Intel Atlas Canyon (NUC11ATKPE) and GEEKOM MiniAir 11 UCFF PCs Review: Desktop Jasper Lake Impressesby Ganesh T S on July 14, 2022 8:00 AM EST
Setup Notes and Platform Analysis
Upon completion of the hardware configuration of the NUC11ATKPE, and freshly installing the OS on both machines, we took some time to look into their BIOS interfaces. The videos below present the entire gamut of available options for both systems.
Despite being an entry-level system, Intel has equipped the NUC11ATKPE with a comprehensive BIOS - allowing different peripherals and USB ports to be selectively enabled, configuring periodic self-tests for storage components, mounting iSCSI volumes, setting fan control options (including an optional temperature at which the fan gets completely disabled), and fine-grained control over PL1 and PL2 limits to configure the performance profile of the system.
We benchmarked the system with UEFI defaults - this enabled the 'Max Performance Enabled' checkbox in the BIOS Power settings, while configuring the Intel Dynamic Power Technology for 'Energy-Efficient Performance'. Under these conditions, the PL1 was surprisingly set to 15W and PL2 to 25W with a power time window of 48s.
The GEEKOM MiniAir 11 BIOS is very basic. GEEKOM probably expects its MiniAir 11 customers to not care too much about the inner workings of the system - rather, just use the system as it is sold to them.
The BIOS provides information on the installed processor and memory speeds - this was helpful when I was trying to test out different memory sticks in an attempt to get DDR4-2933 working on the system. It also allows configuring security options - both for the BIOS interface, as well as the installed SSD. Secure boot configuration is also available. There is also an option to override the boot device for the post-reset scenario from within the same interface. We do not get any ability to tweak PL1 / PL2 values or play with fan control. Thankfully, the default fan curves for the MiniAir 11 turned out to be perfectly fine for the targeted use-cases.
Upon completion of the installation of Windows 11 from scratch, almost all drivers were procured via Windows Update. For offline installs, the support pages for both systems provide the necessary drivers.
Intel's technical product specifications for the NUC11ATKPE (PDF) provides a block diagram for the motherboard layout.
Intel calls Jasper Lake as a SoC in its documents, but as our teardown for the ECS LIVA Z3 and ZOTAC ZBOX CI331 nano showed, it is technically a system-in-packge (SiP). AIDA64's system report backs up the high-speed lanes distribution seen above.
- PCI-E 3.0 x2 port #5: In Use @ x2 (SK hynix NVMe SSD Controller)
- PCI-E 3.0 x1 port #8: In Use @ x1 (Realtek RTL8168/8111 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Adapter)
GEEKOM doesn't provide a block diagram for the system, but it can be inferred from the AIDA report.
- PCI-E 3.0 x1 port #4: In Use @ x1 (Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 AC 2x2 HMC WiFi Adapter)
- PCI-E 2.0 x1 port #7: In Use @ x1 (Realtek RTL8168/8111 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Adapter)
The M.2 slot does support both SATA and NVMe SSDs, with the same mux design as shown in the NUC11ATKPE block diagram. Using a NVMe SSD would have added another entry in the list above. Not shown in the PCI-E lanes breakup above, but nevertheless an important differentiator, is the presence of a SD card reader. The MiniAir 11 uses a Realtek USB 2.0 bridge for this purpose - limiting SD card read speeds to around 40 MBps. This is useful in a cinch especially when one doesn't have a card reader handy to offload a memory card into the system. It is also interesting to note that GEEKOM has eschewed the CNVi Wireless-AC 9462 solution, and instead opted for a Wi-Fi solution that uses a dedicated PCIe lane.
Beyond the arrangement of peripherals and ports, the most surprising aspect of the MiniAir 11's system report turned out to be the CPUID output. The PL1 and PL2 limits were set to 10W and 20W respectively.
This configuration of power limits was quite unexpected, as we are used to seeing PL1 configured to match the TDP of the processor. The Celeron N5095 has a TDP of 15W, and usage of a lower PL1 limit could potentially limit the performance.
In today's review, we compare the NUC11ATKPE and the MiniAir 11 to a host of other Atom-based systems.
