Performance Metrics - II

In this section, we mainly look at benchmark modes in programs used on a day-to-day basis, i.e, application performance and not synthetic workloads.

x264 Benchmark

First off, we have some video encoding benchmarks courtesy of x264 HD Benchmark v5.0. This is simply a test of CPU performance. As expected, the Celeron N2930 at 1.83 GHz manages to surpass the N2806 (at 1.6 GHz) in the ECS LIVA as well as the AMD A6-1450 in the CA320 nano. It does lose out to the actively-cooled 2.41 GHz Celeron J1900 in the GIGABYTE GB-BXBT-1900.

Video Encoding - x264 5.0 - Pass 1

Video Encoding - x264 5.0 - Pass 2


7-Zip is a very effective and efficient compression program, often beating out OpenCL accelerated commercial programs in benchmarks even while using just the CPU power. 7-Zip has a benchmarking program that provides tons of details regarding the underlying CPU's efficiency. In this subsection, we are interested in the compression and decompression MIPS ratings when utilizing all the available threads.

7-Zip LZMA Compression Benchmark

7-Zip LZMA Decompression Benchmark


As businesses (and even home consumers) become more security conscious, the importance of encryption can't be overstated. CPUs supporting the AES-NI instruction for accelerating the encryption and decryption processes have, till now, been the higher end SKUs. However, with Bay Trail, even the lowly Atom series has gained support for AES-NI. Unfortunately, the Celeron N2930 SKU doesn't support AES-NI. TrueCrypt, a popular open-source disk encryption program can take advantage of the AES-NI capabilities. The TrueCrypt internal benchmark provides some interesting cryptography-related numbers to ponder. In the graph below, we can get an idea of how fast a TrueCrypt volume would behave in the Zotac ZBOX CI320 nano and how it would compare with other select PCs. This is a purely CPU feature / clock speed based test.

TrueCrypt Benchmark

Agisoft Photoscan

Agisoft PhotoScan is a commercial program that converts 2D images into 3D point maps, meshes and textures. The program designers sent us a command line version in order to evaluate the efficiency of various systems that go under our review scanner. The command line version has two benchmark modes, one using the CPU and the other using both the CPU and GPU (via OpenCL). The benchmark takes around 50 photographs and does four stages of computation:

  • Stage 1: Align Photographs
  • Stage 2: Build Point Cloud (capable of OpenCL acceleration)
  • Stage 3: Build Mesh
  • Stage 4: Build Textures

We record the time taken for each stage. Since various elements of the software are single threaded, others multithreaded, and some use GPUs, it is interesting to record the effects of CPU generations, speeds, number of cores, DRAM parameters and the GPU using this software.

Agisoft PhotoScan Benchmark - Stage 1

Agisoft PhotoScan Benchmark - Stage 2

Agisoft PhotoScan Benchmark - Stage 3

Agisoft PhotoScan Benchmark - Stage 4

Dolphin Emulator

Wrapping up our application benchmark numbers is the Dolphin Emulator benchmark mode results. This is again a test of the CPU capabilities.

Dolphin Emulator Benchmark

Performance Metrics - I Networking and Storage Performance
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  • andychow - Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - link

    Yes is has an IR sensor, but from what I read it's not very good and doesn't seem to wake up from sleep via IR, even if the option is in the bios, it doesn't work.
  • lianthus - Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - link

    I love that you guys added XMBC to the tests, one thing though, what I have the most trouble knowing is how well these low powered chips do when playing a Hi10bit mkv file. Anime now is mostly encoded this way and my old ZBOX cannot properly play the files regardless of whether or not I'm using wireless, wired, or local playback. If you could add this one piece to your reviews it would save me a tremendous amount of trouble, as nobody ever seems to post anything about playing back these files. It is literally the most important part of my purchasing choices when it comes to media PCs like this one.
  • bobbozzo - Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - link

    Also we need to worry about h.265 performance.
  • saiga6360 - Wednesday, January 7, 2015 - link

    The latest version of XBMC or Kodi as it is now called supports HVEC or H265 encodes. As for Hi10p, not sure if there is hardware acceleration support but the latest Celerons and AMD APUs can run these MKV encodes in software just fine up to 1080p. I use the latest Kodi version 5.0 in OpenELEC and I can run these files on a Zotac AMD E-450 APU and a Chromebox 1.4 Celeron CPU.
  • hlovatt - Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - link

    Any chance of reviewing the Mac mini to seen ow it compares?
  • takeship - Wednesday, January 7, 2015 - link

    It would seem to me that a passively cooled box whose BIOS fails to implement dynamic frequency stepping properly (or apparently at all) needs more than "a little work". It's inexcusable to ship a product with an issue like that. I wonder Ganesh if you tested or ran into issues with APCI sleep/wake states as well? Those have been notable pain points of Zotac on other boxes. And given the storage perf numbers, are we sure that SATA6 is actually being used, instead of say 3? I've looked at these Zotac boxes with lust for years now, but ultimately have always avoided because of questions concerning driver/firmware. It looks like Zotac still hasn't gotten their house in order.
  • zepi - Wednesday, January 7, 2015 - link

    HTPC Credentials needs to include H265 decode tests. That is soon going to be crucial.
  • Wineohe - Wednesday, January 7, 2015 - link

    I would like to see these small form factor PC's move to a 12V supply instead of 19V. They would be more versatile for mobile use.
  • AgeOfPanic - Wednesday, January 7, 2015 - link

    I don't understand how they cannot enable HD audio bitstreaming under Windows and have it work under Linux. Is there a logic behind it?
  • saiga6360 - Thursday, January 8, 2015 - link

    Driver issues

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