Nvidia's Tegra 3 Optimizations: THD Android Games, Tested

Test Setup And Benchmark Suite

For this comparison, we chose a series of games selected by Nvidia and optimized for Tegra 3. The only limitation we imposed was that the titles also had to be available for iOS, so we could compare the Tegra 3’s visuals to that of the iPhone 5. We added two more test platforms, a Samsung Galaxy S III and a pre-release Google Nexus 4, to compare Nvidia’s chip to GPUs from ARM and Qualcomm.

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Test Setup

HTC One X+

Apple iPhone 5

Google Nexus 4

Samsung Galaxy S IIISoCNvidia Tegra 3 (AP37)Apple A6Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro (APQ8064)Samsung Exynos 4 (4412)CPUCortex-A9 @ 1.7 GHz (quad-core)Swift @ 1.3 GHz (dual-core)Krait @ 1.5 GHz (quad-core)Cortex-A9 @ 1.4 GHz (quad-core)GPUULP GeForce @ 520 MHzPowerVR SGX543MP3 @ 266 MHzAdreno 320*Mali-400 MP4 @ 400 MHzMemory1 GB1 GB2 GB1 GBStorage**64 GB16 GB8 GB16 GBDisplay4.7” S-LCD 2 @ 1280x720 (312 PPI)4” IPS LCD @1136x640 (326 PPI)4.7” WXGA IPS @1280x768 (318 PPI)4.8” Super AMOLED @1280x720 (306 PPI)MSRP***$650$650$300$700*Qualcomm does not disclose the frequency of the Adreno 320.**The Storage specs are off the base models to help with pricing.***Base models, as of 12/20/12.Benchmark SuiteTitleTegra OptimizationBeach Buggy BlitzYesDead TriggerYesFruit NinjaSeparate THD EditionGalaxy On Fire 2THD-only*Grand Theft Auto IIIHeroes CallYesPrincess PuntYesShadowgun: DeadZoneYesSprinkleYesSoulCraftSeparate THD EditionThe Dark Meadow: The PactYesZen PinballTHD-only*Also available for the Sony Xperia Play.

When available, we ran the Tegra HD (THD) version of each game on the HTC One X+. The standard Android version from Google Play was used on the Galaxy S III and Nexus 4. Obviously, the iOS version from the App Store was used on the iPhone 5. So that everyone can test at home, all but one of the games we’ve selected is a free title. Our one exception, Grand Theft Auto III is only five bucks, and in our opinion, well worth the price of admission considering the very un-mobile scope of this sandbox favorite.

Remember that today we’re concentrating on visual differences rather than performance, so don’t expect the usual frames-per-second performance data. Instead, we have side-by-side screen shots of the same area in each game on all four test phones. While we originally wanted to provide a video comparison between the various games, due to DRM issues, we weren’t able to. Besides, screen capture software for today’s mobile devices causes far too much of a performance impact to make the comparison valid.

  • aicom
    Interesting comparison. Maybe you could test if there are any differences in effects between models of the Tegra 3?
  • darkavenger123
    Err...why bother compare with iOS?? No big deal. They should start comparing with PS VITA for some real games....hardware is useless without software....so sick of casual gaming...Angry birds runs just fine with Androids 2 years ago, doesn't need a hardware upgrade. They need to get developers to makes some real games for it or it's just pointless expensive sillicone.
  • I own both the Nexus 4 and a Tegra 3 equiped Asus Transformer Prime. The Nexus 4 is quite a bit faster in a lot of games, especially GTA3 and Vice City. But also Dead Trigger which is supposedly optimized for Tegra runs quite badly on the Transformer Prime, the framerate is much better on the Nexus 4.
  • gomerpile
    WTF is going on, jeez if it keep it up with the rat race of title games that have no graphics, pc gamers are all doomed. Why waste time and money on the next version of Battlefield 4 when we can develop monkey ball andriod shooters.
  • abbadon_34
    Nvidia continues to encourage game developers to add Tegra-only details to their Android titles.

    Exactly what is wrong with tech today, for 30 years companies learned to embrace compatibility after the Sony Betamax failure (technically better, but priced beyond comsumer appreciation). Now everyone wants to follow Apple forgetting they too suffered from a "closed shop" for 20 years.
  • blubbey
    Are these phones now more powerful than gen 6 consoles? Dreamcast/PS2/Gamecube/Xbox. I would assume so.
  • darkchazz
    I've got a Nexus 7 OCed (1.5ghz CPU, 520mhz GPU) and a stock Galaxy Note II, and I have to say that every single game you can think of in the play store runs miles better on the Note II, even the so called optimized-for-tegra titles.

    What's bothersome for me though is that some tegra optimized titles actually run on a low resolution by default on the N7 (to compensate for low memory bandwidth???) yet still play on a 30-40ish frame rate, luckily the devs have put resolution option in the setting (see Riptide, beach buggy blitz), but you'll be playing at 20-30fps if you bump it up to the max/native res.

    Another title, Horn, which is actually a Tegra exclusive using UE3, actually runs on a low res but does not provide any option to change that, and even with the low resolution, it is extremely choppy at times I can easily notice 15-20fps.

    One dev that I like is MADFINGER Games (dead trigger, shadowgun), their titles are so heavily optimized that they run at a consistent 35-45fps on my N7 and I do not notice lag nor inconsistent frame rate. still runs at constant 60fps on my Note II though...

    Meanwhile I can't think of anything that doesn't run at 60fps on my Note II, So much that wonder how much better the gpu performance is on Snapdragon S4 pro and apple A6 devices.
  • natoco
    blubbeyAre these phones now more powerful than gen 6 consoles? Dreamcast/PS2/Gamecube/Xbox. I would assume so.Yes, but tiny screens u put u fingers on ruin the experience of gaming, i get my old megadrive out and play or niintendo 64 for some funny simple old school games. Phones look the 'tiny' part like it but its just not the same. I bought a whole heap of games on my iphone only to put them down and never play again since the format in which u play is just not 'fun' and thats the whole point of games is it not. Oh well, consoles or pc's FTW
  • gilgamex101
    Did anyone else notice that the Heroes Call screen shots are the EXACT same as the Soulcraft screenshots??
  • blubbeyAre these phones now more powerful than gen 6 consoles? Dreamcast/PS2/Gamecube/Xbox. I would assume so.
    definitely, GTAIII and Vice City were both PS2 games and the new mobile versions have upgraded textures