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Intel NUC7i5BNH

Jim Carter, 2017-12-24

Reqirements for the new machine:

Intel NUC variants currently on Amazon (2017-10-05). Filtered for Intel NUC, sold by and ships from Amazon (not affiliates). Unless otherwise noted, these have 2x USB-3.0 type A female ports on the front (one is configured for charging and has power in S5 i.e. when machine power is off), and 2 more on the back, and a 4 wire audio+mic jack in front. More back ports: power, HDMI (full size), RJ45, Thunderbolt-3, micro-SDXC slot on the side. DisplayPort-1.2 via USB type C port (actually you use the Thunderbolt port with an adapter). RAM 32Gb addressing limit (RAM is normally not included). Where "BOX" is included in the part number, this is omitted in the list below.

Summary: in December 2016 the latest NUC product line came out; this is the NUC7 series. Unless I see any negatives, I think I should stick with this recent product line and not get the previous generation. Amazon has the variants with Intel Core i3,5,7 CPUs. I have been pleased with my NUC5i5RYH (Iris), so I'm tentatively picking the i5 variant.

On this family of machines, people seem to use M.2 SSDs, which will fit in either case style. One person says he is using the Samsung 960 EVO 250Gb PCIe NVMe - M.2 Internal SSD (MZ-V6E250BW); several mention the Samsung product line but are not so explicit about which one they have. But to meet the drop-in goal I'm going to get the BNH chassis style with space for a 2.5in laptop drive (9.5mm high), and a new 500Mb rotating disc. The old disc is not showing signs of flakiness, but let's not tempt fate.

There is a speed advantage to having two memory sticks so it can interleave access. I think 8Gb will be plenty, i.e. 2x4Gb.

There is an offer of Optane memory, 16Gb. This is a disc cache on steroids, implemented (I guess) in BIOS, and it fits in the M.2 slot. I think this is not going to be useful for me. Linux uses system RAM in an equivalent manner out of the box, and I assume that modern Windows does something similar. (Some people ask, does this replace or supplement regular RAM? No, you need to get normal RAM.)

Specifications of the BOX NUC7I5BNH:

Tidbit: On the SDXC slot, UHS-I refers to an Ultra High Speed bus up to 104MB/sec (bytes). The card is backward compatible to slower slots. Speed class U-1 is 10MB/sec for sequential writing. This is similar but not identical to SDHC speed class 10.

Review of NUC7i5BNH/K by Olli (2017-05-14). He describes it mostly consistent with the product page. Warning, there is a flaw in the MegaChips MCDP2800 LSPCon firmware; version 1.66 has the fix. It messes up bitstreaming HD audio over HDMI. See link for a patcher, Windows only, HDMI-2.0 device must be connected when you run it.

Windows-10 installation was no problem. Ethernet driver was up to date out of the box but the display and Wi-fi drivers needed an update from Intel's site (see link). I believe this did not interfere with installation. Benchmark results (a 1920x1080px). I'm reporting in order the NUC7i5BNH, the NUC7i7BNH, and the NUC5i7RNH (close to my Iris).

He measured fan noise. With default settings it's not exactly silent. But if you change it to quiet in the BIOS, it shuts up when doing low intensity tasks.

His power measurements: Win10 idle on the desktop: 13.6W (oink). Video playback, 10bit HEVC, 4k (screen size?): 19.2W. Two CPU benchmarks: 48.1W and 45.4W.

Amazon order:

It's interesting to compare prices. The Dimension E520, with an Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 @1.86GHz, cost $948. The Intense PC (including RAM and disc, which are sold separately) cost $931.

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