“Skull Canyon” Mini-PC Takes Intel NUC to Gamers

Posted on March 17, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Windows 10 with 0 Comments

"Skull Canyon" Mini-PC Takes Intel NUC to Gamers

As you probably know, I’ve been championing Intel’s amazing NUC mini-PC kits for the past month. But NUC is about to get a lot more powerful with the introduction of a new “Skull Canyon” model aimed at gamers and other high-end users.

Before continuing, please check out my previous articles about my “normally aspirated” Intel NUC, which I’m now using as my daily PC:

BYOPC: Starting Small with Intel NUC

BYOPC: Getting Up and Running with Intel NUC

Intel NUC (NUC6I5SYH) Mini-PC Review

Long story short, the Intel NUC lineup is a wonderful set of “kit” type mini-PCs with Intel processors. You just need to add RAM and storage—and, of course, a keyboard, mouse and screen—and off you go. These systems are essentially laptop components in a tiny desktop housing. And in my case at least, the experience is delightful.

So now Intel is adding a bit more oomph.


At the 2016 Game Developers Conference this week, Intel introduced a new, high-end NUC version, codenamed “Skull Canyon,” that addresses the gaming market and other high-end uses. This “Skull Canyon” NUC–really model #NUC6i7KYK—provides a more aggressive case design and, as you might expect, higher-end laptop components that are a bit more suitable for gaming. (That said, this NUC is essentially a low-end gaming PC.)

So what does that mean from a specs perspective? Here’s a rundown:

Processor: 6th generation Intel Core i7-6770HQ (45W). That “HQ” bit is important: The Intel NUC I’m currently using is a “U”-type laptop part, where the “U” stands for “Ultrabook” and at 15W is designed for power efficiency. The Skull Canyon part is a higher-end but less thrifty “HQ” processor than expends 45W.


Graphics: This NUC still uses integrated graphics, albeit a higher-end Intel Iris Pro graphics 580 chipset. I think this is what separates Skull Canyon NUCs from “real” gaming PCs, as there’s no way to add dedicated graphics.

Connectivity: As you might expect, these NUCs provide higher-end ports, including 40 Gbps Thunderbolt 3 with USB 3.1 and DP1.2 over USB-C. There are also four USB 3.0 ports (including one charging port) and a full-sized SD slot.


RAM: Like my NUC, up to 32 GB of DDR4 memory is supported.

Storage: This puppy offers dual M.2 slots for SATA3/PCIe x4 Gen 3 NVMe/AHCI SSDs. Nice!

Video out: Full-size HDMI 2.0 and miniDisplayPort 1.2 with support for 8 channel audio (7.1 surround sound).

Networking: Gigabit LAN, dual band Wireless-AC 8260 Wi-Fi (802.11 ac) and Bluetooth 4.2.

Form factor: The Intel NUC NUC6i7KYK features a unique case design with two lids—one with a skull logo, one plain matte black—and of course supports third-party lids.

With this kind of componentry, the “Skull Canyon” NUC is of course more expensive than the comparatively pedestrian $350 Core-i5 model I recently purchased: The suggested retail price is $650. Add 16 GB of RAM, a 256 GB M.2 SSD stick, and Windows 10 Home, and the price hits an even $1000.


Tagged with

Elevate the Conversation!

Join Thurrott Premium to enjoy our Premium comments.

Premium member comments on news posts will feature an elevated status that increases their visibility. This tab would allow you to participate in Premium comments with other premium members. Register to join the other Premium members in elevating the conversation!

Register or Subscribe

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate