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Preview on 6th Gen (Skylake) Intel NUC for VMware ESXi

The 6th Generation of my favorite Homelab systems are ready to be launched and the shipping is expected to start in December. Intel NUCs are small, silent, transportable and have a very low power consumption, making it a perfect system for homelabs or homeservers. Intel has put its latest Skylake mobile CPU into the mini system.

6th-gen-skylake-nucIntel NUCs were never officially supported by VMware but they have a great community support. Their last 4th and 5th Generations are proven in many homlabs or even for demonstrating Virtual SAN deployments.

  • 6th Gen NUCs are equipped with Skylake CPUs
  • i5 and i3 systems will be available in December 2015
  • Up to 32GB of DDR4 SODIMM memory
  • Available with and without 2.5" HDD slot
  • M.2 slot with PCIe x4 support
  • External SD Card Slot
  • Intel I219V Network Adapter

6th Gen Skylake NUC Models

Model (2.5")NUC6i5SYHNUC6i3SYH
no 2.5" SlotNUC6i5SYKNUC6i3SYK
ArchitectureSkylake (14 nm)
CPUIntel Core i5-6260UIntel Core i3-6100U
Base Frequency1.8 GHz2.3 GHz
Max Frequency2.9 GHz2.3 GHz
TDP-down9,5 W7,5 W
Memory Type2x 260-pin 1.2 V DDR4 2133 MHz SO-DIMM
Max Memory32 GB
USB Ports2x USB 3.0 (front panel)
2x USB 3.0 (back panel)
2x USB 2.0 (internal header)
StorageM.2 SATA or PCIe x4 SSD
Wireless LANYes
Gigabit LANYes (Intel I219V)
LaunchDecember 2015


5th Gen vs. 6th Gen Model Comparison

Comparing the NUC6i5SYH against the NUC5i5RYH.

  • The size of both NUCs is identical (115 mm x 111 mm). They also look quite similar.
  • The 6th Gen NUC has an external accessible SD Card slot (SDXC).
  • The CPU of the 6th Gen NUC is slightly faster (2.9 GHz vs. 2.7 Ghz). Both systems have a 2-core CPU with Hyperthreading.
  • 6th Gen Skylake NUCs support 32GB memory, up from 16GB.
  • DDR4 SODIMM is required for 6th Gen NUCs.
  • The CPU of the 6th Gen NUC supports PCI-Express 3.0 instead of 2.0

Does DDR3 SODIMM Modules work in DDR4 Slots?

No! DDR3 modules used in previous NUCs are not compatible! DDR4 Slots are not backward compatible because it uses a completely different physical sockets and voltage.

Will VMware ESXi work?

We do not have any Skylake CPUs on VMwares HCL at the moment but according to the community it is possible to install ESXi 6.0 U1 on Skylake Hardware. A common problem with NUCs in the past was the Network and AHCI Controller. 6th Gen NUCs are equipped with an Intel I219V Gigabit Ethernet Controller which should be possible to get up and running with ESXi. AHCI compatible SATA controllers with new PCI BUS IDs are typically not mapped to the correct drivers causing them to not work out of the box. This is usually a quick fix.

I expect ESXi to work on 6th Gen NUCs. I will write a review as soon as the first 6th Gen NUCs are delivered.

49 thoughts on “Preview on 6th Gen (Skylake) Intel NUC for VMware ESXi”

  1. Can add I just completed my new homelab VMware server - based upon a Lenovo M900 Tiny with an i7-6700, M2 PCIe, 32 GB memory. Also the Intel I219V network adapter. I added a Startech dual mSATA RAID adapter as the 2.5" drive...

    After a few challenges with the network I got it up and running and now it's absolutely an awesome home lab with vFlash based on PCIe SSD - gotta say... it's FAST!

  2. Last week I received my new Skylake i3 based NUC on which I would really like
    to run VMware (but which fails with the well known "no network card" type error).

    For now I installed CentOS 7.2 and this is the output from lspci.
    If you can give me instructions on how to try and fix the installation I'm quite willing to give it a try.

