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Yundoo Y8 Rockchip RK3399 TV Box System Info and Benchmarks

April 24th, 2017 4 comments

Most 64-bit ARM processors found in TV boxes and mini PC features ARM Cortex A53 cores which are good enough to watch most videos, since video decoding is usually handled by the video processing unit. But if you want some more performance for games and web browsing, SoCs based on Cortex A72 or similar high performance ARMv8 cores would deliver much a much better experience in Android. The problem is that there aren’t many options with products such as NVIDIA Shield Android TV, and Xiaomi Mi Box 3 Enhanced. The former is potentially expensive depending where you live, and the later is targeted at the Chinese market and lacks an Ethernet port. Rockchip RK3399 SoC should fill the market void for people wanting to do more than just watching videos on their TV box, and since I’ve just received Yundoo Y8 TV box based on the processor, I’ve run some apps to check out system information, and benchmark the system.

Yundoo Y8 / Rockchip RK3399 System Info with CPU-Z

CPU-Z appears to have improved since it can now detect clusters, and could detect a processor with two clusters: 2x Cortex A72 @ up to 1.99 GHz and4x Cortex A53 @ up to 1.51 GHz, as well as a Mali-T860 (actually T860MP4).

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Yundoo Y8 runs Android 6.0.1 on top of Linux 4.4.16, but I’ve read that other upcoming models based on RK3399 will run Android 7.1 instead.

Yundoo Y8 / Rockchip RK3399 Benchmarks

Let’s start with Antutu 6.x.

The 76,819 points achieved by the device is a big improvement compared to – for example – the 41,000 points in Amlogic S912 TV boxes. It also beats the ~71,000 points of Xiaomi Mi Box 3 Enhanced also based on a hexa-core Cortex A72/A53 processor (Mediatek MT8693), but at a lower 1.57 GHz maximal frequency, with a PowerVR GX6250 GPU,. and running Android 5.1 instead of Android 6.0.

Vellamo 2.x confirms the good performance of Rockchip RK3399: 5,275 points for Chrome Browser test, 2,492 points for Multicore test, and 2,332 points the Metal test. Amlogic S912 TV boxes gets about half that, and it’s also significantly better than Mi Box 3 Enhanced except for the metal test (2,392 points).

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The most powerful mobile/embedded GPUs will easily max out in 3Dmark Ice Storm Extreme 1.2 test, but the Mali-T860MP4 in RK3399 cannot quite do it, although with 9,906 points it’s a big improvement over the Mali-T820MP3 found in Amlogic S912 (~5,750 points), and slightly better than PowerVR GX6250 GPU in Mediatek MT8693 (9,260 points) using 1920×1080 output resolution.

Since low power processors are gone a long way in recent, I wanted to check out far it was from my main computer based on AMD FX8350 processor (125 Watt TDP) and running Ubuntu 16.04. One way to compare performance across different hardware and operating systems is to run GeekBench cross-platform benchmark.

GeekBench 4 Results for my PC:

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GeekBench 4 Android Results for Yundoo Y8:

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The single Cortex A72 core performance is about 50% of an FX8350 “Piledriver” core. Not too bad, even though the single core performance of this AMD CPU is not the best in the world. Multi-core performance is another story, as there are less cores/threads (6 vs 8), my computer throttles when all 8 cores are used (Normal score should be 10,000 to 12,000) , and it appears the Cortex A53 cores in RK3399 may not be used at all in GeekBench’s multi-core test. For reference, the latest Samsung Exynos 9 (8850) gets respectively 1,978 and 6,375 points in the same benchmarks. I’m assuming than in 4 to 5 years, we should be able to get AMD FX8350 type of performance in a mobile device.

Ethernet performance should be about the same in all RK3399 devices, and I tested with iperf with the command used in the TV box shown in brackets:

  • Full duplex (iperf -t 60 -c 192.168.0.104 -d):

  • Upload only (iperf -t 60 -c 192.168.104):

  • Download only (iperf -s):

So it’s working pretty well here.

Internal storage will different from box to box, and even Yundoo Y8 with 32GB storage should perform than the same box with 16GB storage, but USB 3.0 performance should remain pretty much the same across devices.

The cached read is for the internal memory (eMMC flash) which we’ll ignore here due to reason explained above. The “SD card” is the NTFS partition of my Seagate USB 3.0 drive, and results are pretty good with 94.34 MB/s sequential read, and 53.50 MB/s sequential write considering I could achieve 107 MB/s and 45 MB/s with that hard drive in my main computer.  The RAM test shows a 9684.47MB/s copy, which compared to the 3301.73 MB/s achieved by Mecool BB2 Pro Amlogic S912 TV box with DDR4 memory.

