REVIEW: Intel Hades Canyon the most powerful NUC

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Intel Hades Canyon NUC is the model of Intel miniPC that today we present its review. This model began its journey in the previous generation with the version called Intel Skull Canyon NUC that we also analyzed in its output. Now thanks to the new Intel Kaby Lake-G processors of 8th generation with a integrated Radeon RX Vega M GH GPU that has 4GB of integrated HBM2 memory, we get an unprecedented graphic power in this type of format. In addition to their power facet this model is undoubtedly an exponent at the level of connectivity and multimedia as we will see in the following pages.

ESPECIFICACIONES

ModeloIntel Hades Canyon NUC
CPUIntel Core i7-8809G
Quad core / Eight threads Hilos – 3,1/4,2 GHz
14nm – 8MB L2 – 100W TPD
GPUIntel HD Graphics 630 – 350 MHz / 1,10 GHz
Radeon RX Vega M GH Graphics – 4GB VRAM HBM2 – 24 CU
FormatNUC
RAMNot included. 2x DDR4 3200 SO-DIMM – Máximo 32GB
ControllerIntel HM175
Wifi / BluetoothIntel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265 / Bluetooth 4.2
Ethernet1x Intel Ethernet Gigabit I219-LM
1x Intel Ethernet Gigabit I210
AudioIntel HD Audio for HDMI, miniDP y USB Type-C
Realtek HD Audio codec for jacks
Radeon High Definition Audio
External connectors2x Ethernet Gigabit
2x Thundebolt 3
1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C
1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A
6x USB 3.0, uno carga
1x lector SDXC UHS-I
2x HDMI 2.0b 4K@60fps / HDCP 2.2
2x Jack audio IN/OUT – TOSLINK
1x DC-IN
Internal connections2x M.2 2242/2280 – SATA III  / Gen3 PCIe X4 AHCI
2x Fan connectors
1x USB 3.0 frontal panel
1x IO port
ContentVESA support
Manual
Hexagon key and screws
Transformer 19,5V 11,8A (230W)
Measures: 8.6 x 5.5 x 1.5 inches (220 x 140 x 40 mm)
Weight:  2.7 lbs (1.27 Kg)

Kaby Lake-G technology

Within the Intel Hades Canyon NUC we have the new Intel Kaby Lake-G processor that integrates in the same package an 8th generation Intel processor, a Radeon RX Vega M GH GPU and a total of 4GB of HBM2 memory. A solution customized by AMD for Intel where we have most of the features we have seen in the new AMD Ryzen APU.

If we look at the scheme of the system we can see how the GPU and the processor communicate through a PCIe x8 line, on the other hand all the video outputs are connected to the Radeon GPU something that at first seems correct but we will see that it gives us some problems in the appearance of certificates, Thunderbolt 3 connectors also do not connect directly from the one with which we have certain limitations in this section. For the rest as we see it is surely the NUC with more connectivity options in the market.

PACKAGE CONTENT

The box of the Intel Hades Canyon NUC already tells us that this is a rather unique product, it opens as if it were a chest, in the foreground we have the NUC and below we find the rest of the components.

CONNECTING THE DEVICE

Product details

The design of the Intel Hades Canyon NUC maintains the design of the previous model Intel Skull Canyon with a size of 8.6 x 5.5 x 1.5 inches (220 x 140 x 40 mm), a spectacular size for the power it contains but certainly don’t helps a lot with the thermals and the storage options. A larger size i do not think it hurt anyone and would bring improvements. In the front area we have the power button, three status LEDs, four digital microphones, IR CIR receiver, USB port Gen1 10Gbps Type-A and other Type-C, HDMI 2.0 video output and output audio jack with support for microphone.

In the rear area we have a jack with optical audio output support, power connector jack, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, two miniDP video outputs, two Gibabit Ethernet connectors, four USB 3.0 ports and another HDMI 2.0a video output..

In the entire perimeter of the Intel Hades Canyon NUC we have perforations to improve the air intake, in one of the sides we have the Kensington lock to fix it in public places.

In the lower part we have two threaded inserts to use the VESA support included, we have several rubber feet to prevent the unit from sliding and a series of perforations for the air intake.

At the top we have the classic logo of the skull that this time is illuminated by means of RGB LEDs that we can change color through the BIOS or using an Intel app, the front LEDs can also be customized.

If we remove the top cover where we have the logo of the skull and the LED system we can see the interior of this device, we have an IO connector, external USB 3.0 connector, two sockets for M.2 disks use SATA 3 or PCIE 4x , two SODIM DDR4-3200 slots and the BIOS battery. Under the motherboard we have the system of dissipators and their fans. In this product for analysis we have disks and RAM already installed.


