Testing & Performance
Something not readily obvious anywhere in the manual or specifications is the fact that while the Celeron N3350 does support 4K @60Hz video, that is only over DisplayPort 1.2. It only supports HDMI 1.4b for a max of 4096x2160 @ 30Hz. The other model is equipped with the Pentium N4200 that has HDMI 2.0 for full support of 4096x2160 @ 60Hz. We had to dig through Intel’s technical documents online to find out why our LIVA Q sample was limited to 30Hz refresh rate when connected to a UHD/4K display.
To give us more room to breathe and to install all of our benchmarks, we’ll be installing a 256GB Samsung EVO+ MicroSDXC memory card as well.
First, we’ll take a look at the CPU of our LIVA Q PC. It is based on the ‘Apollo Lake’ SOC and is the Celeron N3350. With a base clock of 1.1 GHz and a burst frequency of up to 2.4 GHz across two single-threaded cores. The chip falls within a very low power envelop with up to a 6-watt TDP.
CPU-Z can’t quite get a full read on the rest of the internals but if we read between the lines, we can figure out our 4GB system memory is running at 1200 MHz actual clock rate for an effective data rate of 2400 MHz.
General Performance Testing
All benchmarks are run using stock settings in its ‘out of the box’ configuration. Our unit is equipped with the Celeron N3350 SOC 2 core, 2 threads, vs the available Pentium N4200 which sports 4 cores and 4 threads.
"Use the PCMark 8 Storage benchmark to test the performance of SSDs, HDDs and hybrid drives with traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office and a selection of popular games. You can test the system drive or any other recognized storage device, including local external drives. Unlike synthetic storage tests, the PCMark 8 Storage benchmark highlights real-world performance differences between storage devices."
Considering the diminutive size and 6-watt processor, the LIVA Q actually does pretty well in our PCMark 8 testing suite. It falls pretty short on all of the gaming and related tests, scoring in the low single digit FPS range, but the office and media work all are handled quite well.
PCMark 10 is the complete benchmark for the modern office. It is the ideal test for organizations that are evaluating PCs for a workforce with a range of performance needs. The tests in this benchmark cover a wide range of activities from everyday productivity tasks to demanding work with digital media content.
PCMark 10 uses a modular approach to build relevant benchmark tests around common end-user scenarios. A Test Group is a collection of workloads that share a common theme or purpose. There are four test groups in PCMark 10, we use three of them.
Essentials: covers the common, everyday ways that people use a PC. The workloads include Web Browsing, Video Conferencing, and App Start-up time.
Productivity: measures system performance with everyday office applications. This test group includes the Spreadsheets and Writing workloads.
Digital Content Creation: This test group's workload reflects the demands of working with digital content and media. The tests include Photo Editing, Video Editing, and Rendering and Visualization.
PCMark 10 shows similar trends. Rendering and Visualization scores hurt the Digital Content Creation category which also hurts the overall score in testing, but everything else is handled quite well.
Super PI Modded 1.5
“In August 1995, the calculation of pi up to 4,294,960,000 decimal digits was succeeded by using a supercomputer at the University of Tokyo. The program was written by D.Takahashi in collaboration with Dr.Y.Kanada at the computer center. This record should be the current world record. (Details are shown in the windows help.) This record-breaking program was ported to personal computer environments such as Windows NT and Windows 95. In order to calculate 33.55 million digits, it takes 3 days with a Pentium 90 MHz, 40 MB main memory and 340 MB available storage.”
A Super Pi 32M calculation time of just over 28 minutes certainly won’t break any records but the time per clock speed is actually quite good here.
"CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer's performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Iron Man 3, Oblivion, Life of Pi or Prometheus and much more.
CINEBENCH is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and OS X). And best of all: It's completely free."
Cinebench is another CPU intensive test not really designed for low power systems. A score of 76 might seem laughable at first if you are used to seeing scores from expensive overclocked gaming systems, but if you figure you are getting about 12.7cp per watt, if you scaled to linearly to 60W or even 90W, the score would put most modern CPU’s to shame.
