Intel NUC NUC6i5SYH Barebones Desktop Review

February 4, 2016
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Intel NUC NUC6i5SYH is not your average desktop: it’s damn small, more like a portable desktop, and it doesn’t come with all the components needed to make it operative. Hence, it’s a barebones model, you can customize it the way you want. Below, you will find my thoughts about the system and whether you should spend your money on it or not…


Out of the big three (CPU, RAM, HDD), Intel NUC NUC6i5SYH only contains the processor. Granted, it’s quite a fast processor, the Intel Core i5-6260U (6th generation Skylake). It offers two cores at your disposal and a 1.8GHz clock speed which is increased to 2.9GHz with the turbo boost. The unit does alright in CPU Mark test, currently averaging at 4300 points.

For memory, you must get the RAM sticks yourself or ask the vendor to install them. The mainboard has two DDR4 SO-DIMM sockets, accepting up to 16GB sticks so maximum memory is 32GB. “Average Joe” should be fine with a single 8GB stick, while some serious power user might benefit from two 8GB sticks, totaling at 16GB memory.

The same goes for storage drive, there is none installed by default. The system case has space for one 2.5″ 9.5mm SATA 3 hard drive or SSD. There is also one M.2 connector (Type M, 22×80 or 22×42) so you can install a solid-state drive there.

Gaming capabilities

It’s not unheard of to play games on Intel NUC NUC6i5SYH. For graphics, it offers the Intel Iris 540 integrated engine. Some benchmarks suggest it’s a lot (30-50% depending on the test) faster than the other popular integrated chip, Intel HD 520. It’s something, but you can’t still call this a hardcore player rig. Anyway, you are able to run most games on this NUC, although many only on low-medium settings and lower resolutions. You can expect something like 45FPS on GTA 5 played on medium details and 1366×768.

Just remember there are no PCI-e x16 slots in the system, so you can not install a dedicated graphics card here.

Ports and connections

Intel NUC NUC6i5SYH is a small package, hence it doesn’t have the same amount of ports than full-blown desktops. For example, there are just four USB 3.0s available, but if you ask me, I think that’s sufficient for the majority of users. Video outputs include HDMI 1.4 and miniDisplayPort 1.2, the graphics engine supports two simultaneous monitors.

The available audio ports are headphone and mic connectors, but you can get 7.1 digital audio using the HDMI and DP ports available.

Networking interfaces include integrated LAN (Gigabit RJ-45 port) and WiFi (dual-band 1×1 802.11ac with Bluetooth 4.1).

There’s no space for an optical drive inside, but an external one can be used. Media card reader for SDXC format is installed, though.

Other important factors

This computer doesn’t ship with keyboard, mouse and monitor, those you must get separately.

Also remember, operating system isn’t included here. Many people buy Windows 10 Home and install that, however I’ve seen some prefer Linux distribution.


Well, Intel NUC NUC6i5SYH certainly isn’t a desktop you just buy and plug in and everything works. Rather, you need to customize the system to make it work. This, on the other hand, gives you the control and you’ll get a computer set-up exactly how you want. The unit is also damn small (around 4.5 inches wide and deep, 2 inches thick) so finding spot in a cramped room isn’t going to be a problem. If you’re a techie and like to tinker, then getting this kind of a barebones desktop should be a good idea for you.

Not interested? Take a look at these desktops:

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