|RAM||2048 MB DRAM|
|Number of USB 2.0 Ports||2|
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Intel NUC Kit NUC6CAYS
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- Intel Celeron J3455
- Intel HD Graphics 500
- Microsoft Windows 10 Home x64 preinstalled
- 32GB eMMC onboard storage
- 2GB DDR3L-1600 module preinstalled
- HDMI 2.0 (4K 60Hz)
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From the manufacturer
Ready to Entertain
With support for robust 4K display capabilities at 60 Hz via a full-sized HDMI port, consumer infrared, and TOSLINK audio jack, you’ve got everything you need to stream media, play, or finish that last-minute presentation from any room in your house—all in a PC that’s a great value.
Small, But Mighty
Built with a quad-core Intel Celeron processor, this Intel NUC Mini PCs delivers cost-efficient Intel-level performance—perfect for a home entertainment PC or as a desktop replacement. New features include a dual-array front mic so you can take advantage of Cortana’s capabilities in Windows 10, a front power button and a color-customizable LED ring.
Take Your Pick
The Intel NUC Mini PC NUC6CAYS comes complete with Windows 10 Home preinstalled, 2 GB RAM and 32 GB of on-board storage. Looking to add more RAM for an added boost? Simply replace the preinstalled 2 GB with up to 8 GB. To build your own Mini PC, choose barebones NUC6CAYH and add the RAM OS and storage of your choice.
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|Item Dimensions||3.46 x 4.92 x 5.39 in||4.92 x 5.39 x 4.57 in||2 x 4.53 x 4.37 in||2 x 4.53 x 4.37 in||4.4 x 4.5 x 2 in||4.24 x 4.5 x 2.21 in|
|Item Weight||3 lbs||2 lbs||1.15 lbs||1.43 lbs||1.31 lbs||1.54 lbs|
NUC6CAYS is built with a quad-core Intel Celeron processor, delivers cost-efficient Intel-level performance, perfect for a home entertainment PC or as a desktop replacement. Available as a full system with a new look, the Intel NUC Mini PC NUC6CAYS comes complete with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of on-board storage. There are also some hip new features including a dual-array front mic so you can take advantage of Cortana's capabilities in Windows 10, a front power button, and a multi-color LED ring so you can customize your NUC with the look you want. And with 4K display support via a full-sized HDMI port, consumer infrared, and TOSLINK audio jack, you've got everything you need to stream media, play, or finish that last minute presentation from any room in your house.
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I will likely re-visit this review in the future, due to some minor expected issues due to it being a new product.
For what this system is, it is incredible. This is a complete system (including windows 10 license), with everything you need to get started.
And, it is upgradeable, which for most use cases I would highly recommend pursuing.
I was quite surprised at how well the system ran with just the included 2GB of ram. When I had the system connected to a 1080P display, I did not have many complaints with the 2GB, however I could tell some things were a bit sluggish than they otherwise should be and memory usage hovered very close to maximum.
Switching over to my 4K tv, though, and I REALLY will need more. (I have placed an order for two 4GB sticks to max this system out while getting the speed advantage of dual-channel. You could also go with a single stick of 8GB for a huge boost, you would just be missing out on the interleaving gains).
Basically, when using 4K output, especially when attempting to play videos, I was seeing dropped frames any time I did anything as intensive as moving my mouse. When everything except the video was still, the system was fine, using very little processing power despite playing 4K video.
And about that 4K video out. This is a bit of a caveat at present, but in another month or two I expect this to have been resolved.
If you use Microsoft's Edge browser, you will have no worries. Hardware accelerated VP9 (youtube) and HEVC (everything else 4K) will work just fine. If you use Chrome, however, you will need to do a workaround to force the browser to use hardware acceleration. I am not going to get into the details of how to do this, but know that there has already been a code commit to unrestrict this, it is just a matter of waiting for it to filter into the released version of the browser.
(This restriction on VP9 decoding in Chrome had been put in place from the Skylake generation of CPUs, which for a time supported a hybrid GPU/CPU decode for this codec. It turns out it was very buggy, and so Intel recently removed support for it from the driver, but not before Chrome took their own step of blacklisting accelerated VP9 decode on all Intel graphic chipsets.)
It is worth noting that even before I took the steps to force-enable the VP9 decoding in chrome, the system was able to mostly handle up to 1080P 60FPS content with very few drops. 4K, however, definitely required the hardware acceleration for smooth playback.
Other than the small amount of included RAM, the other obvious limitation on this system is in the included disk, which is actually effectively seen as an internal MMC card. This means serialized writes and relatively poor performance. I have not benchmarked it specifically, but the flashing activity light was very prolonged in its activity while I had it as my primary storage.
I was fairly quick to install a SATA SSD in the system and clone the internal storage to it. Since then, disk activity has gone way down and responsiveness has increased.
During my install of the SSD, I ran into an issue that surprised me from an Intel system. Specifically, I was unable to get the BIOS to detect an external USB CD drive as a boot device.
