Broadwell NUC Review (NUC5i3RYK): Performance and Comparison to Haswell
- Part 1: Overview and Hardware
- Part 2: Performance and Comparison to Haswell
- Part 3: HTPC and OpenELEC usage
The number of differences between the previous generation Haswell NUC and the current generation Broadwell NUC is limited. Externally the two units look very much the same. The biggest difference is in the height. The Haswell model is 16 mm (5/8″) taller.
The connectivity is identical. Only difference is the USB fast charge port: the single USB 3.0 port marked with yellow on the front is the fast charge port.
The Broadwell NUC features the Intel Core i3-5010U CPU that comes with HD Graphics 5500 GPU. I installed Windows 7 and ran a couple of benchmarks on both the Broadwell and the Haswell i3 NUCs. I used the same memory (2x2GB DDR3L-1600 modules) and the same SSD drive in both units.
In 3DMark 2013 Cloud Gate test there is about 15-20% difference in score, but in the Sky Diver the difference is neglible. The Novabench result is about 10% better (568 instead of 511) on Broadwell.
There’s one area where the differences between Haswell and Broadwell seem to grow rather big and that’s HEVC (also known as H.265) video decoding.
The results for Broadwell:
The results for Haswell:
The Broadwell NUC seems to do approximately 25% better. Note that this is pure CPU-based decoding. Intel released in January a Windows graphics driver that adds hardware assisted decoding support for both Haswell and Broadwell. It will be interesting to see how this impacts the hardware requirements for decoding HEVC. Note that VP9 decoding and 10-bit HEVC decoding is only supported by Broadwell at this point (10-bit HEVC is very rare still, used mainly for some anime films).
The Broadwell NUC is powerful enough for any desktop use and even for light gaming. That is of course to be expected as the Core i3-5100U CPU can be found in several midrange laptops as well (such as Dell XPS 13).
The NUC5i3RYK is clearly an incremental improvement over the Haswell model. Performance is rather similar, but performance gains up to 25% might be seen in some applications. My personal opinion is that there is not enough improvement to be gained by changing an existing Haswell to the new Broadwell. Obviously readers who are looking for a new system are advised to go for the Broadwell model.