Intel's first 'Skull Canyon' NUC has Core i7 power

Iris Pro graphics limit gaming appeal for the 8.5-inch PC, though.

If you're considering an Xbox One or PS4 for gaming and entertainment, Intel has another proposition for you: The first Skull Canyon NUC (next unit of computing) mini-PC. The NUC6i7KYK (yup) fits a sixth-gen Skylake Core i7 CPU, Thunderbolt 3, DDR4 RAM support and dual M.2 SSD slots (with SATA 3 support) into an 8.5-inch case. The Iris Pro graphics 580 will turn off gamers, though Intel points out that you could add a card like the AMD R9 Fury by attaching a Razer Core expansion box via the Thunderbolt 3 port. To use it as an entertainment device, you can easily hook up a 4K monitor -- three of them, in fact.

Intel is introducing the Skull Canyon NUC at the 2016 Game Developers Conference on March 16, 2016. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

Price-wise, it's a large step up from the latest gaming consoles, though. The bare NUC is $650, and Intel says a typical build with 16GB RAM, a 256GB SSD and Windows 10 would run $999. Should you go for external discreet graphics via the Razer Core (now on pre-order for $500), and an NVIDIA GTX 970 graphics card (the minimum for an Oculus Rift and HTC Vive) you're in for another $850. That makes the total investment $1,850 and you could easily build a much better PC for that price.

However, NUCs do have their place. If you don't have a lot of space and are fine with the Iris Pro graphics, you'll get an okay gaming PC and extremely competent media server. The NUC goes on pre-order at Newegg in April for $650 and will ship in May 2016.