Asus Transformer Prime TF201: A Tablet With A Higher Calling

Tegra 3's Graphics: Untapped Potential?

Graphics gets the priority here because gaming is one of Nvidia's foci. The company is best known for its work on GPUs, and we've seen some pretty phenomenal demos used to promote Tegra 3. Naturally, rich visuals were expected to be one of Asus' top selling points. And we'll warn you in advance: they are.

Although comparing benchmark results between Android-based tablets is easy enough, comparing dissimilar platforms is more challenging. Benchmarks are only able to yield accurate measurements when they're equally optimized for the environments under which they run.

As you can see in the following table, a few of the Transformer Prime's scores come close to the iPad 2 and 3. But for the most part, though, the numbers suggest that Nvidia trails its competition by a significant margin.

GLBenchmark 2.1.2
*native resolution
iPad 2
iPad 3
Kindle Fire
LePan II
Transformer Prime
GPU
PowerVR SGX543MP2
PowerVR SGX543MP4PowerVR
SGX540
Adreno 220
Tegra 3 (ULP GeForce)
Egypt Standard*
6661 frames (59 FPS)
6709 frames (59 FPS)
2847 frames (25 FPS)
3485 frames (31 FPS)
5388 frames (48 FPS)
Egypt Fixed Time Step*
47.598 s (59 FPS)
47.261 s (60 FPS)
116.138 s
112.659 s (25 FPS)
69.055 s (41 FPS)
Egypt Off Screen (720p)
10 146 frames (90 FPS)
15 663 frames (139 FPS)
2516 frames (22 FPS)
3603 frames (32 FPS)
6496 (58 FPS)
Pro Standard*
2962 frames (59 FPS)
2975 frames (60 FPS)
1981 frames (39 FPS)
2140 frames (43 FPS)
2726 frames (54 FPS)
Pro Fixed Time Step*
20.868 s (60 FPS)
20.857 s (60 FPS)
34.658 s
31.982 s (39 FPS)
24.189 s (52 FPS)
Pro Off Screen (720p)
7352 frames (147 FPS)
12546 frames (251 FPS)
2277 frames (46 FPS)
2332 frames (47 FPS)
3717 frames (74 FPS)


Because Apple only uses its own SoC in the iPad, we're forced to compare A5X under iOS to Tegra 3 in an Android-based environment. This means we have to trust that GLBenchmark's developers wrote code well-optimized for both platforms. Otherwise, the synthetic turns back unrepresentative results. Assuming GLBenchmark does run equally well on both architectures, Tegra 3 is quite a ways behind the A5’s SGX543MP2 and the A5X’s SGX543MP4. That's an oversimplification, though.

Nvidia’s ULP GeForce is based on technology derived from the company’s experience with desktop and professional GPUs, wherein power savings often take a backseat to performance. Although Nvidia successfully adapted its design to the embedded space, GeForce is still fundamentally different from PowerVR, Mali, and Adreno.

In order to push a performance-oriented piece of hardware, though, you need a demanding workload. Today's smartphone- and tablet-oriented games generally cannot be characterized as demanding. They're intended to run on a broad ecosystem of hardware. So, when it comes time to benchmark Tegra 3 against its competition, Nvidia argues that today's tests can't really tap into the platform's capabilities.

Non-Tegra 3 ArchitecturesNon-Tegra 3 Architectures

Tegra 3 OnlyTegra 3 Only

Since GLBenchmark doesn't give us any way to adjust texture quality, we can't rule out the possibility that a more taxing test might swing the scales in favor of Nvidia's design. Lacking better means to quantify performance, we're left to lean on real-world experiences in order to create more telling comparisons.

When we actually play through titles optimized for Tegra 3, the results are are impressive. Frame rate didn't seem to change after switching from the basic and advanced graphics modes (indicating that there is no graphics hardware bottleneck). However, the change in graphics quality is indisputable. Riptide, pictured above, is clearly written to show off Nvidia's hardware.

iPad 3 (A5X) vs Transformer Prime (Tegra 3): Graphics Performance

In the video, we have Riptide running side-by-side on two Transformer Prime tablets. On the left, the graphics are in basic mode, while the right tablet has all of the bells and whistles enabled. As you can see, additional effects do not impact the frame rate at all, and both systems run smoothly.

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47 comments
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    Top Comments
  • cangelini
    Anonymous said:
    Is this a joke? Wait for the new iPad to come out and then review the Transformer Prime? Why didn't you review it sooner? Did Asus miss a payment or did Apple give you a little extra to keep a lid on it?


