BAPCo SYSmark 2018

The Gemini Lake UCFF PCs were evaluated using our Fall 2018 test suite for small-form factor PCs. In the first section, we will be looking at SYSmark 2018.

BAPCo's SYSmark 2018 is an application-based benchmark that uses real-world applications to replay usage patterns of business users in the areas of productivity, creativity, and responsiveness. The 'Productivity Scenario' covers office-centric activities including word processing, spreadsheet usage, financial analysis, software development, application installation, file compression, and e-mail management. The 'Creativity Scenario' represents media-centric activities such as digital photo processing, AI and ML for face recognition in photos and videos for the purpose of content creation, etc. The 'Responsiveness Scenario' evaluates the ability of the system to react in a quick manner to user inputs in areas such as application and file launches, web browsing, and multi-tasking.

Scores are meant to be compared against a reference desktop (the SYSmark 2018 calibration system, a Dell Optiplex 5050 tower with a Core i3-7100 and 4GB of DDR4-2133 memory to go with a 128GB M.2 SATA III SSD). The calibration system scores 1000 in each of the scenarios. A score of, say, 2000, would imply that the system under test is twice as fast as the reference system.

SYSmark 2018 - Productivity

SYSmark 2018 - Creativity

SYSmark 2018 - Responsiveness

SYSmark 2018 - Overall

SYSmark 2018 also adds energy measurement to the mix. A high score in the SYSmark benchmarks might be nice to have, but, potential customers also need to determine the balance between power consumption and the efficiency of the system. For example, in the average office scenario, it might not be worth purchasing a noisy and power-hungry PC just because it ends up with a 2000 score in the SYSmark 2014 SE benchmarks. In order to provide a balanced perspective, SYSmark 2018 also allows vendors and decision makers to track the energy consumption during each workload. In the graphs below, we find the total energy consumed by the PC under test for a single iteration of each SYSmark 2018 workload. For reference, the calibration system consumes 5.36 Wh for productivity, 7.71 Wh for creativity, 5.61 Wh for responsiveness, and 18.68 Wh overall.

SYSmark 2018 - Productivity Energy Consumption

SYSmark 2018 - Creativity Energy Consumption

SYSmark 2018 - Responsiveness Energy Consumption

SYSmark 2018 - Overall Energy Consumption

Despite being passively cooled, the ECS LIVA Z2 manages to put up a credible fight against the actively-cooled Arches Canyon NUC. Other than that, the scores are along expected lines, with the June Canyon NUC coming out on top (due to its use of the most powerful Gemini Lake SoC available).

Introduction and Platform Analysis UL Benchmarks - PCMark and 3DMark
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  • eastcoast_pete - Sunday, December 23, 2018 - link

    @Ganesh To clarify: I know you didn't call them HTPCs in the title, but that is what many (most?) users are or will be considering these NUCs and NUCalikes for. Almost anybody I know bought their NUC for use as an HTPC, and that is where these Gemini Lake NUCs fall flat. It can get frustrating to have to tell people over and over "Yes, this NUC is cheaper. No, it will not give you the HTPC experience you're looking for". So, even if you haven't run the media playback tests on these and can't add the information, a stronger "buyer beware" and what to consider instead is in order. Intel made sure that Gemini Lake systems cannot provide the multimedia experience that a 2018/2019 HTPC should provide; for that, one has to buy a core-based NUC. Reply
  • silverblue - Sunday, December 23, 2018 - link

    To be fair, I can't remember the last time I saw HTPC benchmarks, maybe it was back during the Kaveri era. Reply
  • mode_13h - Sunday, December 23, 2018 - link

    These aren't just light desktops, and perhaps you overestimate the size of the HTPC market.

