Performance Metrics

The Intel PPSTCK1A32WFC ships with Windows 8.1 x86 because the driver support for the Atom SKUs belonging to Bay Trail-T is restricted to Windows 8.1 x 32 bit, and Android x 64 bit. This meant that many of the benchmarks in our standard test suite for low power desktops / industrial PCs could not be processed on the Compute Stick.

Futuremark PCMark 8

PCMark 8 provides various usage scenarios (home, creative and work) and offers ways to benchmark both baseline (CPU-only) as well as OpenCL accelerated (CPU + GPU) performance. We benchmarked select PCs for the OpenCL accelerated performance in all three usage scenarios. Larger-sized systems that beat the Compute Stick in the benchmarks below usually have desktop or notebook-class Bay Trail SoCs. They are clocked higher and also have better thermal solutions.

Futuremark PCMark 8 - Home OpenCL

Futuremark PCMark 8 - Creative OpenCL

Futuremark PCMark 8 - Work OpenCL

Miscellaneous Futuremark Benchmarks

Futuremark PCMark 7 - PCMark Suite Score

Futuremark 3DMark 11 - Entry Score

Futuremark 3DMark 2013 - Ice Storm Score

Futuremark 3DMark 2013 - Cloud Gate Score

In the other Futuremark benchmarks evaluating 3D performance, we find the Compute Stick coming in last - this was to be expected, given that the GPU is clocked low at 311 MHz and also happens to operate mostly in the thermal limits put in place for a tablet platform.

We now move on to look at the benchmark modes in programs used on a day-to-day basis, i.e, application performance and not synthetic workloads.

x264 Benchmark

First off, we have some video encoding benchmarks courtesy of x264 HD Benchmark v5.0. This is simply a test of CPU performance. The Compute Stick manages to score better than the ECS LIVA in most of these tests thanks to the four cores (compared to the two in the latter).

Video Encoding - x264 5.0 - Pass 1

Video Encoding - x264 5.0 - Pass 2


7-Zip is a very effective and efficient compression program, often beating out OpenCL accelerated commercial programs in benchmarks even while using just the CPU power. 7-Zip has a benchmarking program that provides tons of details regarding the underlying CPU's efficiency. In this subsection, we are interested in the compression and decompression MIPS ratings when utilizing all the available threads. Again, the advantages of a quad-core SoC come through.

7-Zip LZMA Compression Benchmark

7-Zip LZMA Decompression Benchmark


As businesses (and even home consumers) become more security conscious, the importance of encryption can't be overstated. CPUs supporting the AES-NI instruction for accelerating the encryption and decryption processes have, till now, been the higher end SKUs. However, with Bay Trail, even the lowly Atom series has gained support for AES-NI. It is quite unlikely that any usage scenario for the Compute Stick is going to involve extensive encryption capabilities. However, the presence of AES-NI support in the Compute Stick's SoC piqued our interest.

TrueCrypt, a popular open-source disk encryption program can take advantage of AES-NI. Its internal benchmark provides some interesting cryptography-related numbers to ponder. In the graph below, we can get an idea of how fast a TrueCrypt volume would behave in the Intel PPSTCK1A32WFC and how it would compare with other select PCs. This is a purely CPU feature / clock speed based test. Interestingly, the Atom Z3735F is the only Bay Trail SoC in the graph below to have AES-NI capabilities.

TrueCrypt Benchmark

Introduction and Setup Impressions Networking and Storage Performance
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  • Drumsticks - Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - link

    Thanks for the review. Can somebody smarter than me explain why exactly 23.976 Hz is important? I assume that's the refresh rate used in movies, but is deviating slightly from that really so noticeable, or why is it so important? *never messed with HTPC stuff*
  • Guspaz - Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - link

    In the worst case, you're going to display those 23.976 FPS movies on a 60Hz screen. But they don't divide evenly. Ideally, you want each image to be on the screen for ~41.7ms, but a 60Hz display only works in multiples of ~16.7ms. So the closest you can get is displaying each image for ~33.3ms.

