BAPCo SYSmark 2018

The Intel NUC9i9QNX (Ghost Canyon) was evaluated using our Fall 2018 test suite for small-form factor PCs. In the first section, we will be looking at SYSmark 2018.

BAPCo's SYSmark 2018 is an application-based benchmark that uses real-world applications to replay usage patterns of business users in the areas of productivity, creativity, and responsiveness. The 'Productivity Scenario' covers office-centric activities including word processing, spreadsheet usage, financial analysis, software development, application installation, file compression, and e-mail management. The 'Creativity Scenario' represents media-centric activities such as digital photo processing, AI and ML for face recognition in photos and videos for the purpose of content creation, etc. The 'Responsiveness Scenario' evaluates the ability of the system to react in a quick manner to user inputs in areas such as application and file launches, web browsing, and multi-tasking.

Scores are meant to be compared against a reference desktop (the SYSmark 2018 calibration system, a Dell Optiplex 5050 tower with a Core i3-7100 and 4GB of DDR4-2133 memory to go with a 128GB M.2 SATA III SSD). The calibration system scores 1000 in each of the scenarios. A score of, say, 2000, would imply that the system under test is twice as fast as the reference system.

SYSmark 2018 - Productivity

SYSmark 2018 - Creativity

SYSmark 2018 - Responsiveness

SYSmark 2018 - Overall

Systems equipped with 65W+ TDP desktop processors get higher scores in most workloads, though only the DeskMini Z370 manages an higher overall rating compared to the NUC9i9QNX. The surprising result is the responsiveness score for the two Ghost Canyon configurations - having the Optane drive talk directly to the CPU without the DMI bottleneck makes the system significantly more responsive.

SYSmark 2018 also adds energy measurement to the mix. A high score in the SYSmark benchmarks might be nice to have, but, potential customers also need to determine the balance between power consumption and the efficiency of the system. For example, in the average office scenario, it might not be worth purchasing a noisy and power-hungry PC just because it ends up with a 2000 score in the SYSmark 2014 SE benchmarks. In order to provide a balanced perspective, SYSmark 2018 also allows vendors and decision makers to track the energy consumption during each workload. In the graphs below, we find the total energy consumed by the PC under test for a single iteration of each SYSmark 2018 workload. For reference, the calibration system consumes 5.36 Wh for productivity, 7.71 Wh for creativity, 5.61 Wh for responsiveness, and 18.68 Wh overall.

SYSmark 2018 - Productivity Energy Consumption

SYSmark 2018 - Creativity Energy Consumption

SYSmark 2018 - Responsiveness Energy Consumption

SYSmark 2018 - Overall Energy Consumption

The NUC9i9QNX is hobbled slightly by the power-hungry Optane drive and high-TDP discrete GPU, making it approach the other desktop CPU-based systems in the list when the overall energy consumption is considered. Compared to a x16 configuration, operating the GPU at x8 results in lowered energy consumption for the SYSmark 2018 workloads.

Setup Notes and Platform Analysis UL Benchmarks - PCMark, 3DMark, and VRMark


View All Comments

  • PeachNCream - Thursday, April 16, 2020 - link

    NUCs have usually had a bit of a markup, but the price here is quite a bit higher than one would expect. Reply
  • Deicidium369 - Thursday, April 16, 2020 - link

    I don't consider this a NUC, even though Intel puts it in that category - same thing with the ones with the skulls on them... the standard 4.5"x4.5" are the only ones I consider a NUC. Not really sure what the use case for this machine is. Reply
  • PeachNCream - Friday, April 17, 2020 - link

    I agree with you all around. This is far different than the goals Intel originally set out to attain with the NUC form factor. It's Intel's objective and the company can do whatever it wants with the name, slapping it on a super computer for all I care, but that doesn't mean we are compelled to acknowledge it in the same way we would prior designs.

    The use case for it - a small form factor system used for gaming or GPU-based graphics work is certainly the intent. The problem is the pricing is way off as a lot of others have pointed out so the same goals could be accomplished in a similar, but slightly larger system for considerably lower cost.

    This seems like a Google-style thought experiment that some employee or team dreamed up. it got approved and is on sale. If subsequent generations are not sold in the future, we will know it didn't get close to projections or targets.
  • Deicidium369 - Friday, April 17, 2020 - link

    I have over 60 of these deployed in my business offices. I fabricate a 4.5" x ~11" piece of stainless steel - each end is drilled with the 100mm VESA bolt pattern. There are 2 90deg brakes (bends). 1 end in sandwiched between the monitor stand and monitor - other side the NUC mounting bracket is bolted. Short (12") DP and USB cables connect NUC to monitor - sourced a 100W power brick (Intel ships a variety of designs. some with convex sides) that is rectangular - with a standard 3pin AC jack and a barrel DC jack. Y splitter for the AC power - 1 to monitor other to power brick, and a 12" DC cable. So, coming up from the wallplate is 1 AC power cable & 1 CAT6e cable

    Makes an all in 1 - usecase doesn't require a desktop PC - even a normal SFF one. My employees can choose wired or wireless Microsoft keybd/mice. Keeps it super neat and super clean.

    When I started to migrate those people to work at home, made the move super easy - and didn't require one of my IT staff to handle the moves - the Palo Alto Networks VPN Endpoint was preconfigured, so just plug in the desktop and the IP Phone, and they were up an running again.

    I have 3 generations of units - about half are the oldest - the real NUC Tiger Lake will replace them all (not running into issues with compute power - but the iGPU struggles with dual 2560 or 4K monitors. 32GB + Samsung 512GB or 1TB NVME - no 2.5"
  • Icehawk - Saturday, April 18, 2020 - link

    Take a look at Dell’s 7070 Ultra. It’s basically a monitor stand, combine with a USB-C monitor and it’s very sleek. I work for a mid sized bank and will be deploying these in the future in our branches where before we used mini-PCs VESA mounted. Much cleaner and enterprise pricing is good. Reply
  • Deicidium369 - Saturday, April 18, 2020 - link

    Thank's for the information - I actually bought one soon after they were released and evaluated as a replacement for the 35 or so NUCs I had installed at the time. There were manufacturing defects or issues, and had to send the eval unit back twice. By December, I had to purchase machines, as the business was expanding - and just couldn't, at that point, consider the Dell an option. The processing power at the time was pretty well evenly matched - the dual channel memory in the NUCs wasn't a huge advantage in testing. and the NVMe speed was comparable. So from a performance standpoint, they were pretty evenly matched - one of the main big features that was lacking in the Dell was the IGP - I had thought that instead of Comet Lake we would have gotten Ice Lake. Our workflow is pretty mundane - Word Excel Outlook and Chrome... So at this point the big reason for sticking with the NUCs is the "ecosystem" I have built around them - when we do replace with the Tiger Lake NUCs later this year, will be pretty well painless. Reply
  • ingwe - Friday, April 17, 2020 - link

    Yeah the pricing is crazy. Which is disappointing because I think it is a pretty neat concept and I would love something like this from AMD. Reply
  • Deicidium369 - Friday, April 17, 2020 - link

    AMD sells CPU and GPU - nothing else. Reply
  • Sailor23M - Saturday, April 18, 2020 - link

    Agree, Intel has lost it way with the NUCs. They should be in the $500-$999 range, come with best embedded graphics that Intel can provide with lots of ports. Not sure who is excited about $3000 SFF box. Reply
  • Qasar - Saturday, April 18, 2020 - link

    intel has lost its way in alot more then just nucs. it lost its way 5-7 years ago when it thought ot was unbeatable, and kept rehashing the same cpu over and over. Reply

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