    My employer actually uses NUCs for another purpose, entirely. A lot of things that would formerly be handled by lightweight servers can be done with a NUC. If you need to do some processing on-site (i.e. cannot move it into the cloud, or on a VM hosted by a big server), then NUCs are a pretty good option. I wish they had ECC, but it's not needed for our purpose (and there are industrial mini PCs that have it).
    Reply
  • eastcoast_pete - Monday, December 24, 2018 - link

    I agree with you that, for the use you describe, these NUCs are (almost, no ECC) perfectly fine. I disagree on underestimating the size of the HTPC market. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who think hey, this could be a cheap solution for my media needs.
    I wish Ganesh would have put a clear statement in his review along the lines of " these units are okay or even excellent for situations where you need a compact PC that can run general office software or on-site processing. However, if you hope to put these Gemini lake systems to use as HTPCs, you're better off looking elsewhere" or similar.
    Reply
  • GreenReaper - Sunday, December 23, 2018 - link

    To be honest, these have not really been positioned as HTPC, but as ultra-compact form-factor PCs. Other places describe it as a "PC replacement" or for "entry-level digital signage", e.g.:

    "The NUC7PJYH kit also comes with dual Ultra HD 4K display support via two full-sized HDMI ports, consumer infrared, and a TOSLINK audio jack, they’ve got everything they need to stream media, play, or finish that last-minute presentation. In addition, with 3.2x better graphics, you can create robust entry-level digital signage at entry-level prices for your SMB customers."

    If you are looking for more in a NUC, and in particular HDR support, you probably want to be looking at Bean Canyon (CFL-U) or Hades Canyon (KBL-U) as described in https://www.anandtech.com/tag/htpc
    Reply
  • speculatrix - Monday, December 31, 2018 - link

    The TOSLink port works perfectly under windows 10, with dd5.1 out. Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Friday, December 28, 2018 - link

    "For example, in the average office scenario, it might not be worth purchasing a noisy and power-hungry PC just because it ends up with a 2000 score in the SYSmark 2014 SE benchmarks. In order to provide a balanced perspective, SYSmark 2018 also allows vendors and decision makers to track the energy consumption during each workload. In the graphs below, we find the total energy consumed by the PC under test for a single iteration of each SYSmark 2018 workload. For reference, the calibration system consumes 5.36 Wh for productivity"

    versus 6.03 for the LIVA and 6.60 for the NUC. So, they both fail the office work test. That is not what I expected nor what most would expect, since Atom in particular is supposed to be more, not less, energy-efficient for things like office work. Is it due to the i3-7100 being able to finish tasks more quickly, a storage speed bottleneck, or both? I assume it's the first one.

    It's also rather sad how slow these are when compared with Piledriver parts in the Cinebench tests. Even single-threaded Cinebench, which exposes how slow Piledriver is when compared with Intel's real CPUs, makes these low bad. The multicore performance is pitiful. Yes, I realize that Piledriver uses more energy. However, a processor like the 8370E is hardly an energy nightmare if it's not overclocked and it kicks the tar out of these chips (100 for single-threaded and 614 for multithreaded). The 8320E was ultra cheap at MicroCenter and even qualified for the motherboard price reduction. Color me underwhelmed when a design from 2011/2012 that wasn't much of an upgrade when it came out manages to greatly outperform parts being sold on the cusp of 2019, without using a tremendous amount of energy. Clearly, an officer worker would be happier with an 8320E than one of these CPUs and it's not even for sale anymore — let alone a Sandy Bridge chip which has better single-threaded performance.

    These boxes, then, seem to be for more niche activities, like HTPC use.
    Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Friday, December 28, 2018 - link

    "makes these low bad" unfinished sentence... oops: "Makes these low low end chips seem particularly bad." Reply
  • speculatrix - Monday, December 31, 2018 - link

    I bought a June Canyon NUC specifically because of the TOSLink optical output. I can vouch that, with the right drivers under windows 10 you can get Dolby Digital out, when playing Netflix from the Netflix app, or movies with the right audio codecs with VLC. Reply
  • pseudoid - Wednesday, January 23, 2019 - link

    I thought I was in the PC aisle of Fry's Electronics store. Yeah, here it is 2019 and they are still trying to offload the NUC7s at retail prices. I bought NUC8s (one w/i5 and the other with the i7) in December 2018 and I'm tickled pink. Reply

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