UP 4000 x86 SBC review with Ubuntu 22.04

The UP 4000 is a credit-card / Raspberry Pi-sized single board computer based on an Intel Apollo Lake processor. AAEON sent me the model with an Intel Atom x7-E3950 quad-core processor, 4GB RAM, and a 64GB eMMC flash, and in the first part of the review, I installed Ubuntu 22.04 since the board would initially only boot to the UEFI shell out of the box.

I’ve now spent more time with the board, and in this article, I will report my experience with the UP 4000 SBC running Ubuntu 22.04 checking out features, performance, video playback, power consumption, and so on.

UP 4000 x86 SBC Ubuntu 22.04 review

Ubuntu 22.04 System info

Let’s check out some information after I’ve upgraded the system to the latest packages:


Everything looks good with an Intel Atom E3950 processor detection together with 3.68GB RAM and a 56.53GB rootfs EXT-4 partition.

About Ubuntu 22.04 AAEON UP-APL03

UP 4000 features testing

There may also be some issues with drivers in Ubuntu, so I tested the main hardware features from the UP 4000 board:

  • HDMI – Video OK, Audio OK
  • USB-C port  –  Tested with MINIX NEO Storage Plus USB Dock with a 480GB SSD (39/37MB/s R/W speed, exFAT) and HDMI (OK)
  • USB 3.0 ports – Tested with USB mouse and keyboard, plus an ORICO NVMe SSD enclosure (396/377MB/s R/W speed, EXT-4)
  • Dual display setup – OK
    UP 4000 dual display
  • Gigabit Ethernet – OK (iperf3 full-duplex: 916/884 Mbps)
  • RTC – OK:
  • GPIOs – OK (listed):

    Check out the documentation for the pinout diagram and detailed instructions.

There’s clear a problem with the USB Type-C port that is supposed to be USB 3.2 Gen 1, but the MINIX dock is connected at 480 Mbps instead:


I previously tested it at 379MB/s for sequential read speeds, and 240+MB/s while connected to the DFI GHF51 SBC running Ubuntu 20.04.

So I moved the ORICO enclosure to the USB Type-C port, and tried again:


The results are fine with close to 400MB/s sequential read and write speeds. It’s just that something odd happened with the MINIX USB-C dock… So apart from that little interoperability issue, all main features work fine on the UP 4000 board.

UP 4000 benchmarks in Ubuntu 22.04

Let’s start with the SBC Bench script from Thomas Kaiser:


The CPU temperature never exceeded 57.0°C in a room with an ambient temperature of around 28°C, so the thick heatsink that ships with the board is perfectly suitable.

The board is similar in size, features, and target market to the DFI GHF51 SBC with an AMD Ryzen Embedded R1606G processor (dual core/4-thread) I reviewed in 2020. So I’ll compare the performance between the two boards for reference.

UP 4000 vs DFI GHF51 SBC bench

The dual-core AMD Ryzen Embedded single board computer is quite faster than the UP 4000 Apollo Lake board.

But if we look at Phoronix Test Suite benchmark results, the performance differences are more mixed, but anything that heavily relies on the CPU performance seems to favor the AMD SBC, sometimes by a wide margin.

AMD Ryzen R1606G vs UP 4000 Intel Atom x7-E3950

Somehow the UP 4000 SBC looks to perform better than the CHUWI GBOX Pro mini PC with the same Intel x7-E3950 CPU, but that was tested with Ubuntu 18.04, so the software has changed too. You can check out the full results on Openbenchmark.org.

AAEON already published some benchmarks comparing the UP 4000 to Raspberry Pi 4, Jetson Nano, and other SBCs. But that was with the model with an Intel Celeron N3350 dual-core processor @ 1.10/2.40GHz, and since I have a board with an Intel Atom x7-E3950 quad-core processor @ 1.6/2.0 GHz, I ran those benchmarks again.

UP 4000 4GB Intel Atom x7-E3950 Phoronix Test Suite

The results are non-conclusive, so whether the Celeron N3350 or the Atom x7-E3950 is better will depend on your specific application. As a side note, the Rockchip RK3588-powered Khadas Edge2 Pro is in a league of its own against the other boards from this list. Again you’ll find thefull results on Openbenchmarking.org.

Storage Performance

Storage performance may be critical to overall system performance, so I’ve used iozone3 to test the performance of the eMMC flash:


Around 234MB/s and 191MB/s sequential read and write speeds are pretty good for an eMMC flash, and random I/O results look fine too.

We’ve already tested USB 3.0 storage performance on the USB Type-A and Type-C ports and found it was possible to transfer data at around 400MB/s as expected.

