Zotac ZBOX CI662 nano Fanless mini-PC Review: Second Stab at Silencing Succeedsby Ganesh T S on January 5, 2021 8:00 AM EST
Miscellaneous Performance Metrics
This section looks at some of the other commonly used benchmarks representative of the performance of specific real-world applications.
3D Rendering - CINEBENCH
We use CINEBENCH R15 and R23 for 3D rendering evaluation. R15 provides three benchmark modes - OpenGL, single threaded and multi-threaded, while R23 provides only single and multi-threaded modes. Evaluation of different PC configurations in all supported modes provided us the following results.
Multi-threaded performance is broadly related to the core count, though the DIY configuration with higher TDP budget is also able to put in a good show. The OpenGL (GPU-dependent) performance is obviously in favor of the unit with the Iris Plus GPU. The R23 scores are in line with the clock speeds and core counts of the different CML-U SiPs used in the PCs.
Next up, we have some video encoding benchmarks using x265 v2.8. The appropriate encoder executable is chosen based on the supported CPU features. In the first case, we encode 600 1080p YUV 4:2:0 frames into a 1080p30 HEVC Main-profile compatible video stream at 1 Mbps and record the average number of frames encoded per second.
Our second test case is 1200 4K YUV 4:2:0 frames getting encoded into a 4Kp60 HEVC Main10-profile video stream at 35 Mbps. The encoding FPS is recorded.
The CI662 nano seems a bit hampered by the slow DRAM, but otherwise matches the CI660 nano. Against the DIY Bean Canyon / Akasa Turing kit, the CI662 nano is at a disadvantage because of TDP limitations. The hexa-core Frost Canyon NUC takes the lead in both 8b and 10b encoding due to the large number of threads available to the encoder.
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 rates when utilizing all the available threads for the LZMA algorithm.
Performance broadly follows the relative core count, clock speed, and DRAM speed ordering for the systems under consideration - and the CI662 nano marks its entry in the middle of the pack.
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 this sub-section, we look at two different real-world applications that may make use of this 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 2.5GB RAM drive in which a 2GB 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.
The CI662 nano, CI660 nano, DIY Bean Canyon NUC / Akasa Turing kit, and the Frost Canyon NUC perform very similarly in this benchmark, given that they are based on processors with the same microarchitecture. It is possible that the updates in Windows 10 20H2 have given the CI662 nano an edge (given that the benchmarks on the other systems were run with either Windows 10 1903 or Windows 10 1909).
Creation of secure archives is best done through the use of AES-256 as the encryption method while password protecting ZIP files. We re-use the benchmark mode of 7-Zip to determine the AES256-CBC encryption and decryption rates using pure software as well as AES-NI. Note that the 7-Zip benchmark uses a 48KB buffer for this purpose.
The 7-zip cryptography benchmark numbers are in-line with the results for plain archiving. DRAM speed shouldn't be much of a factor here, as the buffer should easily fit into the cache.
Yet another cryptography application is secure network communication. OpenSSL can take advantage of the acceleration provided by the host system to make operations faster. It also has a benchmark mode that can use varying buffer sizes. We recorded the processing rate for a 8KB buffer using the hardware-accelerated AES256-CBC-HAC-SHA1 feature.
The performance of the different systems for OpenSSL seem to be fairly similar to each other, with the CI662 nano in the middle of the pack.
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). We present the results from our evaluation using the CPU mode only. The benchmark (v1.3) takes 84 photographs and does four stages of computation:
- Stage 1: Align Photographs (capable of OpenCL acceleration)
- 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, and others multithreaded, it is interesting to record the effects of CPU generations, speeds, number of cores, and DRAM parameters using this software.
The CI662 nano is slightly handicapped by the slower DRAM speed compared to the CI660 nano. The trend in the results are indicative of the faster CPUs with higher core counts performing better.
Wrapping up our application benchmark numbers is the new Dolphin Emulator (v5) benchmark mode results.
This is again a test of the CPU capabilities - the CI660 nano and the CI662 nano perform very similar to each other, and the faster Core i7-10710U with two extra cores in the Frost Canyon NUC makes it come out at the top of the pack.