MINIX NEO Z83-4 Fanless Mini PC Review: Affordable, Dead-Silent Media Streaming

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MINIX NEO Z83-4 Benchmark And Application Performance

It may technically be a quad-core PC, but the MINIX Neo Z83-4 isn’t meant for high-performance computing applications. This machine designed for media consumption and basic computing needs and is outfitted with the kind of hardware you’d normally find in tablet-type mobile form factors. As such, we’re not going to run an extensive array of benchmarks, but rather test the MINIX Neo Z83-4 in a few of the scenarios it was meant for. With that said, we do have a few numbers to share just to give you some baseline performance comparisons...

sandra cpu
Processor Arithmetic
 
sandra mem
Memory Bandwidth
 
sandra mm
Processor Multi-Media
sandra filesys
File System

In the four SiSoft SANDRA modules we ran (Processor Arithmetic, Multi-Media, Memory, File System), the MINIX Neo Z83-4 performed in-line with expectations. The Cherry Trail-based Atom processor powering the device performed about on par with similar Atom-derived products. In the Multi-Media benchmark, performance was similar to some low-power Celerons and other Atom-class processors. Memory bandwidth from the single-channel of DDR3 RAM peaked at just over 6.2GB/s, which is fairly low. And the internal 32GB eMMC 5.0 drive offered up some decent numbers, averaging around 116MB/s, but peaking just shy of 145MB/s, which puts it about in-line with a 7200RPM Hard Drive in terms of bandwidth.

sunpider
We also ran SunSpider to get an idea as to how the MINIX Neo Z83-4 performs while browsing / executing JavaScript, using the Microsoft Edge browser built-into Windows 10, and recorded a score just over 456ms. That puts the MINIX Neo Z83-4 well ahead of the last Atom-based Intel Compute Stick and in-line with some smartphones, but well behind more powerful desktop computing platforms.

geek bench

GeekBench isn't a particularly flattering benchmark for Intel architectures, but again we see the MINIX Neo Z83-4 handily outpacing the 2016 Compute Stick, although it does trail an array of ARM and Intel based smartphones and tablets. Single-core performance was better than expected, however.

lame

We also ran some quick numbers in a simple audio-encoding tool to show you how the MINIX Neo Z83-4's Atom x5-Z8300 fares in comparison to some other x86-based low-power processors. In this test, the MINIX Neo Z83-4 outpaces the Compute Stick once again and almost catches the older AMD A4 APU, but finishes near the rear of the pack.

In the types of scenarios the MINIX Neo Z83-4 is designed for, however, it does its job well. We also played back a myriad of HD video clips — streaming from the web, from an on-premises network attached storage device (NAS), and local to the device — as well as accessing other systems remotely. We even streamed games using Steam's in-home streaming capabilities from a high-end gaming PC.

wonder woman stream
Wonder Woman Trailer, YouTube, 4K - Scaled To Full Screen

Streaming SD and HD videos from YouTube worked very well. The image above is from a 4K UHD version of the Wonder Woman trailer, scaled to full screen on a 4K display and connected to the MINIX Neo Z83-4 via HDMI. It played lag-free using only the built-in WiFi to connect to the web. Regardless of the resolution, this clip played back smoothly, and as you can see in the image, CPU utilization remained relatively low throughout (Task Manager window not to scale).

In addition to streaming from the web, we also played an assortment of UHD, 1080p MKV, MP4, and AVI files, grabbed from a NAS attached to the local network or copied to the MINIX Neo Z83-4 itself. All of them played back perfectly, except for one, with one particular configuration.

1080p stream
1080P File Playing From NAS (Wireless Network Connection)


4k stream
4K File Playing From NAS (Wireless Network Connection)


14k stream wired
4K File Playing From NAS (Wired Network Connection)

All of the 1080p content we threw at the MINIX Neo Z83-4 worked fine, in a variety of players, including Windows Media Player, Windows 10's Video app, and Kodi, using either the wired or wireless network connection. When we tried to stream a 4K MKV file from our NAS with the MINIX Neo Z83-4 connected wirelessly over an 802.11ac 5GHz connection, however, CPU and wireless network utilization were both so high, that we got some dropped frames and laggy audio (middle image above).  Streaming the same exact file, however, when hard-wired to the network, worked fine. The low-power SoC and Wi-Fi network connection were too heavily taxed with the 4K stream. So, if 4K is your goal with this device, be sure to play it back locally or over a wired connection for the best experience.

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