Motorola Moto G (3rd gen) Review

GPU And Gaming Performance

Mobile GPU performance is becoming increasingly important as people begin to see their phones and tablets as portable gaming machines. This section explores GPU performance with several synthetic and real-world game engine tests. To learn more about how these benchmarks work, what versions we use, or our testing methodology, please read our article about how we test mobile device GPU performance.

Both the Moto G (3rd gen) and Moto E (2nd gen) use an Adreno 306 GPU clocked at 400MHz. The previous version of the Moto G uses an Adreno 305 GPU clocked at 450MHz. It’s unclear what architectural differences exist between these two GPUs, if any at all, but the 12.5% higher max frequency might give the older Moto G an advantage.

The NUU Z8’s Mali-T760 GPU is about 2.6x faster than the Moto G (3rd gen) in the graphics test. The Adreno 405 GPU in the Xperia M4 Aqua also shows more than twice the graphics performance as the Moto G. As predicted, the Adreno 305’s max clock speed advantage gives it a slight edge in graphics performance over the Adreno 306 in the Moto G (3rd gen).

The Physics test shows the Moto G (3rd gen) with a 30% advantage over the previous generation Moto G. Considering the Physics test is based on the performance of the CPU, this sort of delta was expected based on the previous CPU tests.

The GPUs in the two more expensive phones again show a significant overall performance advantage. It appears that the Adreno 306 in the Moto G (3rd gen) is a slight downgrade from the older Moto G’s GPU, which scores 11.3% higher overall, a value that happens to be very close to its clock speed advantage.

Moving to the high-quality test shows that none of these devices handle Basemark X well at 1080p. What’s interesting here, however, is that the Adreno 305’s clock speed advantage is nullified by the older Moto G’s limited memory bandwidth, allowing both the Moto G (3rd gen) and Moto E (2nd gen) to jump ahead in offscreen performance. The finishing order in the onscreen test gets shuffled a bit due to the different display resolutions.

The GFXBench Manhattan test is an OpenGL ES 3.0 game simulation that uses many of the advanced effects seen in modern games. It should be clear by now that neither the latest Moto E nor Moto G are gaming powerhouses. The Mali-T760 GPU in the NUU Z8 outperforms the Moto G by a factor of three in the offscreen test.

In T-Rex, which is an OpenGL ES 2.0 game simulation that eschews deferred rendering for post-processing effects such as motion blur, parallax mapping, planar reflections, specular highlights, and soft shadows, the Mali-T760 in the Z8 maintains its 3x performance advantage in the offscreen test, while the Adreno 405 is more than twice as fast. The third-generation Moto G’s older sibling also holds onto its slim lead thanks to its higher clock frequency.

The GFXBench Alpha Blending test stresses memory bandwidth and rasterization. It’s no surprise then that the third-generation Moto G pulls ahead of the other Moto devices once again. What’s significant here is that the Moto G (3rd gen) performs better than the NUU Z8 in this test. This suggests that the Adreno GPU in the Moto G might actually have more ROPs than the Mali-T760 in the Z8.

Qualcomm’s Adreno GPUs are the current king in ALU performance. The Sony’s Adreno 405 GPU flexes its compute muscles and powers ahead of the Z8. The Moto G (3rd gen) closes the gap some with the Z8 but still falls far behind. There does not appear to be any difference in the number of ALUs between the Adreno 305 and 306 since the second-generation Moto G pulls ahead of the newer model by virtue of the difference in clock frequency.

What all of these tests are showing is that GPUs that can now be found in higher-priced mid-range devices, such as the Adreno 405 found inside the Snapdragon 615 or the Mali-T760, easily have double or triple the gaming performance of the latest Moto G. Although Adreno 305/306 may have been more appropriate for last year’s mid-range devices, it feels like this year the new Moto G should’ve gotten a bigger graphics boost.

For now, the Moto G (3rd gen) plays many of the latest 3D games alright, including Modern Combat 5: Blackout, Real Racing 3, Dead Trigger 2, and Marvel Contest of Champions. There are some hiccups in the heaviest animations and game scenes, though.

These days, developers can optimize their games for low-end hardware by splitting it into multiple versions, making it easy to remove certain graphics features for less-powerful hardware. So even if the Moto G (3rd gen) can play a game, you may be missing out on some of the features and realism from the fully-enabled version.

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  • utroz
    Not bad for a relatively cheap phone..
  • InvalidError
    Yay, one more seemingly decent ~$200 phone that isn't Asia-only.
  • MasterWandu
    Just got the 16GB phone. Best value for money phone I have ever owned. Cannot believe the quality / specs at the price point. It's about as quick / specc'ed as my Nexus 4 that it replaces, but it trumps the Nexus 4 with it's expandable memory and 4G/LTE capabilities. Couldn't recommend it more!
  • gangrel
    I don't game on my phone, so that's never been an issue for me. I do note that app install speeds are very good; download speed I can't really say, as I do all of that on wifi, not cell. I'm quite happy with it.
  • RCFProd
    Had to choose the even cheaper Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 over this one.
  • Glock24
    Why is the ZenFone 2 listed in the specs / comparison table , but not on benchmarks? It's $20 cheaper than the Moto G 16GB/2GB
  • MattBoothDev
    Only issue is it released a couple of months ago, but isn't getting Marshmallow. Bit poor, that.
  • RCFProd
    2118962 said:
    Only issue is it released a couple of months ago, but isn't getting Marshmallow. Bit poor, that.


    it is getting Marshmallow no?
    http://www.androidstandard.com/android-m-will-hit-moto-g-3rd-gen-and-2nd-gen-in-this-fall/
  • ZolaIII
    Not impressed. There are similar spec Chinese phone's with more than 2x lower price like for instance Elephane Trunk. I know it's weird Elephone made a decent phone but strange things happen. As much as Motorola got a developer community and long suport it's not worth 2+x.
  • MobileEditor
    Quote:
    Why is the ZenFone 2 listed in the specs / comparison table , but not on benchmarks? It's $20 cheaper than the Moto G 16GB/2GB


    There are two different versions of the ZenFone 2 (well more if you count the special editions). The less expensive version is shown in the spec table since it's closer in price to the Moto G. We only tested the more expensive version with a faster SoC, so that's why it's not in the benchmark charts. Plus, we already included the more expensive/faster Z8 as the upper bound in the charts. I figured this was more relevant, since it has a more common SoC configuration.