    But as you can see, 33.3ms is not the same as 41.7ms, so you end up having to display some frames for 33.3ms, and some frames for 50ms. The result is that motion that should be smooth appears jittery, because each frame is displayed for a different amount of time.

    The closer your display can get to actually displaying 23.976Hz, the fewer frames you'll need delay like that. If your display can do an even 24Hz, then you'll need to double up a frame every ~42 seconds. Not so bad. And the closer you get, the longer between doubled frames. And if you nail it at 23.976Hz, then you never double frames, and it looks great.
  • madwolfa - Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - link

    FWIW, I'm just using Smooth Motion feature of MadVR and it works great with 60Hz displays and 24 FPS content. Needs some GPU power, though.
  • joex4444 - Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - link

    The 23.976Hz is technically 24/1001, almost as if it originally derived from an "off-by-one" error in computing frames. Anyways, any multiple of that works just as well as the 23.976Hz display rate. Similarly, any multiple of 24Hz works as well as 24Hz.

    And one may ask what rates are available that are multiples of 24Hz to find a good solution. For example, 48Hz and 96Hz don't exist nor does 72Hz. The next multiple would be 120Hz, so by displaying each frame 5 times, each time lasting 8.34ms, one can similarly achieve a scenario that is fairly jitter free. Though in this case one wouldn't have to occasionally display a frame for an extra 16.67ms, but instead an extra 8.34ms.

    The next multiple available would be 6, yielding 144Hz and a refresh time of 6.95ms.

    In these cases that means going from 60Hz to 144Hz implies that when a frame is displayed an extra refresh cycle to kick the clock back in sync (like leap day does with the calendar), the "lag" experienced decreases from 16.67ms to 6.95ms, making that effect less than half as noticeable. However the real change from 60 to 120/144Hz is that the latter is a multiple of 24 while the former is not. The former, as you say, requires one to either display things for 33.3ms or 50ms and that causes some noticeable problems depending on the scene. Human reaction time is about 100ms, perhaps 80ms in someone young. However that's the time to react to something, we notice things on a shorter scale (see fighter pilots).
  • Laststop311 - Thursday, April 23, 2015 - link

    Actually plasma displays do have 72hz and 96hz refresh rates. Pioneer kuro's have a 72hz refresh mode and panasonics have 96hz refresh mode. The cheaper panasonics have a 48hz mode but it introduced flicker that made it unwatchable so 72hz was the slowest refresh rate that is watchable and compatible with 24 fps film. This was one of their big selling points as they can natively play 24fps blu ray films at their intended speed without 3:2 pulldown. I know this for a fact as I have a Panasonic plasma that can accept a 1080p24 signal from a bluray using 96hz by repeating each frame of the movie 4 times 4:4 pulldown i believe.
  • kyuu - Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - link

    I'm not 100%, but I believe the issue is that the disparity in the refresh rate adds up over time and results in skipped frames here and there.
  • babgvant - Thursday, April 23, 2015 - link

    Refresh rate accuracy is important because when it's wrong frames get dropped to keep A/V in sync. For 24p (23.976) this is especially important because there are fewer frames, so it's much more noticeable. In this case 23.973 isn't bad (i.e. there won't be many frames that go missing), but it's not what we've come to expect, and enjoy, from Intel's other systems that get it pretty much perfect.
  • nathanddrews - Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - link

    Fortunately, you can pick up 100Mb and 1GbE USB adapters for under $10, so the networking performance can be greatly improved with little effort... but the lack of HD bitstreaming is a complete fail for HTPC use. If it's anything like my other Bay Trail devices, it will also struggle with Steam In-Home Streaming.

    Can't wait for v2.0!
  • mwildtech - Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - link

    I have a Baytrail powered Zotac Pico PI320. I'm using the 10/100 Ethernet port, and it does Steam in-home streaming @ 1080p/60 pretty well. Though Baytrail doesn't have QuickSync, the DVXA decoder does a decent job.
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - link

    The issue I foresee is that if you are going to make the setup unwieldy with an adapter hanging off the Compute Stick - then, the advantage of the form factor is lost. You might as well pick up one of the other mini-PCs compared in this review, but that is just my opinion

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