So overall the platform looks promising, and offers a significant performance boost compared to the Cortex A53 competition at an affordable price, more exactly $90 and up with 2GB RAM, 16GB storage. The downside is that since the SoC is rather new there may be a few firmware bugs at this stage, which I’ll check/report in the full review, but I’m confident they will be ironed out over time, if not in Yundoo Y8, in other RK3399 devices.

Beelink AP42 Apollo Lake mini PC Linux Review with Ubuntu, KDE Neon, Elementary OS….

Beelink’s latest Intel mini PC offerings includes the AP34 and AP42 which are their first models using Intel Apollo Lake processors. The former uses an Intel Apollo Lake Celeron N3450 processor (burst frequency 2.2GHz, Intel HD Graphics 500 with Graphics Burst Frequency 700MHz and 12 Execution Units) while the latter uses the slightly more powerful Pentium N4200 (burst frequency 2.5GHz, Intel HD Graphics 505 with Graphics Burst Frequency 750MHz and 18 Execution Units). Both support Windows 10 (Home) and Beelink’s marketing claim they “support Linux system”. GearBest has given me the chance to review running Linux on the AP42 model so here are my findings.

Spot the difference!

Normally I first make a disk image before booting Windows or installing Linux. However initial attempts at booting a Live USB with a variety of Linux systems failed so both the reseller and manufacturer were contacted for comment. Interestingly there was no immediate reply but early indications that something was amiss was when the reseller’s advert (right) changed compared with the manufacturers advert (left).

As I’d previously had a comment on my website about using rEFInd boot manager when a system wouldn’t boot I gave it a try by manually building an Ubuntu Live USB which successfully booted. Unfortunately the ISO I had used was Ubuntu 16.04.2 and whilst it ran fine on the USB drive, it couldn’t ‘see’ the eMMC of the AP42. Further experimentation with Ubuntu 17.04 Beta 2 and a variety of kernels showed that a minimum 4.10 kernel was required in order to access the eMMC. Anyone wanting to boot an Ubuntu ISO can either manually add the rRFInd boot manager, or use the latest version of ‘isorespin.sh’ to respin the ISO with the rRFInd boot manager and optionally update the kernel.

Then having taken a disk image I booted Windows only to find that Windows was already set up with an ‘Admin’ account. Which of course gave me the opportunity to test a full Windows restore that fortunately worked.

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So with a nice clean and activated Windows system and 24 hours later due to all the updates download and installing I was able to run my usual Windows tests to given me a basic comparison with other Intel devices.

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As can be seen there is a performance increment over Cherry Trail devices including better graphics performance and the new Apollo Lake Pentium N4200 processor is overall slightly better than the earlier Celeron N3150 processor.

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​Being a passively cooled device I was interested to see whether temperature was an issue. I ran HWiNFO64’s Sensor Status utility before and after each test and rather unscientifically held the box to see how hot it was. Neither indicated that I had any reason to be concerned as whilst the box felt warm the temperature maxed out at around 70 °C and no thermal-throttling was encountered.

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Having put the device through its paces under Windows, it was time to look at Linux performance. For a comparison I was going to use the results from my Phoronix ‘mini PC’ test suite run on Intel Compute Sticks. However I initially had problems getting the ‘unpack-linux’ test to install so I decided to download the latest version directly from www.phoronix-test-suite.com rather than use the one provided through ‘apt’. And because comparing results across different versions of test software and different releases of OS is often meaningless I first had to reinstall Ubuntu 17.04 on the comparison hardware and then run the tests in parallel across each device. For those not familiar with the model names they decode as STCK1A32WFC is the Intel Compute Stick (Falls City), STK1AW32SC is the Intel Compute Stick (Sterling City) and STKM3W64CC is the Intel Compute Stick (Cedar City) with the specs listed in the above table. Unfortunately with the Phoronix Test Suite some tests give decidedly strange and confusing results even those they are the average of three runs. However, as per the Windows results there is a noticeable improvement as the power of the processor increases and the AP42 performance is as expected.

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I also ran the Octane 2 on Chrome which was also comparable with the Windows result albeit slightly lower which in iteself was slightly unusual given it is typically slightly higher in Ubuntu than with Windows normally. Interestingly Octane 2 has now been retired as it seems too many programs were cheating their scores (all too familiar).

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In terms of what works under Ubuntu it was nice to find that all the usual problem areas were fine, with working audio, WiFi, Bluetooth and SD cards (including Sandisk). I did encounter a problem with HDMI audio in that you must first select the audio device under Sound Settings before it works. And in Lubuntu this was impossible to do as only Headphones showed up until I plugged in some external speakers into the headphone jack and then after unplugging them the HDMI output option then appeared. But otherwise the device ran smoothly on Ubuntu.

