Results: GPU Benchmarks
Futuremark is a name synonymous with benchmarking GPUs, and 3DMark for mobile has quickly become a very popular tool for doing just that. 3DMark offers three main graphical benchmarks, which simulate the demands of OpenGL ES 2.0 games using shaders, particles, and physics in Futuremark’s in-house engine. The first, Ice Storm, runs at a fixed 1280x720 off-screen resolution, while the second, Ice Storm Extreme, increases the resolution to 1920x1080. Finally, Ice Storm Unlimited renders the scene at native resolution. While it was just released in late May of this year, and is updated quite regularly, 3DMark is already being oustripped by more recent chipsets with Nvidia’s Tegra 4 and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 Adreno 330 both maxing out the benchmark in Extreme (1080p) with ease.
Nvidia’s Shield, Sony’s Xperia Z1, and the Tegra Note all trounce the rest of the field, as each maxes out Ice Storm and Ice Storm Extreme. The iPhone 5s’s PowerVR Rogue-equipped A7 disappoints, considering that it tends to do so well in other GPU benchmarks. What’s really interesting is seeing just how far mobile GPUs have come. In a little over two years, Nvidia and its competitors have managed to more than triple GPU performance. As before, Tegra Note shows that it can run with the big dogs at a much cheaper price.
When we break down the Extreme tests, we easily see the Shield’s performance advantage over Tegra Note 7. Still, Tegra Note still stays in the top performance tier, which is very impressive. iPhone 5S performs inconsistently, scoring low on physics and high everywhere else. Futuremark went to some effort to investigate and discussed this on its blog.
Rightware is another benchmarking stalwart, and its Rightmark toolset is well known. Basemark is the company’s Android UI performance test. It’s designed to simulate the demands of intensive UI use in 3D (think applications like Google Maps). As with 3DMark, though, it is starting to be overshadowed by more modern SoCs and implementations of Android (since 4.1, more and more of Android’s UI is rendered in hardware).
In terms of native resolution on-screen performance, every device we’re testing performs well, with all but last year’s Nexus 7 going right up to their refresh rates. The real story, however, is 720p off-screen performance: Tegra Note and Shield perform roughly on-par, while both Snapdragon-equipped devices are slower than their Tegra 4 counterparts.
Basemark X is a multi-platform benchmark based on a real game engine, Unity 4.0. It uses many of Unity’s modern features via the OpenGL ES 2.0 render path, just as a modern game would. Features like high poly count models, shaders with normal maps, complex LoD algorithms, extensive per-pixel lighting including directional and point light, along with a comprehensive set of post process, particle systems, and physics effects test how a modern game might run and look. It’s an aggressive test that still isn’t being maxed out by the latest mobile SoCs.
Apple takes the lead, but with such low results all around, the Unity engine could be demonstrating some other platform bottleneck. The Tegra 4-based devices are once again on top of the Android-powered platforms (though Shield is the fastest of the two). Sony’s Xperia Z1 beats both Tegra 4 devices in off-screen performance, but suffers during the on-screen measurement due to its higher-resolution display.
Epic’s Unreal Engine is put to decent use in this benchmark, which simulates a reasonably simple first-person game environment. It’s a little old as benchmarks go, easily maxed out in Performance and High Quality modes by even older SoCs like Tegra 3. Yet, it does use a real game engine and can be a strain in Ultra High Quality mode,
The Tegra Note and Shield are ever-so-close to each other. That the Xperia, Nexus 7 2013, and Galaxy Note 10.1 run slower in Ultra High Quality mode is of no real surprise, as each device has either a higher resolution display, a slightly slower GPU or, in the case of the Note 10.1, both!
Kishonti GFXBench 2.7 (previously known as GLBenchmark) is a cross-platform OpenGL GPU benchmark. It not only simulates scenes that a game might render, but also runs a series of additional tests that cover considerations like fill-rate, render accuracy, and so on. This is a demanding metric, especially the T-Rex scene because it uses many modern effects including motion blur, parallax mapping, and complex particle systems. We will only be concentrating on four main benchmarks in the suite: T-Rex HD Offscreen, Egypt HD Offscreen, T-Rex HD Onscreen, and Egypt HD Onscreen.
While it seems that performance scales almost linearly from Apple’s iPhone 5s to last year’s Nexus 7, the Tegra Note is actually almost 20% slower than Nvidia’s Shield in the T-Rex test and almost 15% slower in the Egypt test. Both of these tests are quite long and T-Rex is definitely demanding. Could Tegra 4 be slowing itself down in a way we weren’t seeing when we tried forcing it to throttle? Regardless, the Tegra Note 7 performs admirably, beating out the new Google Nexus 7 by around 30%.
Devices like the Shield, iPhone 5s, and Tegra Note with lower-resolution displays naturally perform best in our on-screen tests. Tegra Note scales to be 10% slower than Shield, and the higher-resolution devices are all made to suffer for their lush-looking screens. Again, though, the Tegra Note 7 demonstrates great value for its price.
Silicon Studios’ Mobile GPUMark is a benchmark that employs the company’s own in-house engine called YEBIS 2. It focuses on post-processing effects like color grading, bloom, and lenticular lighting to create filmic scenes.
Tegra Note 7 shows up at the top of our chart, despite having less RAM, a lower maximum clock rate, and utilizing passive cooling. It’s only beaten in one scene by Shield. Also interesting is that the Tegra Note beats Apple’s iPhone 5s easily in all but one test. Driving a 1280x800 screen, its 1 GB of DDR3L doesn’t seem to be a problem. As an aside, the Xperia Z1’s Adreno 330 engine seems to handle these complex scenes better than the Galaxy Note 10.1’s Mali, which even loses to the new Google Nexus 7’s Adreno 320.