Nvidia Shield Review: Tegra 4-Powered Handheld Gaming

Results: Shield And Tegra 4 Graphics

Epic Citadel

Based on the Unreal Engine 3, Epic’s Citadel benchmark gives us some insight into performance—though exclusively at a platform level, since each device runs at its native resolution.

At all three settings, Nvidia’s Shield nearly manages to max out the screen’s 60 Hz ceiling. Both Nexus 7s do as well, so long as you’re using the High Performance and High Quality presets. At Ultra High Quality, the Tegra 3-powered Nexus 7 cannot participate, while the newer version with Qualcomm’s APQ8064 gets hammered pretty hard.

Basemark X

Both iOS- and Android-based devices employ OpenGL ES 2.0 in Basemark X, which centers on the Unity 4.0 game engine.

This test gives us on- and off-screen numbers. Rendering on-screen is faster in almost every case because each device’s native resolution is lower than Basemark’s off-screen target (presumably 1920x1080, given the second-gen Nexus 7’s result).

As a device, Shield can achieve great performance on its five-inch 1280x720 screen. No wonder it gets such solid battery life—Tegra 4 isn’t really having to work very hard to render the same workloads as other SoCs. Of course, when we go off-screen and force each graphics processor to hit the same target, we see Tegra 4 is about four times faster than Tegra 3, and that the Adreno and PowerVR solutions fare comparably.

Bonsai Benchmark

Rendering to each device’s native resolution, Bonsai Benchmark places Apple’s iPhone 5 in first place (at 640x1135, that’s also the least-taxing workload).

Mobile GPUMark

This benchmark warrants a story until itself, as the lead developer is very open, providing a lot of information about what each sub-test taxes.

We cannot use these scores to compare Tegra 4 to Tegra 3, to A6, or to Qualcomm’s APQ8064 because the scene components run at each device’s native resolution. Only the GPU Benchmark is executed in an off-screen buffer.

With that said, a powerful SoC and 1280x720 display combine to give Shield a massive advantage in all three “game” benchmarks.