Some specifics about the hardware.

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The memory is single channel and is 2x 2GB DDR3 1600 MHz…

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… and the eMMC storage is CJNB4R which is a Samsung 64GB storage chip…

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… with WiFi/Bluetooth provided by an Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165 chip with Bluetooth 4.2 as reported by inxi.

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Given the kernel limitation, I found running other Linuxes rather limiting. I did get OpenELEC to successfully boot and run from USB but installing would be an issue. I also tried Android-x86 and Chromium OS loaders but they were also impacted and not usable. My initial Remix attempts were unsuccessful and Phoenix took too long to download to be worth waiting for another failure. Other Ubuntu based distro ISOs worked as long as they were respun with a later kernel (I tested LinuxMint, Neon and Elementary with the latest v4.11-rc7 kernel). The only other Linux distro I tried was Debian but this was also unsuccessful due to the kernel issue, however other distros with rolling releases like Tumbleweed and Arch should be okay.

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KDE Neon – Click to Enlarge

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In terms of support Beelink are somewhat lacking. Despite having released the device for nearly a month, there are still no download links for BIOS or Windows drivers. They have just added a download for the entire Windows OS, but have failed to create a forum for AP42 users. For the Linux issue, they did eventually respond with “Sorry for that we don’t allow the right of Linux now” which is a somewhat unexpected response given their advert.

So for a new device running Linux it is arguably hit and miss. Depending on what you want to run will rule out the device completely at this stage and if you are looking for flexibility it may also be too restrictive. It may be that a BIOS update addresses the current Linux limitations, but equally given Beelink’s response it could restrict Linux even further.

The price is also somewhat questionable given it has a range from US$180 to US$270 which is the current price on Amazon. In comparison a barebones Zotac ZBOX CI323 with Celeron N3150 is currently US $148 on Newegg and a barebones Intel NUC NUC6CAYS with Celeron J3455 is US $149 on Amazon so the value for money given the level of support and current Linux restrictions is worth considering before purchasing. GearBest – who sent Beelink AP42 mini PC for review – somewhat sweetens the deal, as they sell it for $179.99 including shipping with coupon GBAP42. Beside Amazon and GearBest, you can also purchase the mini PC on sites like Aliexpress and Banggood for $185 to $190.

Intel Atom Z3735F (Bay Trail) vs Intel Celeron N4200 (Apollo Lake) Benchmarks Comparison

February 14th, 2017 3 comments

Intel introduced new processors every year, but in most cases the performance improvement from new processor with a similar power profile is only incrementally better, as we’ve seen in our Atom X7-Z8700 vs Pentium N4200 benchmarks comparison, which means it’s not really worthwhile to upgrade performance-wise, unless you really a specific feature or interface found in the new processor. But what if we compare to processor from 2 to 3 years ago? Intel Atom Z3735F was a popular choice two years ago, and if you’re looking for a cheap Intel mini PC or TV box, that’s still the cheapest option with prices under $80. So I’ve decided to compare Intel Atom Z3735F (Bay Trail) processor with 2W TDP to the latest Pentium Celeron N4200 (Apollo Lake) with 6W TDP.

To do so, I gathered benchmarks results from MeLE PCG03 mini PC (PCMark 8) and PCG01 TV stick (Passmark + 3Dmark) for the Atom processor, as well as Voyo VMac Mini for the Apollo Lake processor. Please note that I only have PCMark 8 Home Baseline for PCG03, and not the Accelerated benchmark with OpenCL, but based on my results with K3 Wintel Keyboard PC, and reviews from Anandtech and IXBT, there’s no difference between PCMark Home Baseline and Accelerated for Atom Z3735F processor as it seems OpenCL is not supported in Atom Z3735F SoC (at least by PCMark), so I used PCMark 8 Home Baseline results for MeLE PCG03, and PCMark8 Home Accelerated for Voyo Vmac Mini. Unsurprisingly, the Pentium processors is faster in all tasks, and I highlighted the tests where it is at least twice as fast in green.

Benchmark MeLE PCG03 / PCG01
Intel Atom Z3735F @ 1.33 / 1.83 GHz (2W TDP)
Voyo V1 Vmac Mini
Intel Pentium N4200 @ 1.1 / 2.5 GHz (6W TDP)
Ratio
PCMark 8
Overall Score 1,105 1,846 1.67
Web Browsing – JunglePin 0.58064s 0.52267s 1.11
Web Browsing – Amazonia 0.19591s 0.18459s 1.06
Writing 11s 6.89837s 1.59
Casual Gaming 6.7 fps 10.38 fps 1.55
Video Chat playback 30 fps 30.02 fps 1.00
Video Chat encoding 318 ms 196.66667ms 1.62
Photo Editing 2.7s 0.45915s 5.88
Passmark 8
Passmark Rating 466 1,052.1 2.26
3DMark
Ice Storm 1.2 14,069 2,3511 1.67
Cloud Gate 1.1 1,156 2,347 2.03
Sky Diver 1.0 439 1,384 3.15
Fire Strike 0 (Driver failure) 267 N/A

