Intel Processor N95 vs N97 vs N100 vs Core i3-N305 benchmarks comparison

Intel Alder Lake-N processors have been pretty popular in mini PCs and to a lesser extent in single board computers in the last year or so, thanks to their excellent performance/price and features/price ratios. All processors have more or less the same features, but performance differences do exist and do not always match the increasing part number.

Since we’ve reviewed a bunch of Alder Lake mini PCs, I’ve decided to compare the performance of the Processor N95, Processor N97, Processor N100, and Core i3-N305 CPUs to have a better understanding of the differences between each part.

Intel N95 vs N97 vs N100 vs Core i3 N305 benchmarks

For this purpose, we’ll rely on five mini PCs: Blackview MP80 (Processor N95), Blackview MP80 (Processor N97), the Intel N100-powered MINIX Z100-0dB and GEEKOM Mini Air12, and the Weibu N10 with a Core i3-N305 CPU. A summary of the specifications is listed in the table below.

Blackview MP80 (N95)Blackview MP80 (N97)MINIX Z100-0dBGEEKOM Mini Air12Weibu N10
SoCIntel Processor N95Intel Processor N97Intel Processor N100Intel Processor N100Intel Core i3-N305
CPU4-core processor up to 3.4 GHz4-core processor up to 3.6 GHz4-core processor up to 3.4 GHz4-core processor up to 3.4 GHz8-core processor up to 3.80 GHz
GPU16EU Intel UHD Graphics @ 1.2 GHz24EU Intel UHD Graphics @ 1.2 GHz24EU Intel HD Graphics @ 750 MHz24EU Intel HD Graphics @ 750 MHz32EU Intel HD Graphics @ 1.25 GHz
TDP15W12W6W6W15W
Memory16GB LPDDR5 SDRAM 16GB LPDDR5 SDRAM 16 GB DDR4-320016GB DDR5-48008GB DDR4-3200
Storage512GB M.2 SATA SSD512GB M.2 SATA SSD512GB NVMe SSD512GB NVMe SSD512GB NVMe SSD
Default OSWindows 11 ProWindows 11 ProWindows 11 ProWindows 11 ProWindows 11 Pro
Price (May 2024)$279.99$268.99$269.90$249.00N/A (OEM device)

Some important remarks:

  • Prices are taken from Amazon without any coupon or discount, and most do have a discount, for example, $80 for the MP80 at the time of writing. Weibu N10 is an OEM product that has no publicly available pricing information, but fully equipped Core i3-N305 mini PCs will have an MSRP of over $300. All those models are not the cheapest ones, but the ones we have reviewed ourselves, and you’ll find fully equipped systems for under $150, possibly missing features such as 2.5GbE, WiFi 6, etc…
  • The Blackview MP80 models come with SATA storage which will negatively impact some benchmark scores compared to other models with M.2 NVMe storage.

Alder Lake-N benchmarks comparison – Windows 11 Edition

Let’s start with Windows 11 (Pro) benchmark results:

Blackview MP80 (Processor N95)Blackview MP80 (Processor N97)MINIX Z100-0dBGEEKOM Mini Air12Weibu N10 Core i3-N305
PCMark 103,1963,3883,0093,150N/A
- Essentials7,2137,0267,2407,467N/A
- Productivity4,8845,1044,2854,598N/A
- Digital content creation2,5152,9452,3862,471N/A
3DMark (Fire Strike)1,0381,5271,1251,1881,534
PerformanceTest 11.01,2861,6061,5121,5802,358
- CPU Mark4,6496,0896,0036,1809,734
- 2D Graphics Mark281459227248253
- 3D Graphics Mark9011,1708848881,172
- Memory Mark2,1412,2302,3092,4922,379
- Disk Mark3,8434,30511,88620,98412,806
Cinebench R23
- Single Core9139267899181,030
- Multi Core2,6732,7412,5412,9274,505
Power consumption (idle)8.5-9.0 Watts9 – 11 Watts8.9 – 9.2 Watts8 to 10 Watts12.5 Watts

You’ll find the Windows 11 benchmarks in the relevant sections of each review:

The Core i3-N305 will be the fastest of the lot for multi-core workloads thanks to its eight cores, but the real winner in terms of price/performance ratio is the Processor N97 with good CPU performance and a better 3D graphics thanks to 24EU Intel UHD Graphics clocked at 1.2 GHz instead of just 16EU @ 1.2 GHz or 24EU @ 750 MHz for the other parts. That’s why, along with the higher turbo frequency,  Hardkernel selected the Intel Processor N97 for the ODROID-H4 SBC over the Processor N100 despite the slightly higher price. As mentioned above, storage results for the MP80 mini PCs should be ignored (for a CPU comparison) due to the use of an M.2 SATA SSD.

All systems have about the same power consumption at idle (desktop mode with HDMI display, wireless keyboard, wireless mouse, and Ethernet or WiFi). The exception was the Weibu N10 which was reviewed by Ian with different equipment and environment. As we can see from the MINIX Z100-0dB (fanless) and GEEKOM Mini Air12 (actively cooled) results, fanless solutions may perform a little slower, especially in hot conditions, but may consume a little less since there’s no fan. It’s also worth repeating that the often misinterpreted TDP values have no direct connection to the power consumption of a device since 6W N100 and 12W N97 mini PCs consume about the same.