    - Matt Humrick, Mobile Editor, Tom's Hardware
  • gangrel
    How many of those Chinese phones are available outside Asia? And what else are you sacrificing with them?

    One major advantage of the Motorola phones is *minimal* add-ons, and most of em aren't intrusive at all. I don't like most skins. Another point: I have high confidence that Motorola will release security patches very quickly. I have no confidence that some budget Chinese maker will put ANY effort into this.
  • InvalidError
    764133 said:
    I have high confidence that Motorola will release security patches very quickly. I have no confidence that some budget Chinese maker will put ANY effort into this.

    No need to look at no-name brands either: Acer has a poor reputation with dropping firmware updates for their low-end devices merely months from launch.
  • ZolaIII
    764133 said:
    How many of those Chinese phones are available outside Asia? And what else are you sacrificing with them? One major advantage of the Motorola phones is *minimal* add-ons, and most of em aren't intrusive at all. I don't like most skins. Another point: I have high confidence that Motorola will release security patches very quickly. I have no confidence that some budget Chinese maker will put ANY effort into this.

    Not much but hire is one & from Chinese firm behind it that is known for regular updates. It's currently available only in Asian Pacific region but Alcatel is officially present in much more (especially EU) countries than Motorola so it's expected that it arrives & on other markets. By all means it's not perfect but it beats Moto G 3rd gen in lot aspects that are important by the view of general users.

    As I don't want to advertise anyone I will mention only manufacturer & product name so if you are interested in more details browse & particularly pay attention to user opinions & review about it.

    It's Alcatel Flash 2.
  • cypeq
    Moto continues to stomp the market with budget offering that leaves 600$ phones with big question mark near 'why bother'.
  • RCFProd
    309074 said:
    Moto continues to stomp the market with budget offering that leaves 600$ phones with big question mark near 'why bother'.


    As a former 2nd Gen Moto G owner I'd say It's far from that situation.
  • kaalus
    The biggest problem with this phone is poor screen resolution. 5" screen with 720p is way too low. Get a Nexus 5 instead (still available through eBay). It's cheaper. It's smaller with a proper screen. Has no SD card or waterproofing though. But has a faster CPU and already runs Marshmallow.
  • gangrel
    Alcatel Flash 2 is Asian market, and has limited LTE bands...questionable whether it'd work in the US.
  • InvalidError
    173767 said:
    The biggest problem with this phone is poor screen resolution. 5" screen with 720p is way too low.

    720p on a 5" display is already 293ppi, high enough that most people won't really notice resolution any higher than that unless they specifically look for differences. It may seem "way too low" for marketing purposes but as far as real-world usability is concerned, it is perfectly fine for an almost entry-level device.

    Personally, the lack of an SD slot on Nexus devices is a much bigger deal-breaker.
  • DbD2
    Quote:
    How many of those Chinese phones are available outside Asia? And what else are you sacrificing with them? One major advantage of the Motorola phones is *minimal* add-ons, and most of em aren't intrusive at all. I don't like most skins. Another point: I have high confidence that Motorola will release security patches very quickly. I have no confidence that some budget Chinese maker will put ANY effort into this.


    You can buy them all on amazon, they don't generally come with much bloat, and you get twice the phone the current moto g gives you. The main place you suffer is android updates. Imo this latest moto g is still not what the first one was. When that came out it combined what was at the time mid range hardware/screen/etc at a significantly lower price. Now it's distinctly low end with it's low res screen and slow processor.
  • RCFProd
    The 1GB RAM was actually a big issue with the Moto G 2014. It was actually quite slow. Has this been fixed with the new 1GB RAM 2015 model?
  • MobileEditor
    Quote:
    The 1GB RAM was actually a big issue with the Moto G 2014. It was actually quite slow. Has this been fixed with the new 1GB RAM 2015 model?


    As shown on page 7 of the review, the new Moto G has significantly more memory bandwidth than the previous model, in addition to better CPU performance. So no, memory speed is not an issue like it was before.

    - Matt Humrick, Mobile Editor, Tom's Hardware
  • RCFProd
    Actually looks very solid. I love the phone's design even more this year aswell. It's worth considering over the Xiaomi Redmi Note 2, because the support for the phone is simply very very good.
  • RealityOfIt
    Motorola does not sell the XT1548 on their web site and it is not for sale unless through a carrier or service provider. Even though they advertise it as "unlocked". This article should have made this information clear to the readers.
  • RCFProd
    I bought one since I've become a big fan of Motorola since Google took over. The phone runs decent enough, the Android stock experience is beautiful and the phone's design is great and very well built.

    I'm scared because Motorola has been making solid phones but they're not making profit so Google sold them to Lenovo. It's sad when absolutely great phones go unnoticed by the majority because of the Samsung and Apple hierarchy. Hate the fact Motorola is no part of Google anymore. Hopefully Lenovo has great plans with Moto.