Startup and BIOS

To control the BIOS system of the Intel Hades Canyon NUC we have the classic Intel Visual BIOS that offers an extensive amount of configuration options, we can also manage the performance profile and the internal fans. We have multiple ways to control the ignition system, Wake on LAN, on WAN or power loss. We can enter the BIOS by pressing F2 and with the F10 key we can select the boot unit.

Drivers and utilities

It is the Intel website dedicated to Intel Hades Canyon NUC we can download all the necessary drivers and applications for this miniPC, we also have the manuals that are always interesting to consult them to better understand our hardware.

User experience

Using the Intel Hades Canyon NUC we have a user experience in Windows 10 simply excellent as it could not be otherwise, the speed of the processor and the GPU with dedicated memory at the same time that of all components is noted. We can perform any heavy task and navigate with an infinity of open tabs without any problem, as we will see the performance is much higher than any other mini PC in the sector.

Remote control

To remotely control the ACEPC T9 we can install Intel Remote Keyboard Host on the the mini PC, and then we can use our mobile or tablet to control it installing the Android or iOS app. We can use tactile gestures, virtual mouse or remote keyboard, we just have to have both devices on the same Wi-Fi network.

Linux

To test these two systems we need to disable the Secure Boot option from the BIOS, we try to launch with the latest version of Ubuntu and we see that the system does not boot, it seems that we will need to make changes to the boot system. We also tried to boot LibreELEC from a USB drive and we have several failures as it seems to conflict with the two integrated GPUs, you can read our LibreELEC Installation Guide for PC to test it.

HARDWARE REVIEW

Processor

In the Intel Hades Canyon NUC motherboard we found the Intel Core i7-8809G Quad Core with Eight threads that moves at 3.1 GHz and in turbo mode reaches up to 4.2 GHz, this processor has an integrated Intel HD Graphics GPU 630 which seems not used at all, since all the video connectors go directly to the Radeon RX Vega M GH GPU. In the AMD Radeon Polaris 22 GPU we have 24EU, 32 ROP, 96 TMU and 1536 unified Shaders, this GPU uses the 4GB of HBM2 memory that are in the same package.

RAM

This review unit comes with two 8GB DDR4 modules Kingston HyperX Impact HX432S20IB2K2/16 at 3200 MHz – 20-22-22-42 that take advantage of the Dual Channel function. We have a very good performance although as we can see the previous model Skull Canyon gave us better figures in this section.

The memory works in Dual Channel and although the specifications only indicate a max speed of 2400 seem to work perfectly at 3200 MHz, the values are very good in general.

Intel Hades Canyon NUCIntel Skull Canyon NUC

 

Storage and ports

We check the installed disks and we can see how the Optane unit arrives at a good speed using the M.2 slot with 4x NVMe PICe connection, it is possible to get more performance with other units if we only want to use it as storage but Optane is very fast to use it as Virtual memory too. All USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports behave normally and reach their maximum speed, in the case of Thunderbolt 3 must be borne in mind that all pass through the same PCIe 4x line.

The units installed as we see deploy their full potential and have very good speeds, the system moves with extreme fluidity on both discs but as is logical the NVMe unit is much faster.

Intel NVMEIntel SATA 3

Wifi, Ethernet and Bluetooth

We performed our network test on the Intel Hades Canyon NUC, we found an Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265 2×2 wireless adapter that also integrates the Bluetooth 4.2 adapter and two Gigabit Ethernet ports Intel I219-LM and Intel I210. We perform tests using the streaming tool iPerf with which we have the maximum connection speed. With this figure we have up to where we can get using the available connections, the final performance will depend on our internet provider, the speed contracted, the distance of our Wi-Fi network and other factors. With this wifi adapter we have a speed of 78 Mbps in the 2.4 GHz band and 265 Mbps in the 5 GHz band. The Wifi range is correct but the internal antennas seem somewhat limited when we move away. The Gigabit Ethernet connector gives us 965 Mbps results, correct figures.The Bluetooth system behaves correctly and we connect peripherals without problems.

Temperature and noise

The thermal and acoustic aspect is always a controversial point in this family of products, with the Intel Hades Canyon NUC model we have a considerable improvement in the two aspects in a normal use scenario.

  • Ambient temperature in measurement 20ºC

We put this NUC to full load with several synthetic tests in a quite unrealistic situation and we almost reached the limit temperature of 100 °C we stayed at about 98 °C maximum, the system starts to lose performance relatively fast so better not to keep it up for a long time in this workload.

