A revolution in ultra-compact device design, the Intel NUC NUC5i5RYH packs more features into 4 inches square.
The NUC5i5RYH is equipped with the 5th generation Intel Core i5-5250U processor with Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.01 which gives you extra GHz on demand to let you maximize performance on processor-intensive tasks like media editing. The system has room for either a 2.5" HDD so you can store full length movies or an M.2 SSD so you can transfer data at lightning speeds.
A replaceable lid gives you plenty of options to create the Intel NUC you want - with amazing style and features. It also features Intel HD Graphics 6000 with 4K display capabilities to provide visually stunning graphics. A high-speed USB 3.0 charging port lets you easily charge your tablet or smartphone quickly. Complete with WiFi 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth*, and 7.1 surround sound, the Intel NUC NUC5i5RYH is ideal for home theater PCs, media server PCs, and home hubs.
For peace of mind, you'll get embedded security that helps keep threats out and user identities and credentials safe. With this kind of power, size, and versatility, you'll rethink what's possible.
Full specs can be found online at: www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/nuc/nuc-kit-nuc5i5ryh.html
The Intel NUC mini PC is the Next Unit of Computing. Released initially in 2013 it is seen as the direct competitor for the Apple Mac Mini. Depending on your computing DIY and intended use, there are several models to choose from. We are now enjoying the 5th generation of this little box of wonders since its initial release and with the multitude of possible uses and ones that you may never even have thought of as yet, it's a small box with big power. Let's get into the review of the unit.
The literature that comes with the NUC in the box is outdated and the add-in sheet that directs you to Intel's website to download the drivers for the NUC is incorrect. It has step by step directions for exactly where to look and where to go once there, but unfortunately the website layout has changed and I had to work it out for myself. Certainly not a major for someone that is capable of completing the build of a little PC like this, but it is still worth a mention. Most people biff the instructions anyway don't they? Who needs those! The days are long gone where you had to set jumpers on the motherboard for CPU voltages and clock speeds. One wrong step there often left you with a brand new Frisbee of a motherboard.
Size wise this little unit is a little over 10cm square by 3cm high and around 200 grams. That is just a little larger than the standard VESA MIS-D, 100/75, C 75x75 mounts on the back of a monitor or TV, and I will talk about its uses in this situation later in the article. Extremely portable and light, with stylish looks that you will want to display next to your TV or monitor. It has a smooth dark plastic top cover, a simple "on" button and indicator light to let you know you are in business, all wrapped in an aluminum body.
Specifications wise we are at the pointy end of the market, with the lowest spec unit being the i3. Released in the first quarter of 2015, the i5 model I had to review essentially comes only with the motherboard, but this as most PC systems have been for years, encompasses the CPU, GPU, Audio, Gigabit LAN, BT, Infrared, USB3.0 and USB2.0. The power supply is an external plug pack that comes with country specific optional click on wall pins adaptors to suit your region outlet. This helps to keep the size and heat of the main unit down. The i5 model claims 15w thermal design power and the i7 version jumps to a whopping 28w. It can claim this power consumption though, because to be fair the i7 version is a powerhouse in its own right. This unit not being a Quadcore CPU, it certainly gives ultraportables a run for their money. In March 2015 it was announced that updates to the 5th gen processor would mean an unlocked i7 Quadcore would be available.
Pre planning stage wise, when you buy your unit, you will need to think ahead about what you are going to load into your box. Mine came preloaded with Windows 8.1 enterprise, 4gb of RAM and HDD ready to go. Some models only support up to 8gb of RAM and others support 16gb. Some support SSD drives SATA 3.0 and some only have internal power and data headers provided for connection to external 2.5" media, with the bottom cover removed; female to female is required. Do your research before shelling out on your unit.
The bottom cover comes off with ease by removing the 4 Phillips screws; this allows you to access the SO-DIMM slots x2 for RAM and the SATA bay header. Installation of these components takes minutes. The top cover comes off without tools very easily and there are some aftermarket options available on the web for replacement covers. 3D print your own, or buy a 3rd part cover with NFC if you want.
