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

The single-thread performance for the Arena Canyon NUC and the NUCS BOX-1360P/D4 round out the top two spots, but the NUCS BOX loses out significantly in the multi-threaded case due to the lower power budget (PL1 of 28W, compared to 40W for the NUC 13 Pro).

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 performance is dependent on the available power budget and number of cores. The Arena Canyon NUC is on top in both of these aspects, and it is not a surprise to see it march well ahead of the competition.

Transcoding - QuickSync H.264

Transcoding - QuickSync H.265 10bit

Hardware transcoding performance is dependent on the iGPU clock speeds and Raptor Lake-P is the best equipped family on that front. The extra power budget over the ASRock Industrial configuration helps the Arena Canyon NUC come out on top.

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

The power budget and number of cores helps the Arena Canyon NUC take the top spot in the compression component, but the Ryzen 7-5800U has enough chops to take the crown in the decompression test. Within the Intel family, the RPL-P implementation from Intel is the undisputed leader in both components.

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

In sustained benchmarking (like in Jetstream and Speedometer), the PL1 and PL2 values influence the results allowing the Arena Canyon NUC to take the top spot. However, in the more realistic use-case with webXPRT4, the NUC 13 Pro and the ASRock Industrial NUCS BOX-1360P/D4 perform very similar to each other across different browsers.

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 cached start numbers for the ASRock Industrial system and the Arena Canyon NUC are similar, but the latter is significantly better in the cold start scenario.

Cryptography Benchmarks

Cryptography has become an indispensable part of our interaction with computing systems. Almost all modern systems have some sort of hardware-acceleration for making cryptographic operations faster and more power efficient. In the case of business use-cases, many applications such as VPN need cryptography acceleration.

BitLocker is a Windows features that encrypts entire disk volumes. While drives that offer encryption capabilities are dealt with using that feature, most legacy systems and external drives have to use the host system implementation. Windows has no direct benchmark for BitLocker. However, we cooked up a BitLocker operation sequence to determine the adeptness of the system at handling BitLocker operations. We start off with a 4.5GB RAM drive in which a 4GB VHD (virtual hard disk) is created. This VHD is then mounted, and BitLocker is enabled on the volume. Once the BitLocker encryption process gets done, BitLocker is disabled. This triggers a decryption process. The times taken to complete the encryption and decryption are recorded. This process is repeated 25 times, and the average of the last 20 iterations is graphed below.

BitLocker Encryption Benchmark

BitLocker Decryption Benchmark

Hardware acceleration is available for the operations in all of the systems. The time taken for processing is directly dependent on the available power budget. Faster acceleration with more number of stronger cores in the Ryzen 7-5800U help the 4x4 BOX-5800U perform significantly better than the rest of the systems in this benchmark. The Arena Canyon NUC turns out to be the best of the Intel lot, as one would expect from the latest generation.

System Performance: UL and BAPCo Benchmarks GPU Performance: Synthetic Benchmarks
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  • heraldo25 - Tuesday, March 28, 2023 - link

    Why doesn't this type of PC ship with a USB C power adaptor? It would be ideal for travelling.
  • meacupla - Tuesday, March 28, 2023 - link

    Some NUC-like mini PCs do ship with a USB-C power connector.

    I can't say for certain, but I would guess it's because the manufacturer doesn't want you accidentally plugging in a <60W USB PD power adapter that cannot output 20V.
    Most of these mini-PCs and laptops use a 19V barrel adapter.

    There are also >60W multi-port USB-C power adapters will temporarily power down all ports when it detects a new device was plugged in.
    It's just really difficult to deal with all possible hardware combinations, and I can see it being more trouble than it's worth.
    Laptops are more forgiving with power loss, because they have batteries.
  • timecop1818 - Sunday, April 2, 2023 - link

    They could ship it with a 65W USB-C PD adapter like HP and Dell laptops come with. But I'd rather they kept the barrel plug because wasting one USB C port on power is pretty lame.
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, March 28, 2023 - link

    Suggestion - The opening paragraph is obviously a copy-paste from previous NUC articles. I get it that writers have a template and just fill in details at this point, but it just sets a tone for the article with regular readers as yet another hollowed out, low effort, assembly line thing that Anandtech used to not do, but seemingly does these days to toss reviews out the door. Variation would be helpful in the canned opener to mitigate some of that.
  • Oyeve - Wednesday, March 29, 2023 - link

    I have been buying Beelink mini PCs for my company this year and they are phenomenal for dollar value. Cost around 200-300 (depending on sales) and the model I chose for my users are the 16gb, windows 11 pro with AMD Ryzen 7 4700U and 500GB Kingston NVME drives. You really can't beat that price.
  • timecop1818 - Sunday, April 2, 2023 - link

    Yeah but then you're stuck with AMD

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