We also do test running DOTA 2 to have a more real result in a performance scenario, we can see the processors arrive at maximum speed without problems. The temperature remains with medium details near the 77 ºC and we have a consumption of 90 W, if we raise the settings to the maximum we reach 90 ºC and the consumption goes up to 160 W without a doubt the complexity of the load increase the temperatura.

We observe with our thermal camera how this NUC behaves and as we see all the heat is centered in the rear ejection zone, in the rest of the box it remains cold except for the central area that gets a little warm.

In the acoustic area the system is almost silent while the CPU don’t have heavy load and the fan only rotates at 700 RPM, while we are browsing or consuming multimedia content the sound is imperceptible, only when we play it becomes audible but is not annoying.

Power consumption

In the Intel Hades Canyon NUC model we have low consumption levels in a normal use that are triggered when we start demanding performance from the GPU. All the hardware has a consumption on the Windows desktop of 19W and performing some common tasks we get up to 48W. Forcing the system to the maximum load we reach up to 190W, a scenario that we will not have normally, if we play demanding games we stay at about 90W / 160W depending on the configuration.

PERFORMANCE TEST

As we have seen the Intel Hades Canyon NUC mounts the powerful Intel Core i7-8809G Quad Core with Eight threads that moves at 3.1 GHz and in turbo mode reaches up to 4.2 GHz, in the graphical section we have the GPU Radeon RX Vega M GH that has 24EU, 32 ROP, 96 TMU and 1536 unified Shaders, this GPU uses the 4GB of HBM2 memory that are in the same package. As we see in the performance data compared with other mini PCs this hardware sweeps all the competition without compassion, as is logical this results has its price and its limitations but it is certainly powerful.

Benchmarks

PCMark

With this test we can see the performance of the device in an office environment and common desktop use.

3DMark

Graphic performance test where we can see the gross performance capabilities in this environment and compare the performance of GPU’s historically.

Geekbench

This benchmark in SoC offers a fairly reliable numbers of CPU’s working in a single core or multiple cores ate the same time, it also has a section of GPU computing that gives us an overall result of the processing capacity.

Cinebench

A brute force tests on both CPU and GPU, this benchmark always help us to see a very clear reference of power.

Games

We perform a good number of tests with the Intel Hades Canyon NUC a model that thanks to the power of the Kaby Lake-G processor and the Radeon RX Vega M GH GPU we have enough power to play some games without much demand in 4K but generally whe can move all current titles in a satisfactory way with medium / high settings to 1080p smoothly. As we see in the test videos we can play DOTA 2, Fortnite or the new Quake Champions without problems with high settings, it is advisable to limit the FPS in some titles so that the system does not suffer thermally.

Test environment

  • GTA V, Low settings, 720p resolution
  • Overwatch, Low settings, 720p resolution
  • DOTA 2, Low settings, 1080p resolution
  • Fortnite, Low settings, 720p resolution
  • World of Tanks, Medium settings, 1080p resolution
    *On devices with integrated Intel GPU we use lower settings and 720p resolution

As we see all the titles are perfectly playable at 1080p resolution and high details, we must highlight the high thermal temperatures that are achieved when running these games so better don’t put the NUC in a closed environment and leave the back free to expel the hot air.

VIDEO AND AUDIO TESTS

Video playback

The Intel Hades Canyon NUC model with the Radeon RX Vega M GH GPU surprises us with the NO support to hardware decoding the VP9 Profile 2 codec something really peculiar because as we see in the new AMD APU’s based on Vega if we have it, this point indicate to us we have a custom version cut out in the video aspect of that GPU. On the other hand, the system behaves perfectly in 4K formats with H.265 coding or previous formats. It’s a pity that we do not have any video output for the other Intel HD Graphics 630 GPU that has built-in the correct hardware codec for VP9 Profile 2.

