Intel NUC5i7RYH with Ubuntu

I’ve just bought my first brand new computer since 2008. Thanks to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales on Amazon.co.uk and Scan.co.uk this year I was able to put together a pretty sweet Intel NUC which is now running Ubuntu MATE 15.10.

I spoke about this new system on LINUX Unplugged Episode 122 and have been contacted by people wanting more details. Hopefully this blog post will answer any outstanding questions. Press play below to hear to what I said on the podcast.

The NUC

I purchased an Intel Next Unit of Computing (NUC) Kit NUC5I7RYH.

Everything works out of the box with Ubuntu MATE 15.10 including sending audio to the monitor over HDMI and DisplayPort.

The RAM

The Core i7 5557U specs state that DDR3L 1866 Mhz RAM is supported. The arstechnica Mini-review: Intel’s powered-up Core i7 Broadwell mini PC has some benchmarks that show a performance improvement when using 1866 Mhz clocked RAM, so I purchased:

The SSDs

I have two SSDs in the NUC.

This is where you might need to do some more research. At the time of writing, it is not possible to boot directly from the Samsung SM951 NVMe SSD. Although other quad channel NVMe SSDs do appear to be supported as the boot device. It is possible that the Samsung SSD 950 Pro, which is also NVMe, can be used as the boot device in Linux, but don’t take my word for it. Do your research.

My work around was make the SanDisk Ultra II the boot device by putting /boot and the MBR on it. I have put / and swap (swap because I want to experiment with suspend and hibernate) are on the Samsung SM951 and /home is on the SanDisk Ultra II.

There are faster SSDs than the SanDisk Ultra II but this was 50% off during Black Friday and just too good a deal to pass by. I did sacrifice a little performance on this component, so if absolute performance is your goal look at alternative SSDs, the Samsung 850 EVO seems to benchmark favourably.

The Monitor

A week after I purchased the NUC I noticed ebuyer.com were selling the monitor I wanted with a £100 discount. So I snapped one up.

The NUC is connected via mini Display Port and my Dell Precision T7400 is connected via HDMI. The Samsung S27D850T has an audio out and a 2.1 speaker set is connected to it.

Conclusion

I’m extremely happy with the NUC5I7RYH. Linux compatibility is first class, it’s fast and has relatively low power consumption. You can even charge a mobile phone using one of the front USB ports (the yellow one) when the NUC is powered off. It is my principle workstation and is able to handle everything I demand from it, with ease:

  • mp3 and ogg audio encoding
  • h.264 video encoding (~1 min of video @480p encodes in 1 second)
  • running multiple virtual machines
  • compiling large applications
  • creating xz compressed images of Ubuntu flavours for the Raspberry Pi 2

I’ve not tried gaming on it yet, but the holidays are approaching and GRID Autosport was released for SteamOS this week. So I know what I’ll be doing in a couple of weeks time :-D

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