|Comparative PC Configurations|
|Aspect||Intel NUC11ATKPE (Atlas Canyon)|
|CPU||Intel Pentium Silver N6005
Jasper Lake 4C/4T, 2.0 - 3.3 GHz
Intel 10nm, 4MB L3, 10W
PL1 : 15W / 28s ; PL2 : 25W / 2.44ms
|Intel Celeron N5095
Jasper Lake 4C/4T, 2.0 - 2.9 GHz
Intel 10nm, 4MB L3, 15W
PL1 : 10W / 28s ; PL2 : 20W / 2.44ms
|GPU||Intel UHD Graphics
(32EU @ 450 - 900 MHz)
|Intel UHD Graphics
(16EU @ 450 - 750 MHz)
|RAM||Kingston HyperX KHX3200C20S4/32GX DDR4-3200 SODIMM (operating at DDR4-2933)
19-21-21-39 @ 2933 MHz
|Shenzhen Wodposit Tech. WPBS26D408SWE-8G DDR4-2666 SODIMM
19-19-19-43 @ 2666 MHz
|Storage||SK hynix Gold P31 SHGP31-1000GM-2
(1 TB; M.2 2280 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD, operating at x2)
(SK hynix 128L 4D TLC; SK hynix Cepheus ACNT038 Controller)
(256 GB; M.2 2280 SATA III;)
(Micron 64L 3D TLC; Silicon Motion SM2259XT Controller)
|Networking||1x GbE RJ-45 (Realtek RTL8168/8111)
Intel Wireless AC-9462 (1x1 802.11ac - 433 Mbps)
|1x GbE RJ-45 (Realtek RTL8168/8111)
Intel Wireless AC-7265 (2x2 802.11ac - 867 Mbps)
|Price (in USD, when built)||(Street Pricing on July 12th, 2022)
US $188 (barebones)
US $468 (as configured)
|(Street Pricing on July 12th, 2022)
US $245 (as configured, with OS)
The ECS JSLM-MINI represents the most efficient and stable passively-cooled Jasper Lake system in our benchmarks database, while the ZBOX CI331 nano represents yet another passable passively-cooled attempt. The Gemini Lake-based June Canyon NUC is included to get an idea of the generation-to-generation improvement delivered by Jasper Lake. The next few sections will deal with comparative benchmarks for the above systems.
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flgt - Thursday, July 14, 2022 - linkNice article. I don’t like how so much performance is driven by relatively hidden PL1/PL2 settings. Have regular NUC12’s been released yet?
AdrianBc - Friday, July 15, 2022 - linkIntel has developed a "Wall Street Canyon" NUC with Alder Lake P, as a replacement for the NUC 11 Pro with Tiger Lake, and which has about the same interfaces but with a much faster CPU.
Photos of working prototypes have been leaked, but the launch of the product has been delayed for unknown causes, maybe component shortages. Nevertheless, I do not believed that it will be canceled, but maybe it will be launched later this year.
A very similar NUC-like barebone is already available from ASRock Industrial, as "NUC BOX-12xxP", e.g. "NUC BOX-1260xP", which, compared to Intel, has dual 2.5G Ethernet instead of single 2.5G Ethernet, and 3 DisplayPort (2 on TB) + 1 HDMI instead of 2 DisplayPort (both on TB) + 2 HDMI.
AdrianBc - Friday, July 15, 2022 - linkSorry, I have pressed "Submit" without rereading and there are a couple of typos.
The names for the ASRockInd alternatives are "NUC BOX-1260P", "NUC BOX-1240P", etc.
mode_13h - Friday, July 15, 2022 - linkOMG. I thought "Wall Street Canyon" NUC was a joke. Still funny, though.
Sivar - Thursday, July 14, 2022 - linkSome means to compare these values vs. a full desktop CPU would be helpful. In isolation, I can see that the Pentium Silver N6005 is much faster than the J5005, but I have no idea if it is 90% the performance of a desktop CPU, or 60%, or 4%, etc.
Perhaps a link to a reasonably comparable desktop CPU review.
mode_13h - Friday, July 15, 2022 - link> Some means to compare these values vs. a full desktop CPU would be helpful.
100% agree. We do have a few data points, however. Using data from https://www.anandtech.com/show/17231/the-intel-cor... we can see:
CineBench R23: Single-threaded
Ryzen 3 5300G: 1338
Ryzen 5 5600G: 1434
CineBench R23: Mulitthreaded
Ryzen 3 5300G: 6770
Ryzen 5 5600G: 10601
Obviously, software rendering is not the kind of workload Tremont is optimized for.
Next, there's Handbrake, but the i3-12300 article used version 1.3.2 and this uses 1.5.1. Without at least a benchmark of the same hardware on both versions, we can't know how much variation is introduced by the new software version.
7-zip might have a similar version difference (earlier article references "1900", while this one uses 21.7), and it's not clear if the test cases are even the same.
And that's basically all the overlap I found. That's less than I thought or hoped for. It's disappointing how much the software versions and format of the results changed, such that I can't even tell whether a given test is using the same workload between the articles.
Hresna - Tuesday, July 19, 2022 - linkFunny, I was just thinking this yesterday. It’s widely impractical I know but perhaps a single chart showing the numbers in context of “modern desktop computing” would add to the general consumption-ability for us casual readers.
