Haswell comes to NUC

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TEST RESULTS

BIOS Fan Control Simplified

The NUC features the Intel Visual BIOS, a modern UEFI/BIOS with mouse control. Most of the options enthusiasts expect for CPU clock and voltage adjustments are missing, and the fan control section has been simplified considerably compared to our original NUC. There's a choice between AUTO and MANUAL fan control. If manual is chosen, a single slide control for speed goes from 0 to 100%. Don't set it to 0% because the fan will stop altogether and the system will overheat pretty quickly. We tried. Our system came on AUTO with the fan set at 18% minimum, 100% maximum, and that's the way it was left. Maximum speed is over 6000 RPM (around 32 dBA@0.6m), and 18% made the fan just about inaudible at 1800 RPM, 11 dBA@0.6m.

Thermals & Noise

The original Intel NUC had "the distinction of being the quietest fan-cooled mini-computer we've come across." The NUC D54250WYK, with the same cooling system, sounds exactly the same. In normal use, you can't hear the fan until your ear is inches from the unit. Our highly sensitive acoustic test system barely registered any rise in the ambient sound level in the anechoic chamber when the NUC was idling or playing HD video, at 0.6m from the unit.


This graphic is for the original NUC, but D54250WYK sounds the same.

The CPU ran somewhat hot with the fan at the 18% AUTO setting, but it was no cause for concern. The casing got fairly hot in some spots, but never too hot to touch. With the graphics card torture test of Furmark, CPU temperatures jumped above 82°C, when the system would go into throttling, forcing the clock speed to drop as low as 800 MHz, then getting into a periodic cyling between higher clock speed (up to 2.3 GHz Turbo in multi-core load) and throttling over a 2 minute period. Furmark's stress on the system is so high that adding Prime95 to the load does nothing to total power draw; the system simply doesn't have spare clock cycles to add.

With the torture test loads, Prime95 and Furmark, the fan noise jumped in both volume and pitch. At full tilt, it emits a hissy and whiny noise. But with normal loads, including a long sequence of video encoding, the noise always remained very low.

Intel NUC D54250WYK Measurements
State
AC
Fan RPM
SPL @0.6m†
CPU
PCH
HD
Top Cover‡
Idle
6W
1800
11 dBA
39°C
38°C
33°C
39°C
x264 video
9W
2100
12 dBA
54°C
51°C
43°C
40°C
TMPGEnc
20W
2800
16 dBA
70°C
59°C
43°C
42°C
Prime95
26W
4200
21 dBA
80°C
60°C
30°C
43°C
Furmark*
40W
5800
30 dBA
82°C
63°C
30°C
44°C
P95+Furmark*
40W
5300
28 dBA
80°C
63°C
30°C
44°C
Ambient: 22°C, 10~11 dBA.
External temperature measured using an IR thermometer pointed at the hottest portion of the external chassis
We measure SPL at 0.6m for all devices meant to be used atop a desk, as it is more realistic a distance than the usual 1m. It also corresponds to the "seated user SPL" distance as per the computer noise measurement standard ISO 7779.
* Throttling occurs at a bit over 80°C. See text.

Mounted on the back of a monitor, the SPL did not drop by more than a decibel, but the overall perception of higher frequency noise dropped so that the subjective impression was of a softer overall sound. This is a benefit only when the system is being pushed hard enough so that the fan RPM exceeds ~3,000 RPM; below that speed, the fan is quiet just resting under the monitor.



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