Intel late on Wednesday formally introduced its Crimson Canyon NUCs based on its 10nm Cannon Lake processors and equipped with AMD’s standalone Radeon 540 graphics chip. The new NUC8i3CY-series PCs are the first systems of their kind (SFF) to use Intel’s CPU made using its 10 nm process technology as well as a discrete GPU on a separate chip.

A retailer specializing on custom-built Intel’s NUC UCFF PCs disclosed virtually all specifications of Intel’s NUC8i3CYSM and NUC8i3CYSN earlier this month, so we already know most of the details regarding the systems. The new NUCs are powered by Intel’s dual-core Core i3-8121U processor that works in tandem with AMD’s Radeon 540 dGPU (codenamed Lexa, based on Polaris architecture, featuring 512 SPs) with 2 GB of GDDR5 memory. The NUCs are outfitted with soldered-down 4 GB or 8 GB of LPDDR4-2666 memory and come with a 1 TB SATA hard drive. Users that want faster storage can install an M.2-2280 SSD with a SATA or a PCIe interface.

When it comes to wireless connectivity, the NUC8i3CY-series UCFF PCs are equipped with Intel’s Wireless-AC 9560 CNVi 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 5 solution that supports up to 1.73 Gbps throughput over 160 MHz channels. As for physical connectors, the NUCs have one GbE, two HDMI 2.0a outputs, four USB 3.0 Type-A ports (one supporting charging), an SD card reader, a TRRS audio connector for headsets, and a digital audio connector for 7.1-channel sound systems.

The key feature of Intel’s NUC8i3CY-series systems is the Cannon Lake processor made using a 10 nm fabrication technology. The Core i3-8121U chip is clocked at 2.2 GHz base to 3.2 GHz turbo, which is slightly below frequencies of the Core i3-8130U (2.2 – 3.4 GHz) made using Intel’s 14+ manufacturing process. The Cannon Lake CPUs support AVX-512 extensions that can speed up operations with large datasets that are not common on UCFF PCs, so whether or not this technology makes sense for typical owners of NUCs is up to debate. What is noteworthy is that Intel has enough 10-nm CPUs to install them in its own NUCs that tend to be rather popular miniature desktops.

Intel officially positions its NUC8i3CY-series systems as affordable solutions for gamers who play titles like League of Legends, TF2, as well as CS:GO and can therefore take advantage of AMD’s discrete Radeon 540 graphics chip. This dGPU is clearly faster than Intel’s UHD 630 iGPU in games, but Intel’s latest iGPUs have numerous advantages over AMD’s Polaris when it comes to media playback. For example, they featureVP9 10-bit decode, and support sophisticated copyright protection methods that require Intel’s SGX.

Intel Crimson Canyon NUC PCs
CPU Intel Core i3-8121U
2.2 - 3.2 GHz
4 MB cache
15 W TDP
Graphics AMD Radeon 540 GPU
512 stream processors
32 texture units
16 ROPs
2 GB GDDR5 memory
PCH Integrated into CPU
Memory 4 GB LPDDR4-2666 8 GB LPDDR4-2666
Storage 2.5-inch 1 TB HDD pre-installed
M.2 M.2-2280 slot, SATA or PCIe 
SSDs or Intel Optane Memory
Wi-Fi/BT Intel Wireless-AC 9560
802.11ac Wi-Fi + BT 5
Ethernet Intel Gigabit Ethernet controller (i219-V)
Display Outputs 2 × HDMI 2.0a
Audio 3.5 mm TRRS audio jack
7.1 channel audio output via HDMI
Optical output
IR Consumer Infrared (CIR) sensor on the front panel
USB 4 USB 3.0 Type-A (5 Gbps), one with charging
Other I/O SDXC card reader with UHS-I support
Dimensions 117 × 112 × 52 mm | 4.6 × 4.4 × 2.04 inch
PSU External, 90 W
OS Pre-installed Microsoft Windows 10 Home x64

Intel said that its Crimson Canyon NUCs will be available in September, but did not announce their official prices. Previously it was reported that the NUC8i3CY-series systems will cost $530 – $575, but since this information is unofficial, it is always subject to change.

Related Reading

Source: Intel

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  • AdditionalPylons - Thursday, August 16, 2018 - link

    I'm tempted getting one of these for playing StarCraft II.
  • AdditionalPylons - Thursday, August 16, 2018 - link

    However, considering that it's integrated (non-upgradable) RAM and that the price includes a mandatory 1 TB hard drive I guess I'll pass on this one. In my opinion there's no point not offering SO-DIMMs in this form factor. (For ultrabooks I understand it, but would still prefer SO-DIMMs.)
    Does anyone know if there are any Ryzen-powered NUC-competitors out there?
  • MikeChou - Friday, August 17, 2018 - link

    ZOTAC MA551, which is still not released
  • EricZBA - Thursday, August 16, 2018 - link

    No USB Type C port? What the f*ck? My i3 NUC from 2017 has one. Why the regression?
  • damianrobertjones - Monday, August 20, 2018 - link

    Maybe via statistics gathered Intel knows that not many people use USB C. It does seem odd to drop the port but there has to be a logical reason somewhere.
  • DanNeely - Thursday, August 16, 2018 - link

    Is this the same GPU on die but disabled 10nm chip on that showed up on one or two china only laptops a month or two back?
  • yeeeeman - Thursday, August 16, 2018 - link

    Yes, it is.
  • skavi - Thursday, August 16, 2018 - link

    So when you say the PCH is integrated into the CPU, it's not on the same die, right? Like it's the same arrangement of two does that we've seen in previous U processors?
  • skavi - Thursday, August 16, 2018 - link

  • HStewart - Thursday, August 16, 2018 - link

    I see these as potential lower cost box for developers that desire to work with AVX 512 in preparation for Ice Lake next year..

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