    Because we didn't have it sooner.
    26
  • joytech22
    DjEaZymy point waz... prime is a nice thingy, but, if there are proprietary stuff on a open platform, like android... i don't believe, that Tegra can get some momentum without going open source... the question is... how big is the Tegra's market share on the android platform? ... and... is the market share for Tegra so big, that they can insist to use there proprietary things?...


    Ehh...? I have no idea what you are trying to get at.
    Is it your first time on the internet? :\
    20
  • joytech22
    I was thinking of getting this until I caught wind of the Transformer T701.
    I think the 1080p display is worth the wait.
    16
  • Other Comments
  • killerclick
    Is this a joke? Wait for the new iPad to come out and then review the Transformer Prime? Why didn't you review it sooner? Did Asus miss a payment or did Apple give you a little extra to keep a lid on it?
    -21
  • lancelot123
    Wake me when it is running Windows on a x86 CPU so I can install whatever I want for free.
    -22
  • cangelini
    Anonymous said:
    Is this a joke? Wait for the new iPad to come out and then review the Transformer Prime? Why didn't you review it sooner? Did Asus miss a payment or did Apple give you a little extra to keep a lid on it?


    Because we didn't have it sooner.
    26
  • joytech22
    I was thinking of getting this until I caught wind of the Transformer T701.
    I think the 1080p display is worth the wait.
    16
  • DjEaZy
    ... that thing with the splash effect... i do believe, that it iz a program issue... 3rd gen iPad haz power to burn... you can program some splashes... it's like M$ say, that, to play crysis and see the rays thru treas, you needed vista and DX 10... it turned out, that it waz a tweak, that enabled it on XP too... and i believe, if apple will implement some open standard of some physics engine, like Bullet Open Source Physics, all of the open standard devices will benefit, android and iOS alike... and nVidia physx will be not relevant... to program some separate android+nVidia version of a game? ...when there is many different android devices, that don't use Tegra? ... it could end for nVidia, like it ended for 3DFX with there glide engine... 3Dfx waz killed by OpenGL and DirectX... 3Dfx's Glide waz visually superior, but OpenGL and DirectX helped then ATi and nVidia to go multiplatform and to the masses...
    ... so, my point waz... prime is a nice thingy, but, if there are proprietary stuff on a open platform, like android... i don't believe, that Tegra can get some momentum without going open source... the question is... how big is the Tegra's market share on the android platform? ... and... is the market share for Tegra so big, that they can insist to use there proprietary things?...
    -17
  • Anonymous
    "While the Transformer Prime supports output over microHDMI, it cannot push 1080p through the wire" ...When using hardware decoding, Transformer Prime actually pushes true 1080p-video to the television (..while the tablets screen remains unused = black). As an owner of TF201, I can confirm this.
    4
  • mily
    U're bienvenida: D Gracias por venir a mi artículo .. Espero que lea mis otros artículos

    .. Me interesa conocer sus puntos de vista .. gracias :)
    Echo de menos los comentarios de Lippo durante el proceso de ruptura de la pared, no puedo

    creer que redujo el papel de Lippo como el
    camisetas hombre
    -10
  • joytech22
    DjEaZymy point waz... prime is a nice thingy, but, if there are proprietary stuff on a open platform, like android... i don't believe, that Tegra can get some momentum without going open source... the question is... how big is the Tegra's market share on the android platform? ... and... is the market share for Tegra so big, that they can insist to use there proprietary things?...


    Ehh...? I have no idea what you are trying to get at.
    Is it your first time on the internet? :\
    20
  • DjEaZy
    DjEaZy... that thing with the splash effect... i do believe, that it iz a program issue... 3rd gen iPad haz power to burn... you can program some splashes... it's like M$ say, that, to play crysis and see the rays thru treas, you needed vista and DX 10... it turned out, that it waz a tweak, that enabled it on XP too... and i believe, if apple will implement some open standard of some physics engine, like Bullet Open Source Physics, all of the open standard devices will benefit, android and iOS alike... and nVidia physx will be not relevant... to program some separate android+nVidia version of a game? ...when there is many different android devices, that don't use Tegra? ... it could end for nVidia, like it ended for 3DFX with there glide engine... 3Dfx waz killed by OpenGL and DirectX... 3Dfx's Glide waz visually superior, but OpenGL and DirectX helped then ATi and nVidia to go multiplatform and to the masses... ... so, my point waz... prime is a nice thingy, but, if there are proprietary stuff on a open platform, like android... i don't believe, that Tegra can get some momentum without going open source... the question is... how big is the Tegra's market share on the android platform? ... and... is the market share for Tegra so big, that they can insist to use there proprietary things?...