Routinely when I use a new system, I will boot to a Linux live cd to clone the disk image for backup purposes.
I tried two different optical drives, both of which I have recently used successfully in other systems, and in both cases this new NUC could not see them, despite selecting appropriate BIOS options to enable legacy booting.
I ended up using a bootable thumb drive to accomplish my disk cloning task, so the USB booting in general clearly DOES work.
I would expect this USB CD boot issue to be resolved with a future BIOS update. (The system as I received it included version 0027, but I upgraded it to the latest 0029. I experienced the CD issue with both releases.)
I will revisit this review after I upgrade to dual channel 8GB ram, as I expect that will greatly improve things.
My only other experience with NUCs is a skylake-generation i3 NUC (NUC6i3SYH). That NUC clearly has a more powerful processor than this one, as evidenced by it software decoding 1080P 60FPS vp9 with lower than 50% processor usage, whereas this one pegs out and drops a few frames attempting to do the same. (As I mentioned earlier in my review, this won't be an issue anymore in the near future as more programs get updated to take advantage of the hardware accelerated decoding, however it does show a limitation regarding other cpu-intensive tasks.)
The included wifi module worked perfectly, seeing both my 5ghz and 2.4ghz networks.
For remote control, I paired it with a Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 Plus
Again, I went with 5 stars not because this product is perfect, but because the only issues I have currently experienced are perfectly expected for a system at this price point that is brand new to market. Additionally, I expect the issues that it does have will be addressed in the near future. This is also coming from the perspective of intending to use this system as a media center on a 4K television. If I were expecting to use this system for gaming or as a daily driver, I would likely have come to a different conclusion.
Let me start by saying it pains me to take a star away, as I try to be very fair with reviews; however there are three major flaws I feel are critical to the success of this unit. I hate to start negative, but if you keep in mind these two tips and one "trick", you will have a very capable & complete Windows 4K machine for under $300. If you do these 3 things, I would undoubtedly recommend the unit. Without it, I would not.
1.) It pains me Intel keeps shipping anemic 2GB. With all the windows updates and power hungry windows default programs, 2GB is painfully slow. I HIGHLY recommend upgrading. I understand the price is low, but this unit requires (yes not recommend) REQUIRES this to play 1080p or 4K. To call this "4K Capable" or "Multimedia Ready" out of the box is simply inaccurate for 4K let alone 1080p playback. Again, the price is great, but I would rather see Intel make this $249 (or even $279) instead of $224 and include an extra 2GB of basic memory if they want to tout this as "4K ready". If you are solely playing 1080p, you may be able to get by, but man do I feel bad for how long you will be waiting all the time.
2.) The also anemic 32GB of storage. Now I understand this is so cheap, and I would be completely fine with this IF, windows update didn't require more space to update itself. This was a fresh system I updated with windows update, I even deleted default programs like OneDrive to see if I could update. It updated all the way until the creators update, and I received 3 consecutive errors for "not enough disk space" even after windows update "cleared me" for the creators update with 8GB of free space. And yes, I tried to clean up more space by doing disk cleanup multiple times, but it wasn't enough and no avail. You MUST get an SSD (I say a cheap one for $50-adata makes a perfectly capable 120GB model). After this, disk activity is WAY down and it is super snappy for a celeron processor.
3.) If you play 4k, you MUST go to the graphics properties application (right click on desktop and click "Intel Graphics Settings"). Then go into Power, and change "plugged in" option to "maximum performance". This is the only way I saw 4K play flawlessly, and beautifully. This should be enabled by default for the plugged in setting.
Getting all cons out of the way, which are important if you buy this unit, it is an excellent machine for the price.
-Great value (once you add extra 2GB memory and SSD upgrade) you will be under $300 for a full fledged windows 4K machine.
-Snappy for general use. Even multiple browsers run quickly. However, keep in mind its still a celeron, cannot do too much multitasking. My i5 Model is faster, but not monumentally so in everyday internet browsing with a few tabs open. Kudos to this little celeron unit.
-4K plays beautifully without dropped frames on chrome, just make sure you eliminate or watch the background programs (like iTunes, chrome, etc).
-Small footprint like all other NUC's
-Extremely quiet. heard a slight murmur on initial setup when it was at 100% constantly. TIP: change BIOS mode to quiet, you won't hear the fan
-Can be fanless when not in use, or under very light load.
-LED ring and area is a nice touch.
-VGA port! So nice for old displays, where this device will most likely be used at, in budget environments with older monitors/display units.
Conclusion: I hate to knock a star off, but without these recommendations, you aren't in my opinion, getting a good value. I would rather someone buy a $100 computer box (like beelink) or the MINIX Z83-4 unit off here for the near same performance, but almost half the cost. But with those small upgrades, you have a powerful, affordable, tiny NUC capable of 4K playback, that doubles the performance (and then some) of the other units listed. Feel free to ask any questions below!
SanDisk 120 GB SSD 2.5"
Crucial 4 GB DDR3L
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