GPU Performance

Integrated GPUs have become quite capable over the last few generations, particularly for 720p and 1080p gaming. In this section, we present a comparison of the performance of the integrated GPUs in the Dragon Canyon and Beast Canyon NUCs.


The DirectX 12-based GFXBench tests from Kishonti are cross-platform, and available all the way down to smartphones, so it is not too difficult for modern integrated GPUs. We processed the offscreen versions of the 'Aztec Ruins' benchmark.

GFXBench 'Aztec Ruins' Offscreen Benchmark
(Frame Rate (fps) - Higher is Better)
  Intel NUC12DCMi9
(Dragon Canyon)
Intel NUC11BTMi9
(Beast Canyon)
Normal (1080p) 67.61 63
High (1440p) 23.77 21.92

There is no significant difference in the iGPU performance for the 'Aztec Ruins' DX12 benchmark between the Dragon Canyon NUC and the Beast Canyon NUC.

UL 3DMark

Four different workload sets were processed in 3DMark - Fire Strike, Time Spy, Night Raid, and Wild Life.

UL 3DMark Benchmarks
(Performance Scores - Higher is Better)
  Intel NUC12DCMi9
(Dragon Canyon)
Intel NUC11BTMi9
(Beast Canyon)
Fire Strike Extreme 1211 1104
Fire Strike Ultra 596 547
Time Spy Performance 809 802
Time Spy Extreme 392 370
Night Raid Performance 12441 10975
Wild Life Performance 6406 5868
Wild Life Extreme 1792 1667

There is little to choose between the two processors when it comes to gaming. In any case, most users of the Dragon Canyon NUCs would probably utilize a discrete GPU to add gaming prowess to the system.

System Performance Miscellaneous Aspects and Concluding Remarks
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  • vegemeister - Friday, February 25, 2022 - link

    36 W idle power lol. As much as an ultraportable laptop running flat out. Switching to a socketed desktop part was clearly a mistake.
  • CyrIng - Friday, February 25, 2022 - link

    Should we rather say 8 Pcore + 8 Ecore, short 8P + 8E , for a hybrid processor.
  • James5mith - Friday, February 25, 2022 - link

    Why is the best slot performance wise (CPU connected one on the back) the worst from a cooling perspective? That makes no sense.

    You can put in a PCIe5.0 NVMe drive in this slot! But you can't run it near capacity or it will melt.
  • thestryker - Friday, February 25, 2022 - link

    All of the M.2 slots are Gen4.
  • FXi - Friday, February 25, 2022 - link

    Sorry a small/modest liquid or even more silent cooling solution can be done in this size. And the soldered wifi is a turnoff because those standards change every 2-3 years far less than the lifespan of the rest of the system. For what this costs, and with how easy it is to build your own, they really have to tick all the user friendly and quiet boxes just right or their market is going to be pretty small.
  • bwj - Saturday, February 26, 2022 - link

    I really hate the case but I really like the compute element. With integral 10ge and dual TB ports it's quite nice. Would love to see another OEM putting the compute element into a simpler chassis, hopefully at a lower price. I built an i7 rig, complete with storage and memory, for $1300 but then I had to add TB and 10ge expansion cards. Would prefer an integrated package.
  • drbartsimpson - Wednesday, March 9, 2022 - link

    Would like to see a comparison with the just announced Mac Studio with the M1 Ultra
  • Dug - Friday, March 11, 2022 - link

    "In terms of internals, the Dragon Canyon's updates are also tempered by over-reliance on the PCH for almost all of the I/Os of the PC. In comparison, the Beast Canyon NUC had a better spread with the Thunderbolt 4 ports directly off the CPU. Given that the Alder Lake platform supports USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, a couple of the 20Gbps ports would have also been welcome on the Compute Element."

    You guys never test any of the ports, wifi, sound, or storage, so I guess we'll never know if it actually makes any difference in the real world.
    Also from the diagram, isn't the tb4 coming off of the cpu?

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