The main surprise here is how little difference there is for PCMark 8 web browsing benchmarks. Video chat is the same because the video was already rendered at 30 fps previously, and Photo editing is much faster, simply because of OpenCL support, and not because the processor is about 6 times  faster. Passmark 8 and 3DMark benchmark show a clear boost of 2 to 3 times between an Atom Z3735F mini PC/Stick and a Pentium N4200 processor for the overall system and 3D gaming. If you own an Atom Z3735F mini PC, you’ll clearly feel a performance difference if you upgrade to an Apollo Lake processor. Beside the system performance, you’ll also benefit from faster interfaces like USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, and potentially SATA, as well as better multimedia capabilities with for example H.265 video decoding. You’ll have to pay 2 or 3 times more for an Apollo Lake mini PC, but contrary to most Bay trail mini PCs, it will be usable as an entry-level computer.

Xiaomi Mi Box (US) Android TV TV Box Review

February 12th, 2017 27 comments

Introduction

The Mi Box is the first Xiaomi product I have used. I received it beginning of December and have been using it regularly since then. I have received 3 updates which went through uneventfully. I was very pleased with this box. I ended up getting one for my in-laws and one for my 4 year old sons bedroom. The UI worked as expected. I have an Nvidia Shield Android TV, and the Mi Box complements it very well. Having Plex Server running on the Shield and Plex on the Mi Box is pretty fantastic to easily share content. Not to mention way more cost effective than putting a Shield in every room.

What’s Inside

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The build quality is good. The power supply puts out 5.2v which is not typical.

I do wish it had more USB ports. A single USB is inadequate. I found myself swapping USB out frequently during testing. There is optical audio and it has the round form factor. Luckily the cable I had had the adapter attached to the end, and it worked fine. No Ethernet adapter is present either.

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Teardown Photos

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Android TV UI

For anyone unfamiliar with Android TV UI I took a few screen shots. Across the top in the first screen capture a recently used/suggestion line appears. The top line will update based on your usage games, TV shows, YouTube, news etc.

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Not all apps populate this. HBO GO, Plex, Netflix, do update. Immediately below there is a MI Box Recommends section which is static.

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I was able to disable it under setting > apps to unclutter the main screen. These screenshots were taken when I first plugged in the box. I personally like the UI of Android TV and appreciate that Google ensures all apps to work with remotes and a mouse/touchpad is not necessary.

 

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Casting

Another thing that I was forced to use because DirecTV Now does not have an Android TV app yet, is the casting feature. I had it on the Shield but never really used it. Between casting my screen from my phone to most video apps I found it very easy to use. My son will navigate YouTube Kids on his tablet and cast to the TV. This is a feature you won’t find on most android boxes and I found it very convenient and easy to use.

Voice Search

During my usage and showing my son how to use the voice search I grew to like it a lot. Voice searching that is able to return YouTube, Netflix and other video apps is really convenient. My son is 4 and doesn’t speak very clearly yet but it does a good job of recognizing his voice allowing him to find the video’s he wants. (minecraft, lego, minecraft, lego, minecraft, lego) 🙂

Passthrough and Auto Framerate

I spent many many hours trying to find a good combination in Kodi/SPMC/TVMC/FTMC and couldn’t get it to work consistently. DTS only worked for me. I hope they resolve this with software in the future.

Benchmarks/Testing

This is not really fair but I performed a side by side comparison of 3DMark: Xiaomi Mi Box vs Nvidia Shield. I thought it would be interesting to see. Fear not, the Mi Box does well with light gaming. I had no problems playing games that didn’t require a controller.

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WiFi is fair at about 15Mbps on my busy Unifi 2.4 GHz network. I also have a 5GHz N built into my router and strictly using it for testing. I was able to get about 30 Mbps throughput. I still prefer a wired connection when possible and was able to use a USB to Ethernet adapter on the MI Box. I moved 2 files below one on 2.4ghz and one on 5ghz. I don’t have an AC network to test.

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I ran a few other tests and info apps below.