The benchmark shows a rating of MIPS (million instructions per second). The rating value is calculated from the measured speed, and it is normalized with results of Intel Core 2 CPU with multi-threading option switched off. So if you have modern CPU from Intel or AMD, rating values in single-thread mode must be close to real CPU frequency. There are two tests, compression with LZMA method and decompression with LZMA method. Once the total passes reaches 100, the score is taken
And a final time, we end up pretty impressed with the score given the power usage. Testing Intel’s 8700K usually gives us a score of around 40,000 here, from a CPU that uses almost 16x as much power. Performance per watt, our little Apollo Lake SOC does incredibly well here.
Memory Performance Testing
AIDA64 Engineer Edition
“FinalWire Ltd. today announced the immediate availability of AIDA64 Extreme Edition 1.50 software, a streamlined diagnostic and benchmarking tool for home users; and the immediate availability of AIDA64 Business Edition 1.50 software, an essential network management solution for small and medium scale enterprises. The new AIDA64 update implements AVX-optimized benchmarks for the upcoming Intel Sandy Bridge processors, adds a brand new video encoding benchmark, and supports the latest AMD and NVIDIA graphics processors.”
For 2400 MHz DDR4 memory, our scores are more in line with single-channel setups than the dual-channel configuration this SOC is capable of. L1 cache performance is great and likely contributes heavily to the performance this little chip exhibits.
“CrystalDiskMark is designed to quickly test the performance of your hard drives. Currently, the program allows measuring sequential and random read/write speeds."
We’ll test the internal storage first, based on a built-in 32GB of eMMC memory. CrystalDiskMark shows us lower end SSD speeds, which are more than fast enough for the targeted use case of the LIVA Q and should provide a great experience.
The LIVA Q’s specs show support for up to 128GB of expandable storage, but if it follows the full SDXC specs, it should handle any card up to 2TB in size. We had a higher performance 256GB card from Samsung on hand, so we threw it in to try. ECS’s Mini-PC had no issue working with the card, but the performance we got out of a card rated for over 90MB/s read and write both was a little lower than we were hoping, scoring roughly 60MB/s and 17MB/s read and write respectively. This still proves to be fast enough to stream 4K media from, so it works just fine.
3DMark – Fire Strike
"Fire Strike is a showcase DirectX 11 benchmark designed for today's high-performance gaming PCs. It is our most ambitious and technical benchmark ever, featuring real-time graphics rendered with detail and complexity far beyond what is found in other benchmarks and games today"
ECS’s LIVA Q is not even remotely targeted at gaming, but we had to try it out anyway. As expected, our Firestrike run was a beautiful slideshow, landing only in the low single-digit frame per second range.
3DMark – Cloud Gate
"Cloud Gate is a new test that is designed for Windows notebooks and typical home PCs. Cloud Gate includes two graphics tests and a physics test. Cloud Gate uses a DirectX 11 engine limited to Direct3D feature level 10 making it suitable for testing DirectX 10 compatible hardware. Cloud Gate is only available in the Windows editions of 3DMark at this time.”
Backing off to a little lighter load with Cloud Gate, the little LIVA Q still only manages 13 and 12 FPS in the graphics testing categories respectively and 2.8 FPS in the physics tests. The LIVA Q was not meant for gaming and it shows, but it does do what it was designed to do and does it quite well.
4K Media Testing
We used a few free samples from 4Ksamples.com since they provide a good selection of 4K/UHD content for anyone to download and some 4K YouTube content for streaming media.
Honey Bees 24FPS in 4K (Ultra HD) – MP4 – H264 - 4096*2304 – 24FPS – 22,320 kbps total bitrate
This sample proved to be a light load thanks to hardware decoding built into the SOC and used about 30% of the GPU’s capabilities and 24-40% of the CPU to play.
SES Astra UHD Test 2 – MKV – HEVC/x265 – 3840*2160 – 25FPS - 19,101kbps total bitrate
This HEVC sample also proved to be a light load to decode, and used about 40-45% of the GPU’s capabilities and 20-25% of the CPU to play.
4K Chimei Inn 60mbps – MP4 – AVC – 3840*2160 – 29.97FPS – 60,000 kbps
This sample hit quite a bit harder than the last few, likely just the higher overall bitrate rather than the use of Advanced Video Codec. Our GPU was running at about 50-55% load decoding and our CPU was hovering around 25%.
Sony 4K Demo: Another World posted by Quang Nguyen.
You can see streaming 4K content from YouTube hit the CPU for about 55-65%, and the GPU for 20-25%, a fair load, but manageable.