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Intel NUC Kit NUC8i7BEH (Bean Canyon) Review: A Solid, Tiny PC for Your Office

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Is it enough to grind “Bean Canyon” to make a ‘Coffee Lake’? We are cursed if we know, but we know that the latest Intel mini PC entry in the NUC (Next Unit of Computing) series (development code name “Bean Canyon”) is a winner in the implementation, a small product almost invisible for office work, light media or solid guides and kiosk applications. As always with many generations of NUC, this family of NUC (starting at $275; our review unit at $430) is dominated by basic SKUs with memory, storage, and operating system. These state-of-the-art models are equipped with eight-generation Core i3, i5, and i7 chips and dual disk storage, which offer surprisingly strong loading options in such a small package. For those types of applications that require the smallest desktop PC, these new NUCs are the latest generation. But as always, whether preconfigured or bare-bones, you pay a premium machine for all these little things.

 

Pros:

  • Core i7 and Iris Plus graphics offer strong computing power for such a small PC.
  • Thunderbolt 3 support.
  • Effortless access for upgrades.
  • Can handle two drives (one M.2, one 2.5-inch).

 

Cons:

  • The expense of storage, memory, and (possibly) OS needs to be factored into the overall price.

Design

Our test Bean Canyon NUC is the Intel NUC series NUC8i7BEH, the most basic version of Intel in this series. Intel also offers a fully configured Windows 10 configuration called “Intel NUC 8 Home” for $840, which comes with an operating system, a Core i5 U-Series chip, an Intel NVMe M.2 256 GB SSD and 8GB DDR4 memory.

In our test model, which combines black and gray color scheme, not so elegant but easy to blend. Storage space, RAM or operating system are missing. On the other hand, it offers an improved Core i7-8559U, a solid four-core/eight-thread CPU with a 2.7 GHz support clock. The eight-thread solution on this PC is a great feature when you look at the NUC of the past.

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When looking at a NUC computer or similar Zotac or Shuttle model, you should consider the cost of the parts needed. Add $100 if you need a new copy of Windows 10. RAM is reminiscent of the cost of a DDR4 SO-DIMM (currently around $45 per 8GB), and memory scales are exactly what you need, especially since you have more flexibility in this NUC than most computers of this size.

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This is because the device location here allows two types of installed devices, two types. The motherboard has an M.2 slot for SATA or PCI NVMe Express drives. (The M.2 slot is also compatible with Intel Optane memory modules for caching the hard drive.) Additionally or instead, a 2.5-inch high-capacity hard drive or a 2.5-inch SATA SSD can be installed on the 2nd, 5-inch slot under the base cover. , The combination of an M.2 hard drive and a hard drive easily enables combined storage of at least 6 TB when you’re ready to spend, with 2.5-inch portable hard drives and SSDs up to 5 TB and 4 TB. , Respectively. Installing a 2.5-inch drive is as easy as inserting it into the drawer, pre-installed power, and data connections. The installation of M.2 requires a little more sensitivity and a Phillips screwdriver.

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Bean Canyon NUC shares this storage configuration not only with previous NUCs but also with other fundamental upgrades, including the ECS Liva Z2. This is one of the main advantages over the most powerful pre-built computers like the HP Z2 Mini Workstation or the Apple Mac Mini, whose components are not easy to use.

With the NUC installation system, for example storage, you get a little more flexibility than you expect. Two SO-DIMM slots support both portable DDR4 2400 MHz DIMMs. The oldest DDR3 memory modules do not work. You can install up to two DDR4 modules with a size of 16 GB.

Connectivity and Ports

Port loadout is typical for the NUC mini computer. You will get two USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports in advance. Yellow can also charge USB devices of up to 1.5 amps. In addition to these USB ports, there is a power switch, a unit usage indicator, and a composite audio/output connector. On the left is a slot for the microSD card and a slot for the Kensington security switch. Wireless connectivity includes Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.0.

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On the back is most of the connections: two other USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A interfaces, a USB Type C interface that also supports Thunderbolt 3, an HDMI interface and an Ethernet interface. The HDMI output is powered by Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 on the processor.

Iris Plus GPUs are relatively efficient for GPUs, which borrow from mainframe memory instead of their own. They are above the graphics processors for laptops and desktops integrated with UHD graphics.

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Now, despite an HDMI, this NUC supports up to three external displays with resolutions up to 4K: one connected to the HDMI port and the other two chained to the DisplayPort connector, which is routed through the NUC Thunderbolt 3 port. (You may need a dongle for this.) For example, if a take-out restaurant wants to display its full menu on televisions, three 4K panels should be enough, and this would be a solid solution. (In fact, a model with less than a Core i7 would be enough).

