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HARDWARE

Intel NUC D54250WYK 2013 (Part 1)

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Mini in size, but not quite mighty enough in power

According to some industry observers, the PC has a problem. It’s being squeezed into obscurity by smartphones and tablets running ghastly things called ARM processors and alternative operating systems, ‘Android’ and ‘iOS’.

In reality, that’s just not true. The PCs we care about – such as gaming and performance-focused PCs – are in a state of rude health. High-end GPUs, which make for a very handy metric, are practically flying off virtual shelves.


The PCs we care about – such as gaming and performance-focused PCs – are in a state of rude health.

However, there’s no denying poverty-spec commodity PC sales are on the slide. The once plausible notion of the PC as the central hub for home entertainment looks like a goner, too. More generally, PCs as a mainstream consumer appliance feel a bit like they’ve had their moment, which begs the question, if you’re Intel at least, of how can the PC regain its living room mojo.

Actually, there are quite a few people working on that problem right now. Valve’s Steam Machine, for instance, is very much in that ball park, but there’s also this, the latest NUC (Next Unit of Computing) system from Intel.


More generally, PCs as a mainstream consumer appliance feel a bit like they’ve had their moment, which begs the question, if you’re Intel at least, of how can the PC regain its living room mojo.

Broadly speaking, we’ve been pretty pro-NUC since the first-generation effort appeared a year ago. It’s basically an ultra-small-form-factor PC built by the biggest name in the industry, and so in design and engineering terms benefits from Intel technical prowess and deep pockets. Of course, Intel’s x86 processor architecture keeps on iterating. So where there’s a new Intel chip, you would expect a new NUC to appear. And that’s exactly what’s happened. Intel’s Haswell processors landed a few months ago and we now have a nice little NUC to go with them.

Almost his

As before, various models of Haswell NUC will be available, but the D54250WYK reviewed here is the one that most interests us. That’s because it sports a Core i5-4250U CPU. It’s a dual-core chip with four threads, a base clock of 1.3GHz and a top Turbo clock of 2.6GHz. None of which is actually terribly intriguing. What’s much more interesting is the graphics core. It’s branded Intel HD Graphics, which might have you assuming it’s the boring old tech from Intel’s previous Ivy Bridge processors. But actually, it’s the full-on 40-unit job that’s new for Haswell CPUs. Well, some of them, anyway.

Why it doesn’t get the new Iris moniker in this format is hard to fathom. Instead, it’s the numerical suffix that gives the game away. This is Intel HD Graphics 5000, and its other 40-unit siblings are Iris 5100 and Iris Pro 5200. Anyway, what this 5000 graphics core doesn’t get is Iris Pro’s 128MB of embedded EDRAM.


It’s a dual-core chip with four threads, a base clock of 1.3GHz and a top Turbo clock of 2.6GHz.

That said, with a peak graphics clock of 1GHz, it’s within a few hundred MHz of the two Iris chips, so in raw performance terms it ought to be in the same ballpark. In reality, it’s a bit more complicated than that due to the way Intel is now sharing overall CPU and GPU TDP, but that subject deserves a story in its own right.

 

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