Intel’s Islay Canyon Mini NUCs Available: Whiskey Lake, Radeon 540X, 8GB LPDDR3
Several retailers have started sales of Intel’s NUC 8 Mainstream-G systems previously known as codenamed Islay Canyon. The ultra-compact form-factor PCs pack Intel’s 8th Gen Core i5/i7 processors for laptops, alongside AMD’s Radeon 540X discrete graphics, a rather rare combination.
The Intel NUC8i5INH/NUC8i7INH-series compact PCs come in conventional 4.6-inch × 4.4-inch chassis and is powered by Intel’s quad-core Core i5-8265U/Core i7-8565U CPU accompanied by AMD’s Radeon 540X discrete graphics processor (codenamed Lexa, based on Polaris architecture, featuring 512 SPs) with 2 GB of GDDR5 memory. The UCFF PC are equipped with soldered-down 8 GB of LPDDR3-1866/2133 DRAM.
The key selling feature of Intel’s NUC 8 Mainstream-G systems is a combination of Intel’s low-power Core i5-8265U/Core i7-8565U (Whiskey Lake, 15 W) and AMD’s discrete Radeon 540X that provides higher graphics performance than Intel’s UHD 630 Graphics in games, but there is a catch. As far as media playback is concerned, Intel’s modern iGPUs have numerous advantages over AMD’s Polaris, which includes VP9 10-bit decode, support for sophisticated copyright protection methods that require Intel’s SGX, and so on.
Depending on exact model, different versions of Intel’s NUC 8 Mainstream-G systems will come equipped with Intel’s Optane Memory caching SSD or a 128GB/256 GB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD, along with a 1 TB 2.5-in hard drive. Besides, there will also be barebones kits without any storage devices or software installed.
As far as wireless connectivity is concerned, Intel’s NUC 8 Mainstream-G computers are equipped with the company’s Wireless-AC 9560 CNVi 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 5 solution that supports up to 1.73 Gbps throughput over 0 MHz channels. On the wired side of things, the PCs have one GbE (I219-V), two display outputs (DP 1.2, HDMI 2.0b), three USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a USB 3.1 Gen 2 connector, an SD card reader, a 3.5-mm audio connector for headsets, and so on.
Leading retailers, such as Amazon, Newegg, Walmart, and SimplyNUC, already sell the new NUC8i5INH/NUC8i7INH-series compact PCs for $772 – $1075 depending on configuration. Considering pricing of the systems, it is not completely clear how Intel is positioning its Islay Canyon NUCs against its own Bean Canyon machines that are priced similarly, yet they feature higher CPU performance, similar GPU performance, and a better feature set when it comes to media playback.
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