete Optane systems come with a 16-GB Optane module, a rather-unimpressive 4 GB of system memory, and a 1-TB spinning platter drive. The Core i7 version doubles all three specs with its 32-GB cache module, 8 GB of DDR4 memory, and 2-TB mechanical storage drive. All of the complete systems come with a copy of Windows 10 Home installed on the hard drive.

Users can connect one display to the HDMI 2.0 output and a second monitor to the USB Type-C port on the back of the machine thanks to DisplayPort-over-USB-C black magic. That Type-C port is also capable of performing Thunderbolt 3 party tricks. The front and back of the machine also get a pair of USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports each. Wired networking is present in the form of a single Gigabit Ethernet port.

Intel's product manual has a fantastic level of detail about the new machines but doesn't spell out the pricing or availability. Anandtech believes the Coffee-infused NUCs will hit store shelves next month. We'd expect prices similar to the current Kaby Lake versions, which means about $300 for a barebones Core i3 version up to about $450 for a barebones Core i7 model.

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