Power Consumption and Thermal Performance

The power consumption at the wall was measured with a 1080p display being driven through the HDMI port. In the graphs below, we compare the idle and load power of the Intel PPSTK1AW32SC with other low power PCs evaluated before. For load power consumption, we ran Furmark 1.15.0 and Prime95 v28.7 (32-bit) together.

Idle Power Consumption

Load Power Consumption (Prime95 + FurMark)

Compared to the Bay Trail Compute Stick, the Cherry Trail one has higher idle and load power consumption numbers. Given the upgraded Wi-Fi, the idle number can probably be justified. The load number is more due to the upgraded GPU which delivers much better performance while also consuming as much power as possible while staying within the acceptable thermal envelope.

Our thermal stress routine starts with the system at idle, followed by 30 minutes of pure CPU loading. This is followed by another 30 minutes of both CPU and GPU being loaded simultaneously. After this, the CPU load gets removed, allowing the GPU to be loaded alone for another 30 minutes. The various clocks in the system as well as the temperatures within the unit are presented below.

According to the official specifications, the junction temperature of the Atom x5-Z8300 is 90 C. The thermal solution is able to keep all temperatures around the 80C mark without excessive throttling. In the absence of any GPU loading, the CPU cores maintain a 1.6 GHz speed. We didn't observe the cores operating at the maximum burst frequency at all (1.84 GHz). With GPU loading into the picture, the cores can drop down to as low as 900 MHz even with the CPU load active. The GPU shunts between 380 MHz and 500 MHz depending on the load and available thermal headroom. One disappointing aspect is that the idling temperature of 57 C for the CPU cores is a lot higher than what we would like.

Using the Android version of the FLIR One thermal imager, we observed the chassis temperature after the CPU package temperature reached the steady state value in the above graph.

We see that the chassis remains below 66 C even when the internal SoC is at 80 C.

HTPC Credentials Miscellaneous Aspects and Concluding Remarks
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  • augman2384 - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    Are you going to review the Kangaroo PC? It's also Cherry Trail and has other similarities but priced much cheaper at $99. It would be interesting to see it compared in the benchmarks. Reply
  • Wombat2013 - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    Yes, a Kangaroo PC review would be interesting/useful. Reply
  • KenA - Friday, January 15, 2016 - link

    I picked up a Kanagroo PC at newegg for $99. It's great. And it has 4K Hdmi! I use it on my Vizio 4K 43" TV. Reply
  • ToTTenTranz - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    Well a high-pitch fan in a product like this is really a huge turn-off...

    One question and one request that may be of interest to many users:

    1 - It won't pass-through DTS-HD or Dolby TrueHD, but does the HDMI sound codec support a linear-PCM output up to 7.1, and if so can it decode the compressed lossless formats and send through 24bit PCM?

    2 - Please, if not for this review then at least for the next ones, could you include a test with Steam In-Home Streaming in your suite?
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    Yes, it supports Linear PCM, Dolby Digital, DTS and Dolby Digital Plus up to 5.1 for sure. I will check and report on 7.1 later tonight.

    I have to check on the Steam In-Home Streaming - if there is a typical benchmark that can quickly assess the capabilities. If I need to have another PC running Steam and actually need to launch a game and play, then I fear it might be too much overhead to our benchmarking routine.
    Reply
  • ToTTenTranz - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    Thanks for the clarification! Then it's probably a matter of licensing alone.

    As for In-Home Streaming, you can just start a timedemo from any game from the client PC and watch the network statistics in it (it's an option in the In-Home Streaming settings).
    Since IHS supports the execution of pretty much any executable from the host PC, you can probably just run your already existing batch file from there.
    Reply
  • jasonelmore - Friday, January 15, 2016 - link

    its a simple streaming test. What quality setting can it do? You can measure FPS. Use a game that gets good frame-rates like Portal 2 or TF2. As long as the Steam PC can do 60 FPS, then all of the other variables are moot.

    Use a usb ethernet adapter
    Reply
  • BillyONeal - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    Typo:
    maintaining a similar power envelop
    ->
    maintaining a similar power envelope.
    Reply
  • bill.rookard - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    Very cool little devices, and while I can appreciate the tiny form factor, it still doesn't seem to be as good as my Raspberry Pi quad core running OpenELEC, especially when factoring in the price. Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    At any given moment, there are a dozen Z8300 equivalent tablets on sale for less than $200. As messed up as it is, I doubt we will ever see prices on these compute sticks go lower than the sale prices of atom tablets. Reply

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