Haswell comes to NUC

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Intel NUC2
Product NUC D54250WYK
Barebones Mini PC
Manufacturer Intel
Street Price US$370~420

Intel's tiny NUC computer line has expanded to five kits since its release a year ago. Recently, we examined a Logic Supply LGX ML300 fanless system based on a NUC D53427RKE board. Our only disappointment was that this board is not one of the new Haswell CPU boards that incorporates a SATA port and power connector. This would have been ideal for the ML300 chassis, which has room for a 2.5" drive, unlike the standard Intel NUC cases.

I asked Intel about sending one of the D54250WYB or D34010WYB boards (with SATA port). Intel responded by sending over a D54250WYK kit instead. This was more than expected, and I hoped to transplant the D54250WYB board into the ML300, but then it turned out that the back panel cutout on the ML300 review sample is incompatible with the WYB boards, and the appropriate cutouts will not be ready for a few more weeks. Hmmm... What to do? Obvious answer: A review of the kit.

The box was clearly marked "pre-production engineering sample" so there's no guarantee the retail product will be identical, but it should be pretty close. The small box contained the NUC, AC/DC power adapter, VESA adapter for mounting on the back of a monitor, a sheet of basics info regarding compatible RAM, SSD, etc, and a folded up sheet that unfolds into a large illustrated setup poster — though this somehow managed not to get into the photo.

This NUC case is a touch "slimmer" than our original DC3217BY sample, measuring 5mm shorter (37mm vs 42mm including the feet). The one piece that makes up the vertical panels is nicely finished aluminum, rather than the plastic of the original. It features a front panel headphone/mic jack, IR remote sensor, and happily, dual USB 3.0 ports. Our original NUC didn't have USB 3.0 ports at all, though a single Thunderbolt back port might have been a consolation for some.

The back panel has the DC power input jack, mini-DisplayPort, mini-HDMI, a gigabit ethernet port, and two more USB 3.0 ports. The bigger slots above are exhaust vents for the fan.

Intel D54250WYK Features
Form Factor UCFF (Ultra Compact?)
4th (Haswell) generation Intel® Core™ i5-4250U processor (soldered) with active fan heatsink
Integrated QS77
CPU embedded graphics
System Memory
Two 204-pin SO-DIMM slots for 1600/1333MHz 1.35V, 16GB max
Display - Intel® HD Graphics 5000
- One mini DisplayPort* 1.2 with audio, supporting ultra-high definition
4K displays and multiple monitors
- One mini HDMI* port 1.4a with audio support
Expansion capabilities
- Full mini PCI Express, mSATA support
- Half mini PCI Express
Peripheral interfaces
- Two USB 3.0 ports (front panel)
- Two USB 3.0 ports (back panel)
- Two USB 2.0 ports (internal headers)
- One SATA port (internal header)
- Infrared sensor on front panel
Integrated Intel 10/100/1000 Network Connection
Intel® High Definition Audio (Intel® HD Audio)1 subsystem in the following configuration:
- 8-channel (7.1) digital audio via HDMI 1.4a output and via one DisplayPort 1.2 connector
- Headphone/microphone jack on the front panel
Chassis Black plastic top & bottom; aluminum sides
116.6 x 112.0 x 34.5 mm
(4.59¨ x 4.41¨ x 1.36¨ )
- 19V, 65W power adapter (brick)
- Power cord options (Types B, E, G, or no cord)
- VESA* mounting bracket
- Integration guide
- Wireless antennae (integrated into the chassis)
- Intel Core i5 logo
3-year warranty
Standard Warranty Replacement

As with our first NUC DC3217BY sample, Intel offers the D54250WYB board in package as a barebones kit with case, CPU-embedded motherboard and PSU. An AC cord is not provided in all packages, presumably because of the hassles of matching the AC plug for all the various places in the world where this product will be sold. The AC interface is a 3-plug C6 or "cloverleaf" connector.

Some things to point out:

  • The i5-4250U processor is a dual core with hyperthreading, 3 MB cache, 15W TDP and "tray cost" of $337. It happens to be the processor featured on this year's MacBook Air, both 11" and 13" models.

  • HD Graphics 5000 is Intel's best integrated GPU, a couple steps up from last year's 4000.

  • For display output, it has mini-DMI and mini-DisplayPort. Unlike last year's DC3217BY the mini-DP port does not support Thunderbolt.

  • Only 1.35V SODIMM DDR3 RAM is supported. A whole morning was spent troubleshooting no-boot with half a dozen 1.5V RAM sticks before this fact was run home. The earlier DC3217BY NUC supports both 1.5V and 1.35V RAM.

  • Yay for 4 USB 3.0 ports!
  • Gigabit ethernet is welcome, and you can add wireless if you like.

  • mSATA SSDs now go all the way to 480GB, but for a price of course.

  • The SATA port is 6.0 Gb/s, supported by the PCH. Note that the SATA power port does not supply 12V, so only 2.5" drives are supported. This is moot if you're staying with the stock Intel chassis, which has no room for any extra drives. Only in a larger custom case (like the Logic Supply ML300) is the SATA port usable.

  • The $370~420 for this kit buys you a motherboard, CPU, case and power supply. You need to add RAM and an mSATA SSD — the system will run ~$500 before OS, keyboard, mouse or monitor.

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