Gaming on Bean Canyon NUCs – Comparison

Since I’ve now reviewed every Bean Canyon NUC model currently on the market, I wanted to do a simple comparison on how do they fare against each other in a few games. Now I’m not really that much gaming these days but I hope you find the article interesting.

The three Bean Canyon NUCs are very similar when it comes to hardware specifications. All of them have a Coffee Lake Core CPU. The CPUs included in order of performance are i3-8109U, i5-8259U and i7-8559U. All of them have the same Iris Plus 655 GPU, but on the i7 it’s clocked up to 1.2 GHz whereas the others will have to do with 1.05 GHz. Each NUC was equipped with HyperX 2×4 GB DDR4-2400 CL14 RAM (Amazon) for the comparison.

Games

Dirt 3

Dirt 3 is an older rally game, but when played on Full HD resolution with high level of details it’s already making the NUC work for its money. It’s also got a very handy benchmark feature that makes it easy to collect the performance figures.

The following settings were used:

  • Resolution: 1920×1080
  • Vertical sync: off
  • Refresh rate: 60 Hz
  • Detail preset: High / Ultra
  • Anti-aliasing: 2x MSAA

From the above results we can see that the difference between the i3 and the i7 models is approximately 20% and the i5 sits comfortable between these two. With high details levels the game is quite nicely playable on all three Bean Canyon models and then again, yanking the details up all the way to ultra will make it more or less unplayable on all three models.

Battlefield 4

BF4 is a first person shooter from a couple of years back as well. It’s not spectacularly beautiful by today’s standards, but it still can be a lot of fun. And it’s just the type of game that the NUC is able to run pretty nicely.

The following settings were used:

  • Resolution: 1920×1080
  • Detail preset: Medium

We’ll notice that the average FPS on the i7 is quite respectable 48 frames per second, on the i5 ~10% less and then on the i3 ~10% less than i5 again. The minimum frame rate on the i3 dipped down to 31 frames per second, so here the difference between i3 and i7 might be that you’ll need to use lower detail level on i3 whereas the i7 will be ok with medium details.

FIFA ’18

Finally some football or soccer, depending on what you prefer to call the ball game.

  • Resolution: 1920×1080
  • Detail preset: High
  • Anti-aliasing: 2x MSAA

The game’s nicely playable on all Bean Canyon NUCs, even if we see that minimum frame rate drops at times below 25 on all of them. However, the average frame rate stays above 40 and I suspect the lower frame rates we see during the animated replays etc. scenes.

Conclusion

If you’re not into playing the most demanding games with ulra high resolutions, the Bean Canyon NUC might actually work just fine for you if you’re more of a casual gamer. There’s not a huge difference between the different models here as the GPU is the same on all three of them. I found in my benchmarks earlier that the NUC8i7BEH actually has a faster CPU than the Hades Canyon NUC that costs twice as much. The GPU is just much weaker. Against this background it’ll be interesting to see if Intel is going to introduce more NUCs with the AMD GPUs than the Crimson Canyon and the Hades Canyon.


15 Responses

  1. thomas says:

    hi i was wondering what are the options to get a com port on a bean canyon nuc? can we use the usb 2.0 header or is there any dedicated header or lid ? thanks for your blog its really well detailed and useful i bought my hades canyon thanks to your post.peace.

    • Olli says:

      Hi, there’s no COM port on the mainboard, so your only option I think is to use the USB port and a USB-to-COM adapter. You could hook that on the internal header or an external USB port of course.

      • thomas says:

        allright ill stick to my usb to com adapter then .thanks for your answer . i wish intel implemented thunderbolt 3 and a serial com port in their nuc workstation solution it would be so neat.

  2. MattMe says:

    Looking at the review you did of the NUC7i5BNK where you also included Dirt 3 benchmark, it looks as though the new NUC8i5BEK is almost exactly the same. I’m quite surprised by that considering there is a small bump in the GPU from 7th to 8th gen.

    Any chance we could get a bit more comparison with the older versions too?

    • Olli says:

      There’s actually no exact match in the NUC7i5BNK review and this comparison. You see, the NUC7i5BNK does 51.56 fps average using 1920×1080 resolution with high details and no anti-aliasing. NUC8i5BEK does 54.04 fps using 1920×1080 resolution with high details and 2x MSAA anti-aliasing.

    • Olli says:

      Just to put things in perspective, I just run a Dirt 3 test on NUC8i7BEH with single-channel RAM.

      Average fps with antialiasing off: 63.14, on: 55.22.

