The machines on my home network are getting old, and starting in late 2017 I began to have hardware problems with them. See the Hardware Upgrade Roadmap for plans to deal with the older machines, and in particular, selection criteria and machine specifications that led to the choice of this Intel NUC6CAYH.
Initially the new machine was going to take over the home theater role, video and audio playback. That machine, called Iris, has video capture devices attached that botch suspension to S3 (RAM) or S4 (disc, hibernation), and so it has to be running 24/7. The old Iris, a NUC5i5RYH, consumes more power than I would like and the NUC6CAYH was a welcome improvement. However, there is one big fly in the ointment: sound.
The Intel Celeron J3455 system-on-chip has an Intel HD Graphics 500 GPU, which can drive up to 3 displays (2 supported by the motherboard) with the DisplayPort physical protocol. But the motherboard exports HDMI-2.0 and VGA. There is a hardwired active converter from DisplayPort to HDMI, and it has buggy firmware, preventing HDMI audio from working. Intel has fixed firmware, but the installer only runs on Microsoft Windows, and a HDMI-2.0 device must be plugged in when the installer runs. People who can meet these requirements report that the new firmware is effective at restoring HDMI audio. I am not one of those people: no Windows and only HDMI-1.0. There are kludgey workarounds like routing the audio to a separate sound device and wiring the output to the TV, but that is really not how I want my new home theater machine to be set up.
The onboard Intel HD
Audio Cluster has an annoying quirk:
it plays the content just fine, but when it's over the playback software
closes the sound device and it seems to go into a high impedance state,
versus sending out zero volts, causing 60Hz hum to be sent to the
So the NUC6CAYH is not going to be satisfactory in the home theater role.
The original plan was to put a NUC6CAYH in the home theater role, see if it was going to work out, and then buy another to replace Jacinth, the main router. The first NUC6CAYH did OK as Iris except for the sound, but meanwhile Jacinth went into a decline, so before the whole network collapsed I did a brain transplant, turning the NUC6CAYH into Jacinth. So far (cross fingers) this has been successful.