Intel NUC D54250WYK (Haswell)
While the previous-gen NUC was limited to a 1.8 GHz Core i3, the Haswell-based models can be quite a bit quicker. The D54250WYK comes with a Core i5-4250U operating at 1.3 GHz. It spins up to 2.6 GHz under the right thermal conditions thanks to Turbo Boost, though. More important, it features Intel's HD Graphics 5000, yielding a big step up in mainstream gaming potential.
Newegg has the model listed for $375, though it's currently not in stock. Amazon does have the NUC available, albeit priced in excess of $400. And again, this is a barebones kit, so you still need memory, a Wi-Fi module, and an mSATA-based SSD. Adding Windows 8.1 Professional, Intel's SSD 525 180 GB, and 8 GB of DDR3 from Corair raises the total to $833.97, which is more than twice what you pay for the kit.
Bundle And First Impression
You would think that Intel received enough feedback from its NUC launch a year ago to start bundling a power cable. We talked to the company at CES 2014, and it does in fact plan to start including a cable. But the Haswell-based unit we have for review still doesn't come with one. For now, that cable you see in the picture above has to be purchased separately. The barebones kit comes with an AC adapter, a VESA mounting plate, documentation and, of course, the NUC, though.
I can't imagine anyone complaining about the size of Intel's first effort. It immediately impressed us with compact dimensions and very capable internals. However, Intel took about 15% of the D54250WYK's height compared to the Ivy Bridge-based models. At 4.6" x 4.4" x 1.4" and 1.05 lbs, the weight is down a bit as well. The metal sides are no longer the same color as the top; now they're silver. But the basic design remains the same. At the end of the day, it looks like Intel took a bit of direction from Zotac's Zbox Nano.
The front of the newer NUC sports more connectivity than last generation's. It offers two USB 3.0 ports, a combo input/output audio jack, and an IR sensor for your media center remote (purchased separately).
Around back you find the power connection, mini-DP output, a mini-HDMI interface, GbE networking, and two more USB 3.0 ports.
The interior looks a lot like the previous-gen NUC, except for the addition of SATA and the same as the original NUC with the addition of a SATA port that can't really be used anyway due to this unit's enclosure. By building it onto the motherboard, though, Intel paves the way for slightly taller configurations with room for a 2.5" hard drive or SSD. You still get two SO-DIMM memory slots on one side of the board and two mini-PCIe interfaces (one with mSATA drive support) on the other.
Once again, we know that Haswell-based mobile processors don't work with 1.5 V DDR3 memory. You need to make sure you seek out 1.35 V DDR3L to use with this platform.
Special Features And Livability
The D54250WYK is an evolved NUC. It's smaller than its predecessor with more functionality. Intel's prior effort lacked audio I/O, so that was added. The IR sensor is new too. We find a lot more ports to accommodate external peripherals. Without question, the new NUC is much more desirable than the Ivy Bridge-based version.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Intel NUC D54250WYK (Haswell)|
|Chipset||Intel QS77 Express|
|CPU||Intel Core i5-4250U, Dual-Core, Hyper-Threaded, 1.3 GHz (2.6 GHz Peak Turbo Boost), 3 MB L3 Cache|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 5000, 200 MHz - 1 GHz|
|Graphics Memory||Shared with system memory|
|System Memory||Not Included|
|Hard Drive||Not Included|
|Operating System||Not Included|
|Included Peripherals||Not Included|
|Memory Support||Dual-Channel, 2 x DDR3L SO-DIMM slots, 1.35 V, 1333/1600 MT/s, 16 GB Max|
|Mass Storage Controllers|
|Chipset SATA||1 x SATA 3Gb/s (no space for 2.5" hard drive)1 x mSATA 6Gb/s|
|I/O Panel Connectors|
|MHSL Input||Not Included|
|USB (2.0, 3.0, 2.0/eSATA combo)||4 x USB 3.0|
|Memory Card Reader||Not Included|
|Digital Audio out||HDMI|
|Analog Audio||One front|
|Ethernet & Wireless|
|HD Audio Codec||Analog: Realtek ALC283HDMI: Intel Display Audio|
|Size||116.6 x 112 x 34.5 mm (4.59" x 4.41" x 1.36")|
|Weight||478 g (1.05 lbs)|
|As tested: $833.97 (with added Windows 8.1 Pro x64, Intel SSD 525 180 GB GB SSD, Intel 7260 Wireless AC card, and 2 x 4 GB Crucial DDR3 SO-DIMMs)Barebone: $375 (Newegg)|
I am disappoint, this would be a great area for AMD to show their competitiveness.
VESA mounted on the back of a monitor, these look really clunky, and I'd rather go with an AIO kit using the thin mini-ITX form factor where I have more control over processor choice.
I'd be more excited if this technology and form factor were applied in a more interchangeable system with a standardized GPU socket. I really like what ASRock and Gigabyte have done with their compact systems. They're not as compact, but having something a little more substantial on my desk is a good thing, and they pack a lot of punch. I just wish the standards were developed to allow builders to replicate that feat - pipe dream, I know.
One thing is for sure, AMD needs to develop it's own equivalent of the NUC and thin Mini-ITX. The success of it's Kaveri line I think would be helped out by innovation in form factor.