For so many reviews I end up side-channel trying to look up/remember “ok, what’s my firestrike number again?”.
t.s - Thursday, July 14, 2022 - link"a 2022 consumer-focused NUC without a single Type-C port is strange to see" LOL. Hello. This is Intel we're talking about, bro.
abufrejoval - Thursday, July 14, 2022 - linkWell, you certainly did a much better job than I did with my Atlas Canyon NUC and caught me with quite a few mistakes, too. E.g. I had mis-identified the front panel header hidden under the rubber cap as a USB2 port.
I also hadn’t really noticed that PL1/2 had gone to 15/25 in the max performance settings, I guess I was still relying far too much on my Gemini Lake observations.
I’ve never actually observed 25 Watts with HWinfo, the iGPU never goes beyond 5 Watts and the CPU will stay shy of 15 resulting in a 20 Watt total.
For the NUC’s WIFI the most important aspect is that it’s socketed, unlike e.g. on the Tiger Lake NUC11. I had bought a bunch of AX200 cards some time back, because at just €20 they were twice the price of shipping and I replaced the WIFI before I even booted the system.
I got a whole box of below-acceptable WIFI cards, that’s just electronic waste from the factory, because quite a few high-range notebooks also come with such crippling kit.
Likewise, I have another box of RealTek based USB3 2.5 Gbit/s Ethernet adapters, to bring a bit of balance to these systems, which I tend to use with GlusterFS.
I also didn’t have DDR4-2933 SO-DIMMs lying around and was ever so glad the 2x 32GB DDR4-3200 I borrowed from my Tiger Lake NUC11 worked, even if they took quite a bit of time at the initial boot to be configured properly.
DDR4-2400 SO-DIMMS will work just as well and honestly there is very little real difference in performance. The memory bandwidth on Geekbench 4 will change from 16.9/GBs to 17.3GB/s for single core and from 22.2GB/s to 25.6GB/s on multi core. The same DDR4-3200 SO-DIMMs deliver 35.6GB/s single core memory bandwidth with the Tiger Lake’s i7-1165G7 and 39.7GB/s on the multi-core variant, which would almost seem to indicate, that the latest Atom continues to be a single-channel design, like the J5005, N3700 and J1900 predecessors, where the 2nd module never delivered more than a 10% bandwidth increase.
Jasper lake drops to 12.8GB/s with a single module on both the single and the multi core variants of the Geekbench 4 memory bandwidth benchmark and I’m sure the impact on the iGPU would be rather significant, even if I didn’t measure to confirm.
Next I dropped PL1/PL2 to 10/12 Watts (the BIOS won’t allow 10/10) and TAU to 1 second, just to see differentiate properly between the generational improvements of Jasper Lake vs. Goldmont Plus and the additional TDP budget: it barely made a difference on Geekbench 5, whilst HWinfo did confirm that the lower TDP limits were indeed observed.
It takes Prime95 to confirm, that the TDP budget difference has an impact on the clocks, Geekbench is just too light a workload. And in combination with Furmark, you can also nicely observe that the iGPU TDP share is fixed at 5 Watts, while the CPU core have to manage with what’s left at 25 or 15 Watts after TAU.
I do believe the Atlas Canyon NUC11 is a rather good deal for the €200 price, if you can get one. I’ve found a niche dealer here in Germany (minipc.de), that still has dozens in stock but that seems a rare exception. There are still some N6005 based firewall appliances available from China, even fully passive but at closer to €500 before taxes.
Ian started to ruminate on how he’d be able to measure the generational improvements of Grace Mont over Jasper Lake by using Lasso to control CPU core assignments on an Alder Lake base. Too bad he then never got around testing that, because it could have helped to gauge a hypothetical all-E-core chip.
Jasper Lake does rather well against say a Broadwell based Xeon D-1541 at 2.7GHz so it’s easy to see why they are not to keen on seeing these low-end devices compete in the mini-server market. Elkhart Lake Atoms variants which support inline ECC would certainly create an issue, if they sold for a similar price than Jasper Lake (I heavily suspect they are the same silicon). But a SuperMicro mainboard with zero other distinguishing features (e.g. only Gbit Ethernet) is listed at €800, way beyond what I’d want to pay for ECC alone.
mode_13h - Friday, July 15, 2022 - link> DDR4-2400 SO-DIMMS will work just as well and honestly there is very little real difference in
> performance. The memory bandwidth on Geekbench 4 will change from 16.9/GBs to 17.3GB/s
> for single core and from 22.2GB/s to 25.6GB/s on multi core.
> ... the latest Atom continues to be a single-channel design
> Jasper lake drops to 12.8GB/s with a single module on both the single and the multi core
That's a 35% benefit for single-core and a 100% boost for multi-core. Whatever is going on there, I think it's simplistic to say the SoC is simply designed for single-channel.
It's weird that they hampered it, because they're just leaving performance on the table. I wonder if maybe the memory controller is more optimized for LPDDR4 and the regular DDR4 performance is more of an afterthought.
BTW, thanks for your TDP testing, also.