Widevine Level 1 Supported – Click to Enlarge

36,151 points in Antutu – Click to Enlarge

Amlogic @ 2.02 GHz – Click to Enlarge

MIBOX3 board name: once – Click to Enlarge

While reviewing

So not all apps are available due to the restrictions of Android TV and Google necessitating the apps be remote friendly. But you might run into a situation where you want to side load. If you have a air mouse or some other hid device connected it’s not a big deal. In order for to launch them in the past you loaded sideload launcher from the play store, It allows you to see all apps regardless if they are Android TV optimized. It works and is pretty easy. While reviewing I ran across a pretty neat app. TV App Repo. It makes sideloading even better.  What it does is create a small app that is basically a shortcut to your side loaded non Android TV app. Now all the apps can be launched from main screen without navigating to the sideload launcher sub menu. It worked on the few I tested. On the community addition, there are a few apps that it hosts one of which was Amazon Prime video. But I didn’t have luck getting videos to play other than trailers.

Final Thoughts

I wasn’t going to perform any benchmarking on this box. I don’t think that it is relevant. But I knew it would be crucified. This box was in my opinion built to consume media and I think it does it very well. All the streaming media apps worked great. The only drawback is that HDMI passthrough and auto framerate switching did not work consistently enough in Kodi or Plex. Streaming from HDHomerun works well even over WiFi. Amazon Prime Video is missing from this box. I did try some other methods to watch and only was able to cast from a web browser successfully.

During testing I didn’t use Kodi much and stuck with the main streaming apps that are optimized for Android TV. I hope Koying, the maintainer of SPMC, a fork of Kodi, brings some love to the Mi Box in the near future or even the Kodi team.

If you’re not an audiophile this will make a great box to stream with and hopefully save some money. If you are an Audiophile the Mi Box complements the Nvidia shield on other TV’s where surrounds sound doesn’t matter.

I would like to thank Gearbest for sending a review sample and their patience while I reviewed it. I really like to use the products for a while and get a good feel for them. If you are thinking about getting a Mi Box, it helps CNX by clicking & purchasing through this link.

Intel Atom x7-Z8700 (Cherry Trail) vs Intel Pentium N4200 (Apollo Lake) Benchmarks Comparison

February 7th, 2017 11 comments

Mini PCs based on Intel Apollo Lake processors have started selling, and they supposed to be upgrades to Braswell and Cherry Trail processor. I’ve recently had the chance to review Voyo VMac Mini mini PC powered by Intel Pentium N4200 quad core processor, that’s the fastest model of the Apollo Lake N series, and of course I ran some benchmarks, so I thought it would be interesting compare the results I got with an Atom x7-Z8700 “Cherry Trail” mini PC, namely Beelink BT7 which I reviewed last year.

Both machines are actively cooled with a small fan, and storage performance is similar, albeit with a slight edge for the Apollo Lake SSD. A ratio greater than one (green) means the Apollo Lake processor is faster, and if it is lower than one (red) the Cherry Trail processor win.

Benchmark Beelink BT7
Intel Atom x7-Z8700 @ 1.6 / 2.4 GHz (2W SDP)
Voyo (V1) Vmac Mini
Intel Pentium N4200 @ 1.1 / 2.5 GHz (6W TDP)
Ratio
PCMark 8 Accelerated
Overall Score 1,509 1,846 1.22
Web Browsing – JunglePin 0.59309 s 0.52267 s 1.13
Web Browsing – Amazonia 0.19451 s 0.18459 s 1.05
Writing 8.53975 s 6.89837 s 1.24
Casual Gaming 7.96 fps 10.38 fps 1.30
Video Chat playback 29.99 fps 30.02 fps 1.00
Video Chat encoding 301 ms 196.66667 ms 1.53
Photo Editing 0.65544 s 0.45915 s 1.43
Passmark 8
Passmark Rating 846 1,052.1 1.24
3DMark
Ice Storm 1.2 23,999 23,511 0.98
Cloud Gate 1.1 2,185 2,347 1.07
Sky Diver 1.0 1,131 1,384 1.22
Fire Strike 276 267 0.97

The performance is usually faster in the Apollo Lake processor by  between 5 to 50+% depending on the tasks with video encoding and photo editing gaining the most. Browsing is only marginally faster by 5 to 13%. PCMark8 reports a 30% higher frame rate for casual gaming, but 3DMark does not how that much improvement, and in some cases not at all, except for Sky Diver 1.0 demo. Intel Atom x7-X8700 SoC comes with a 16EU Intel HD graphics Gen 9 @ 200 / 600 MHz, while the Pentium SoC comes with 18 EU (Execution Unit) of the same gen9 GPU @ 200 / 750 MHz, and should be a little faster in theory.

So based on those results, there’s a clear – although incremental – performance improvement using Apollo Lake over Cherry Trail, but depending on the use case it may not always be noticeable in games or while browsing the web.