3D Graphics Benchmark

I went with the usual Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0 to test 3D graphics performance in Linux.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0 Ubuntu 22.04 UP 4000

I was expecting the GPU to be one of the weakest points of the Atom x7-E3950 SoC, and while it’s clearly not a gaming workhouse, the 3D graphics performance is similar to the one I got with the Ryzen Embedded R1606G processor with Radeon graphics found on the DFI GHF51 SBC, or 5.4 fps, 135 points. I did not see any of the artifacts I experience with the Ryzen board either.

Video Playback in YouTube and Kodi 19.4

Playing a YouTube video in Firefox up to 1920×1080 is fine, but just a couple of frames dropped at the beginning. But I’m not able to select higher in Firefox.

UP 4000 YouTube 1080p Firefox

I switched to Chrome and I could play both 1080p and 1440p videos smoothly, but 2160p (4K) had many dropped frames and the loading icon was showing often despite the network buffer being close to full at all times.

UP 4000 YouTube 2160p Chrome

I connected a USB 3.0 hard drive to play some 4K videos in Kodi 19.4.

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 (H.264, 30 fps) – OK
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – OK
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video; 36 Mbps; 59.97 Hz) – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – OK
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – OK
  • 暗流涌动-4K.mp4 (10-bit H.264; 120 Mbps) – Very choppy, unwatchable due to software video decoding
  • tara-no9-vp9.webm (4K VP9 YouTube video @ 60 fps, Vorbis audio) – OK
  • The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm (4K VP9 @ 60 fps + opus audio) – OK, the video plays smoothly throughout the video.

All video play with hardware video decoding and are smooth, except for one 4K 10-bit H.264 video that is not supported by the hardware, and the processor is not powerful enough to handle it with software video decoding.

Power Consumption

Finally, I measured power consumption with a wall meter:

  • Power off – 0.3 Watt
  • Idle – 2.4 Watts
  • Full HD YouTube video playback in Firefox – 8.4 to 9.7 Watts
  • Full HD YouTube video playback in Chrome – 6.4 to 7.9 Watts
  • Stress test with “stress” through s-tui – 8.0 Watts

Note: An HDMI monitor, a USB keyboard, and a USB mouse were connected to the board, and no other peripherals.

Conclusion

I’m very pleased with the UP 4000 single board computer as everything basically worked out of the box in Ubuntu 22.04 with stable operation and good performance considering the processor used. I only had one problem with a MINIX USB-C dock that was connected at High-Speed (480 Mbps) instead of SuperSpeed (5Gbps), but the same issue did not happen with an ORICO SSD enclosure. You’ll get a clear boost in terms of performance compared to a Raspberry Pi 4, but the Intel Atom x7-E3950 is usually a bit slower than the AMD Ryzen Embedded R1606G processor found in the DFI GHF51 credit card-sized SBC I tested a couple of years ago. You’ll also get community support from the UP community with forums and a wiki.

I’d like to thank AAEON for sending the UP 4000 x86 SBC for review. The model tested here, with an Intel Atom x7-E3950, 4GB RAM, and a 64GB eMMC flash, sells for $209 excluding taxes and shipping. I also received a 12V/5A power adapter ($12.99) in the package which you can select as an option together with a $3.99 power cord suitable for your country.

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6 Comments
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William Barath
William Barath
3 months ago

This 2016 Atom has basically 1/2 the single and multi-thread performance of the Celeron N5095, or if you’re familiar with the 2016 Celeron N3350, it’s equivalent to that but with twice the cores, and twice the TDP. In other words, it’s a dog, but it’s a dog with 4 cores, so it can run modern office apps or a web browser without chugging too badly.

giani
giani
3 months ago

I’ve very pleased” – I’m very pleased or I’ve been… some nit pick – peace !

Jay O
Jay O
3 months ago

Great review, thank you.

Do you or anyone know of any SBCs which are based on the 2021 Atoms? Everyone I find including UP 4000 is based on the 2016 models.

The 2021 Elkhart Lake Atoms have numbers beginning with x6….

Jay O
Jay O
3 months ago

Thanks! I had thought that Atoms would be lower price, but I might be confusing with lower power. I see the Atom version of the Up Squared boards are more expensive than the Celeron and Pentium versions. I wasn’t able to find any Elkhart Lake Atom SBC or mini PCs with a listed price of under €150 or so. Most seems to be for industrial, IoT or robotics applications. What I’m searching for is simple enough: the cheapest Intel SBC or Mini PC that supports H265 hardware encode. The Up Core using the 2016 Atoms cost €39 a few months… Read more »

Jay O
Jay O
3 months ago

In addition to my other comments, the 2021 Atoms are listed here:
https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ark/products/series/87465/intel-atom-processor-x-series.html

Weller PCB manufacturer