UL Benchmarks - PCMark and 3DMark

This section deals with a selection of the UL Futuremark benchmarks - PCMark 10, PCMark 8, and 3DMark. While the first two evaluate the system as a whole, 3DMark focuses on the graphics capabilities.

PCMark 10

UL's PCMark 10 evaluates computing systems for various usage scenarios (generic / essential tasks such as web browsing and starting up applications, productivity tasks such as editing spreadsheets and documents, gaming, and digital content creation). We benchmarked select PCs with the PCMark 10 Extended profile and recorded the scores for various scenarios. These scores are heavily influenced by the CPU and GPU in the system, though the RAM and storage device also play a part. The power plan was set to Balanced for all the PCs while processing the PCMark 10 benchmark.

Futuremark PCMark 10 - Essentials

Futuremark PCMark 10 - Productivity

Futuremark PCMark 10 - Gaming

Futuremark PCMark 10 - Digital Content Creation

Futuremark PCMark 10 - Extended

The relative numbers are very similar to the SYSmark 2018 results for those specific workloads. However, some expected weaknesses start showing up in the GPU-dependent workloads such as gaming and digital content creation.

PCMark 8

We continue to present PCMark 8 benchmark results (as those have more comparison points) while our PCMark 10 scores database for systems grows in size. PCMark 8 provides various usage scenarios (home, creative and work) and offers ways to benchmark both baseline (CPU-only) as well as OpenCL accelerated (CPU + GPU) performance. We benchmarked select PCs for the OpenCL accelerated performance in all three usage scenarios. These scores are heavily influenced by the CPU in the system. The NUCs show consistently higher performance, except for the Work scenario, where only the Bean Canyon NUC configuration surpasses the CI660 nano.

Futuremark PCMark 8 - Home OpenCL

Futuremark PCMark 8 - Creative OpenCL

Futuremark PCMark 8 - Work OpenCL


UL's 3DMark comes with a diverse set of graphics workloads that target different Direct3D feature levels. Correspondingly, the rendering resolutions are also different. We use 3DMark 2.4.4264 to get an idea of the graphics capabilities of the system. In this section, we take a look at the performance of the Zotac ZBOX CI660 nano across the different 3DMark workloads.

3DMark Ice Storm

This workload has three levels of varying complexity - the vanilla Ice Storm, Ice Storm Unlimited, and Ice Storm Extreme. It is a cross-platform benchmark (which means that the scores can be compared across different tablets and smartphones as well). All three use DirectX 11 (feature level 9) / OpenGL ES 2.0. While the Extreme renders at 1920 x 1080, the other two render at 1280 x 720. The graphs below present the various Ice Storm worloads' numbers for different systems that we have evaluated.

UL 3DMark - Ice Storm Workloads

3DMark Cloud Gate

The Cloud Gate workload is meant for notebooks and typical home PCs, and uses DirectX 11 (feature level 10) to render frames at 1280 x 720. The graph below presents the overall score for the workload across all the systems that are being compared.

UL 3DMark Cloud Gate Score

3DMark Sky Diver

The Sky Diver workload is meant for gaming notebooks and mid-range PCs, and uses DirectX 11 (feature level 11) to render frames at 1920 x 1080. The graph below presents the overall score for the workload across all the systems that are being compared.

UL 3DMark Sky Diver Score

3DMark Fire Strike Extreme

The Fire Strike benchmark has three workloads. The base version is meant for high-performance gaming PCs. Similar to Sky Diver, it uses DirectX 11 (feature level 11) to render frames at 1920 x 1080. The Ultra version targets 4K gaming system, and renders at 3840 x 2160. However, we only deal with the Extreme version in our benchmarking - It renders at 2560 x 1440, and targets multi-GPU systems and overclocked PCs. The graph below presents the overall score for the Fire Strike Extreme benchmark across all the systems that are being compared.

UL 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme Score

3DMark Time Spy

The Time Spy workload has two levels with different complexities. Both use DirectX 12 (feature level 11). However, the plain version targets high-performance gaming PCs with a 2560 x 1440 render resolution, while the Extreme version renders at 3840 x 2160 resolution. The graphs below present both numbers for all the systems that are being compared in this review.

UL 3DMark - Time Spy Workloads

3DMark Night Raid

The Night Raid workload is a DirectX 12 benchmark test. It is less demanding than Time Spy, and is optimized for integrated graphics. The graph below presents the overall score in this workload for different system configurations.