    [root@nuc1 ~]# lspci -nnk
    00:00.0 Host bridge [0600]: Intel Corporation Sky Lake Host Bridge/DRAM Registers [8086:1904] (rev 08)
    Subsystem: Intel Corporation Device [8086:2063]
    00:02.0 VGA compatible controller [0300]: Intel Corporation Sky Lake Integrated Graphics [8086:1916] (rev 07)
    Subsystem: Intel Corporation Device [8086:2063]
    00:14.0 USB controller [0c03]: Intel Corporation Device [8086:9d2f] (rev 21)
    Subsystem: Intel Corporation Device [8086:2063]
    Kernel driver in use: xhci_hcd
    00:14.2 Signal processing controller [1180]: Intel Corporation Device [8086:9d31] (rev 21)
    Subsystem: Intel Corporation Device [8086:2063]
    00:16.0 Communication controller [0780]: Intel Corporation Device [8086:9d3a] (rev 21)
    Subsystem: Intel Corporation Device [8086:2063]
    00:17.0 SATA controller [0106]: Intel Corporation Device [8086:9d03] (rev 21)
    Subsystem: Intel Corporation Device [8086:2063]
    Kernel driver in use: ahci
    00:1c.0 PCI bridge [0604]: Intel Corporation Device [8086:9d14] (rev f1)
    Kernel driver in use: pcieport
    00:1e.0 Signal processing controller [1180]: Intel Corporation Device [8086:9d27] (rev 21)
    Subsystem: Intel Corporation Device [8086:2063]
    00:1e.6 SD Host controller [0805]: Intel Corporation Device [8086:9d2d] (rev 21)
    Subsystem: Intel Corporation Device [8086:2063]
    Kernel driver in use: sdhci-pci
    00:1f.0 ISA bridge [0601]: Intel Corporation Device [8086:9d48] (rev 21)
    Subsystem: Intel Corporation Device [8086:2063]
    00:1f.2 Memory controller [0580]: Intel Corporation Device [8086:9d21] (rev 21)
    Subsystem: Intel Corporation Device [8086:2063]
    00:1f.3 Audio device [0403]: Intel Corporation Device [8086:9d70] (rev 21)
    Subsystem: Intel Corporation Device [8086:2063]
    Kernel driver in use: snd_hda_intel
    00:1f.4 SMBus [0c05]: Intel Corporation Device [8086:9d23] (rev 21)
    Subsystem: Intel Corporation Device [8086:2063]
    00:1f.6 Ethernet controller [0200]: Intel Corporation Ethernet Connection I219-V [8086:1570] (rev 21)
    Subsystem: Intel Corporation Device [8086:2063]
    Kernel driver in use: e1000e
    01:00.0 Network controller [0280]: Intel Corporation Wireless 8260 [8086:24f3] (rev 3a)
    Subsystem: Intel Corporation Device [8086:9010]
    Kernel driver in use: iwlwifi

    1. I think the problem is that there is currently only one image that supports the Intel i219 network card out of the box – ESXi 5.5 U3.

      ESXi 6.0 uses an older driver, as you can see here:
      # net-e1000e package:
      # ESXi 6.0u1: 2.5.4-6vmw.600.0.0.2494585
      # ESXi 5.5u3:

      To work around that, you can create a custom ESXi 6.0 Images containing the net-e1000e driver from ESXi 5.5u3 with PowerCLI Imagebuilder. (Drivers from ESXi 5.5 and ESXi 6.0 are compatible)

      Creating a custom Image is quite simple. Just run the following commands in PowerCLI:

      New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile "ESXi-6.0.0-20151104001-standard" -name "ESXi-6.0.0-20151104001-NUC" -Vendor "" -AcceptanceLevel "CommunitySupported"
      Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile "ESXi-6.0.0-20151104001-NUC" -SoftwarePackage net-e1000e
      Export-ESXImageProfile -ImageProfile "ESXi-6.0.0-20151104001-NUC" -ExportToISO -filepath ESXi-6.0.0-20151104001-NUC.iso

      The last command takes a while because it has to download the image.
      This should get you a working ESXi image.

      I’ve documented the fix here:

      1. I have created a modified ISO with this procedure, and installastion in successfull.
        Installed on a USB stick.

        But when booting first time, I get this error:
        "Decompressed MD5: 000000000000000
        Fatal error: 6 (buffer too small)"

        Why is that?

  3. I would like to purchase this interesting device that I exclusively would use for my Esxi lab. But my doubt is:

    how many vm is it able to run with just 2 cores?

    I know that that in a lab I cannot pretend too much but i suspect that 2 cpu are not enough even for home lab.
    Can someone tell his experience about this? How many vms?

    1. I run about 8 VMs at home with 5-10 % CPU utilization om a NUC4 i5 with 16GB RAM. I think the amount of VMs you can run is more limited by memory than CPU in most cases.

      1. Hi Ola

        thanks for your kind reply
        I agree that 16GB of ram is quite limited but I have been impressed by the number of VMs running in your lab.
        How is possible that you are running 8 vms with just 2 CPU? Isn't there lot of competition (cpu ready...) and slowness? Have you decent performance?

      1. vm=1 vcpu and 4gb ram. I would test some entreprise applications like micrsoft sql, veeam, vsphere replication etc...that means at least 10 vm with above resources
        But as Ola explained.....the limit would be the RAM and not the cpu.

        What do you think?

  4. One bug I've found with ESXi 6.0 U1 on Skylake is that the USB controllers can't be passed to a guest OS. Granted I'm testing with a 6442EQ but I imagine the USB controller is the same. It's an odd one since the USB keyboard and pen drives work with ESXi directly. Anyone else see this issue?