CHUWI LapBook 14.1 Apollo Lake Laptop Review – Part 2: Windows 10 Benchmarks, User Experience, and Battery Life

February 5th, 2017 18 comments

CHUWI LapBook 14.1 is the one of the first Apollo Lake laptop on the market. It features a 14.1″ IPS display, a Celeron N3450 quad core processor, 4GB RAM and 64 GB storage. The company has sent me a sample for review, and I had already check out the hardware in “CHUWI LapBook 14.1 Apollo Lake Laptop Review – Part 1: Unboxing & (Partial) Teardown“, so since then I’ve played with it including checking emails & news, writing a blog post on CNX Software, and watching some YouTube videos, as well as running benchmarks and estimating battery life, so I’ll report about my experience with the laptop in the second part of the review.

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CHUWI LapBook 14.1 System Information

LapBook 14.1 runs an activated version of Windows 10 Home 64-bit on an Intel Celeron 3450 “Apollo Lake” quad core processor @ 1.1 GHz / 2.2 GHz with 4 GB RAM (3.84 GB usable)

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The internal storage is a 64GB eMMC flash with a 57.1 GB Windows partition. The 64GB storage could mean it does not quality for a discounted Windows 10 license, as the requirements are  4GB RAM max, 14.1 display size max, and up to 32GB eMMC flash/SSD.

64GB storage will be filled quickly in Windows 10, especially if you have lots of emails, and store more and more pictures over time. It’s possible to extend storage via the micro SD slot, and possibly via an M.2 connector inside the device. USB storage is also an option, but as we’ll see below, I would not recommend it with this laptop.

I have taken a screenshot of Device Manager for people who want more details about peripherals.

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HWInFO64 mostly reports about the Intel Celeron N3450 processor, and as expected it’s exactly the same part number (CPU/Stepping/SSPEC) as on Voyo VMac Mini.

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The motherboard is named Hampoo A2W6_NA14 with the UEFI BIOS dated 12/30/2016.

CHUWI LapBook 14.1 Benchmarks

Let’s run some benchmarls on the laptop and compare them to Voyo VMac mini Celeron N3450 mini PC benchmarks results.

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LapBook 14.1 got 1,584 points in PCMARK 8 Home Accelerated 3.0, which compares to 1,566 points on Voyo VMac Mini that contrary to the laptop is actively cooled. So basically the score are identical here.

3DMark results are also pretty close with Ice Storm 1.2 (20,982 points), Cloud Gate 1.1 (2,092 points), and Sky Diver 1.0 (931 points), against respectively 18,892, 2,130, and 941 points for Voyo VMac Mini (N3450).

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The laptop achieved 830,7 points in PassMark PerformanceTest 9.0, against 998.4 points for the mini PC which is faster in all 5 categories: CPU, 2D Graphics, 3D Graphics, Memory, and Disk.

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Internal storage performance is acceptable with 256/116.4 MB/s sequential R/W speeds, and decent random read and write speeds, but not quite as fast as some other low costs devices.

For example, Voyo V1 VMac Mini SSD achieved about 500 MB/s read speed and 200 MB/s write speed, with significantly faster random R/W operations too.

CHUWI LapBook 14.1 User Experience

Two big parts of deciding whether a laptop is worth your consideration are the display and keyboard. The latter feels really nice to use, but unfortunately lacks brightness adjustment keys, which can be a pain is you set the brightness really low at night, and then need to use the laptop in broad daylight. I’m quite happy with the Full HD display, but you have to know it’s a non-touch display, it does not rotate that much (see video below), and viewing angles are not that great on the side. For my personal use, those did not affect me at all.

I’ve run some typical tasks, and shot a video with:

  • Multi-tasking – Launching and using Firefox, Thunderbird, LibreOffice, and Gimp at the same time
  • Web Browsing with Firefox
    • Loading multiple tabs with CNX Software blog
    • Playing a flash game  (Candy Crush Saga)
    • Playing a 1080p YouTube Videos
  • Gaming with Asphalt 8

Overall, I’m quite happy with the performance considering it’s a low power, fanless, entry-level laptop. I could load my hundreds of thousands emails in ThunderBird, while browsing the web with multiple tabs, and editing photos with gimp. 1080p YouTube videos are watchable in Firefox, although there are a few dropped frames here and there from time to time. I did not really notice it, and if you want slightly better playback, you can use Microsoft Edge browser with YouTube. Asphalt 8 feels a little smoother than in VMac Mini (N4250) possibly because the display is smaller.

The laptop also comes with a mini HDMI port to connect to an external display. A cable is not included so you’ll have to buy your own adapter or cable.

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Once connected Windows 10 will default in clone mode, but I had no trouble switching to extended display, and I had two Full HD independent displays.

I used a USB mouse connected to the laptop for close to 5 hours, and I had no problems, but this was another story with USB flash drives.