Performance

The combination of Intel Iris Plus Graphics and the Core i7 processor makes NUC a competent player for everyday computer tasks. We compare your benchmarks with some other minicomputers, the aforementioned ECS Liva Z2 (price $250), with the previous generation ”NUC Hades Canyon“, the reviewed configuration of which costs over $1000. (This model has a dedicated Core i7 processor that combines in-mold technology with AMD’s standalone graphics solution. It is also slightly larger than this NUC and decorated with a skull illuminated on the cover.)

Because Bean Canyon NUC is simple, we installed our own 8 GB SO-DIMM-style RAM and a 240 GB Plextor M.2 SSD SSD to keep the system running. Since you can install any amount of memory (up to 32 GB) and different memory configurations, the following numbers may not be what you expect if you install a different memory or a different type of memory than we do.

The configurations of Bean Canyon NUC and our comparators are listed in the table below.

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The first test, PCMark 10, is a comprehensive performance suite developed by PC experts from UL (formerly Futuremark). Simulates various workflows for content creation and productivity in practice. We use it to assess overall system performance for office-centric tasks such as word processing, spreadsheets, web surfing and video conferencing. The test gives a numerical assessment in possession; Larger numbers are better.

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Here, the Bean Canyon NUC performed almost as well as the Hades Canyon NUC pre-built gaming machine that we tested starts at $899. This indicates that it is great for both browsing and more static tasks like viewing series of digital signage. At the same time, the significantly lower value of 1634 for the Pentium-based ECS Liva Z2 shows that mini-computer types (many with Pentium or Celeron) are only suitable for basic configuration tasks and forget them. Since there is no macOS version of PCMark 10, the Mac mini cannot be tested.

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Next is the Maxon Cinebench R15 test, which is fully threaded to use all available processor cores and threads. Cinebench emphasizes the CPU instead of the GPU to display a complex picture. The result is a patented score that indicates a computer’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads.
The results of Cinebench are very similar to those of PCMark 10, although in this case, Bean Canyon could hardly reach the top. This is a testament to Core i7 multiprocessing. Since Cinebench also has a macOS version, this test also shows that both NUC kits can perform processor-intensive tasks such as the Core i3-based 2018’s Apple Mac mini we tested.

Graphics Tests

Finally, we use the 3DMark test program to evaluate the graphics performance. It measures the relative graphic muscle by producing highly detailed sequences of 3D graphics and game styles that emphasize particles and lighting. We perform two different 3DMark subtests, Sky Diver and Fire Strike, which are suitable for different types of systems. Both are benchmarks of DirectX 11, but Sky Diver is more suitable for laptops and mid-range computers, while Fire Strike is more sophisticated and designed for high-end computers to meet your needs. The results are results protected by copyright.

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The iris graphics of Bean Canyon NUC gave it a significant advantage in both lower tests compared to the Liva Z2, but still do not have a match against the dedicated AMD graphics with the discrete VRAM in the game-centered Hades Canyon NUC series.

We were unable to perform our other standard graphics test, the Unigine Overlay Level Benchmark, with Bean Canyon NUC. And neither Superposition nor 3DMark have versions of macOS, so the Mac mini is missing again in these graphics.

Final Verdict

Over the years, the Intel NUCs have changed with the advancement of Intel’s mobile chip lines, and their basic nature has been defined as end-user values.

The Bean Canyon NUC tested here is no different. The calculation required to determine the good value remains unchanged: installing a legitimate license for Windows still costs around $ 100, and memory is determined by the market value of memory and the premium that NUC computers sometimes incur requires the use of SO-DIMM. instead of a full-size DIMM.

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In other words, since you have to add these components yourself, you have to pay the full freight. You won’t be able to take advantage of bulk purchases and economies of scale from system manufacturers. This increases the tax for NUC buyers who buy simple singles instead of predefined models or in large quantities at VAR.

In fact, the price-performance ratio of basic NUC has never been particularly good in this one to two years, and this model is no exception. With a Windows 10 Home license, 8 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB M.2 SSD, it’ll cost around $700 for this NUC and its components, as well as for setting up the operating system (using an external DVD drive or one USB installer). In fact, we can assume that configuring NUC 8 Home will reduce configuration and installation problems related to Windows installation, Windows updates, and drivers. In other words, if you need a small and user-friendly computer with a powerful auxiliary connector like Thunderbolt 3, the latter NUC is a small and dynamic force that defines the state of the art on very small desktop systems.

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