I have recently got my hands on a 6th gen Intel NUC for another project that I am working on. But before I started that I was curious to see what the 6th gen NUC is capable of and more importantly if it was capable of replacing the old gaming PC we currently have running as a media / part time gaming pc in the lounge room.

I am a little dubious about it's ability to be able to handle a resource hungry game like Total War: Shogun 2 which is a game that I some times play on the current setup. But am confident that it will have all the power that I need to be able to run Kodi and Netflix. I am also going to test its ability to stream a game using Steam's In-Home Streaming feature.

Since I am also running Unifi AP AC access points in my home, I will also test out the built in WiFi with those.

Equipment

Chassis: NUC6i5SYK
RAM: 16GB DDR4 Corsair Value Select
SSD: 250GB Samsung 850 Evo M.2

OS Installation

I have flashed a USB disk with the Windows 10 ISO. The NUC detects the USB disk and the Windows 10 Install bootable without an issue and the install goes smoothly.

Once the install has finished I discover that it has not detected either of the network interfaces. This isn't a huge problem though because the drivers are easily obtained from Intel's Drivers website. I grab the Chipset Driver and the Gigabit LAN driver and install them. I figure that once I have an Internet connection I can download the other drivers directly to the box.
I installed the Management Engine after rebooting and then as if by magic all of the other device drivers were installed.

Kodi

Performance wise it is fantastic. I'm watching a HD version of a TV show while it is scanning for and adding new content and it hasn't skipped a beat. I've also marked a show with 129 episodes as watched while it was doing all of that and it just handled it beautifully. (This was a problem on the previous system.) I have also tested this on the WiFi and it works just fine; no buffering or anything like that. Though as a general rule, if you have the option to cable it, do it. It has all the power needed to run Kodi. The only problem and perhaps a bit of a deal breaker for me is that the picture quality isn't fantastic. In comparison to the old gaming PC the video playback is noticeably more grainy especially when playing videos that are generally darker. This is disappointing because this was marketed as having "4K display capabilities [which] provides brilliant resolution for gaming and home theaters." It could be that this will be fixed in later driver releases which I sincerely hope it is; because I can tell you that I really want this machine to be good enough to replace the noisy behemoth in my lounge room, but at the moment I don't think the NUC is there yet.

Total War: Shogun 2

I ran the following benchmark: "DX9 CPU render benchmark" because nothing else would run. Complaining of unsupported settings and such.
The result was 30 FPS.
It's playable, but it's not outstanding. The settings are all on low when you actually play the game.
The biggest problem is that the audio gives out in the middle of the game. The intro and everything works fine, but as soon as you get into the game, the sound card is just gone. Windows still sees it, just not the game.

Battlefield Bad Company 2

I forgot how old this game is! It runs well though, no problems to speak of. didn't get a frame rate but its fine.

Battlefield 4

I am actually blown away by the fact that this runs so well! at least graphics wise anyway. There is a problem with the sound. there is none.

Supreme Commander 2

A few problems with this one but not around performance. Mainly around the weird things that were happening with the shadows and the lack of audio again. This seems to be a bit of a trend. I do wonder weather this is something that just happens with older games.

South Park: The Stick of Truth

Runs perfectly. I feel like this is the type of game that the NUC is most suited for. Casual games with low graphics processing requirements.

Steam In-Home Streaming

Streaming seems fine. It might even be the best option for playing games on this device. Sometimes a warning would pop up and warn of slow decoding.
We used XCOM to test this with as it is all we had installed at the time.
42fps cabled.
36fps wifi
Clien options: Beautiful.

Hyper-V

Just for the hell of it I thought I would install Hyper-V and see how it goes. I spun up a Windows 10 VM gave it 5GB RAM. It finished installing in about 15 minutes and ran fine. I figured that since it can run a copy of windows 10, it will be able to handle a Server Core install without any problems.

Conclusion

The NUC6i5SYK is a good little machine. It has enough processing power to be a good workstation or run as a low power server for your home or home office. It would be ok as a gaming machine that can play arcade style games or even fun party games like Battle Block Theater.
The broken audio was a concern for me as it happened on more than one game and I don't know why. Personally I won't be getting one to replace my old clunker gaming PC because of the lesser quality. Perhaps the next gen will have better colour depth.