Intel 8th Generation NUC8I7BEH review

Here is a review of the Intel Nuc model Nuc8I7BEH.


Transcript:
Nuc Review

Kerry Hoath: Hello everybody, and welcome to the review of the Intel Nuc 8i7BEH. I don’t ever want to say that again in this interview, because it’s quite a mouthful. The important thing to know about the model number is that NUC stands for Next Unit of Computing. It is a small form factor PC designed by Intel. Generally, the models are laid out by the word NUC followed by the generation of NUC. We’re up to the 8th generation NUC at the moment. We then find out what sort of processor we’ve got, i7, i5, i3, Celeron. Then, we go into the letter specifications. Now, I’m not sure what all of the letters mean, but I know the H means it’s the high one, that can take an extra hard drive.

Jessica Silva: It’s worth keeping in mind, when you’re looking at them, you may see the model numbers like Kerry mentioned, but you may also see numbers like Hades Canyon, Bean Canyon, Baby Canyon, ETC, ETC. Those would also say the model numbers, but that’s basically what I would call the dummy term code for them. Instead of remembering BEH, blah blah blah blah blah, you might remember Intel NUC Bean Canyon. I think ours are Bean Canyons.

KH: It’s worth mentioning – this has turned into a NUC tutorial rather than a NUC review, but I don’t suppose that matters. You can buy these in a number of configurations. You can buy them prebuilt from simplynuc.com. no, they did not pay me to say this. You can buy them as a bear bones computer. That is to say you need to buy disk and RAM.

JS: And OS.

KH: And operating system. Yes. So, if you want to go to simplynuc.com, you can build them up and click on all the buttons, and it will turn up with the specs you want, and the things installed.

JS: The other place you can go to get them, especially if you’re in another country, is just go to intel.com. Go to the product page for the NUCs. What they actually do on the Intel site is give you authorized distributers for the NUCs, and you can find them in your area of the world.

KH: If you are building a NUC, there are two types of NUC. There are various features across the generations, so when in doubt look up the Intel product specs page to find out exactly what your NUC has. Ours are the High ones, which are about 4.5’ square and about 2.5’ high. They have extra height so that they can take an SSD SATA hard disk. It has an M.2 drive and it has a SATA hard drive.

JS: Drive of your choice.

KH: Yes.

JS: Ours have a hard drive HDD SATA and the M.2 SSD.

KH: You could, if you had lots of money, put an SSD in instead of the spinning drive. We didn’t have as much money as we would have liked, and we elected to put a spinning disk in as secondary storage.
Okay, so, the unit is 4.5’ square, it’s 2.5’ high. I’m looking at the unit as we speak. Along the front panel, you have two USB 3 Gen 2 ports, so that’s a maximum of 10gb/s. You then have a 3.5mm four pole, tip ring ring sleeve, headphone jack that could be retasked and made into a mic jack. You have an infrared receive sensor, for a remote control and a power button. Down the left edge, you have a micro SD slot that you can slide a micro SD card in. Only a Micro SD by the way, it won’t fit a full-sized card. On the back you have, at the top, you have the exhaust for the blower that sucks the air through the case to keep the whole thing cool. You then have two USB ports. To the left of the two USB ports, you’ve actually got a USB C port, and to the right of the USB ports you have gigabit ethernet, HDMI and your 19V power input. It is also worth noticing, I forgot to mention, that on the very left-hand back corner there is a Kensington lock slot. So, if you don’t want people stealing your Intel NUC you can lock that away.

JS: I do find, just as a minor, minor complaint, — nothing has happened luckily, but because the exhaust vent is so close to the ports on the back, I always wonder if something’s going to get really hot, you know, a cable, or an ethernet cable, or something, but luckily that hasn’t happened. It’s just really close and it’s kind of like hmm. But it hasn’t luckily happened, so maybe it’s just my paranoia.

KH: The back temperature of the air coming out of it is probably around about 90-100 Fahrenheit when the machine is busy. There is a fan that does run inside these units. Because you can buy the boards separately and you can build them into kits, it is possible to build fanless versions, which is what Simply NUC have done, if fanless is important to you. The NUCs run off a 90-watt, or sometimes a 120-watt power adapter. It’s a bit like a laptop power adapter. It terminates in a barrel connector. It’s 19V DC. The specs page says 12-19V DC, but I haven’t tried 12, so I don’t know what power regulators are inside there or how that would work. It has a cloverleaf lead on the power side, which is the 3 circles, known as the Mickey Mouse ears power connector.

JS: Yep.

KH: C5 I think, …

JS: Or c6.

