Performance Metrics - II

In this section, we mainly look at benchmark modes in programs used on a day-to-day basis, i.e, application performance and not synthetic workloads.

x264 Benchmark

First off, we have some video encoding benchmarks courtesy of x264 HD Benchmark v5.0. This is simply a test of CPU performance. The ordering of the scores seen in the SYSmark and PCMark 8 CPU benchmarks repeats here also.

Video Encoding - x264 5.0 - Pass 1

Video Encoding - x264 5.0 - Pass 2


7-Zip is a very effective and efficient compression program, often beating out OpenCL accelerated commercial programs in benchmarks even while using just the CPU power. 7-Zip has a benchmarking program that provides tons of details regarding the underlying CPU's efficiency. In this subsection, we are interested in the compression and decompression MIPS ratings when utilizing all the available threads.

7-Zip LZMA Compression Benchmark

7-Zip LZMA Decompression Benchmark


As businesses (and even home consumers) become more security conscious, the importance of encryption can't be overstated. CPUs supporting the AES-NI instruction have acceleration for the encryption and decryption processes. The Core i7-6500U has AES-NI support. TrueCrypt, a popular open-source disk encryption program can take advantage of the AES-NI capabilities. Its internal benchmark provides some interesting cryptography-related numbers to ponder. In the graph below, we can get an idea of how fast a TrueCrypt volume would behave in the GIGABYTE GB-BSi7HAL-6500 and how it would compare with other select PCs. This is a purely CPU feature / clock speed based test.

TrueCrypt Benchmark

Agisoft Photoscan

Agisoft PhotoScan is a commercial program that converts 2D images into 3D point maps, meshes and textures. The program designers sent us a command line version in order to evaluate the efficiency of various systems that go under our review scanner. The command line version has two benchmark modes, one using the CPU and the other using both the CPU and GPU (via OpenCL). The benchmark takes around 50 photographs and does four stages of computation:

  • Stage 1: Align Photographs
  • Stage 2: Build Point Cloud (capable of OpenCL acceleration)
  • Stage 3: Build Mesh
  • Stage 4: Build Textures

We record the time taken for each stage. Since various elements of the software are single threaded, others multithreaded, and some use GPUs, it is interesting to record the effects of CPU generations, speeds, number of cores, DRAM parameters and the GPU using this software.

Agisoft PhotoScan Benchmark - Stage 1

Agisoft PhotoScan Benchmark - Stage 2

Agisoft PhotoScan Benchmark - Stage 3

Agisoft PhotoScan Benchmark - Stage 4

Dolphin Emulator

Wrapping up our application benchmark numbers is the Dolphin Emulator benchmark mode results. This is again a test of the CPU capabilities, and the GB-BSi7HAL-6500 is only bettered by the Skull Canyon NUC.

Dolphin Emulator Benchmark

Performance Metrics - I Storage and Networking Performance
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  • cknobman - Wednesday, September 21, 2016 - link

    The price on these platforms is downright ridiculous.

    I know small has its price but at this point it just seems like Intel is profiteering.
  • powerarmour - Wednesday, September 21, 2016 - link

    That price is an utter joke.
  • ddriver - Wednesday, September 21, 2016 - link

    More like mockery.
  • nagi603 - Thursday, September 22, 2016 - link

    Yeah, for the same price, (well, actually quite less, but with "only" 16GB ram and a 256GB SSD) I put together a mini-ITX box with a proper desktop-class i7.... And thanks to the bigger size, it is quite silent.
  • JoeyJoJo123 - Wednesday, September 21, 2016 - link

    You know, I actually got rather excited when I saw it'd be a dual LAN mini PC on Skylake, as this would work out very well for a pfSense router-box.

    >$1030 as configured.

    No thanks... Might be better to stick with one of those cheap chinese dual lan mini-PCs instead...
  • barleyguy - Thursday, September 22, 2016 - link

    The Zotac ZBox EN760 has GTX 960 graphics as well as the dual lan ports, and could easily be configured comparably to this. That probably falls in your "cheap Chinese mini PCs" category, though I think Zotac is Tawainese.

    It's possibly on a lower quality tier than the Intel NUC or Gigabyte Brix. That said, I have the older version of it (EN860) and it works great as an HTPC box.

    I have actually considered the Intel NUC for use with Thunderbolt pro audio. If you're pairing it up with thousands of dollars of studio gear the price seems less egregious. But if the Thunderbolt port is going to go unused, there's really no reason to choose that direction.
  • JoeyJoJo123 - Thursday, September 22, 2016 - link

    The discrete graphics adds additional heat and cost that isn't useful for a pfSense box. It essentially acts as a server/router, using one LAN port as a WAN directly from a modem, then routes packets out accordingly from the other LAN port(s).

    Many Chinese fanless versions exist, but they use anemic celerons and atom CPUs. When you start using many extra features of pfSense, like squid (as a webproxy) the router's maximum throughput drops. Now this isn't an issue unless you have some kind of insane symmetrical 1gpbs up/down connection, where processor would fail to saturate the entire pipe.

    I'd prefer to not have to worry, so I'd be all in for a fanless Mini-STX case and socketing in my own 6300T or something, but there are no fanless Mini-STX cases, and no Mini-STX motherboards with dual LAN. There are fanless thin Mini-ITX cases from Akasa, but I wasn't able to source a cheapish i3 + thin Mini-ITX mobo with dual LAN.
  • fanofanand - Wednesday, September 21, 2016 - link

    $1030 using an iGPU. Pass.
  • fanofanand - Wednesday, September 21, 2016 - link

    Had to post a second comment, comparing this to the Skull Canyon, which has a better GPU/CPU, better wi-fi, and a better SSD really hurts the Brix. $3 less for nearly every component being better except 16 GB of RAM vs 32 GB. What use case does this box have where 32 GB of RAM becomes a factor? Are people running dozens of VMs off a box like this? I don't know about profiteering, but I don't see them selling many of these.
  • kmmatney - Wednesday, September 21, 2016 - link

    I can't see running too many VMs. The i7-6500U performs worse than an i3-6100 (uses a lot less power, but still...). I know going into these reviews that the prices will shock me, yet I'm still shocked when I see them.

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