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To check the systems performance in general purpose application we used Futuremark PCMark 7 benchmarking suite. Note that besides the average performance score, we also used PCMark 7 to test systems performance in unique usage scenarios: in office applications, during digital content creation and processing and for use in gaming and entertainment tasks.

We also used Futuremark 3DMark11 to test the systems computing performance during gaming. This benchmark emulates the behavior of a complex gaming system with multiple objects.

The performance in Internet-related tasks was tested with SunSpider JavaScript launched in the latest version of Google Chrome available at the time of tests (version 23). The chart shows the time it took to complete the test, therefore smaller numbers indicate faster speed.

Besides, we also used three popular synthetic benchmarks: WinRAR archiving tool, Fritz chess application and Cinebench 11.5 rendering task.

Intel NUC based on Core i3-3217U processor managed to set new performance records among miniature systems. Intel’s platform with ultra-book components turned out several times faster than Brazos 2.0 with AMD E2-1800 processor. The progressive Ivy Bridge microarchitecture and 22 nm process are definitely the ones to thank for this success. They allowed squeezing full functionality of an x86 processor into a 17 W TDP. AMD can’t boast the same: their Brazos 2.0 uses more primitive Zacate processors, which explains a significant performance difference between Intel NUC DC3217IYE and Zotac ZBOX Nano AD12 PLUS.

At the same time, I have to stress that the Core i3 inside the compact Intel NUC is actually not the Core i3 that we see in desktop systems. Although the NUC processor does have two cores, which also support Hyper-Threading technology, its clock frequency is only about half of what the regular processor have, that is why its performance is more like that of a desktop Pentium rather than desktop Core i3. In other words, if we regard Intel NUC as a potential replacement to a regular desktop PC, we should keep in mind that its performance will be that of an entry-level system.

Another aspect of Intel NUC performance is its 3D graphics speed. The remarkable thing about Core i3-3217U processor is that it has HD Graphics 4000 inside – Intel’s best graphics core available today. However, can it successfully compete against Radeon HD 7340 from Brazos 2.0 platform? Let’s try answering this question by running some 3DMark11 benchmarks and gaming tests in FullHD resolution and with low image quality settings.

As we can see, Intel HD Graphics 4000 core outperforms Radeon HD 7340 graphics integrated into AMD E2-1800. The performance difference between Intel NUC and a Brazos 2.0 based system is again pretty significant and not in AMD’s favor. In other words new Intel platform is indisputable superior to energy-efficient solution from AMD, while staying within comparable power and thermal envelope. This is great news for Intel, because no configurations with Atom processors could successfully compete against Brazos 2.0.

At the same time, the graphics performance of Intel NUC system almost places it at the level of a desktop Core i3-3225 and way above a desktop Pentium G2120. Of course, it doesn’t make Intel NUC an ultimate gaming machine, because Intel HD Graphics 4000 is not powerful enough for that, but it should be more than sufficient for numerous online and casual games.

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