KH: Or C6, yeah.

JS: I think it’s c5 or c6, either one of those.

KH: That means if you’re going back to Australia, for example, like I will be, you can replace the power cable with the power cable for your country.

JS: I was wondering about that, actually. So even though the voltage is different in Australia, because it’s a cloverleaf plug you can still replace – it won’t overshoot the actual power?

KH: It’s not the fact that it’s a cloverleaf plug, it’s the fact that the power supply is a switch mode power supply. A switch mode power supply is designed to work on multiple input voltages, so it will work on anything from 110 to 220v, and it will convert the voltage down to 19V. That’s what a switch mode power supply does.
What can we tell you about these NUCs? First of all, they’re extremely fast.

JS: Yeah. That’s an understatement.

KH: We’re talking about onto the desktop in under 4 …

JS: I think the most I’ve had mine was 35 seconds.

KH: Yeah, and that was a slow day. Usually, it’s a lot quicker. Ours are an i7a259, so four cores, 8 threads.

JS: Super fast.

KH: Yeah. Very fast. The M.2 drive, obviously, we got a 256GB M.2 drive, that provides enough storage for the operating system. Then we’ve got our …

JS: 1TB HDD SATA …

KH: on top of that. Yeah. The NUCs, if you need to take them apart, have 4 screws underneath in the corners. You literally just undo the screws, and then you can lift the whole thing into bits. We haven’t done that because we …

JS: I didn’t know that.

KH: We have no need to. But that does work. You can also buy NUC carry bags on amazon which, if you are carrying this thing around and taking it places, could be very handy.

JS: And let me tell you, he told you the dimensions, so I won’t talk about the dimensions again, but let me stress, they are really small. You could literally take them in a carrying back with you.

KH: Yeah. They would fit in your average handbag. They would take up a bit of space in your average handbag, but I’ve seen handbags that these things would totally fit into, if you’re that sort of girl. Most girls have makeup and things in their bag, but I can conceivably see that a portable computer would go in there. They’re light. They only weigh about 2 pounds, so maybe a kilogram. They’re not a heavy thing to take. The NUC and the power adapter would probably be fairly hefty but doable. It’s smaller than a laptop, certainly.

JS: I mean most of your laptops today are pretty light, let’s be fair here. You have a couple of heavy-duty laptops, but generally, they’re about 3-5 pounds. Your NUC is a little bit lighter than that.

KH: So, a couple of the things I want to highlight now, features/idiosyncrasies of the NUC. The NUC does not expect to see a monitor. This is a big deal if you don’t have a monitor, don’t want a monitor, or are simply running it headless. You can set the screen resolution and things to whatever you want, it won’t actually demand that a monitor exists. With many graphics’ cards, it’s actually required that you have a monitor or an HDMI dummy plug to emulate a monitor. Now, we’re only talking about our NUCs. I’m not sure about the ones with the embedded Radeon graphics. They may actually require a

JS: monitor.

KH: Monitor.

JS: That would actually make sense, given that those particular NUCs that he is talking about are for gaming. They have special graphics capabilities and all that. So, that would make sense if they do require it.

KH: Yes. The sound card is a Realtek card, I’m not sure of the exact model, I would have to look at the specs sheet, which has a couple of things to be aware of. It does power save. So after about 5-10 seconds, you will hear a click in the headphones as the op amps shut down. This is normal behavior, and the card will click slightly when it wakes up, when you want to use the computer. This, in my opinion, does not make the system unusable. However, you may disagree with me. If this is the case, you can add a USB soundcard or use HDMI audio to take sound out of the NUC.
The Realtek does do jack sensing, which means that in its default configuration, if you unplug your headphones when Windows is running, the soundcard will disappear, and NVDA will get very upset. The easiest way to fix this is to shut the NUC down and plug in a set of headphones and reboot it up again. This will tend to bring the sound back. If you use Narrator and Windows 10, you can read enough of the Realtek control panel to turn off jack sensing. Once you disable jack sensing, you can unplug and replug your headphones at will.
Now, as far as IO, you’ve got two USB 3 ports on the front. One of them is a charging port, which means it will continue to charge phones and stuff when the power is off to the NUC. You have two USB 3 ports on the back.
It is also worth mentioning that there is a USB C which is capable of supporting Thunderbolt 3. If you want to spend the money on Thunderbolt docks or Thunderbolt peripherals, or USB C peripherals, they can all be connected in at a maximum speed of 40GB?

