Back in late 2016, I bought an Intel NUC6i5SYH for my wife. This particular NUC has an Intel Core i5-6260U processor with Iris Graphics 540. I completed the system with 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a 256GB Samsung 850 PRO SATA SSD.
This was a mid-range NUC at the time, and it has been a reliable unit over the years. My wife primarily used it for web surfing and light office tasks, and she had no complaints. The fact that it had an SSD made it seem pretty snappy compared to her work machine at the time.
Even so, I thought it was time for an upgrade. This was especially true since she has expressed some interest in doing some video editing. That poor little 2C/4T Skylake NUC would be a miserable video editing machine. Besides, replacing my wife’s computer was a good excuse to build a machine!
How Slow Was the Old Machine?
Intel NUCs from 2015-2016 are pretty slow by modern standards. The 14nm Intel Core i5-6260U is a low-power mobile CPU that was meant for Ultra Books (and NUCs). It has a TDP of 15 watts, and the entire NUC has an idle power usage of 10-12 watts from the wall. The entire unit is completely quiet.
Unfortunately, this processor is just slow and weak compared to a modern desktop CPU. It scored 618 on Cinebench 20, which is miserably bad. Cinebench 20 is a tile-based rendering benchmark that renders one tile in parallel for each core. The CPU-Z benchmark scores are also extremely low.
To be fair, I could have modified the NUC to get a little more performance. I could have put in a larger M.2 NVMe SSD as a boot drive and also put in a larger SATA SSD. The NUC supports 32GB of RAM, so I could have replaced the existing RAM. But, we would still have a pretty slow 2C/4T CPU. It was time to retire the NUC.
What Was the Replacement?
I ended up repurposing my existing Ryzen 7 3700X gaming rig with some new parts to create my wife’s new machine. It has a processor that is one of the Top 5 Best CPUs in 2020.
The gaming rig was less than a year old, and I thought it was a good system to use as a base. I made several changes to make it a better system for video editing. More RAM, more storage, a 2.5GbE NIC, and a different video card.
Here is the final parts list:
- Fractal Design Meshify-C case
- Corsair RM750X modular power supply
- ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming 4 motherboard
- AMD Ryzen 7 3700X processor with stock Wraith Prism cooler
- (2) 16GB Geil EVO Potenza DDR4-3200 DIMMs
- Trendnet TEG-25GECTX 2.5Base-T PCIe NIC
- ASUS GTX 1660 Super video card
- 500GB Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2 NVMe SSD
- 512GB Samsung 850 PRO SATA SSD
- 500GB Samsung 850 EVO SATA SSD
- (2) 140mm Black Noise Noiseblocker NB-eLoop B14-PS case fans
- 120mm Black Noise Noiseblocker NB-eLoop B12-PS case fan
- 140mm Noctua NF-P14r case fan
This machine has a Cinebench 20 score of 4822. Its CPU-Z scores are shown below.
The old NUC system had a 2C/4T CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB SATA SSD. The new system has a much faster 8C/16T CPU, 32GB of RAM, one 500Gb PCIe NVMe SSD and two SATA SSDs. In addition, the new system has a good mid-range NVIDIA discrete GPU.
As you can see, the new system pretty much destroys the old system. It is so fast that Veronica even made an unsolicited comment “This seems fast…”
This machine should have a long lifetime, and it should serve Veronica’s needs for several years with no modifications. The new system can also be improved over time if Veronica gets more interested in video editing. We could go to a Ryzen 9 3900X, a Ryzen 9 3950X or even a Ryzen 4000 Zen 3 CPU. That motherboard and CPU can support 128GB of RAM. There is an empty M.2 slot for more high speed storage, and both of the M.2 slots support PCIe 4.0. Finally, we could get a faster video card.
If you have an Ultrabook type laptop with a 2C/4T CPU from the last 4-5 years, you probably have similar performance to Veronica’s old machine. That may be all you want or need. On the other hand, building a modern desktop machine can easily give you a huge increase in performance.
If you have any questions about this post, please ask me here in the comments or on Twitter. I am pretty active on Twitter as GlennAlanBerry. Thanks for reading!