System Performance: Miscellaneous Workloads

Standardized benchmarks such as UL's PCMark 10 and BAPCo's SYSmark take a holistic view of the system and process a wide range of workloads to arrive at a single score. Some systems are required to excel at specific tasks - so it is often helpful to see how a computer performs in specific scenarios such as rendering, transcoding, JavaScript execution (web browsing), etc. This section presents focused benchmark numbers for specific application scenarios.

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R23

We use CINEBENCH R23 for 3D rendering evaluation. R23 provides two benchmark modes - single threaded and multi-threaded. Evaluation of different PC configurations in both supported modes provided us the following results.

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R23 - Single Thread

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R23 - Multiple Threads

As expected, Alder Lake-P retains the single threaded crown, and the Cezanne system delivers multi-threaded performance that is way ahead of any system in the list based on an Intel processor.

Transcoding: Handbrake 1.5.1

Handbrake is one of the most user-friendly open source transcoding front-ends in the market. It allows users to opt for either software-based higher quality processing or hardware-based fast processing in their transcoding jobs. Our new test suite uses the 'Tears of Steel' 4K AVC video as input and transcodes it with a quality setting of 19 to create a 720p AVC stream and a 1080p HEVC stream.

Transcoding - x264

Transcoding - x265_10bit

Software transcoding loves a lot of high-performance cores, and we can see the 8C/16T configurataion with Zen 3 cores handily besting the 4P / 8E combination in Alder Lake-P.

Transcoding - QuickSync H.264

Transcoding - QuickSync H.265 10bit

The QuickSync AVC / HEVC engine continues to remain the same between Tiger Lake and Alder Lake, except for a minor bump in clock speeds that get reflected in the transcoding rates above.

Transcoding - QuickSync H.264

Transcoding - QuickSync H.265 10bit

On the other hand, the VCE performance remains essentially the same between Renoir and Cezanne for the flagship SKUs.

Archiving: 7-Zip 21.7

The 7-Zip benchmark is carried over from our previous test suite with an update to the latest version of the open source compression / decompression software.

7-Zip Compression Rate

7-Zip Decompression Rate

Multiple cores help get compression and decompression done faster, and that is reflected in the significant lead enjoyed by the 4X4 BOX-5800U in the above benchmarks.

Web Browsing: JetStream, Speedometer, and Principled Technologies WebXPRT4

Web browser-based workloads have emerged as a major component of the typical home and business PC usage scenarios. For headless systems, many applications based on JavaScript are becoming relevant too. In order to evaluate systems for their JavaScript execution efficiency, we are carrying over the browser-focused benchmarks from the WebKit developers used in our notebook reviews. Hosted at BrowserBench, JetStream 2.0 benchmarks JavaScript and WebAssembly performance, while Speedometer measures web application responsiveness.

BrowserBench - Jetstream 2.0

BrowserBench - Speedometer 2.0

From a real-life workload perspective, we also process WebXPRT4 from Principled Technologies. WebXPRT4 benchmarks the performance of some popular JavaScript libraries that are widely used in websites.

Principled Technologies WebXPRT4

Single threaded performance helps in these benchmarks, and the Alder Lake-P system gets a slight edge across all three browser benchmark components.

Application Startup: GIMP 2.10.30

A new addition to our systems test suite is AppTimer - a benchmark that loads up a program and determines how long it takes for it to accept user inputs. We use GIMP 2.10.30 with a 50MB multi-layered xcf file as input. What we test here is the first run as well as the cached run - normally on the first time a user loads the GIMP package from a fresh install, the system has to configure a few dozen files that remain optimized on subsequent opening. For our test we delete those configured optimized files in order to force a fresh load every second time the software is run.

AppTimer: GIMP 2.10.30 Startup

As it turns out, GIMP does optimizations for every CPU thread in the system, which requires that higher thread-count processors take a lot longer to run. So the test runs quick on systems with fewer threads, however fast cores are also needed. The Alder Lake-P system gets the overall edge in this case.

System Performance: UL and BAPCo Benchmarks GPU Performance
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  • AdrianBc - Saturday, August 6, 2022 - link

    Regarding the height of the case, there is no need to increase it. Intel has proved, already many years ago, that it is possible to cool without problems even a CPU with PL1 = 45 W, without increasing the volume over the classic high variant of NUC, i.e. with a volume under 0.7 L (as proven by the Skull Canyon NUC, which unfortunately did not have any successor, because Intel replaced it with much larger "NUC" computers intended for gaming).

    For better cooling in the same case, it would be enough to remove the possibility of installing a 2.5" HDD/SDD, while keeping the same size for the case.

    The freed height could be used for a taller cooler, with enough capacity to cool even a 45 W CPU, not only a 28 W CPU.
  • AdrianBc - Saturday, August 6, 2022 - link

    I want to add that even in the coolers of the same height the quality can vary a lot, presumably depending on price.

    I have a couple of the "8th generation" NUCs, and those had much better coolers than all the older NUCs that I have used, but also, from what I have heard or read, much better than the coolers of newer NUCs, which presumably have reverted to some cheaper coolers.

    Those NUC8 coolers, not only are completely silent in normal use, but at maximum load on a Coffee Lake U i7 CPU with PL1 = 30 W and PL2 = 50 W, i.e. with a PL1 default value that is higher than the 28 W nominal value, there is absolutely no thermal throttling regardless how long the computer works at the maximum power consumption of 30 W and the junction temperature never exceeds 90 Celsius degrees.

    So a more expensive cooler might also provide an improvement even when it is not taller.
  • plonk420 - Thursday, August 18, 2022 - link

    3dprint one?
  • AdrianBc - Saturday, August 6, 2022 - link

    For some reason, the Thunderbolt connector has not been certified yet.

    Because of that, it cannot be advertised yet.

    However, I have seen multiple reports that it works without problems, including in this article.
  • fishingbait15 - Friday, August 5, 2022 - link

    So wish we could get these things running ChromeOS. I wonder if ChromeOS Flex would at least allow the Linux crosvm to run ...
  • PeachNCream - Sunday, August 7, 2022 - link

    Thinking that would be good also. What about Android x86 as an alternative? Both should still be well embedded in Alphabet's ecosystem and feature the end user monitoring, data collection, and commercialization recommendations that Google is so good at in terms of how it partners with advertisers to get you relevant, interesting ad content.

    You could also probably install Linux on bare metal if all you want is vanilla Linux though you aren't going to benefit from having your compute activities observed for better product placement that you would with Google distros of Linux.
  • iranterres - Friday, August 5, 2022 - link

    Nice to see the core i6 in the benchmarks.
  • MrCommunistGen - Friday, August 5, 2022 - link

    I'd really love to see HDMI 2.1 ports on these machines since both AMD and Intel platforms should theoretically be able to support the newer standard from their iGPUs.

    If either supported HDMI 2.1 I'd consider using one as a multimedia box hooked up to a TV.
  • nandnandnand - Friday, August 5, 2022 - link

    Intel only integrated HDMI 2.0b support. I guess another chip has to be added to get HDMI 2.1, like in this:

    Rembrandt supports HDMI 2.1, as will the iGPU in Raphael. Raptor Lake will add it according to this leaked slide:

    So it will become more common to see HDMI 2.1 support in 2023-2024. DisplayPort 2.0 as well.
  • Igor_Kavinski - Saturday, August 6, 2022 - link

    Excellent review, Ganesh! Really enjoyed seeing the battle between these two CPUs. Some of the wins for the Intel Alder Lake were surprising, like the iGPU and in some benchmarks like 7-zip, 5800U is a monster! Hope to see more "reviews done right" from you soon!

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