Teardown and Thermal Design Analysis

Systems processed through our evaluation routine are first completely benchmarked prior to any teardowns. This ensures that we do not negatively impact any of the thermal solutions intended by the manufacturer. The details presented in this section were gathered after completing at least one benchmarking pass. However, the results of the evaluation (presented in later sections) needs significant thermal design context. Keeping that in mind, we opt to present the teardown and thermal design analysis ahead of the benchmark sections.


The chassis of the ECS LIVA Z3 has a metal underside and a polycarbonate top. It is simple to disassemble - the underside is easily removed by taking out the four screws at the corners. This also needs to be done to get access to the SODIMM and M.2 2280 NVMe slots. The metal underside has a pre-mounted thermal pad to cool down any installed M.2 drive. There is also a small flap integrated on to the plate to allow for airflow.

The board has no additional mounting to the plastic top, and can be easily prised out by flexing the rear panel. Prior to that the DMICs connection to the board and the pigtail antennae connected to the M.2 WLAN card need to be disconnected.

The metallic glint on the underside of the top panel of the chassis above is highly misleading. The plastic top is completely covered and the only ventilation slots are on the sides. While the heat sink place on top of the board seems good enough to cool down a 6W TDP processor, the absence of ventilation slots on top appears strange at first glance. The closed nature makes convective cooling to draw the heat away from the thermal module challenging.

The Jasper Lake package can be seen bathed in thermal paste under the thermal module. Though Intel claims Jasper Lake to be a SoC (system-on-chip) in its documentation, we can see that it is technically a SiP (system-in-package) with two distinct dice - the processor and iGPU on top, and the Jasper Point PCH below it.

The first benchmarking pass results of the ECS LIVA Z3 were quite strange - often the system actually performed significantly worse than the ECS LIVA Z2 based on Gemini Lake. After suspecting thermal throttling due to the lack of convective cooling for the thermal module, we decided to repeat all the benchmarking for the bare board - i.e, with the top of the chassis removed and the DMICs / WLAN functionality discarded. The numbers for this configuration are referenced using ECS JSLM-MINI (the motherboard's model name) in the relevant sections.


ZOTAC adopts a tool-less design, with the rubber feet doubling up as screws. They can be easily removed to access the underside of the board with the SODIMM slots and 2.5" SATA drive bay.

Further disassembly requires voiding the warranty by unscrewing the metal frame that holds the SATA caddy in place along with the motherboard standoffs. The standoffs themselves need to be removed using an uncommon screwdriver bit (thankfully, had it handy in the Mushkin Redline Screwdriver Toolkit).

The rear panel can then be snapped off (held by plastic tabs). The next step involves taking out the spring-loaded screws fastening the board to the heat sink, and this leads to a free board, as shown above.

The heat sink is connected to the perforated plastic chassis using four small screws. which are straightforward to take out. The heat sink is quite heavy compared to the ECS LIVA Z3's thermal module. It has ridges right under the perforations - this allows increased area for heat dissipation, and the perforations allow for convective cooling.

Our main grouse with the thermal design of the ZBOX CI331 nano is the cooling support for the 2.5" drive. Typically, SATA drives do not get significantly hot. However, the underside of the ZBOX has almost no ventilation support. While a quantitative evaluation of the storage cooling mechanism is available in a later section, the problem in the hardware is brought out in the above picture. The green thermal pad attached to the raised block on the underside cools down the SODIMMs. The protection for the SATA drive is activated by affixing the thermal pad supplied in the package to the metal plate on the underside. However, it doesn't possess enough thickness and there is invariably an air gap between the top of the SATA drive surface and this pad. As a result, there is a bit of a compromise in the cooling for the 2.5" drive.

In the next section, we take a look at the system setup and follow it up with a detailed platform analysis.

Introduction and Product Impressions Setup Notes and Platform Analysis
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  • mode_13h - Saturday, July 9, 2022 - link

    > tldr both benches would have been a wash one way of the other.

    Huh? If old Skylake is 50% faster, and Jasper Lake is 3.5x as fast as Pi 4 Model B (which seems rather generous), then it wouldn't be "a wash", which is defined as:

    13. an action or situation in which the gains and losses are
    equal, or closely compensate each other.
    (source: http://dict.org/bin/Dict?Form=Dict2&Database=g... )


    8: any enterprise in which losses and gains cancel out; "at the
    end of the year the accounting department showed that it was
    a wash"
    (source: http://dict.org/bin/Dict?Form=Dict2&Database=w... )

    Since both comparisons are projected to be substantially lopsided, I think what you meant to call it is a "washout"?
  • abufrejoval - Thursday, July 14, 2022 - link

    I have a PI4 with 8GB of RAM in a metal case that supports a 2GHz overclock without active cooling: pretty much the best PI you can have these days.

    I also have an Nvidia Tegra based Jetson Nano with 4GB of RAM.

    At 2GHz the PI reaches 272/648 on Geekbench 4, the Tegra has to make do with 206/718 at 1.4GHz. The N6005 Jasper Lake reaches 781/2540 very similar to a Sandy Bridge i7-2600 at 3.8GHz Turbo.

    The Jetson Nano actually does reasonably well on my 43" 4k desktop for basic 2D work, because it has a GPU with 128 Maxwell cores. Of course its CPU power is at the level of a Snapdragon 800 mobile phone.

    The PI struggles badly at 4k, because the GPU has much less muscle. The slightly faster CPU is hard to notice.