      So, as the NUC8i5BEK achieves a better result with 2xMSAA enabled than the NUC7i5BNK with no antialiasing, I think it’s safe to say the 8th gen NUC is at least 20% faster than the 7th gen in this test.

  3. Robert says:

    Anyone has tried a world of warcraft raid with it? 🙂

    • Thomas Jespersen says:

      I would like to see WoW as well. Benchmark is a bit tougher to set up since you need a subscription and perhaps a higher level character to test the new (and more demanding) zones.

      Also I know of no standard benchmark test for it.

      But if anybody could report on it I would be interested as well.

  4. Quinton says:

    I was testing the i5 and i7 with video conversion, and a quick fps test on fortnite and found no difference between both. Excuse the long drawn out video, but it was for my own future reference. https://youtu.be/NlYoom72AW4

    • Vlado says:

      You didn’t show what was the fps on third nuc. Is it the one with AMD radeon GPU?

      For bean canyon I would suggest to increase PL1 on i7 to 35W – 38W so that the GPU can reach 1150MHz – 1200 MHz. And if you want you may decrease PL2 and also turbo time “tau” so that not to have so high temps on the cores. You can also change the cooling settings in BIOS.

      For example you can set the fan to fixed speed which is the max you can tolerate then start to increase PL2=PL1 until during stress the CPU will not exceed 75 deg C if your ambient room temperatue is 20 deg C (85 deg for 30 deg ambient). Set “tau” to (1 to 5 seconds to speed applications start) then try to increase only PL2 and stop if cores start to get too hot. Now set the fan to change the speed if needed

      Also you have to mark your ambient temps and to expect when they increase that the fan speed will increase.

  5. Peter Meng says:

    Thanks for your reviews. Read your all reviews and it<s really much helpful. Is it possile to take a AIDA64 testing? I want compare between i3 and i5, while stress testing, the final CPU clock which indicate the performance.

  6. Peter Meng says:

    Actaully I am more like i3 model. It’s more quiet and performance to me is enough now. But I want it still fine after 5 years later. Just like my X220 still working.
    Appreciate if you can help verify, is i5 model has same performance like i3 after disable 2 cores on BIOS, and be same quiet like i3. So then I just enable the 4 cores in case require later.

    Thanks

    • Vlado says:

      When cooling solution is the same then the “quietness” or Fan RPM will depend on the PL1 power limit you have set (during long CPU load) and how “cold” you want (have set) your CPU to run. For short duration it will be the PL2 limit if turbo boost is enabled. Then the power limit and core count will determine at what frequency your cpu will be running.

      I have nuc7i7BNH with i7-7567U – 3.5GHz base 4GHz max turbo, 2 core 4 threads, 28W TDP.

      In AIDA64 stress CPU + FPU + AVX
      These are my very gross masurements of “IA Core Power”:

      only core#0 core#0+core#1
      400MHz ~ 0,46W ~ 0,83W
      1GHz ~ 1,15W ~ 2W
      1,5GHz ~ 1,9W ~ 3,5W
      2GHz ~ 2,8W ~ 5,5W
      2,5GHz ~ 4,3W ~ 8,3W
      3GHz ~ 6,5W ~ 13W
      3,5GHz ~ 10W ~ 20W
      4GHz ~ 16W limited by max PL1

      For the CPU Package power add ~2W

      When stress test the GPU
      Starts at: GT core ~ 24W (1100MHz) CPU ~7,5W(3,5GHz) Package ~ 34W
      Stable: GT core ~ 22W (1050MHz) CPU ~2,2W(1,8GHz) Package ~ 28W

      so for + 50MHz GPU clock + ~2W

      These are very imprecise but give some picture.

      If 2 cores @ 2GHz will do the same work as 1 core @ 4GHz
      2 cores will be more efficient 5,5W vs 16W
      And when you run Windows you are not running single process there is always someting happening

      If you want GPU @ max power 20W – 25W

      and your PL1 is ~ 35W for the CPU cores you have ~7,5W

      The number of cores you have 2 or 4 will determine the CPU clock but i expect 4 cores to do more work for the given power limit.

      • Quinton says:

        I like your ideas, unfortunately Fortnite would not install at all on the AMD NUC, I tried everything simply would not load. Even contacted Intel about it but they could not help. Would have loved to compare it with the other 2.

        • Vlado says:

          There are other GPU tests. I was just curious if AMD can do better than Iris Plus.

          And I forgot to mention about bean canyon that you can try to set -100mv to GPU voltage offset so to have less power consumption during GPU load and GPU will be able to hit higher clock at given power limit. You can try -50mV voltage offset for the CPU.

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