The 7th Generation of my favorite Homelab systems are ready to be launched and the shipping is expected to start in Q1 2017. Intel NUCs are small, silent, transportable and have a very low power consumption, making it a perfect system for labs or as a home server. Intel has put its latest Kaby Lake mobile CPU into the mini system.
Intel NUCs were never officially supported by VMware but they have a great community support. Their 4th, 5th and 6th Generations are proven in many home labs or even for demonstrating Virtual SAN deployments.
- Kaby Lake CPU
- i7, i5 and i3 CPUs are available
- Up to 32GB of DDR4 SODIMM memory
- Available with and without 2.5" HDD slot
- M.2 slot with NVMe support
- Thunderbolt 3 support via USB-C
- USB 3.1 support
- Intel Optane Memory support
- External SD Card Slot
- Intel I219V Network Adapter
- Front Power Button
7th Gen Kaby Lake NUC Models
|no 2.5" Slot||-||NUC7i5BNK||NUC7i3BNK|
|Architecture||Kaby Lake (14 nm)|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-7567U||Intel Core i5-7260U||Intel Core i3-7100U|
|Base Frequency||3.5 GHz||2.2 GHz||2.4 GHz|
|Max Frequency||4.0 GHz||3.4 GHz||2.4 GHz|
|Cores||2 (4 Threads)|
|TDP||28 W||15 W||15 W|
|TDP-down||23 W||9.5 W||7.5 W|
|Memory Type||2x 260-pin 1.2 V DDR4 2133 MHz SO-DIMM|
|Max Memory||32 GB|
|USB Ports||2x USB 3.0 (front panel)
2x USB 3.0 (back panel)
2x USB 2.0 (internal header)
|Thunderbolt 3 Port (40Gbps)||Yes||Yes||No|
|USB 3.1 Gen 2 Port (10Gbps)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Storage||M.2 22x42/80 slot for SATA3 or PCIe X4 Gen3 NVMe OR AHCI SSD
SATA3 2.5" HDD/SDD
|LAN||Intel I219-V Gigabit LAN|
6th Gen vs. 7th Gen Model Comparison
- The size of both NUCs is identical (115 mm x 111 mm).
- The 7th Gen CPU is faster (i5: 3.4 GHz vs. 2.9 GHz). All systems have a 2-core CPU with Hyperthreading.
- The 7th Gen has an i7 offering (There was a special 6th Geb Skull Canyon NUC with i7 CPU)
- 7th Gen NUCs have Thunderbolt support on i5 and i7 models
- The CPU of the 6th Gen NUC supports PCI-Express 3.0 instead of 2.0
- 7th Gen NUCs are Intel Optane Memory Ready
- The Power button has been moved to the front, which is good when you want to stack NUCs
Will VMware ESXi work?
There are no Kaby Lake CPUs on VMwares HCL at the moment but I was able to boot a standard ESXi 6.5 image on my laptop with an Intel Core i7-7500U Kaby Lake CPU. A common problem with NUCs in the past was Network and AHCI Controllers. 7th Gen NUCs are equipped with an Intel I219V Gigabit Ethernet Controller which should be possible to get up and running with ESXi. Since vSphere 6.5, all AHCI controllers are supported.
I expect ESXi to work on 7th Gen NUCs. I will write a review as soon as the first 7th Gen NUCs are delivered.