The moment of truth
The Magnus EN1070's box says "Mini PC or gaming powerhouse? Why not both?" I wanted to put that statement to the test. To tease out any weaknesses in the machine, I chose to benchmark with one title that hits the CPU hard and then one that would load up the graphics card. To that end, I picked out Grand Theft Auto V for CPU-intensive testing and the 2016 version of Doom for a primarily graphics-card-bound game. I tested both games with the fans at stock settings and with the "full speed" option from the system's firmware to see whether this box is thermally limited. I also gathered some subjective impressions from Overwatch, Dark Souls III, and Warframe.
When I think of gorgeous games right now, id Software's latest Doom title is the very first thing that comes to mind. While legendary graphics programmer John Carmack is no longer at the helm there, his shoes have been filled by the extremely capable Tiago Sousa, previously the graphics R&D lead at Crytek. Tiago and team's stellar work has resulted in a game that looks incredible when it's cranked, but remains playable even on meager hardware. Fortunately for us, the hardware on the bench today isn't exactly "meager."
Doom is absolutely stunning with the settings turned up, and that's how I tested it: with every single setting slammed to the ceiling at 2560x1440. I stuck with OpenGL API for the EN1070, as our previous testing has shown that Vulkan doesn't help Nvidia graphics cards much. For my testing, I played through an easily-repeatable 60-second portion at the beginning of the third level ("Foundry") while recording frametimes with PresentMon.
Not a bad showing for the little box that could. Even with Doom cranked up all the way, the EN1070 pumps out over 80 FPS on average. Moreover, the frame-time plot and 99th-percentile frame times above show that frame delivery is quite smooth. Playing Doom at these settings on the Magnus EN1070 is nothing less than a joy. Notably, while cranking up the fans all the way didn't do much for the average FPS, it seems to have improved the worst-case performance (as measured by the 99th-percentile frame time) slightly. It also increased the amount of noise the machine made under load, but I'll get to that later.
I carefully monitored CPU and GPU usage while informally benchmarking Doom, as well. The game spread its CPU load evenly across the Core i5's four cores, and none of them were consistently maxed out. That's because the GPU was constantly power-limited, according to GPU-Z's monitoring window. The mobile GeForce's clock rate varied a lot—as GPUs do, these days—but it mostly stayed around 1350 MHz. That's below the GPU's base clock and well below the specified boost clock.
If you're just joining us here at The Tech Report, you might be confused about this business immediately above. The "time spent beyond X" graphs tell you how much real time our test system spent rendering frames that took longer than 16.7ms, 8.3ms, and so on. 8.3ms corresponds to a framerate of 120 FPS, 16.7ms is roughly 60 FPS, 33.3ms is roughly 30 FPS, and 50ms is 20 FPS. This gives us a good way to pick out stutters and hitches during gameplay. If you drop below 20 FPS during gameplay, even for a moment, it's going to cause a noticeable stutter, and our "time spent beyond" graphs aggregate that roughness.
We won't be using those 50-ms and 33.3-ms graphs here, though, because the EN1070's performance is quite solid in Doom. This system spent barely more than three-hundredths of a second under 60 FPS during our run, regardless of fan configuration. By my reckoning, that should satisfy all but the most demanding gamers. The game ran so well, in fact, that I tried to step the resolution up to 3840x2160. That was too much for the mobile GTX 1070, though. Frametimes lurched into the mid-40-ms range, with spikes over 50ms. That's sub-20-FPS territory on average, and that's not a good time in Doom.