Gaming Performance - Dota 2

Dota 2 has been featuring in our mini-PC and notebook reviews for a few years now, but, it still continues to be a very relevant game. Our evaluation was limited to a custom replay file at 1080p resolution with enthusiast settings ('best-looking' preset). We have now revamped our testing to include multiple resolutions - This brings out the fact that the game is CPU-limited in many configurations.

Dota 2 allows for multiple renderers - we use the DirectX 11 mode. The rendering settings are set to 'enthusiast level' (best-looking, which has all options turned on, and at Ultra level, except for the Shadow Quality set to 'High'). We cycle through different resolutions after setting the monitor resolution to match the desired resolution. The core scripts and replay files are sourced from Jonathan Liebig's original Dota 2 benchmarking instructions which used a sequence of frames from Match 3061101068.

Dota 2 - Enthusiast Quality Performance

At 720p, the Hades Canyon NUC is able to better the systems equipped with much more powerful GPUs. However, this is due to the CPU-limited nature of Dota 2 at lower resolutions. At 1080p and higher resolutions, we are back to the usual story. The ASRock DeskMini Z370 has some anomalous scores at these higher resolutions (coming in behind the Hades Canyon NUC despite having a much more powerful CPU), which we plan to look into further in our review of that PC.

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  • Macpoedel - Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - link

    About the performance and value:
    You can't compare this to an 8th gen desktop i7, that's a 6c/12t part and the i7-8809G is a 4c/8t part, more comparable to a Core i7 7700. If you had to compare it to current gen desktop CPU's I would put it closer to a Core i5 8400/8500 than a Core i7 8700, and those are $100 cheaper. The boxed cooler also fits in a lot of small form factor cases, and it's not like Hades Canyon is that quiet that you'd have to compare it with a Noctua or Cryorig cooler. In idle it's probably extremely quiet (I have a NUC6CAYH, Celeron NUC, and I've never heard the fan, only faintly if I hold my ear right next to the exhaust), but under load not so much.

    About resale value, I'll have to believe you on that one. Thing is that on the online used marketplaces I frequent (not eBay, I'm from Belgium), none are for sale right now, which makes me think that Skull Canyon wasn't very popular. I see some eBay entries, but also no used ones in my region, just 2 in the US. There are some new ones for sale in my area but it's no wonder they're trying to sell those for close to retail price. I doubt a used Skull Canyon sells for close to retail price though, the iGPU has aged a lot.

    I'm hoping you're right though, I'm selling my NUC6CAYH at the moment. But those are still for sale and Intel has dropped the price by quite a bit (bought it for €170, but it costs €120 in a lot of places at the moment) so I probably won't sell it for much over half of what it cost me (at least I'll be able to sell the memory for about the same as what I paid for it and it's not like €80 to use a pc for a year is that much).

    I replaced my NUC with a small form factor mini ITX self build pc, it has a volume of 7,1 l, around the same as an OG Xbox One and also around the same performance (Ryzen 5 2400G). So not that small, Hades Canyon is a lot smaller, but this fits my cabinet without issues. It's also less powerful than Hades Canyon, but it also cost me less than €500 (SFF PSU costs the same as regular PSU, I use AMD's boxed cooler, RAM is expensive but Hades Canyon needs that as well, wifi and bluetooth came with the motherboard and custom cabling wasn't necessary at all). About Thunderbolt 3, I just don't see a use case for that right now in a home theater setup. An external GPU maybe? But why pay for the Vega M then, you could get a cheaper, regular sized NUC with Thunderbolt 3 (the higher end current 7th gen NUCs have TB3). For your use case I don't really see why you'd need Hades Canyon either.

    I will say, for the size there's nothing more powerful you can get.
    Reply
  • close - Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - link

    Don't look at resale value like that:
    - Buying at sale - this is not generally available.
    - Selling for $50 less - that's 25% of the original (sale) price.
    - Selling on eBay - chance plays a huge role there (I've seen sales where the better products sold for less without any apparent explanation other than "luck", timing).

    Almost 6 years ago I got barely used (2 weeks of usage) top of the line ROG MB, top of the line 8 core CPU, and top of the line 16GB of RAM for under 300E. 2 years ago I got a 980Ti for 100E. I can probably sell them today for more. Sales and second hand market need more than one example to see the trend.

    And going to eBay I'm not seeing the kind of resale value you are seeing. I'm seeing 3 year old barebones NUCs (5th gen) that went for 300E new at around 200E with RAM now. Take out the RAM and you dip below half the price after 3 years.

    And the NUC6i7KYK is currently available new for 450-500E. It was 799E at launch (stabilized at 650E shortly after). Can't really find used offers but it can't go for more than 350E. That's about 50% of original price. That's not exceptional.

    I honestly think the resale value you're painting heavily relies on exceptional sales and lots of luck on resale.
    Reply
  • nerd1 - Thursday, May 17, 2018 - link

    $1617 is A LOT of money - you can build a tiny gaming ITX system (i.e. using Dan A4 case) with i5-8400 and 1070 with that amount of money. Reply
  • YukaKun - Monday, May 14, 2018 - link

    Would it be too dumb to add a "performance / liter" type of thing to put into context the form format for this little box and the performance it brings to the table (pun might be intended)?

    Cheers!
    Reply
  • YukaKun - Monday, May 14, 2018 - link

    **form factor Reply
  • Icehawk - Monday, May 14, 2018 - link

    You are saying this is roughly a 970? I get triple your fps in FC5, for example, at 4K Ultra even when it was in my 3770k rig. I know there are thermal constraints but this is a huge gap in performance. Reply
  • lioncat55 - Monday, May 14, 2018 - link

    That does not sound possible, triple the frame rate would be 48 fps, looking at desktop benchmarks for Farcry 5 at 4k Ultra has a 1080 at 41 fps and a Vega 64 at 46 fps. Reply
  • npz - Monday, May 14, 2018 - link

    How can you get triple the fps with your 970 in FC5 when the gtx 1060 is equivalen to the 970 and surpasses it in a few cases, yet the 1060 only scored 2 fps higher avg than the Hades Canyon Vega M here?

    I flat out do not believe you if you're saying you make 48 fps on 4k Ultra settings with your 970 in your 3770k. Maybe you confused it for 1080p ultra or maybe you had 4k low or something.
    Reply
  • npz - Monday, May 14, 2018 - link

    FC5 w/ 2160p ultra, the HC Vega = 16 fps, the 1060 = 18 fps, the 1080 = 37 fps and the 1080 in the magnus EK71080 get 41 fps so your claims are just flat out impossible. Reply
  • nathanddrews - Monday, May 14, 2018 - link

    My 970 and 3570K @ 4.2GHz also gets triple the frame rate... at the menu screen. LOL Reply

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