  5. How are you getting the spedstep CPU mhz to show up? Mine are only doing 1.6ghz, and not the 2.7ghz it can burst to. I do not see speedstep or any option in the BIOS, I have a NUC5i5RYH

  6. Hi Fgrehl,
    Can you tell when we can see the:
    'VMware Homeserver – ESXi on 6th Gen Intel NUC' how to....
    on your website? :)

    I'm planning to build one, but I'm not sure everything works as expected. NIC, AHCI controller, USB ports....etc

      1. I picked up a nuc6i5syh and a Samsung 950 pro m.2 ssd. It also has an older Intel SSD over sata.

        I used the esxi 5.5 update 3b and it is able to see the network card but not the M.2 storage. It is able to see the Intel SSD. Same story (not seeing the M.2 storage) if I use the ESXi customizer script with -v55 -vft -load sata-xahci It is visible in the UEFI and the Windows 10 usb installer is able to see and install onto the m.2 storage.

        Do you have any suggestions or links to someone that has managed to get the m.2 storage detected on a nuc6i?

        1. Mine ended up being a duff m.2 port. had to replace the entire unit. I did read that the new NUC's are finiky about the ssd's that work. I bought a smaller Intel SSD and am using that but had a Samsung that I haven't tried in this unit yet.

  7. I've tested MSFT Server 2012 R2 and MSFT Server 2016 TP4 on my new NUC6i5. And this bitch got the new intel i219-V NIC on it. So if understand this right, ESXi 5.5 U3 or 6.0 will work on my nuc but then when installing vms with MSFT Server 2012/ MSFT Server 2016 im' screwed? :(

    have someone figued out how to edit the "PRO1000\Winx64\NDIS65\e1d65x64.inf" yet? i'm goin crazy just haveing a awesome new NUC6 and it's now not even powerd on anymore... :(

    //Regards HR

  8. Hi Fgrehl, I'm running vsphere 6.0 U1b on NUC6i5SYH.
    Works fine. Followed your guide. Thanks for that!

    Just wondering maybe you know this. Are there CIM providers to add to see temperature readings in ESX?

    (I googled on this and could find intel CIM mentions, but no info what they are for and where to download)

  9. Pingback: VMware Homeserver – ESXi on 6th Gen Intel NUC |

  10. Hi there,

    Used your guide to create the installer to get ESXI 6 on my NUC6I5, working like a charm. Many thanks for the information.

    I did have one question, when trying to configure intel vt-d on the NUC, in VMWare I'm unable to see the USB controller, which would be required if I want to use the NUC both as computer and hypervisor.

    On the NUC5 I have borrowed this USB hub is visible in VMWare and can be configured to be passed through, so it may be related to a missing driver or something.

    Any thoughts on what I could do to try to get this working?


    1. Not sure if I get your question. You should be able to pass USB devices to virtual machines by using usb passthrough. When you plugin the device, do you see it within #lsusb?

      1. Well the question is a bit of a mess :-) on the NUC5 I had no trouble seeing the USB controller in VMWare and enabling it for passthrough.

        On the NUC6 however I can see the iris pro video, and I can see the storage adapter, but not the USB controller :-)

        I'll check with lsusb later this week when I find some time in the evening :-) cheers

          1. I see :-)
            Must be the same issue as I have.

            As you stated usb keyb works fine to install/configure the hypervisor, but no passing through.

            Hope it'll get fixed in a future vmware release.


    1. When it's absolute 100% quiet in the environment you can hear it when real close to the unit. In real world situations it's like it's not even on :-)

  11. Hello,
    i need help from someone who has a NUC6I5SYH with M2 drive installed on a ESXI 6.01b. i can see the sunrise controller AHCI but no M2 drive showing. cannot create a data store. ESXI is installed on USB pen drive. please help!

      1. Thanks for your reply.
        Could you please direct me how to get this info? Please remember that currently the M2 drive is only formatted with no OS installed

          1. Hello Fgrehl, and thanks for your help. under storage i see the controller but not the drive, though i see the usb stick. in the bios i can see the drive in both uefi and legacy boot. i dont have eide function on bios but only raid of ahci. now it s ahci since i dont use raid (one disk only).
            thanks for the kb and the instruction i succeded to use the command line. typing Ispci -v the answer is NOT FOUND. i spoke with intel which they cannot help since the nuc is not fully supported by VMWARE. i really wish i can solve this issue.

    1. I have a NUC6ISYH with Samsung SM951 (NVMe) 256GB installed.

      Created the bootable ISO like fgrehl described and working like a charm.

      I'd suggest try installing another OS on the NUC and see if you can see the storage in that OS? Just to make sure the controller and the memory chip are working properly.

      1. The M2 drive was visible even during the esxi installation but I installed on Ian pen drive. Then troubleshooting I tried uefi and legacy boot and both is visible in bios. I also formatted the drive with Windows 10 installer, without completing the OS installation.
        Thanks for your interest

  12. Hello,
    First, thanks for this nice article. i bought a NUC6i3SYH and successfully installed esxi 6.0 from a usb key. 2 week after that, i had an electric outage and now i got the "no network adapter found' from esx boot
    the lspci show the intel 219V but i cannot find any reason why it does not work anymore

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