Connectivity wise I will start with the graphics. There are 2 display ports in total you can utilize. Standard mini HDMI, and mini DisplayPort. I used a mini HDMI to standard HDMI connector, then I used an HDMI to DVI-D connector. A bit frankenstein I know, but I had to work with what I had. I only had a standard size DisplayPort adapter, not a mini so I could not test this out, but the literature states that you can connect up to 3 full HD 1080p monitors to it. My NUC had the HD6000 GPU.
USB connectors are aplenty, the front panel has 2x USB3.0 speed ports, the familiar blue color to differentiate from the standard black USB 2.0 variety, but this one also has a yellow port which indicates to the user which port supports sleep charging of USB devices when powered off. Very handy. There are also 2 USB3.0 ports on the back.
A standard RJ45 sized Ethernet port is on the back also, and the unit I reviewed also had built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The Infrared receiver is on the front as is the 3.5mm standard headphone jack. If you have ever used one or feel like you want to, there is a Kensington lock port on the side of the NUC also.
I have come across some issues with the Intel products related to the network drivers and Windows operating systems. I have used Windows 7 Pro and Windows 8.1 and neither of them seem to have the right drivers for the LAN connectivity out of the box. This can be a real pain because it means you have to go to another internet connected PC and download the drivers to USB and then bring them back to the NUC and install them. I know this is probably not a fault of the NUC but being Intel and previously using an HP ProBook with Intel LAN connectivity also, the problem was experienced when I got the unit up and running to test. You would think in today's day and age of having drivers as standard for every component of most other brands hardware included in a Windows OS installation, that Intel's LAN whether it be either the wired or wireless, would work from the OS disc install. It didn't unfortunately.
Usability should be a big factor in helping you decide which unit to choose. The i3 is going to be fine for situating near a TV and streaming your favourite TV shows and some basic computing tasks. The i5 will play 4k video, edit video files and do everything the i3 will. The i7 will do everything else. I had the opportunity to test the NUC in a variety of situations.
One situation I used it in was in a business machine capacity. We have a need for a fast swap out replacement PC when the customers unit goes down. One Saturday I received a call that the customer's PC had died and I knew exactly what I could use this PC for. Being an i5 I was confident that I could use it in a business environment, running a weighbridge transfer station. I installed the software, setup the databases, installed the external Moxa serial u1450 USB drivers and had the customer up and running in less than 2 hours. The unit ran flawlessly and virtually invisible to the user due to its size with a thermal printer, dallas tag iButton reader, weighbridge indicator and docket printer connected for a week until I was able to return and decommission the unit. The customer absolutely loved the footprint and said it ran like any other large form factor PC they had ever used. Being a virtually sealed unit with minimal moving parts, IE HDD platter or large PSU fan to act as a dust magnet, the little NUC shone bright. This is the reason this unit is so good. I don't have to haul around a mid-sized tower PC clanging about in the back of the UTE looking worse and worse for wear at each job, trying to find desk or floor space to put it at breakdowns and system recoveries.
We use Skype for video conferencing and I wanted to test the unit out and also show how small it really was. Utilising the included VESA bracket that comes with the NUC, I mounted the NUC to the back of the monitor where you normally affix a wall bracket or desk stand on the monitor. I could pick up the monitor, and have everything I needed all in one. I might add I was using an ELO touchscreen so I did not need a keyboard or mouse but even so, a wireless Logitech keyboard and mouse would be awesome for the remote use of video conferencing software. I have an Intel 720p cam and thanks to our strong UFB there was no jittering, caching or degradation. I was looking specifically for this due to the GPU's HD6000 processing power also, but the unit ran flawlessly. Everyone wondered where the PC was, and at the end of the meeting I simply turned the screen around and showed them the NUC.
Other uses I can think of where this unit would be really preferred because of its size, is in Kiosks or fixed and mobile advertising stands. Anywhere where you have a monitor and you are running a slideshow, this little PC will be a great option for you.
Cost wise this unit is up there a little bit at the high $600 mark, and remember also you need to add an SSD to that, RAM and an OS. If you want something that is branded, well respected and regarded - plus you are looking for something in this size specifically for some reason, then you really can't go wrong and won't be disappointed. Imagine a clutter free design desk with a nice 24" full HD monitor, wireless keyboard, mouse and ethernet connectivity. The only cables you would see would be the mains cable for the monitor and the thin PSU supply cable for the NUC itself.
Clutter free, discrete power-computing. Get one today.
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