Alder Lake-N benchmarks comparison – Linux Edition

Let’s now switch to Linux benchmarks, although we’ll have to drop the Blackview MP80 (N95) as we were unable to install Ubuntu 22.04 on it, and only found out later that Fedora 39 could be installed and work reasonably well on the N97 model. All other mini PCs were tested with Ubuntu 22.04.

Blackview MP80 (N97)MINIX Z100-0dBGEEKOM Mini Air12Weibu N10 Core i3-N305
OSFedora 39Ubuntu 22.04Ubuntu 22.04Ubuntu 22.04
sbc-bench.sh
- memcpy8989.0 MB/s9,572.6 MB/s,10,459.3 MB/s9,949.4 MB/s
- memset12881.2 MB/s8,552.2 MB/s10,665.4 MB/s8,991.6 MB/s
- 7-zip (average)13,23010,68013,94017,615
- 7-zip (top result)13,27012,32413,97620,002
- OpenSSL AES-256 16K1302822.91k1,232,743.08k1,233,283.75k1,377,211.73k
Geekbench 6 Single1,2511,2431,213
1,177 (Geekbench 5)
Geekbench 6 Multi3,1413,1893,2724,856 (Geekbench 5)
Unigine Heaven score404294303451
Speedometer (Firefox)152146149N/A

You’ll find the Linux benchmarks in the relevant sections of each review:

The story in Linux is very similar to the one in Windows, with the Core i3-N305 being the more powerful solution as expected, but the Processor N97 delivers similar performance as the N100 in most tests except for 3D graphics (Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0 benchmark) where it’s significantly faster.

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11 Comments
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Willy
1 month ago

Thanks Jean-Luc for trying to clarify the mess intel did with these CPUs. All these CPUs are really almost the same and both their namings and TDP are quite confusing. I even suspect they’re playing with the advertised TDP as a way to make some of them appear less interesting than others, because there’s absolutely no logic there if you compare the frequencies and performances. Even the measured differences stem more from the different storage or DRAM generation than the CPU itself, it’s pathetic there are so little differences between N100 and N95 for example. WRT the N305, I find… Read more »

Willy
1 month ago

OK makes sense then!

Cinos
Cinos
1 month ago

Finally a good benchmark that proves that the intel TDP is useless, especially for the N100.
This N305 is very appealing, if these CPU were used on a Mini ITX with a PCI slot to install an A380 card that would make quite a good desktop computer.

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 month ago

The quad-cores should already be “good enough” for desktop usage, with the N100 being comparable to an i5-6500T or i5-6600T. The i3-N300/N305 takes it that next step up, but with the “Core i3” branding signaling that you must overpay (usually) to get the 8 cores you want.

If Intel wants to refresh and correct the lineup, they should make an N205 with 6 cores, 32 EUs. The yields on these tiny dies must be pretty high, many good ones are getting disabled into quad-cores.

tkaiser
tkaiser
1 month ago

In fact ‘whole systems’ were benchmarked and not just Intel CPUs (under identical environmental conditions) since as we know in the meantime on Alder Lake-N Intel chose to throttle down the memory controller above a certain thermal treshold which affects all those benchmarks needing high RAM bandwidth or low RAM latency.

As such the Minix Z100 scores for example are by no means representative for ‘N100 in general’ but more likely only ‘N100 with inappropriate/passive cooling’ 🙂

fanoush
fanoush
1 month ago

Try to compare with some Ryzen mini PCs, they are cheap too and a bit more powerful than N200/N305. 5800U/5825U/7730U are 10 or 7nm 8 core 16 threads with Vega 8 GPU, also there are 6 core/12t variants like 5600U . Too bad the RDNA2 ones like 6800U are not that cheap and widely available in mini PCs

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 month ago

I think I’ve seen Rembrandt (barebones) as low as $300 but I don’t track it much. It may be more expensive but it’s a lot faster than an N305. What AMD doesn’t do well is compete directly against Alder Lake-N with enough volume to match the sub-$200 N100 mini PCs, even though Mendocino is the obvious contender to do that. The best that we can hope for is that AMD makes “Sonoma Valley” on Samsung’s 4nm node. That’s said to be quad-core Zen 5c, and drop in to existing Mendocino designs. They could deliver a knockout blow to N100/N305 if… Read more »

wboz88
wboz88
1 month ago

I still don’t understand Intels naming scheme for these things. The N95 is roughly the same as the N100, except that the GPU has fewer execution units but higher frequency, and the chip consumes more power while it works. And then the N97 is somehow better than the model numbers both above and below it. It makes no sense at all…

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 month ago

I’ve been reading about these processors for over a year now, so I’ve gotten used to it. But I’m not sure how to explain the N97 having higher clocks, more CUs, yet a lower TDP than the N95. Binning? I expect the real confusion will come when they create new lineups for Crestmont/Skymont/whatevermont. What are they going to do, make an N315, N215, N115, N98? Or maybe N400, N500, etc. Now that “Core i3” is dead, how about Core Ultra 3 N405? There are also similarly named chips sprinkled throughout other lineups, like Intel Processor U300 (1+4 cores), and Intel… Read more »

halherta
halherta
1 month ago

It would be interesting to compare the performance on these to similarly priced AMD offerings. I’m specifically thinking here of Mini PCs based on the Ryzen 5560U and the Ryzen 5800U/H

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