JS: 40 I think, yeah. Keep in mind, so Kerry corrected me on this, because I said it was a Thunderbolt, which it is in terms of like it does support Thunderbolt, but it’s actually a USB C plug. The point is, is that when you look at the specs, which is what I did, it actually advertised that it is a Thunderbolt port.

KH: USB C is the type of connector, Thunderbolt is the protocol that is capable of running over that connector. Not all USB C Connectors will carry Thunderbolt, and not all of them will carry Thunderbolt 3. So very important to read your specs. Thunderbolt docks are rather expensive, and we haven’t bought one yet. They’re over $200, $300.

JS: I saw one for 1, 1 something. !130 I think. Maybe I’ll think about getting it.

KH: Yeah, we’re still sort of deciding.

JS: Between that and the coffee grinder.

KH: Yeah. It depends on how much you want to spend as to what features you get on the dock.

JS: The cool thing about Thunderbolt docks though, guys, is if you have interfaces that use firewire, you can then use your interface.

KH: Assuming your Thunderbolt dock has firewire on it. Make sure it does, because they don’t all have it. Thunderbolt docks, though, will provide you with audio, so those of you who want line-ins, and line-outs, and all of those sort of audio things may want to consider a Thunderbolt dock.
Another thing that is worth mentioning is that inside the casing there is actually a header for 2 USB 2.0 ports. If your audio interface requires USB2.0, you may have to do some hardware hackery with some cables and connectors to bring the two USB 2.0 ports out from the header.
Now, I think that’s most of the information we need to cover. If anybody has any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. It is very important to look at the specs and the specifics of your NUC before you purchase it, and make sure you are absolutely familiar with the IO options that it has. And no, there are not extra ports that you are going to find or surprises. Some NUCs do have SPDIF out, some NUCs do have rear audio jacks. Not the 8th Gen i7BEH, however.

JS: The other one might. I need to go look at the specs if you really want to know. But I think the hades Canyon is the new new, gamy one. Pew, pew. That one might have a – but they’re also really expensive.

KH: They are very expensive. To give you some idea, you’re looking at essentially, for the ones we got, $609 base price, plus all of the peripherals we added into it. So, certainly not a budget friendly …

JS: We spent, I’m not going to say the exact price, but we did spend over $1000 per computer.

KH: Yes. And, I think relatively speaking, money well spent. The machines are exceedingly fast, they are so far, after a week of usage, reliable, and we are very happy with these small form factor PCs. There are other options on the market, such as the Lenovo Tiny.

JS: That’s a beautiful PC, from what I’ve read. I’ve never seen one. But just about every PC reviewer, at least that I read, including Wire Cutter which is Kerry’s favorite …

KH: I love Wire Cutter.

JS: I love Engadget. But anyway, both of them as well as a few others seem to agree that the Tiny is the number one. But, both of them, most of them also agree that ours our Intel NUCs, are in second place, and not far behind.

KH: It’s worth mentioning that you can achieve some fairly low latency on the Realtek soundcard in

JS: Wasapi

KH: Wasapi mode. You can certainly use this as the center of a DJ rig. We know people who are using these as part of a music or performance rig. And you can connect whatever outboard gear you need.

JS: I actually know someone, I mean I’m sure he’s got interfaces and other things powering it, but I know someone who’s using it literally as a DAW. So, you could use these as an audio work station certainly.

KH: Yeah. But, if you have any questions, any queries, anything that this run-through hasn’t raised, please feel free to leave your questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them either by a reply comment, or by a follow-up posting.

JS: Thanks for listening, guys.

KH: Thanks for listening. Take it easy.

5 Replies to “Intel 8th Generation NUC8I7BEH review”

  1. Will this unit support an external eGPU such as the Razer Core X housing? If it does, will you be able to use an NVMe SSD as well as the external Graphics card or is the PCIe x3 bus shared between the eGPU and the SSD?

    1. I have no idea.
      I am totally blind and have no use for attaching an external GPU to this unit.

      You can buy units with radeon graphics in them if gaming is your goal, no idea how the bandwidth of the PCIE subsystem is distributed.
      It does have USB-C/Thunderbolt which means you can attach thunderbolt graphics.

      1. Yes you can. I run a Node Thunderbolt 3 with an Nvidia 1060 card. It runs pretty well. Boots to the HDMI and then will cut over to the external GPU when Windows boots.

  2. They can use external GPUs and as far as I know the lanes are not shared with the M2 slot. Head over to userbenchmark dot com and search for the i7-8559u. If you scroll down, you can find all systems that ran tests. Among those are several with external GPUs. They seem to perform a bit slower than their counterparts in normal desktop configurations.

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