Intel Launches NUCs With Radeon RX 540 GPU, Soldered DRAM
Intel and AMD are expanding their GPU partnership and launching new hardware that features a combination of Intel CPUs and an AMD discrete GPU. The two companies famously collaborated on Hades Canyon, a premium design that combined an AMD “Vega” GPU (not quite), with an Intel CPU connected via Intel EMIB.
The new Islay Canyon NUCs (Next Unit of Computing) are more modest than the heavy-hitting Hades Canyon. These diminutive systems include an RX 540 GPU to increase overall system power, combined with a 15W Intel CPU (Whiskey Lake-U). Intel’s official name for the little kits is: “NUC 8 Mainstream-G Mini PCs.”
The Islay Canyon NUCs measure 4.6 x 4.4 x 2 inches and can use features like Intel Optane or up to an Intel Core i7-8565U CPU. Mini DisplayPort, HDMI 2.1, three USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type A ports, one Type-C port, gigabit ethernet, and an SDXC card reader are also all included.
As for the RX 540, it’s a much more modest GPU than the Kaby Lake-G’s part, with its integrated HBM. The RX 540 is a mobile GPU with a 512:32:16 configuration and 2GB of integrated GDDR5. Performance from the card should be respectable for a low-end, budget GPU. 2GB of RAM is fine for low-end 720p/1080p gaming, and while the GPU won’t set any speed records, it should handle a game like League of Legends without any problems.
There’s a broad range of NUCs being built under this general ‘floor plan,’ if you will, as shown below:
Intel offers these kits in a variety of flavors, from a full pre-build to a barebones solution. Which you opt for will also have a significant impact on the final price. Finally, be advised that the DRAM in these machines is soldered, which may have an impact on their long-term attractiveness for some users. 8GB of LPDDR3-1866 is fine for the sorts of use cases this system is likely to be purchased for, however. While the PC market tends to periodically shift to larger RAM capacities, Windows 10 hasn’t actually changed its minimum RAM configuration requirement in quite some time. The media PC that I still use in my own living room is a first-generation Core i7 920 with 8GB of DDR3-1600, and it works just fine. Given this, I wouldn’t be worried about the relatively svelte RAM loadout, though some people will opt to buy a system that allows for upgrades, just on principle.
Pricing on these new models hasn’t tipped up yet, but they should be on store shelves soon.