UL 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme Score

The 3DMark numbers show the CI660 nano coming consistently in the middle of the pack. The Iris Plus Graphics-enabled systems are obviously geared to show better numbers. Despite that, the CI660 nano manages to outperform other actively cooled PCs with similar or better GPU configurations (such as the Core i3-8100 / Intel UHD Graphics 630-based DeskMini 310).

BAPCo SYSmark 2018 Miscellaneous Performance Metrics
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • eastcoast_pete - Tuesday, April 16, 2019 - link

    Thanks Ganesh! Two comments, one question - question first:
    Was your choice of a SATA SSD based on the ability of the ZBOX to support (not support) an NVMe SSD, or based on what parts were available?
    As a comment, use of slower vs. faster storage (SATA vs NVMe) will obviously affect a number of performance benchmarks. Why not standardize on one unless the unit tested won't support the better option?
    My other comment is about the pricing of the ZBOX (bare bone): not a good value proposition for HTPC use, given that the current i7 NUC is cheaper, with a superior CPU/GPU. The presence of two gigabit ethernet connections in the ZBOX might be a plus in certain situations, but otherwise it's overpriced compared to the NUC.
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, April 17, 2019 - link

    No NVMe SSD support in the CI660 nano. I had to use a SATA drive, and chose the best one available at my disposal from a cost viewpoint (at the time I configured the review sample - sometime in early Q4 2018).

    You are right about standardizing the storage drive. However, we tend to choose a drive available in retail for a reasonable cost at the time of configuring the review sample. Since we review a system or two each quarter, it becomes difficult to use the same drive across a large number of reviews. That said, you can find that we either use Crucial SATA SSDs (MX200 / BX300) or Samsung / WD NVMe SSDs (950 PRO / WD Black / SanDisk Extreme Pro) unless the sample comes pre-configured with different SSDs by the vendor (eg. - Hades Canyon).

    The CI6xx nano platform is suitable for HTPCs, though, the i7 model might be a bit too pricey for that sole purpose. As one of the other commentators noted, Zotac does have i3- and i5- models in the series.
  • mooninite - Tuesday, April 16, 2019 - link

    $865 is $300 too much. Looks like most of this cost is tied up with the use of an i7, which is completely unnecessary in this form factor. CPU power is not the limitation here. The GPU is.

    I can't see this as a big seller over a NUC.
  • mooninite - Tuesday, April 16, 2019 - link

    Also, I wish Zotac had come out with their AMD mini-pcs with Vega graphics. Such a shame... that would have sold. I wonder why they backed out.
  • Haawser - Wednesday, April 17, 2019 - link

    Agreed, I'd rather have a 15W Ryzen 7 3700U in this form factor. Because UHD620 is going to be a severe limitation for anything beyond the most basic low res, minimum settings gaming. Whereas at 720p/med fullscreen, Vega 10 should play pretty much anything.

    No idea why Zotac don't offer a Ryzen APU version. Intel 'discounts' maybe ? Or rather, threats of removing them if Zotac don't play ball ? Wouldn't put it past them to offer 'inducemets' like that. Their history being what it is.
  • lukethedrifter - Tuesday, April 16, 2019 - link

    There are i3 and i5 versions as well, ci620 and ci640 respectively.

    This is a niche product for those who want something NUC-sized but fanless, for which there are relatively few options.That's the selling point, not that it's price competitive with regular NUCs.
  • Beaver M. - Monday, April 29, 2019 - link

    Or an Nvidia Shield, which is still the best and cheapest way to get what an HTPC is supposed to do.
  • mikato - Tuesday, April 16, 2019 - link

    Noise question here... Ganesh, you said you were disappointed in the fan noise of the Intel NUC8i7BEH though I didn't see much detail. How bad was it (idle and when streaming something), and is this ZBOX far better noise-wise because it's fanless?
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, April 17, 2019 - link

    The Bean Canyon NUC's fan is problematic because it is small and high-pitched when there is sudden load on the CPU. At idle, not that much. But, network streaming and even Kodi playback sometimes makes the unit hot enough for the fan to turn on. It is audible from 10 ft away, particularly during quiet scenes in the movie. The ZBOX noise is inaudible at that range - so, for the HTPC user who isn't very picky, it might work.

    That said, there are some passive chasses for the Bean Canyon NUCs in the market. Those might be worth a look. However, that is not a 'ready-out-of-the-box' solution.
  • mikato - Friday, May 3, 2019 - link

    Thanks! Please keep include noise as a concern in these mini PCs.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now