USB 2.0 Port OK Not detected OK
USB 3.0 Port OK Not detected Detected, but not mounted (“No Media”)

The laptop has two USB ports, one 2.0 port, and one 3.0 port, as you can see I did not have always have luck with my flash drives, especially the USB 3.0 port. This is what my DataTraveler G4 USB 3.0 flash looked like in Disk Management while connected to the USB 3.0 port.

“No Media”, but if I plugged the very same flash drive to the USB 2.0 port, it could be mounted.

A USB hub allowed me to work around the issues. However, I downloaded some system info and benchmarking tools on the laptop, copied them to one of the USB drive, but once I try to install those on another computer some of the files appeared to be corrupted. So I would not trust USB storage with important data, or you have to make sure you run some data sanity check (e.g. MD5) on your files. It’s also possible I was just unlucky, but it’s something to keep in mind.

CHUWI LapBook 14.1 Battery Life

Battery life is also an important aspect. While companies like Hewlett Packard are using MobileMark 2014 for testing battery on their Windows 10 laptops. but it’s a paid program, and I could not find a free battery testing application. So instead, I did my own “real use” case by charging the battery to 100%, and doing things on the laptop,  I normally do on my desktop PC in a typical day with two main use cases:

  1. Working outside from 9:00 to 12:00 with 100% brightness, checking emails, browsing the web, and editing pictures in Gimp
  2. Play YouTube videos in Firefox indoor with brightness set to 25% from 12:30 to about 14:00

When I started, Windows expected about 5 hours and a half of battery life.

I’d like to note I have lots of messages in Thunderbird because of mailing lists and RSS feeds (a few hundreds thousands), so Thunderbird was pretty active during the morning.

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After 3 hours I had 37% of battery capacity left. I had lunch, and then I went indoor to watch YouTube videos, and it lasted about 1h30 until the battery was fully depleted. So I had 4h30 of battery life on a charge.

An earlier full charge of the battery from 13% to 100% took just under 3 hours.

Conclusion

CHUWI LapBook 14.1 laptop almost matches all my needs. It is lightweight, the full HD display is good enough for me, battery life is good for about 5 hours, performance is acceptable for tasks such as web browsing, office applications, watching YouTube videos, and occasional light gaming. Normally I like to get at least 512 GB storage in a laptop, and that one only comes with 64GB eMMC flash with average performance, but it can be expanded with a micro SD card and possibly and M.2 SSD, but the latter are still quite expensive compared to hard drives. I also miss the keys to adjust brightness, and the main issue I found on the device is that USB mass storage is unreliable with some flash drives not  supported, and potentially data corruption when they are.  One of my other requirements is to run Ubuntu, so I’ll try to install Ubuntu 17.04 (daily build) on the laptop.

I’d like to thank CHUWI for sending an early sample of the laptop, which is not yet for sale, but available for pre-order on sites like GearBest and Banggood for $259.99 and up with shipping scheduled by the end of February.

Voyo VMac Mini mini PC Benchmarks with Intel Celeron N3450 Apollo Lake Processor

January 27th, 2017 5 comments

Following up yesterday’s post about Voyo VMac Mini mini PC benchmarks with Intel Pentium N4200 processor, I’ve switched to its cheaper little brother powered by Intel Celeron N3450 processor and performed the same benchmarks to compare the performance difference with the Pentium version, as well as older Braswell and Cherry Trail systems.

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I’ve run HWiNFO64 before running the benchmarks to get more details about computer, and especially the processor. Celeron N3450 is a quad core processor clocked at 400, 800, and 1,100 MHz, and up to 2.2 GHz in burst mode. It’s quite similar to Pentium N4200, except the later has a higher burst frequency (2.5 GHz), and a better GPU with 18 EU, instead of just 12 EU on the Celeron. My exact version of the processor is stepping B0/B1 with sSPEC SR2YA/SR2Z6. I forgot to comment about supported features compared to Cherry Trail and Braswell processors yesterday, and Apollo Lake processors do support some extra CPU features including RDSEED for random generators, SHA for SHA-1 & SHA-256 hashs, SMAP (Supervisor Mode Access Prevention), and MPX (Memory Protection Extensions).

Let’s move on with the benchmarks staring with PCMark 8 Home Accelerated 3.0.

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Voyo VMac mini N3450 got 1,566 points, which compares to 1,846 points with the Pentium N3450, and 1,543 points for MINIX NEO Z83-4 powered by an Intel Atom x5-Z8300 processor. I have expecting a higher score here, so I ran the test again and got 1,595 points only marginally higher.

The PassMark PerformanceTest 8.0 score is more in line with the expectations as VMac Mini (N3450) achieved 935.3 points, against 1052.1 points for the Pentium N4200 model, and 845.9 points for Beelink BT7 (Atom X7-Z8700).

