ASRock DeskMeet B660 Review: An Affordable NUC Extreme?by Ganesh T S on January 23, 2023 8:30 AM EST
Workstation Performance - SPEC Benchmarks
SFF PCs traditionally do not lend themselves to workstation duties. However, a recent trend towards miniaturized workstations has been observed. While the DeskMeet B660 is primarily marketed towards consumers requiring compact dGPU-equipped machines, its capabilities encouraged us to benchmark the system for both content creation workloads as well as professional applications. Towards this, we processed two SPEC benchmarks geared towards workstations - SPECworkstation 3.10 and SPECviewperf 2020 v3.
The SPECworkstation 3.1 benchmark measures workstation performance based on a number of professional applications. It includes more than 140 tests based on 30 different workloads that exercise the CPU, graphics, I/O and memory hierarchy. These workloads fall into different categories.
- Media and Entertainment (3D animation, rendering)
- Product Development (CAD/CAM/CAE)
- Life Sciences (medical, molecular)
- Financial Services
- Energy (oil and gas)
- General Operations
- GPU Compute
Individual scores are generated for each test and a composite score for each category is calculated based on a reference machine (HP Z240 tower workstation using an Intel E3-1240 v5 CPU, an AMD Radeon Pro WX3100 GPU, 16GB of DDR4-2133, and a SanDisk 512GB SSD). Official benchmark results generated automatically by the benchmark itself are linked in the table below for the systems being compared.
|SPECworkstation 3.1 Official Results (2K)|
|ASRock DeskMeet B660||Run Summary|
|Intel NUC13RNGi9 (Raptor Canyon)||Run Summary|
|Intel NUC11BTMi9 (Beast Canyon)||Run Summary|
|Intel NUC9i9QNX (Ghost Canyon)||Run Summary|
|Intel NUC12DCMi9 (Dragon Canyon)||Run Summary|
Details of the tests in each category, as well as an overall comparison of the systems on a per-category basis are presented below.
Media and Entertainment
The Media and Entertainment category comprises of workloads from five distinct applications:
- The Blender workload measures system performance for content creation using the open-source Blender application. Tests include rendering of scenes of varying complexity using the OpenGL and ray-tracing renderers.
- The Handbrake workload uses the open-source Handbrake application to transcode a 4K H.264 file into a H.265 file at 4K and 2K resolutions using the CPU capabilities alone.
- The LuxRender workload benchmarks the LuxCore physically based renderer using LuxMark.
- The Maya workload uses the SPECviewperf 13 maya-05 viewset to replay traces generated using the Autodesk Maya 2017 application for 3D animation.
- The 3ds Max workload uses the SPECviewperf 13 3dsmax-06 viewset to replay traces generated by Autodesk's 3ds Max 2016 using the default Nitrous DX11 driver. The workload represents system usage for 3D modeling tasks.
Some of the workload components above rely on the GPU capabilities. The RX 6400 is not in the same league as the RTX 2070 and the like. So, it is no surprise that there is a significant performance gulf. However, the pricing aspect and power consumption numbers are hugely in favor of the DeskMeet B660. In the end, the consumer gets the performance that one pays for. In the DeskMeet B660 it is a matter of choosing the right discrete GPU for the intended application.
The Product Development category comprises of eight distinct workloads:
- The Rodinia (CFD) workload benchmarks a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) algorithm.
- The WPCcfd workload benchmarks another CFD algorithm involving combustion and turbulence modeling.
- The CalculiX workload uses the Calculix finite-element analysis program to model a jet engine turbine's internal temperature.
- The Catia workload uses the catia-05 viewset from SPECviewperf 13 to replay traces generated by Dassault Systemes' CATIA V6 R2012 3D CAD application.
- The Creo workload uses the creo-02 viewset from SPECviewperf 13 to replay traces generated by PTC's Creo, a 3D CAD application.
