In benchmarking the Intel Compute Stick, we had to borrow several different methods from some of our recent tablet and network tests. We also had to keep in mind that we're not dealing with a high-end system here. We kept our expectations reasonable, especially since this isn't a gaming device or workstation. If anything, what we'll really find out about the Compute Stick is that, rather than being a performance-driven device, it's really just a convenient way to add on some computing power to an existing television.
Video-wise, we used a 24 inch Asus VS247 HDMI display with the Compute Stick and plugged it into the back of the monitor to run the CPU, graphics and storage testing.
Network testing was done using the same Asus display, however we used a mobile cart to help test throughput at different distances between our reference ASUS RT-AC66U Dual Band router and an Ethernet wired ASRock VisionX Mini-PC (Core i7-4712MQ, AMD HD8850M graphics, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD and 2 TB HDD).
For the Compute Stick's quad core Atom z3735F CPU, we used Primate Lab's Geekbench 3. Geekbench is a cross-platform benchmarking tool used to test CPU and memory performance. One of the grander advantages of using Geekbench is having access to the Primate Labs' large database of tested devices, including those running Windows, Apple and Android platforms. For Geekbench, we'll be looking at scores coming from its single- and multi-core tests using integer, floating point and memory workloads.
In order to test the Compute Stick's Samsung-based storage, we're using CrystalDiskMark to measure sequential and random read/write speeds.
We tested end-to-end Wi-Fi networking using PassMark's Advanced Networking module. Configured in a client/server configuration, the software is installed and started on each computer with one machine marked as a server and the second machine set up as the client. We used the default fixed block size of 16384 Bytes to send test TCP traffic from the Compute Stick to our test ASRock Mini-PC with the test results showing data received, data sent, average Kbits/sec and the CPU load. Since the Compute Stick only runs at 2.4 GHz, we restricted the other devices in the networking test to the same range.
Since the Intel Compute Stick is used primarily as a web browsing tool, we also ran BrowserMark, Peacekeeper and Octane to get an idea of how Internet Explorer and Google Chrome perform in comparison to other systems.
For comparison data, we used machines from the mobile realm, including:
- Dell Venue 11 Pro (Processing, Storage, Web Applications);
- Lenovo Thinkpad 10 20C1 (Processing, Storage, Web Applications);
- HP Elitepad 1000 G2 (Processing, Storage, Web Applications);
- Sony Vaio SVSS13112FXS with a Linksys AE3000 N900 USB Wi-Fi adapter (Networking);
- Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T (Networking).
As mentioned earlier, we're not expecting astronomical results from the Compute Stick. We chose the Dell, Lenovo and HP tablets because their components help us get to closer to an "apples to apples" type comparison. For networking, we used another Atom based tablet and a regular laptop with a Wi-Fi adapter, because they would have 802.11n Wi-Fi capability similiar to the Compute Stick's.