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Asus Transformer Prime TF201: A Tablet With A Higher Calling

Tegra 3's Graphics: Untapped Potential?

Graphics gets the priority here because gaming is one of Nvidia's foci. The company is best known for its work on GPUs, and we've seen some pretty phenomenal demos used to promote Tegra 3. Naturally, rich visuals were expected to be one of Asus' top selling points. And we'll warn you in advance: they are.

Although comparing benchmark results between Android-based tablets is easy enough, comparing dissimilar platforms is more challenging. Benchmarks are only able to yield accurate measurements when they're equally optimized for the environments under which they run.

As you can see in the following table, a few of the Transformer Prime's scores come close to the iPad 2 and 3. But for the most part, though, the numbers suggest that Nvidia trails its competition by a significant margin.

GLBenchmark 2.1.2*native resolutioniPad 2iPad 3Kindle FireLePan IITransformer Prime
GPUPowerVR SGX543MP2PowerVR SGX543MP4PowerVRSGX540Adreno 220Tegra 3 (ULP GeForce)
Egypt Standard*6661 frames (59 FPS)6709 frames (59 FPS)2847 frames (25 FPS)3485 frames (31 FPS)5388 frames (48 FPS)
Egypt Fixed Time Step*47.598 s (59 FPS)47.261 s (60 FPS)116.138 s112.659 s (25 FPS)69.055 s (41 FPS)
Egypt Off Screen (720p)10 146 frames (90 FPS)15 663 frames (139 FPS)2516 frames (22 FPS)3603 frames (32 FPS)6496 (58 FPS)
Pro Standard*2962 frames (59 FPS)2975 frames (60 FPS)1981 frames (39 FPS)2140 frames (43 FPS)2726 frames (54 FPS)
Pro Fixed Time Step*20.868 s (60 FPS)20.857 s (60 FPS)34.658 s31.982 s (39 FPS)24.189 s (52 FPS)
Pro Off Screen (720p)7352 frames (147 FPS)12546 frames (251 FPS)2277 frames (46 FPS)2332 frames (47 FPS)3717 frames (74 FPS)

Because Apple only uses its own SoC in the iPad, we're forced to compare A5X under iOS to Tegra 3 in an Android-based environment. This means we have to trust that GLBenchmark's developers wrote code well-optimized for both platforms. Otherwise, the synthetic turns back unrepresentative results. Assuming GLBenchmark does run equally well on both architectures, Tegra 3 is quite a ways behind the A5’s SGX543MP2 and the A5X’s SGX543MP4. That's an oversimplification, though.

Nvidia’s ULP GeForce is based on technology derived from the company’s experience with desktop and professional GPUs, wherein power savings often take a backseat to performance. Although Nvidia successfully adapted its design to the embedded space, GeForce is still fundamentally different from PowerVR, Mali, and Adreno.

In order to push a performance-oriented piece of hardware, though, you need a demanding workload. Today's smartphone- and tablet-oriented games generally cannot be characterized as demanding. They're intended to run on a broad ecosystem of hardware. So, when it comes time to benchmark Tegra 3 against its competition, Nvidia argues that today's tests can't really tap into the platform's capabilities.

Non-Tegra 3 Architectures

Tegra 3 Only

Since GLBenchmark doesn't give us any way to adjust texture quality, we can't rule out the possibility that a more taxing test might swing the scales in favor of Nvidia's design. Lacking better means to quantify performance, we're left to lean on real-world experiences in order to create more telling comparisons.

When we actually play through titles optimized for Tegra 3, the results are are impressive. Frame rate didn't seem to change after switching from the basic and advanced graphics modes (indicating that there is no graphics hardware bottleneck). However, the change in graphics quality is indisputable. Riptide, pictured above, is clearly written to show off Nvidia's hardware.

In the video, we have Riptide running side-by-side on two Transformer Prime tablets. On the left, the graphics are in basic mode, while the right tablet has all of the bells and whistles enabled. As you can see, additional effects do not impact the frame rate at all, and both systems run smoothly.

  • killerclick
    Is this a joke? Wait for the new iPad to come out and then review the Transformer Prime? Why didn't you review it sooner? Did Asus miss a payment or did Apple give you a little extra to keep a lid on it?
    Reply
  • lancelot123
    Wake me when it is running Windows on a x86 CPU so I can install whatever I want for free.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    9530586 said:
    Is this a joke? Wait for the new iPad to come out and then review the Transformer Prime? Why didn't you review it sooner? Did Asus miss a payment or did Apple give you a little extra to keep a lid on it?

