13 Replies Latest reply on Sep 29, 2016 8:57 AM by Loeschzwerg

    NUC6i7KYK recommended configuration for reliability // custom enclosure for music venues

    1kilo

      Hi all,

       

      I've been following some discussions on the forum about issues with the Skull NUC and am quite anxious about the most reliable SSD, memory, and display port on this otherwise well reviewed micro computer.

       

      I am interested in multiple USB port usage, highspeed SSD access, single microDP display and a single fast ram stick that would insure high reliability for audio processing.

       

      USB

      I am assuming that powering USB devices via the various ports won't be an issue. I've also seen mentions that there is a pin header for additional USB ports that can be attached to the motherboard. I doubt I will ever need to utilize it, but would be welcome of course. If anyone has any concern/issues that they have witnessed, please shout.

       

      SSD

      I am planning to run a stripped down version of Windows 10 PRO on this machine, but would be great to partition and have access to install Ubuntu as well. I am not sure if separating OSes and software is recommended and achieved well by simply partitioning a single drive, or to use separate SSD sticks / types for this. Of course I looked into NVME Intel drives (assuming they have more reliable support than Samsung) but your opinion would be much appreciated. I need fast audio file access and playback and audio DSP needs to use some storage space for caching operations.

       

      microDP display

      The plan is to use an ipad screen with an interface board which requires a Display Port connection. I am quite new to this interface so I am wondering if there are issues with various standards or not. I would of course like to use a larger display monitor when working on complicated tasks and assume this is possible via mDP and HDMI running concurrently - or is it best to plan towards using a single display?

       

      Memory

      One of my main concerns are the reports of stuttering, OS locking up, wrong RAM configuration, and Intel's advice to use a single memory stick. It is a vast topic with many caveats. My initial thought was to use Micron chip based ram and avoid other manufacturers, but I've seen threads where people report lockups with Crucial ram which was recommended in other forums/threads. Of course it could be hardware issues, or maybe even heat. I would be very thankful for Intel's advice here on what sort of configuration is the most reliable.

       

      General Skull NUC questions

      I am Berlin based and I assume that any Skull NUC stock in the country is the first batch - so this would mean I would have to make my own BIOS upgrades? I've seen some threads about proper approaches here, including the steps to install and upgrade drivers - but is it really that sensitive? I guess its a bit of a stupid question.

      More importantly - have there been i7KYK hardware revisions? Should I seek a particular serial number for the release?

      CPU stepping - is it possible to adjust stepping on this hardware, as I want to tune the performance to avoid any performance stepping in my application. Windows and even Linux are quite touchy with things like MIDI and sound processing, but I am guessing the Skull NUC would have no issues with such operations - perhaps only in very hot conditions.

       

      What am i doing?

      My current project calls for very robust processing in relatively high ambient temperature environments. There is also a plan for a custom enclosure that includes an lcd panel. It is pretty risky, and I have seen some infrared images of the Skull NUC that show some potential difficulties with heat in low air current environments, not to mention a 9" heater in the form of an LCD.

        • 1. Re: NUC6i7KYK recommended configuration for reliability // custom enclosure for music venues
          1kilo

          An update - i am biting the bullet and ordering the kit and some parts.

           

          NUC6i7KYK

          I figured there is only one version of the KYK at the moment and we will see what firmware it comes with. I will update the thread for the sake of information once I get it next week.

           

          SSD

          I checked the roadmap for Intel's SSDs and saw that no updates are planned this year - so the choices are the various sizes of the 600p series. 6000p seems exactly the same with some additional remote access options (?) - but I don't need that it and it won't be available until late october here anyway. I went with the 512gb size and plan to partition it.

           

          Memory

          I avoided Samsung hardware here as well, and went with the Micron sourced Crucial ram. the Ballistix stuff was a bit more complicated to find, so I simply went with the single piece 16GB Crucial CT16G4SFD8213 DDR4-2133 SO-DIMM CL15. My use cases don't usually need a lot of ram and I figure there is no need to spread the 16gb of ram into 2 sticks. I assume that would raise the internal temperature, and I need to avoid that.

           

          Screen interface

          I plan on using a miniDP 1.2 cable for the ipad screen interface board - fingers crossed that it won't confuse the NUC. I didn't have issues with it with my desktop which is an ASUS 2011 socket Rampage IV motherboard.

           

          Internal USB 3

          I found a internal to dual USB3 port cable and hoping it will work fine. Not sure if additional drivers or BIOS settings are needed for that, but figure it is simple.

           

          OS and Partitions

          The plan is to partition the drive for OS and applications. Not really necessary and not sure if it benefits speed/lifetime somehow with an SSD. I might also partition for Ubuntu and perhaps linux applications separately - making a total of 4 partitions.

          I plan on running windows 10 pro but pretty salty about how expensive it is.

           

          BIOS and OS settings for use case

          I would like to avoid any unnecessary processes and BIOS settings that would decrease the reliability of the system - including stepping and etc. Perhaps playing with fire, but will document what I do. The system won't really need networking, encryption, and all of the wonderful Windows bloatware (languages, search indexing, cortana, hardware power management).

          • 2. Re: NUC6i7KYK recommended configuration for reliability // custom enclosure for music venues
            N.Scott.Pearson

            I disagree with you memory decision. By using only a single DIMM, you are not using the interleaved access capabilities of the processor's two memory controllers. Just saying...

