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Intel NUC Kit NUC6CAYS Review: A Mini PC for Daily Dose of Entertainment
Every Intel Next Unit of Computing (NUC) system combines versatility, upgradeability, and affordability in one miniature box. Unlike other NUCs, which are basically boxes that require additional components to function, Intel NUC kit NUC6CAYS contains everything you need, including memory, storage and even Windows 10. With a lot of connectivity options, this best for the entrepreneurs and DIYers, although you never split the case up if you don’t. The main factor is in its impressive price (tested $ 215) and deserves to replace a more expensive option from Shuttle XPC Nano as our Editor’s Choice for low-cost desktop computers.
Miniature build for a full Windows 10 PC.
Lots of connectivity options, including 4K HDMI support.
Expandable storage and memory.
Includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless connectivity.
Only 2GB of memory and 32GB of flash storage included.
Unconscious and small, the NUC is one of the space-saving and travel-friendly computers. With 2×4.5×4.3 inches (HWD), it’s not as small as the Intel Compute Stick or the Asus VivoStick, but it’s faster and has more features. It is the size of other mini-computers such as the Shuttle XPC Nano (1.14×5.6×5.6 inches) and the Asus VivoMini (1.9×7.8×7.8 inches). At just 1.3kg, the NUC has a low weight that prevents it from feeling cheap, but you don’t have to hesitate to take it on a journey. InFocus Kangaroo Mobile Desktop forms the border between the device and the desktop, is even lighter at just 5.76 ounces.
The four sides are made of gray plastic, while the top is made of shiny black plastic. The ports and the power switch are surrounded by a narrow LED bar that can be switched between different colors and effects. This is a somewhat surprising recording, usually reserved for gaming systems and peripherals, although the fact that the light can only be configured through the BIOS is a disadvantage. Less experienced users may not even know that the BIOS exists, but access to it is easy and consistent across all Windows computers. You can use the menus when NUC starts. In this case, the LED controls are on the Power tab in the Advanced section.
The alternatives available are (again, surprisingly) pretty granular for this type of product: it can cause the ring to blink, shine evenly or slowly fade. You can also set the NUC to blink as a smaller standard LED activity light when the computer “thinks”, but it bothers and annoys a lot on this size of a machine. For some reason this is the default behavior, so you may want to dive into the BIOS and change it, or at least reduce the brightness. The power switch LED can also be changed from blue to orange and set to activity light if desired.
It has 32GB of flash memory, which is a modest amount to keep up with laptops and cheap laptops like Chromebooks. The XPC Nano offers the same amount, but the Asus VivoMini VC65-G042Z offers a full 1 TB hard drive, albeit at a much higher price. There’s not a ton of space here, but it’s enough to store some photos and videos, as well as many documents. Don’t just fill them with high-resolution pictures or videos quickly.
However, the upgradability of the NUC can save the day. You can equip it with an optional 2.5-inch hard drive or SSD next to the boot drive for additional storage. By removing the four screws from the bottom, the cover is released to access the unit box. This is a nice and simple solution. It is a little harder to move under the box to other components. Handle the connected SATA cables with care. A motherboard with two DDR3L-SO-DIMM slots is located underneath the tray. 2 GB is installed on the NUC6CAYS drive, so adding up to 8 GB is not a problem. This is the scope of the upgrade options, but they are useful and can significantly change the functions of the NUC.
For a small box, NUC includes connection options. It has a more powerful set of ports than many other laptops and can easily be used on some full-sized desktops. On the front, inside the LED ring, there are two USB 3.0 ports (one with charging function), a headphone jack and a power switch. The right panel is blank except for the vents, while the left panel has the corresponding vent, SD card slot, and Kensington Asylum. There are two other USB 3.0 ports on the back, an HDMI port with 4K support, a VGA port, an Ethernet connector, and an optical audio line. Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth 4.2 and Wi-Fi 802.11ac. NUC also has a dual-line front microphone that lets you use the audio features of Windows 10 Cortana. Intel supports NUC with a three-year limited warranty.
This NUC version has a 1.5 GHz Intel Celeron J3455 quad-core processor, 2 GB memory and an integrated Intel HD Graphics 500. It worked modestly on PCMark 8 Work in the standard test, achieved higher ratings than Kangaroo, Compute Stick 2016 and VivoStick, but behind the XPC Nano. Of course, it is not a powerhouse, but it has a reasonable price and size. It did slightly better on multimedia tests because it more closely coincided with XPC Nano (and even ran our HandBrake coding test much faster).
With this speed and functions, you can configure NUC as a secondary media player in your home, for example, or bring it to the screen and play a presentation or set up a presentation. Because of its performance and the use of only integrated graphics, it is clearly not suitable for games or the demanding use of 3D software: we have not yet reached the size of a portable game computer.
The Intel NUC NUC6CAYS Series does not usually work fast on your media projects, nor can multitask, but it can handle your average daily activities without any lag. If you can pay and need speed, the VivoMini and its Core i5 processor are definitely faster, while the XPC Nano is a bit faster and can take up to 16GB of memory. NUC6CAYS is unlikely to serve as the mainframe for most users (certainly not without upgrades), but $215 value and versatility mean that it can perform many functions cost-effectively whenever you need it.
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