    joytech22Ehh...? I have no idea what you are trying to get at.Is it your first time on the internet? :\

    ... smoke some and you will get the full picture...
    -13
  • Anonymous
    In Italy Asus decided not to give the free dongle, because they say that it was selled as a localization system, and not a GPS, therefor, they will not help us improve our tablet experience. Since the prime doesn't have a 3G connectivity, I don't think the GPS is that important, also, a 10" GPS is quite annoying. I prefer to use the phone. Great review by the way. Although I don't trust benchmarka, nor asus ICS updates. At the biginning the wi-fi was working great, no overconsumption of power, now my battery drains in hours.
    0
  • razor512
    If you are going to use a tablet as more of a netbook then why not buy a netbook that will be faster, for significantly less money?

    Netbooks, and many notebooks have gotten compact to a point where if it isn't possible for you to have a notebook or netbook with you, then you wont be able to have a tablet either.

    I understand wanting to do more productivity related tasks, but for the cost, you can easily do something like buy a upper mid range notebook, or a cheaper netbook then use the left over money to buy a lower cost tablet such as the HP touchpad. (android development is going nicely, and it is fast enough to handle 1080p video and any other task and app smoothly, and when both cores overclocked 1.8GHz+ it offers general performance similar to the transformer prime (for CPU bound tasks, (remember very few programs can actually take advantage of a quad core CPU on an android device, they just weren't written that way)
    2
  • gaborbarla
    Well I got my tegra 3 Transformer Prime about a month ago, and updated it promptly to ICS 4.0.3.

    All was well. Then more recently there was a mysterious more recent firmware update and I applied it.

    Now my ASUS background had shooting stars and birds flying. Very beatiful. However, as it seems since this patch the Prime just became very unresponsive, browser scrolling was choppy and often tapping an icon or paging didnt respond the first time... Then I decided to uninstall some apps, but to no avail. A bit later I removed the ASUS animating background which I think is now way overdone (with a shooting star every 10 seconds) and VOALA it is smooth again like a well aged whiskey. How can ASUS not pick this up, or is it just my device?
    1
  • chesteracorgi
    Until there is cross platform integration of Android with a main OS on the desktop, be it Windows, IOS or Ubuntu, the Androids will be relegated to phones and toys for video. What might be a killer app/hardware combo would be a pad with Win 8 at $200. Until they OEMs come up with something that unifies phones/tablets/laptops/desktops there is no reason for most consumers to buy these expensive toys.
    2
  • lamorpa
    DjEaZy...i do believe, that it iz a ...

    az
    1
  • halcyon
    I had the Transformer Prime...in fact (and this is an account many of you have already heard)...I had 5 of them. They all had pixel defects (dead or bad pixels)...so apparently they all came from the same bad batch. I'm sure that was unique but at the time it really left a very sour taste in my mouth.

    The thing I really noticed about the Transformer Prime was how svelte it was. I never did anything to tap into the 4 cores of power really but it was fast. If it hadn't been for the screen issues I'd still have it...but I have to admit the 3rd Gen iPad that I subsequently replaced the Transformer Prime with hasn't left anything to be desired...for me any ways. I like the screen on the iPad better but that's probably just me.
    3
  • dvanburen
    If I spent this much on a tablet and had GPS issues I would be pissed. A dongle wouldn't cut it as it negates the while reason of owning a nice tablet: form factor and portability.

    It would also be nice if they would rate minimum brightness. This is important to some of us that use a tablet in bed after the wife (or significant other) is asleep.
    3
  • halcyon
    dvanburenIf I spent this much on a tablet and had GPS issues I would be pissed. A dongle wouldn't cut it as it negates the while reason of owning a nice tablet: form factor and portability.It would also be nice if they would rate minimum brightness. This is important to some of us that use a tablet in bed after the wife (or significant other) is asleep.

    Ssshhhh...it doesn't matter what might be wrong with the the Transformer Prime, the fact is, its not an Apple product...so its better. Do you understand now?
    -6
  • Anonymous
    I want a Medfield design.
    0
  • LordConrad
    wake me when the T701 review comes out...
    1
  • adampower
    dvanburenIf I spent this much on a tablet and had GPS issues I would be pissed. A dongle wouldn't cut it as it negates the while reason of owning a nice tablet: form factor and portability.


    I like the dongle. If I need to use the GPS I can plug it in. If I don't.. there's no Apple, Google, x-wife, anybody tracking my tablet.
    1