I’ve also run PerformanceTest 9.0 for future reference, and comparison with Voyo VMac Mini with N4200 SoC.

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Results: 998.4 points which compared to 1087.0 for N4200. The performance delta roughly matches theory, especially once we look into the details with the CPU mark also identical, but 2D & 3D graphics quite faster.

Talking about graphics performance, I also ran 3D graphics specific benchmarks with 3D Mark’s Ice Storm 1.2 (18,892 points), Cloud Gate 1.1 (2,130 points), Sky Driver 1.0 (941 points), and Fire Strike 1.1 (262 points).

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Let’s compare the results against other mini PCs & TV sticks including Cherry Trail systems such as MINIX NEO Z83-4 & Voyo V3, Braswell computers like MINIX NGC-1 and Vorke V1, as well as an Intel Computer Stick powered by Core M processor.

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Note: Ice Storm scores divided by 10, Fire Strike scores multiplies by 4 for scale.

Based on those benchmarks, the performance of Voyo VMac Mini with Intel Celeron N3450 (Red on chart) is nearly identical to the one of Vorke V1 based on Intel Celeron J3160 (Dark green on chart) both for a general computing benchmark like PCMark 8, and 3D graphics. Fire Strike however failed to run on Vorke V1. Both N3450 & J3160 SoC come with a 12EU HD Graphics gen9 GPU which may explain the similar performance for graphics. Overall the performance differences between Cherry Trail / Braswell and Apollo Lake processors are more incremental, than a big jump in performance, and for many tasks you’re unlikely to see much differences between systems, except for the more expensive Core M computers and sticks. Anyway, thats’ what I intend to find out in the review.

I’d like to thank GeekBuying for sending the sample for review, and if you are interested you can buy Voyo VMac Mini (N3450) for $199.99.

Voyo VMac Mini mini PC (Intel Pentium N4200) Benchmarks

January 26th, 2017 4 comments

Since I’ve now received Intel Apollo Lake hardware with Voyo VMac Mini mini PCs, I’ve going to run some benchmarks with Pentium N4200 and Celeron N3450 processor to compare the performance against older generation low power mini PC based on Braswell and Cherry Trail processors. I’ll get started with the Pentium N4200 version that’s both more expensive and powerful.

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But before starting with the benchmarks, I’ve run HWiNFO64 to get a bit more info about the system, and the processor in particular. The processor is the quad core Pentium N4200 stepping B0/B1 with sSPEC SR2Y9/SR2Z5 clocked between 400 and 1,100 MHz, and up to 2,5 GHz in burst mode. It also comes with a 18 EU HD graphics Gen9-LP.

IMHO, PCMark 8 Home Accelerated 3.0 is one of the best benchmark as it replicates typical use cases such as web browsing, video conference, light gaming, photo editing, and so on.

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Voyo VMac mini gets the highest score (1,846 points) of all devices I’ve tested so far, with the previous top performer being MINIX NEO Z83-4 (Atom x5-Z8300) with 1,543 points. You can check the score details here.

PassMark PerformanceTest is also a popular benchmark. I started with version 8.0 in order to be able to compare to older platforms. Voyo VMac Mini got 1052.1 points comparing to 845.9 points for Beelink BT7 (Atom X7-8700).

PassMark has now released PerformanceTest 9.0, so I also ran the test for this version for future reference. Result: 1087 points.

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We’ll notice the score is also impacted by the FORESEE SSD inside the device, which has a very good score. I’ll provide more numbers about storage performance in the review, but sequential read speed reaches over 500 MB/s.

Finally, I’ve run several 3DMark tests namely Ice Storm Unlimited 1.2 (23,511 points), Cloud Gate 1.1 (2,347 points), Sky Driver 1.0 (1,384 points), and Fire Strike 1.1 (267 points).

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I compiled a table comparing the performance of other low power mini PCs with devices I’ve reviewed myself, as well as others like Intel Compute Stick based on Core M processor.

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Note: 3D Mark Ice Storm benchmark’s scores have been divided by 20 for scale.

As expected the Core M platform is considerably faster than all other mini PCs based on Cherry Trail, Braswell, and even Apollo Lake. GPU performance of Pentium N4200 is similar to Intel Atom x7-Z8700 and Intel Celeron N3150, despite using respectively 18, 16 and 12EU HD Graphics Gen9. However, we see a clear boost in performance for the Apollo Lake mini PC with Passmark 8 and PCMark 8, with a gain of roughly 20 to 30%.

If you think it’s worth it, and don’t mind about the slight fan noise, you could consider purchasing Voyo VMac Mini with Intel Pentium N4200 “Apollo Lake” Processor from GearBest for $235, who provided the device for review. Other shopping options include Amazon US and GeekBuying.