    Actually it was when Tom's hardware did a report on a PI compute cluster, that I wanted to retort just how stupid that project was, because you could get a single Jasper Lake Atoms for much less money, that would run rings around that cluster and could in fact simulate it all in software via VMs.

    And that's when I found that finally a Jasper Lake NUC was available for purchase at €200 (including VAT) and immediately ordered one of the first and last ever sold here.

    And yes, it runs rings around both with roughly 4x the CPU power, 64GB of RAM expandability and quite a reasonable GPU performance on a 4k display.

    My favorite usability test is to use the "3D Globe View" on Google Maps under a Chrome based browser on Windows and to then tilt and turn a city landscape there. It's about the most efficient 3D graphics pipeline I've ever seen (puts Flight Simulator to total shame!) and performs quite reasonable on such a Jasper Lake NUC. With Firefox it's much worse on these low power devices, but with a beefy PC you'd never notice.

    After quite a bit of tweaking I managed to get it to work on both the PI and the Tegra at 1920x1080 and the Tegra even gave a bit of interactivity thanks to its much stronger GPU. But on the PI that was about one frame a minute.

    The PI and Nano are toys and ok for the €100 I spent on each.

    A Jasper Lake NUC is quite a reasonable desktop machine and even an interesting micro server for some real workloads.

    At €200 (without RAM or storage) the price/performance ratio is very hard to beat, but evidently none of the vendors really want you to know or buy that. I think it's the major reason you never could.
  • mode_13h - Thursday, July 14, 2022 - link

    > At 2GHz the PI reaches 272/648 on Geekbench 4, the Tegra ... 206/718 at 1.4GHz.

    Keep in mind that Jetson Nano has ostensibly 2x the memory bandwidth of the Pi v4. That surely helps offset the difference in raw CPU performance, as well as with 4k display performance.

    Oh, and if that test was with the machines driving a 4k display, then merely refreshing your monitor will have been using a non-insignificant amount of the Pi's memory bandwidth (about 1 GB/s).

    > N6005 Jasper Lake reaches 781/2540

    Wow! Dual-channel memory configuration, I presume?

    > on the PI that was about one frame a minute.

    Uh... that sure sounds like you were using a software rendering path. The Pi's GPU is trash, but that's simply atrocious!

    > evidently none of the vendors really want you to know or buy that.
    > I think it's the major reason you never could.

    I'm reasonably confident it's actually just supply chain-related. Intel has been steering its limited fab capacity towards more profitable models and probably steering its limited supply of Jasper Lakes to chromebooks, where they're probably desperate not to lose market share.
  • timecop1818 - Friday, July 8, 2022 - link

    There are Chinese mini PCs with
    Intel Celeron N5100 that are like 250$ with 16G ram and 256gb sata SSD.


    there's like 5 different "brands" selling same thing on AliExpress etc. it runs win 10 just fine and is enough for 1080p Minecraft and basic office computing. great deal. most models have Intel 2.5G Ethernet too.
  • Jorgp2 - Friday, July 8, 2022 - link

    I just want a Jasper lake motherboard with plenty of sata and a PCI-E slot
  • mode_13h - Friday, July 8, 2022 - link

    You could get SATA, but not PCIe. According to this, Jasper Lake and Elkhart Lake have only x8 PCIe 3.0 and x2 SATA ports.

    Most boards are probably going to give you a x4 NVMe slot. Then, they could use a 3rd Party SATA controller to give you 4 more ports. Then, if they compromise on the bandwidth to that SATA controller, you can have a second Ethernet port and then a x1 PCIe slot that just might be open-ended (but probably not), to support a graphics card.

    Sorry, but they really kneecapped this platform relative to what it could've been. You might do better with some equivalent Atom-branded CPUs. Atom C-series (Parker Ridge) has 16 integrated SATA ports, x32 PCIe 3.0 lanes, and up to 8 cores. P-series (Snow Ridge) has the same, but up to 24 cores.

    * https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ark/produc...
    * https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ark/produc...
  • mode_13h - Friday, July 8, 2022 - link

    Oops, forgot the link for Jasper Lake. For good measure, here's Elkhart Lake, as well.

    * https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ark/produc...
    * https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ark/produc...
  • Thala - Friday, July 8, 2022 - link

    Interestingly my 3 years old Surface Pro X scores higher than any of the tested devices in Cinebench R23 under x64 emulation!
  • mode_13h - Saturday, July 9, 2022 - link

    The Surface Pro X from 2019 has a Microsoft SQ1 SoC, which is basically a Snapdragon 8cx and consists of 4x Kryo 495 Gold @ 3 GHz+ 4x Kryo 495 Silver @ 1.80 GHz (manufactured on TSMC 7 nm). According to wikichip, these are tweaked A76 and A55 cores. So, that seems credible, if not exactly an outcome I'd have presumed.

    Something to keep in mind is that Jasper Lake is meant cheap chromebooks. Like, sub-$200 cheap, whereas Snapdragon 8cx is a premium part.
  • nandnandnand - Saturday, July 9, 2022 - link

    They wanted it to be thought of as premium, it's more of an expensive joke. Like Lakefield but with no excuses.



    Snapdragon 7c (Gen 1?) should be more comparable in price to Jasper Lake. I think I've seen that as low as $170-200. Also, the Apcsilmic Dot 1 and ECS LIVA Mini Box QC710 mini PCs recently launched with the 7c starting at around $219.

    If the leaks about Alder Lake-N are true, it will shake things up, if the price is right.

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