- The NX workload uses the snx-03 viewset from SPECviewperf 13 to replay traces generated by the Siemens PLM NX 8.0 CAD/CAM/CAE application.
- The Solidworks workload uses the sw-04 viewset from SPECviewperf 13 to replay traces generated by Dassault Systemes' SolidWorks 2013 SP1 CAD/CAE application.
- The Showcase workload uses the showcase-02 viewset from SPECviewperf 13 to replay traces from Autodesk???s Showcase 2013 3D visualization and presentation application
This category includes some GPU-centric workloads also, and the pattern seen in the 'Media and Entertainment' category repeats here.
The Life Sciences category comprises of four distinct test sets:
- The LAMMPS set comprises of five tests simulating different molecular properties using the LAMMPS molecular dynamics simulator.
- The NAMD set comprises of three tests simulating different molecular interactions.
- The Rodinia (Life Sciences) set comprises of four tests - the Heartwall medical imaging algorithm, the Lavamd algorithm for calculation of particle potential and relocation in a 3D space due to mutual forces, the Hotspot algorithm to estimate processor temperature with thermal simulations, and the SRAD anisotropic diffusion algorithm for denoising.
- The Medical workload uses the medical-02 viewset from SPECviewperf 13 to determine system performance for the Tuvok rendering core in the ImageVis3D volume visualization program.
This category includes only one GPU-centric workload, and this helps the DeskMeet B660 recover some lost ground to slot itself in the middle of the pack - an ordering that one would expect given the relative performance numbers of the different CPUs.
The Financial Services workload set benchmarks the system for three popular algorithms used in the financial services industry - the Monte Carlo probability simulation for risk assessment and forecast modeling, the Black-Scholes pricing model, and the Binomial Options pricing model.
All workloads in this set are purely CPU-bound, and the systems order themselves based on their CPU's performance.
The Energy category comprises of workloads simulating various algorithms used in the oil and gas industry:
- The FFTW workload computes discrete Fourier transforms of large matrices.
- The Convolution workload computes the convolution of a random 100x100 filter on a 400 megapixel image.
- The SRMP workload processes the Surface-Related Multiples Prediction algorithm used in seismic data processing.
- The Kirchhoff Migration workload processes an algorithm to calculate the back propogation of a seismic wavefield.
- The Poisson workload takes advantage of the OpenMP multi-processing framework to solve the Poisson's equation.
- The Energy workload uses the energy-02 viewset from SPECviewperf 13 to determine system performance for the open-source OPendTec seismic visualization application.
Similar to the 'Life Sciences' set, this category includes only one GPU-centric workload. It helps the DeskMeet B660 recover some lost ground to slot itself in the middle of the pack - an ordering that one would expect given the relative performance numbers of the different CPUs.
In the General Options category, the focus is on workloads from widely used applications in the workstation market:
- The 7zip workload represents compression and decompression operations using the open-source 7zip file archiver program.
- The Python workload benchmarks math operations using the numpy and scipy libraries along with other Python features.
- The Octave workload performs math operations using the Octave programming language used in scientific computing.
- The Storage workload evaluates the performance of the underlying storage device using transaction traces from multiple workstation applications.
Ordinarily, we would expect this CPU-heavy workloads set to have the DeskMeet B660 in the middle of the graph. However, the storage subsystem drags down the position of the system significantly - an aspect that becomes evident on perusal of the detailed benchmark report linked earlier.
In the GPU Compute category, the focus is on workloads taking advantage of the GPU compute capabilities using either OpenCL or CUDA, as applicable:
- The LuxRender benchmark is the same as the one seen in the media and entertainment category.
- The Caffe benchmark measures the performance of the Caffe deep-learning framework.
- The Folding@Home benchmark measures the performance of the system for distributed computing workloads focused on tasks such as protein folding and drug design.
We only process the OpenCL variants of the benchmark, as the CUDA version doesn't process correctly with default driver installs.
