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

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

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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.
Steve should have known that engineering was not for him when he spent most of his time at university monkeying with his 8086 clone PC. Although he graduated, a lifelong obsession of wanting the "solitaire" win animation to go faster had begun. Always seeking a gadget fix, he dabbles in photography, video, 3D-animation, and is a licensed private pilot. He followed l'amour de sa vie from Vancouver, BC to France, and now lives near Paris.
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