Intel Ghost Canyon NUC: GPU gaming performance

Assassin's Creed Unity, Crysis 3, Far Cry 5, The Witcher 3.

For these tests, the aim is straightforward. The complete Ghost Canyon NUC ships with an RTX 2070 and if you want to know how fast this card is across a vast range of content, we've got you covered - the 2070 was effectively replaced with the 2060 Super, and these benchmarks tell you all you need to know about every card in the same price bracket - and more besides. In these tests, we'll be stacking up the NUC's specific output with our standard benchmarks on a selection of legacy games. Older titles don't benefit from driver optimisations, so our legacy results are directly comparable with fresh benches taken from the NUC.

And it's here where we find something rather curious. While Asus has gone a great job in delivering a miniature RTX 2070 that seems to operate entirely to spec, the NUC itself delivers lower frame-rates than a standard desktop PC running the same card. Based on the results seen below, the NUC offers up around 92 to 96 per cent of the reference card's output. In essence, it's more in RTX 2060 Super territory. You may notice lower 'worst one per cent' scores in some tests - this is likely to be caused by the less capable CPU, but won't have too much of an impact on the overall averages. Additionally, it is possible to claw back most of the performance by overclocking - in these OC results, core clock was given a +150MHz offset, with +500MHz added to VRAM, courtesy of MSI Afterburner. This adds 20W-30W in power consumption, but curiously, thermals were barely affected.

Maybe we're power limited, but perhaps more likely is that the way the NUC compute element hooks up to the RTX 2070 via the bridge mechanism causes some kind of reduction to overall bandwidth. It's not a deal breaker by any stretch of the imagination. You're still getting a huge amount of gaming performance for such a small form factor - and remember that being a Turing card, there's full ray tracing and DLSS support, along with access to the full DirectX 12 Ultimate feature set.

Assassin's Creed Unity: Ultra High, FXAA

  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2070 Super
  • RTX 2070
  • RX 5700 XT
  • NUC RTX 2070 OC
  • RTX 2060 Super
  • NUC RTX 2070
  • RX 5700
  • RTX 2060

Crysis 3: Very High, SMAA T2X

  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2070 Super
  • RTX 2070
  • NUC RTX 2070 OC
  • RX 5700 XT
  • RTX 2060 Super
  • NUC RTX 2070
  • RX 5700
  • RTX 2060

Far Cry 5: Ultra, TAA

  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2070 Super
  • RX 5700 XT
  • RTX 2070
  • RX 5700
  • RTX 2060 Super
  • NUC RTX 2070 OC
  • NUC RTX 2070
  • RTX 2060

Witcher 3: Ultra, Post-AA, No Hairworks

  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2070 Super
  • RTX 2070
  • NUC RTX 2070 OC
  • RX 5700 XT
  • NUC RTX 2070
  • RTX 2060 Super
  • RX 5700
  • RTX 2060

While the Intel Ghost Canyon NUC's form factor limits the choice of graphics hardware on offer, we should expect to see smaller form factor cards for newer generation cards arrive in future. Additionally, other chassis designs are available - such as Razer's Tomahawk - which can incorporate full length GPUs, bringing the power of RTX 2080 ti into the equation. Yes, the case obviously needs to be larger in order to accommodate more powerful hardware but that's the trade-off you'll need to make in order to get access to vast bulk of PC graphics cards on the market.

Intel Ghost Canyon NUC analysis:

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About the author

Richard Leadbetter

Richard Leadbetter

Technology Editor, Digital Foundry

Rich has been a games journalist since the days of 16-bit and specialises in technical analysis. He's commonly known around Eurogamer as the Blacksmith of the Future.

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