The relative ordering in this benchmark set is reflective of the GPU capabilities. As expected, the low-power RX 6400 can't match the performance numbers of the RTX 2070 and better GPUs.
SPECviewperf 2020 v3.0
The SPECviewperf 2020 v3 benchmark from SPEC provides an idea of the capabilities of the GPU in a workstation from the perspective of different CAD, content creation, and visual data analysis tools. It makes more sense to process these benchmarks on workstations with professional GPUs, but, consumer GPUs are often the choice for machines that need to handle both gaming and professional workloads.
SPECviewperf 2020 v3 includes eight different workloads representative of graphics content and behavior of actual applications. They make use of the OpenGL 4.5 and DirectX 12 APIs under Windows. SPECviewperf 2020 v3's workloads (termed viewsets) can officially be run only at two desktop resolutions (1920 x 1080, and 3840 x 2160), and need the display scaling to be set to 100% (DPI of 96). The available viewsets are listed below.
- 3ds Max (3dsmax-07)
- CATIA (catia-06)
- Creo (creo-03)
- Energy (energy-03)
- Maya (maya-06)
- Medical (medical-03)
- Siemens NX (snx-04)
- Solidworks (sw-07)
A minimum VRAM of 4GB is required for the Solidworks viewset. We processed SPECviewperf 2020 v3 at both resolutions on the ASRock DeskMeet B660. The benchmark measures the frame rate at which the GPU renders the scenes in a viewset. Each viewset is composed of different scenes and rendering modes, and the composite score for the viewset is a weighted geometric mean of the FPS measured for the different scenes. Official benchmark results generated automatically by the benchmark itself are linked in the table below for the systems being compared.
|SPECviewperf 2020 v3 Official Results|
|ASRock DeskMeet B660||2K||4K|
|Intel NUC13RNGi9 (Raptor Canyon)||2K||4K|
|Intel NUC11BTMi9 (Beast Canyon)||2K||4K|
|Intel NUC9i9QNX (Ghost Canyon)||2K||4K|
|Intel NUC12DCMi9 (Dragon Canyon)||2K||4K|
In the remainder of this section, we take a look at how its composite scores stack up against other systems targeting this market segment.
3ds Max (3dsmax-07)
The 3dsmax-06 viewset comprises of 11 different scenes. They have been created from traces of the graphics workload generated by Autodesk 3ds Max 2016 using the default Nitrous DX11 driver. Additional details are available here.
The catia-06 viewset comprises of 8 different tests created from traces of the graphics workload generated by the CATIA V5 and 3D EXPERIENCE CATIA applications from Dassault Systemes. Additional details are available here.
The creo-03 viewset comprises of 13 different tests created from traces of the graphics workload generated by PTC's Creo 4 application. Additional details are available here.
The energy-03 viewset comprises of 6 different tests based on techniques used by the OpendTect seismic visualization application. Additional details are available here.
The maya-06 viewset comprises of 10 different tests based on traces of the graphics workload generated by Autodesk Maya 2017. Additional details are available here.
The medical-03 viewset comprises of 10 different tests derived from 5 distinct datasets to evaluate the performance for volume rendering techniques such as slice rendering and raycasting using the Tuvok visualization library. Additional details are available here.
Siemens NX (snx-04)
The snx-04 viewset comprises of 10 tests created with traces from the graphics workload generated by the NX 8.0 application from Siemens PLM. Additional details are available here.
The sw-07 viewset comprises of 10 tests created from traces of Dassault Systemes SolidWorks 2020 application.
The only surprising aspects in these results are the huge lead for the RX 6400 in the Siemens NX workload - NVIDIA's gaming GPU drivers are heavily gimped from the perspective of this workload, and one requires the Quadro cards to get numbers reflective of their true performance. This is not the case for the AMD gaming cards, though. The other workload is Solidworks - it requires more than 4GB of VRAM for proper completion of the benchmark component. Since the RX 6400 has only 4GB of VRAM, it doesn't obtain a score for that component.