I recently had the chance to take most of my hardware offline so I could perform some overdue maintenance. Out of curiosity I conducted some benchmarks, just to see how the different boxes compare.

I thought I might share them with you in case you are looking for some computing resources. Also, this article serves as my external memory should I ever want to look up the results.

How to benchmark

Testing a system used to be tedious work, but now it is very simple to a) test a machine thoroughly and b) easily compare the results. I used the open source test suite Phoronix. It also produces a nice little report which I am going to show you later.

Dramatis machinae

The following computers tooks part in the little benchmark round:

HP Microserver N36L

Powered by a single AMD Athlon II Model NEO N36L with 2 cores running at 1.30 GHz and 1MB L2 it is the lowest powered machine I own and it is used as a small server that does little more than serving files.
In my configuration it uses 8 GB RAM and has 4 2GB HDs as a RAID-10 using software (mdadm) instead of dedicated hardware.
Tests ran on Debian Wheezy.

Zotac Zbox ID 91

Regular readers know I am quite fond of this little box as it is very capabale, small, and extremely quiet. The Intel Core i3 4130T (dual-core, 2.9 GHz) uses 16 GB RAM and a 500GB SSD (Samsung 840 Evo).
Tests ran on Debian Wheezy.

Hetzner EX40

Although technically it is not hardware I own this is my preferred web server as of now as it is affordable and yet has great specs. Powered by an 8 core Intel Core i7-4770 (3.40GHz) with 32 GB RAM it can easily serve all my projects and still idle around most days. Two 2 GB hard drives as a software RAID-1 store any and all data.
Tests ran on Debian Wheezy.

Lenovo TS-140

My biggest machine, it sports an E3-1245v3 (8 cores, 3.40GHz) with 16 GB RAM. Testing took place with two 500 GB hard drives attached to the onboard RAID chip (no RAID configured). Spec-wise it is closely related to the Hetzner EX40.
Tests ran on Ubuntu Server 14.04.

Test results

Depending on what tests you decide to let run, there are a lot of results and diagrams produced. This is only a subset of the full suite I ran with Phoronix.

As expected, the HP is the slowest of the bunch, but it does not need much energy and it is a true work horse. It is a great machine for serving files.
The Zbox ID 91 did quite well, considered it is basically a laptop which doesn’t cost all that much. The SSD surely helped giving it a slight edge in some cases. However, while the ID 91 is great for many development purposes where you need some (limited) power and no high-availability it cannot act as an actual server. Not even with the dual NIC setup.
Both the Hetzner EX40 and the TS-140 with an E3-1245v3 did a very good job. There are some cases, when the i7 from the EX40 had the upper hand, in some (less) cases the E3 took a minimal lead.

Apache Benchmark

Apache Benchmark v2.4.7

Java SciMark v2.0 (Composite)

LAME MP3 Encoding

PHPBench v0.8.1

SciMark v2.0

SQLite v3.7.3 (12,500 inserts)

Disk speeds

Measuring disk speeds on linux systems is very simple. You can use the built-in tools such as hdparm or dd for that.

HP N36L

Using hdparm:

stephan@hpn36l:/home/stephan# hdparm -Tt /dev/md0
/dev/md0:
 Timing cached reads:   2570 MB in  2.00 seconds = 1284.74 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 674 MB in  3.01 seconds = 224.11 MB/sec

Using dd:

stephan@hpn36l:/home/stephan# dd if=/dev/zero of=/mnt/raid/backstage/test bs=8k count=10k; rm -f /mnt/raid/backstage/test
10240+0 records in
10240+0 records out
83886080 bytes (84 MB) copied, 0.159614 s, 526 MB/s

Zbox ID 91

Using hdparm:

stephan@zboxid91:/home/stephan# hdparm -Tt /dev/sda
/dev/sda:
 Timing cached reads:   18106 MB in  1.99 seconds = 9090.72 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 1522 MB in  3.00 seconds = 507.33 MB/sec

Using dd:

stephan@zboxid91:/home/stephan# dd if=/dev/zero of=/tmp/test bs=8k count=10k; rm -f /tmp/test
10240+0 records in
10240+0 records out
83886080 bytes (84 MB) copied, 0.0545079 s, 1.5 GB/s

Hetzner EX40

Using hdparm:

stephan@ex40:/home/stephan# hdparm -Tt /dev/md2
/dev/md2:
 Timing cached reads:   31508 MB in  2.00 seconds = 15775.80 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 548 MB in  3.00 seconds = 182.57 MB/sec

Using dd:

stephan@ex40:/home/stephan# dd if=/dev/zero of=/tmp/test bs=8k count=10k; rm -f /tmp/test
10240+0 records in
10240+0 records out
83886080 bytes (84 MB) copied, 0.0403086 s, 2.1 GB/s

Lenovo TS-140

I made a change and added a hardware RAID-5 with 5 2 GB hard drives before running this test, so it cannot easily be compared to the above.

Using hdparm:

stephan@ts140:/home/stephan# hdparm -Tt /dev/sda
/dev/sda:
 Timing cached reads:   30590 MB in  2.00 seconds = 15311.44 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 1342 MB in  3.00 seconds = 446.86 MB/sec

Using dd:

stephan@ts140:/home/stephan# dd if=/dev/zero of=/tmp/test bs=8k count=10k; rm -f /tmp/test
10240+0 records in
10240+0 records out
83886080 bytes (84 MB) copied, 0.050394 s, 1.7 GB/s