Networking & Storage Performance

We have recently started devoting a separate section to analyze the storage and networking credentials of the units under review. On the storage side, one option would be repetition of our strenuous SSD review tests on the drive(s) in the PC. Fortunately, to avoid that overkill, PCMark 8 has a storage bench where certain common workloads such as loading games and document processing are replayed on the target drive. Results are presented in two forms, one being a benchmark number and the other, a bandwidth figure. We ran the PCMark 8 storage bench on selected PCs and the results are presented below.

Futuremark PCMark 8 Storage Bench - Score

Futuremark PCMark 8 Storage Bench - Bandwidth

The Plextor PX-128M6M turns out to be the best-performing mSATA SSD that we have evaluated for UCFF systems. Even though the storage sub-system scores are quite close to each other for all the SSD-equipped machines, the storage bandwidth numbers show a clear lead for the PX-128M6M over the other mSATA SSDs. In terms of both parameters, only the Samsung SSD 840 EVO (2.5" version) scores a lead over the PX-128M6M. However, the current performance issues with reading of old data from the Samsung EVO drives may make users hesitate in purchasing a mSATA version of the same. In any case, the Plextor PX-128M6M currently retails for around $90 compared to the $105 for the Samsung 840 EVO 120 GB mSATA drive.

On the networking side, we restricted ourselves to the evaluation of the WLAN component. Our standard test router is the Netgear R7000 Nighthawk configured with both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks. The router is placed approximately 20 ft. away, separated by a drywall (as in a typical US building). A wired client (Zotac ID89-Plus) is connected to the R7000 and serves as one endpoint for iPerf evaluation. The PC under test is made to connect to either the 5 GHz (preferred) or 2.4 GHz SSID and iPerf tests are conducted for both TCP and UDP transfers. It is ensured that the PC under test is the only wireless client for the Netgear R7000. We evaluate total throughput for up to 32 simultaneous TCP connections using iPerf and present the highest number in the graph below.

Wi-Fi TCP Throughput

In the UDP case, we try to transfer data at the highest rate possible for which we get less than 1% packet loss.

Wi-Fi UDP Throughput (< 1% Packet Loss)

In both tests, we are let down by the presence of a 1x1 802.11n mPCIe card. It connects only to the 2.4 GHz band and simply can't stand up to the other competitors which are 802.11ac-capable units. The GB-BXi7-4500U is still being sold with the Realtek RTL8723AE mPCIe card. Hopefully, future revisions will move to the RTL8821AE (1x1 802.11ac) that is being used in the BRIX Pro and BRIX Gaming units.

Performance Metrics - II HTPC Credentials
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  • torp - Thursday, October 9, 2014 - link

    That's a nice power brick over there, as long as the case :)
    When will they learn and integrate the PSU?
  • kevith - Friday, October 10, 2014 - link

    I´m afraid it won´t happen, it´s much easier and cheaper to put a brick in the box, as long as there are multitudes of different voltages from the wall around the world.

    Would be nice, tho´.
  • Shiitaki - Thursday, October 9, 2014 - link

    It is reviews like this that point out Apple isn't over priced. This thing is 750 dollars? No it's not! Are you telling your readers to steal the operating system? You need to be including that in the final price unless you expect your readers to be thieves.

    I love the idea of a miniaturized computer, but the premium intel charges for those parts is too much, and for significantly less performance no less. It's one of those rare times when a Civic costs more than a Cadillac!

    And to make matters worse, your build doesn't even include AC networking. And networking is going to be important to a machine that doesn't have much local storage. Intel integrated graphics, so this won't be good for more than a general purpose computer.

    Use the more reasonable cost and performing laptop parts, make the computer 50 percent taller to accommodate a slow spinning fan, and price it according to the less expensive parts and you'd have a winner. If you can make a 500 dollar laptop with screen, a hard drive, and memory; you can make a 250 dollar bare bone small computer.

    Even at twice the size, it could be a much more compelling product. At what these things cost, a Mac mini is better deal, after you add a SSD.

    Great idea making a small computer, carried too far.
  • stunta - Thursday, October 9, 2014 - link

    I got myself a Zotac ZBOX-CI520NANO with Core i3 (Haswell), CRUCIAL 256GB SSD and 4 GB RAM. This a fanless unit with 802.11ac built in. Connectivity options are plenty. All this for around $450. This is a solid performer. Although Gigabyte UCFF PCs get good reviews, they don't seem to compare favorably to the latest Zotac units with respect to bang-for-the-buck. $490 just for the barebones is pretty steep.
  • D. Lister - Friday, October 10, 2014 - link

    I wonder if it is really good marketing to call an electronic device "Brix".
  • milkod2001 - Monday, October 13, 2014 - link

    imagine this box twice in size(still smaller then mini/micro atx systems) with some decent proper desktop CPU(not necessary the latest, the greatest), 970m Maxwell, 8-16gb ram, 256 gb SSD, build in PSU. All that for $1000(including OS). Is it doable?

    It would not replace heavy workstations but it might be enough for most content creators and it would also play any 1080p games with ease if needed.
  • speculatrix - Monday, November 24, 2014 - link

    I'd avoid the Intel AC 7260 WiFI card listed for the NUC, I've had one and it was very troublesome.

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