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Intel’s tiny NUC now packs a gaming punch with a Core CPU and Vega GPU

Intel claims that it's newest NUC (Next Unit of Computing) is the "smallest VR-capable system ever." That bold statement is backed by internals that leverage the chipmaker's newly announced 8th Gen G-series processors, which combine Intel's 8th Gen Core CPUs with AMD's Radeon RX Vega M graphics and HBM2 memory.

"The new Intel NUC (formerly code-named Hades Canyon) brings this powerful new processor and graphics solution into an incredibly tiny 1.20-liter system. Great for VR enthusiasts and workload-heavy content creators, it will be Intel’s smallest premium VR-capable system in the market," Intel says.

It's also Intel's most impressive NUC yet, at least on paper. The company is apparently telling people that the custom Radeon RX Vega M can match the gaming performance of a GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q. Not too shabby for a system that measures just 221mm x 142mm x 39mm. Of course, nobody has had a chance to test that performance claim just yet, but we hope to soon.

In the meantime, let's have a look at the two new Hades Canyon NUCs on tap from Intel. The higher-end SKU (NUC8i7HVK) sports an unlocked Core i7-8809G quad-core processor running at 2.1GHz to 4.2GHz, with AMD's Radeon RX Vega M GH graphics running from 1,063MHz to 1,190MHz. This is the model that Intel is pitching as being VR-ready.

The lower-end SKU (NUC8i7HNK) drops down to a Core i7-8705G quad-core CPU clocked at 3.1GHz to 4.1GHz and Radeon RX Vega M GL graphics running at 921MHz to 1,011MHz. Intel's performance claim on this one is that it can reach GeForce GTX 1050 performance levels.

Both models support up to 32GB of dual-channel DDR4-2400 SODIMM memory. They also have dual M.2 slots for fast storage.

Connectivity on the rear consists of two Thunderbolt 3 ports, three USB 3.0 ports (Type-A), dual GbE LAN ports, two mini DisplayPorts, and an HDMI 2.0a port. More connectivity options are found on the front, including USB 3.0 and 3.1 ports (one each, both Type-A), two USB 3.1 Type-C, another HDMI port, and a memory card reader. Both models also feature built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

Intel will begin shipping the new NUCs this spring, priced at $800 for NUC8i7HNK and $1,000 for the NUC8i7HVK.