    Because we didn't have it sooner.
    Reply
  • joytech22
    I was thinking of getting this until I caught wind of the Transformer T701.
    I think the 1080p display is worth the wait.
    Reply
  • DjEaZy
    ... that thing with the splash effect... i do believe, that it iz a program issue... 3rd gen iPad haz power to burn... you can program some splashes... it's like M$ say, that, to play crysis and see the rays thru treas, you needed vista and DX 10... it turned out, that it waz a tweak, that enabled it on XP too... and i believe, if apple will implement some open standard of some physics engine, like Bullet Open Source Physics, all of the open standard devices will benefit, android and iOS alike... and nVidia physx will be not relevant... to program some separate android+nVidia version of a game? ...when there is many different android devices, that don't use Tegra? ... it could end for nVidia, like it ended for 3DFX with there glide engine... 3Dfx waz killed by OpenGL and DirectX... 3Dfx's Glide waz visually superior, but OpenGL and DirectX helped then ATi and nVidia to go multiplatform and to the masses...
    ... so, my point waz... prime is a nice thingy, but, if there are proprietary stuff on a open platform, like android... i don't believe, that Tegra can get some momentum without going open source... the question is... how big is the Tegra's market share on the android platform? ... and... is the market share for Tegra so big, that they can insist to use there proprietary things?...
    Reply
  • "While the Transformer Prime supports output over microHDMI, it cannot push 1080p through the wire" ...When using hardware decoding, Transformer Prime actually pushes true 1080p-video to the television (..while the tablets screen remains unused = black). As an owner of TF201, I can confirm this.
    Reply
  • mily
    U're bienvenida: D Gracias por venir a mi artículo .. Espero que lea mis otros artículos

    .. Me interesa conocer sus puntos de vista .. gracias :)
    Echo de menos los comentarios de Lippo durante el proceso de ruptura de la pared, no puedo

    creer que redujo el papel de Lippo como el
    camisetas?rel=ugc]http://www.baratocamisetas.com]camisetas hombre
    Reply
  • joytech22
    DjEaZymy point waz... prime is a nice thingy, but, if there are proprietary stuff on a open platform, like android... i don't believe, that Tegra can get some momentum without going open source... the question is... how big is the Tegra's market share on the android platform? ... and... is the market share for Tegra so big, that they can insist to use there proprietary things?...
    Ehh...? I have no idea what you are trying to get at.
    Is it your first time on the internet? :\
    Reply
  • DjEaZy
    DjEaZy... that thing with the splash effect... i do believe, that it iz a program issue... 3rd gen iPad haz power to burn... you can program some splashes... it's like M$ say, that, to play crysis and see the rays thru treas, you needed vista and DX 10... it turned out, that it waz a tweak, that enabled it on XP too... and i believe, if apple will implement some open standard of some physics engine, like Bullet Open Source Physics, all of the open standard devices will benefit, android and iOS alike... and nVidia physx will be not relevant... to program some separate android+nVidia version of a game? ...when there is many different android devices, that don't use Tegra? ... it could end for nVidia, like it ended for 3DFX with there glide engine... 3Dfx waz killed by OpenGL and DirectX... 3Dfx's Glide waz visually superior, but OpenGL and DirectX helped then ATi and nVidia to go multiplatform and to the masses... ... so, my point waz... prime is a nice thingy, but, if there are proprietary stuff on a open platform, like android... i don't believe, that Tegra can get some momentum without going open source... the question is... how big is the Tegra's market share on the android platform? ... and... is the market share for Tegra so big, that they can insist to use there proprietary things?...joytech22Ehh...? I have no idea what you are trying to get at.Is it your first time on the internet? :\... smoke some and you will get the full picture...
    Reply
  • In Italy Asus decided not to give the free dongle, because they say that it was selled as a localization system, and not a GPS, therefor, they will not help us improve our tablet experience. Since the prime doesn't have a 3G connectivity, I don't think the GPS is that important, also, a 10" GPS is quite annoying. I prefer to use the phone. Great review by the way. Although I don't trust benchmarka, nor asus ICS updates. At the biginning the wi-fi was working great, no overconsumption of power, now my battery drains in hours.
    Reply