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Intel NUC5i5RYH

Jim Carter, 2016-01-18, upated 2018-01-16



Investigation of an Intel processor with very low power when idle but not in S3: ARM is rejected due to infrastructure effort (a whole new distro). I would most prefer an x86_64 processor (vs. i686) because that's what I'm standardizing on for software support; all my former i686 CPUs are gone.

Administratively, we prefer products that are sold by and shipped from Amazon.com, because of (usually) competent and prompt delivery and a favorable return policy. Other resellers are not rejected, though, but the benefits of Amazon are worth a slightly higher price for the same model. Also, sometimes outside vendors sell goods with problems; e.g. you will notice below one of the NUC variants that uses a deprecated processor (Celeron N2820) that is being replaced under warranty by Intel, with a different product ID.

Liliputing Review

My goal with this review is to get an overview of what's available, not an authoritative list of the best machines for my needs.

12 Intel-powered mini PCs for $300 or Less by Brad Linder (2014-06-10) on Liliputing.com.

  1. The Intel NUC product line shares a chassis about 4 inches square. The term kit means a barebones system with no memory or disc. This one has an Intel Core i3-3217U, Ivy Bridge chipset. It includes integrated WiFi and Bluetooth. Ports: power, 2x USB (rear), HDMI, and possibly DisplayPort. . $184 (in mid 2014).

  2. Intel NUC kit, Core i3-4010U Haswell chipset, integrated Intel HD-4400 graphics. Includes an infrared sensor. Ports: power, DisplayPort (?), mini-HDMI, RJ45, 2x USB-3.0. $280.

  3. Gigabyte BRIX, Intel Celeron N2807, Bay Trail chipset. Passive cooling (no fan). Integrated WiFi and Bluetooth, RJ45, HDMI and VGA (dual head capable), internal 2.5in drive bay, only 4.3W power (without drive?) $125.

  4. Intel NUC kit DN2820FYKH, Intel Celeron N2820, Bay Trail chipset. 4.5W advertised power. Similar to the above but has a fan. $135.

  5. ECS (Elite Group Systems) LIVA kit. Intel Celeron N2807 (dual core) with Bay Trail chipset. Includes WiFi, Bluetooth, RJ45, 2x USB (looks like one 3.0 and one 2.0), mini-HDMI and VGA, 2Gb RAM included, 32GB storage included (probably a SSD on mSATA). $180,

I didn't copy down all 12 products, but I get an overview of what's available and what it would cost.

Intel Product Hype for NUC

Introducing the Intel NUC on www.intel.com.

NUC Offerings on Amazon

Some points are pervasive for these machines:

This is a list of NUCs available on Amazon. Selection criteria: Intel NUC product family, sold by and shipped from Amazon (not Amazon associate), kit style (without memory or drive), has rotating drive bay. I've sorted these putting first the ones that most catch my eye for detailed research. Those without a report on power consumption are at the end.

My NUC Got Bricked!

Problem: NUC5i5RYH Bricked by Ubuntu Suspend for Fifth Time, OP Dalinian (2016-01-16) on Intel Community forum.

When suspended to S3, if you press the power button to wake it up, occasionally it will ignore the power button, i.e. neither wake, nor power off (for long press). Recommendation: use wake on USB or wake on LAN, which have not been seen to fail. To recover from this mode, pulling the plug (S6) is not effective. You have to remove the CMOS battery (hiss, boo) (apparently only if you pulled the plug).

An Intel customer service person recommends to get into BIOS setup and configure Secondary Power Settings to:

BIOS v0350 and v0352 are reported to improve but not eliminate the problem. It has been happening since at least about 2013-10-xx (and therefore, likely on other models). echo 0 > /sys/power/pm_async has been suggested but the problem is still seen.

Benchmarks of NUC5CPYH with Celeron N3050

The first one, NUC5CPYH Pinnacle Canyon with Braswell chipset, looks attractive. A pervasive problem is to figure out how powerful the CPU actually is. Here is more information about the N3050. Intel Celeron N3050 Braswell Linux Performance by Michael Larabel (2015-07-15) in Phoronix. He's reviewing the NUC5CPYH.

Benchmarks of NUC5I5RYH with Core i5 5250U

I looked at quite a lot of reviews of the NUC5I5RYH or NUC5I5RYK (without drive bay). All reviewers put various solid state discs in their machines. I've copied out the most details from the first review.

Review of NUC5I5RYH on Hexus by Parm Mann (2015-04-15).

Product details: Ports: USB-3.0 2x(rear) 2x(front, 1 charging), 4 wire audio/mic jack (front), infrared (front), Kensington lock slot, mini HDMI, mini Display Port, RJ45. Includes WiFi (802.11ac) and Bluetooth, using Intel 7265D2 (soldered down). Memory: 2 slots, up to 16Gb total, 1866MHz. Discs: SATA 6Gbit/s (for 2.5in drive), and M.2 slot for PCIe or SATA in physical sizes 22x42, 22x60, 22x80 (mm?) i5-5250U CPU has 2 cores (hyperthread) at 1.6GHz, turbo max 2.7GHz. HD Graphics 6000 with 48 execution units. TDP 15W.

He compares with 7 other machines, mostly with Core i5 CPUs, several of which look like close competitors, plus some gaming monsters. In general the target machine is in the middle of the range. These rows show the the i5-5250U first, then the winner, and the slowest machine.

The problem with a review like this is linking up the benchmarks used with machines I have direct experience with: I'm not interested in which machine is best, but whether it will handle my workload. This reviewer concludes that the NUC5I5RYH has plenty of CPU and graphic power for the home theater performance role, as well as office desktop use, but it is not adequate for playing today's games.

A disturbing report is the power consumption at idle: 10W. I'm going to look for corroborating evidence in other reviews.

Intel NUC5i5RYK Broadwell-U Mini-PC Review by Marco Chiappetta (2015-02-25) on Hot Hardware.

I went looking for corroboration of the Hexus power result, and this review credits the i5-5250U with 6 watts at idle vs. 22 watts on task.

Intel NUC 5i5RYH Mini PC Review by Tobias Winkler (2015-03-28) on NotebookCheck.

He makes an interesting point: if you load up both cores and the GPU, heating up the CPU chip, it will defensively reduce the clock rate. In this review (with a SSD) the idle power is reported as 7.6 to 9.5 watts; it isn't clear what the difference is between the various trials. It's running Windows and there might have been background tasks, but the article doesn't say.

Intel NUC Kit NUC5i5RYK Review: 2013 Broadwell Comes to NUC! on Legit Reviews by Nathan Kirsch (2015-02-13).

He gives a lot of benchmark information, but I'm looking for power. At idle with Windows 8.1 and a SSD, it uses 6.8 watts. 1080p movie playback used 15 to 18 watts. A gaming test required 38 watts. At idle the CPU temperature was 35C; under maximum load you could warm it up to 81C (and 3550 RPM on the fan; 4200 RPM on a different test).

Amazon reviewer J. Landry (2015-12-03)

He reports 5 watts at idle.


We see reports of 5, 6, 6.8, 7.6, 9.5, 10 watts. They can't all be correct. I'm speculating about causes of the variation: maybe different idle powers of the various SSDs (not too likely), or maybe background tasks running in Windows. I'm going to score the power as 7.5 watts.

Final Comparison

After I eliminated obsolete and unsuitable models, I've narrowed down the choice to two NUCs: NUC5CPYH with Celeron N3050, and NUC5i5RYH with Core i5 5250U. Now it's time to compare them and choose one. Values are given with the Celeron first.

Final conclusion:

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