Nexus 6 Performance With Android 5.1

GPU And Gaming Performance

The 5.1 update brings support for OpenGL ES 3.1 to the Nexus 6, which was missing from the initial 5.0 release. Beyond this, I could not find any other changes that should affect GPU performance.

GPU Benchmarks

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BenchmarkNexus 6Android 5.0Nexus 6Android 5.1Difference
3DMark: Ice Storm UnlimitedScore2361821253-10.01%
Basemark X: Medium QualityPerformance3031526339-13.12%
Dunes: Offscreen32.82 fps28.03 fps-14.61%
Dunes: Onscreen23.65 fps23.03 fps-2.64%
Hangar: Offscreen44.45 fps38.98 fps-12.31%
Hangar: Onscreen34.24 fps31.01 fps-9.43%
Basemark X: High QualityPerformance2082519178-7.91%
Dunes: Offscreen29.04 fps26.84 fps-7.59%
Dunes: Onscreen20.56 fps20.26 fps-1.46%
Hangar: Offscreen25.76 fps23.65 fps-8.17%
Hangar: Onscreen17.38 fps16.93 fps-2.59%
GFXBench 3.0Manhattan Offscreen17.0 fps18.4 fps8.89%
Manhattan Onscreen12.0 fps12.1 fps0.75%
T-Rex Offscreen37.0 fps39.1 fps5.47%
T-Rex Onscreen26.5 fps27.5 fps3.88%
Alpha Blending Offscreen10694 MB/s11344 MB/s6.08%
Alpha Blending Onscreen9281 MB/s9755 MB/s5.10%
ALU Offscreen140.5 fps141.5 fps0.75%
ALU Onscreen59.5 fps59.0 fps-0.06%
Driver Overhead Offscreen25.0 fps24 fps-3.28%
Driver Overhead Onscreen22.0 fps19.5 fps-11.01%
Fill Offscreen7334 MTexels/s7465 MTexels/s1.79%
Fill Onscreen8474 MTexels/s8490 MTexels/s0.19%
Render Quality: Standard2503 mB PSNR2503 mB PSNR0.00%
Render Quality: High Precision3633 mB PSNR3628 mB PSNR-0.14%

The 5.1 update on the Nexus 6 reduces 3DMark and Basemark X performance by up to 15%. Even though these tests primarily stress the GPU, the CPU still plays a supporting role. To understand this better, we logged CPU and GPU frequency while running Basemark X.

As expected, the GPU runs at its max frequency of 600MHz during each test segment regardless of OS version. With the initial Android 5.0 build, the Nexus 6 keeps two cores offline and the other two above the 1497MHz threshold most of the time and at least one core at max frequency fairly often. CPU behavior with the 5.1 update looks very different. No single core runs at max frequency for very long, with cores taking turns jumping from 300MHz to 2649MHz and back down again. There’s also several gaps where all four cores are sitting at 300MHz. Looking at the raw data also shows that only one or two CPU cores are above idle at any given time, so having all four cores online does not provide any performance advantage in this particular benchmark.

Things aren’t all bad, however, as we see small performance improvements in the GFXBench Manhattan, T-Rex, and Alpha Blending tests, indicating that some games will see an uptick in performance.

  • ZolaIII
    Just to point out how CPU clocking logic effect busses on Qualcomm SoCs. For instance if 1 core CPU frequency fell down under the minimum frequently than is tied to max bus frequency it will narrow & memory bandwidth & this will impact GPU performance badly under GPU intensive tasks. For me it looks like that on-demand scheduler is working more as it should under 5.1. Including patch sets from Linux kernel 3.12~3.21 (on demand to use more mid frequencies) should be just enough to address performance regressions still savings (even litle more) juice. They should really disable file encryption on any ARM V7 build. Switching to last stable GCC should increase user experience greatly, it's funny they still use 4.6. To address possible fluctuations & determine real impact of changes do the tests again with performance governor & disable MP decision (hot plug) for GPU tests.
  • zodiacfml
    Ouch. Glad I bought the N5 last year.
  • endeavour37a
    I have an old LG G2 and it does not even have filters :(
  • theusual
    Be sure to upgrade 'Android System WebView' through Google Play as well as for me it didn't upgrade automatically and was causing app issues.
  • Plyro109
    Sorry. Browser seems to be autofilling and submitting in every comment thread I visit.
  • Tracy Kohler
    Get that stupid bar off the top of my screen please! It takes up a whole INCH of screen space (and vertical space is LIMITED already on this wide CRAP they call monitors today).

    I guess I'll have to come up with a way to kill it and still be able to navigate, other than scrolling. Go back to pages with a bar at top or bottom for index. While your at it FIRE the guy/gal who decided an inch of real estate on a monitor is OK to block all day. He/she will only piss off users over and over (hired from win8 team?...LOL).
  • Senecaz
    TL, DR : Lollipop s*cks! next update please...
  • musical marv
    15881932 said:
    TL, DR : Lollipop s*cks! next update please...
    Why do you say Loliipop sucks?

  • musical marv
    15881932 said:
    TL, DR : Lollipop s*cks! next update please...
    Back Up what you post here and do not ignore it.

  • endeavour37a
    I thought Tom's was a place we could have opinions and points of view we could share and express freely, how does one back up what they like and don't like? I sort of like 5.0 but it's just fine if some else does not, I ignore a lot of stuff myself.