            • 3. Re: NUC6i7KYK recommended configuration for reliability // custom enclosure for music venues
              1kilo

              noted, Scott. But the various threads with the advice from intel to take out one dimm made me go with a single. can always throw in another i guess. Would be good to know what software to use to testrun the speeds of memory if I ever get another stick (the one I got is just under 70usd).

              • 4. Re: NUC6i7KYK recommended configuration for reliability // custom enclosure for music venues
                N.Scott.Pearson

                Actually, this was recommended only as a diagnostic step to see whether it made any difference (which I do not believe it did). This is a standard diagnostic step that is often suggested to see whether there is an issue with noise on the memory buses. It really only applies to boards with two DIMM sockets per channel, where the additional noise introduced by having two DIMMs on the channel is too much for the processor's memory controller to overcome.

                • 5. Re: NUC6i7KYK recommended configuration for reliability // custom enclosure for music venues
                  1kilo

                  Thanks for the clarity. I assumed since this is an often suggested diagnostic that it could be something to do with the memory controller actually, so opted for a single dimm.

                  • 6. Re: NUC6i7KYK recommended configuration for reliability // custom enclosure for music venues
                    N.Scott.Pearson

                    Well, no harm done; it is purely a performance issue. You can always add a second one later. If you do, it's recommended that you match the specs of the other one...

                    ...S

                    • 7. Re: NUC6i7KYK recommended configuration for reliability // custom enclosure for music venues
                      1kilo

                      oh yeah for sure. if you have time - can you recommend a windows utility to check ram speed? The micron ram I purchased is about 70usd so I can foresee buying another stick. But to be honest I am pretty anxious about the air temperature inside this KYK. I keep thinking a lot of issues could be related to the hdd or ram overheating - but this is based on imagination.

                      • 8. Re: NUC6i7KYK recommended configuration for reliability // custom enclosure for music venues
                        N.Scott.Pearson

                        The KY units have a number of temperature sensors. There are the many Digital Temperature Sensors (DTS) contained within the processor (exposed as a single "package" temperature for fan speed control purposes), there is the DTS in the Platform Controller Hub (PCH, the "chipset") and there are two thermal sensors on the motherboard itself (one under each of the M.2 devices). By default, the temperature of the processor and the temperature of the thermal sensor under the primary M.2 device are used for fan speed control purposes.

                         

                        If you would like to monitor these temperature, the best application to use is AIDA64 Extreme (available here: Download AIDA64). If "free" is an absolute criteria (AIDA64 Extreme costs US$40), remember that you get what you pay for. You can try Speedfan (available here: Download SpeedFan), HWiNFO32/64 (available here: Download HWiNDO32/64), HWMonitor (available here: Download HWMONITOR) or even the Open Hardware Monitor (available here: Download Open Hardware Monitor). As I said, you get what you pay for. Most of these free tools, while they understand how to access the various ICs used for environmental monitoring and fan speed control, do not understand how the various sensors are actually used on the board. This results in non-existent/unused sensors being displayed (a typical problem with temperature sensors), incorrect sensor readings being displayed (a typical problem with voltage sensors), etc.

                         

                        Hope this helps,

                        ...S

                         

                        P.S. BTW, AIDA64 Extreme has a try-before-buy option, so you can try it for 30 days - and take advantage of its stress test capability to see whether thermals are really the cause of your problems.

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                        • 9. Re: NUC6i7KYK recommended configuration for reliability // custom enclosure for music venues
                          1kilo

                          Thanks a lot Scott, very interesting and grabbed AIDA64 since it has everything i need.

                          • 10. Re: NUC6i7KYK recommended configuration for reliability // custom enclosure for music venues
                            Intel Corporation
                            This message was posted by Intel Corporation on behalf of

                            Great information from Scott, this is very helpful. 
                             

                            Allan.

                            • 11. Re: NUC6i7KYK recommended configuration for reliability // custom enclosure for music venues
                              Loeschzwerg

                              1kilo What do you mean by "adjust stepping"? You can't edit the CPU stepping, because it is "hardware". Do you mean the core multiplier settings?

                               

                              Regarding BIOS/UEFI update: That's very easy and the express method can be done directly within Windows. Anyway, if you don't experience any problems, no need for an update

                               

                              Regarding temperatures: The NUC6i7KYK gives you a lot of options in the BIOS/UEFI to play with. Many people only talk about overclocking the hardware to get more performance, but these options can be also used to lower overall power consumption and reduce the generation of heat. It's possible to limit the TDP of the NUC6i7KYK directly within the BIOS/UEFI, simply enable "Low Power" in the "Primery Power Settings". If that's not enough you can reduce the CPU and GPU core multipliers. Undervolting is another option, but it needs time and quite some testing.

                              • 12. Re: NUC6i7KYK recommended configuration for reliability // custom enclosure for music venues
                                1kilo

                                Maybe I am using the wrong term, but things like "balanced" mode in windows can cause latency issues for my audio apps or low temperature values that cause the clock and voltage drops. Mostly people just refer to it as cpu stepping but I assume you are correct that it is the core multipliers.

                                I do hope that this machine is powerful enough that I can underclock it to prevent high temperatures but still have the needed processing to keep audio and midi latency very low.

                                • 13. Re: NUC6i7KYK recommended configuration for reliability // custom enclosure for music venues
                                  Loeschzwerg

                                  Ok, I get what you mean.

                                   

                                  If you experience problems, deactivate the Turbo-Boost feature of the CPU (or fix the multipliers to 26) and set the fan behavior to "cool". This way the CPU should always keep it's clock at the same level.

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