Intel HD Graphics 630Radeon RX Vega M GH GraphicsAMD Radeon RX Vega 11 – APU 2400G

 

Test results

H.264 formatResultado
BBB – H.264 8bit – Simple@L1 – 1080p@25fps – 7 MbpsCorrect
Samsung Oceanic Life – H.264  8bit – High@L5.1 – 1080p@30fps – 40 MbpsCorrect
Timelapse – H.264 8bit – High@L5.1 – 4K@24fps – 43 MbpsCorrect
Anime – H.264 10bit – High 10@L5.1 – 1080p@24fps – 10 MbpsCorrect
H.265 format
Tears of steel – HVEC 8bit – Main@L6.2@Main – 1080p@24fps – 17 MbpsCorrect
Samsung UHD Dubai – HVEC 10bit – Main 10@L5.2@Main – 4K@24fps – 51 MbpsCorrect
Jellyfish – HVEC 10bit – Main 10@L6.1@High – 4K@30fps – 392 MbpsCorret
Anime – HVEC 10bit –  Main 10@L4@Main – 1080p@24fps – 21 MbpsCorrect
HDR format
Life of Pi HDR10 –  HVEC 10bit – Main 10@L5.1@High – 4K@24fps – 45 MbpsCorrect
LG Demo – Dolby Vision – HVEC 12bit – Main 10@L5@Main – 4K@24fps – 30 MbpsCorrect
Planet Earth II – HDR HLG 10bit  – Main 10@L5@High – 4K@25fps – 31 MbpsCorrect
The world in HDR – VP9 Profile 2 10bit – 4K@60fps – 20 MbpsFrameskip
Peru 8K HDR – VP9 Profile 2 10bit – 8K@60fps – 20 MbpsFrameskip

 

 

With this model we also test the compatibility to play Ultra HD Blu-ray formats and as we see in the test the system is not compatible, there seems to be a problem with the APA / VP protection system using the two GPUs, a pity . We also tried the MKV, Bluray ISO and BDRemux formats that are not a problem since they are only containers, they usually come in H.264 format and with 1080p resolution we will not have any problem in general, we can use KODI to play this formats.

Audio format test

Testing the Intel Hades Canyon NUC  using a Yamaha RXV-577 AV receiver we check this device supports DD and DTS  7.1 pass through. We recommend, as always, to update all the drivers with Windows Update to the latest before connecting the device to our AV receiver.

Test results

Audio formatHDMISPDIF
Dolby Digital 5.1OKOK
Dolby Digital Plus 7.1CoreCore
Dolby True HD 7.1OKCore
Dolby Atmos 7.1OK*Core
DTS 5.1OKOK
DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1OKCore
DTS-HD High Resolution 7.1OKCore
DTS-X 7.1OK*Core
  • PCM – Stereo downmix from DD or DTS
  • Core – Only the core of the format Dolby / DTS is played
  • * Our AV receiver does not support these native formats but we check that it does downmix fine

STREAMING

Youtube

We play streaming for test some content on the Intel Hades Canyon NUC in the usual channels like YouTube or other sources and we verified that we have no problems when playing videos. In YouTube we can play content with the VP9 codec without problems, as we see both the CPU and the VPU do not suffer with this codec.

Streaming services with subscription

We check the most common streaming services playback various contents and we verified that all work properly, the power of this device is more than enough to see any kind of content with them. In Netflix we get to FullHD quality without complications, in the rest of services we get the maximum resolution possible.

ServiceVideo QualityAudio Quality
NetflixFullHD (1080p)5.1
HBOFullHD (1080p)Stereo
Amazon Prime VideoHD (720p)Stereo

CONCLUSIONS

Intel Hades Canyon NUC

8.1

DESIGN AND CONNECTIVITY

8.0/10

HARDWARE

9.0/10

SOFTWARE

8.5/10

SUPPORT

9.0/10

PRICE/QUALITY

6.0/10

Pros

  • Powerful and compact size
  • Good number of ports
  • Programmable LED lighting
  • Actual gen games at 1080p / 4K
  • Silent in basic use

Cons

  • Without support VP9 Profile 2 in GPU

Opinion

After doing all the tests on the Intel Hades Canyon NUC we can say without hesitation that we are before the most powerful compact computer in the world to date, a real beast in terms of performance that leaves far away the previous model Intel Skull Canyon. In this new version with Intel Kaby Lake-G we have the powerful Radeon RX Vega M GH GPU that allows us to play all the titles on the market with good level of detail at resolutions between 4K and 1080p.

On the other hand the Intel Hades Canyon NUC has surprised us not so pleasantly in the aspect of video playback since the not inclusion of the VP9 Profile 2 codec in this custom GPU seems a bad decision for the future. On the other hand it is appreciated the improvement in the ventilation system and the almost zero noise that we will have when we do not demand performance to the hardware. In general, as we see a product that follows its line of this compact family offering in a very small volume a great power, something that is very remarkable but impractical for the expansion and thermal dissipation options, a somewhat larger box don’t would hurt anyone. In general, a product for a very specific niche where it certainly has no rival today if you can afford it.

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