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Nvidia Shield Android TV Console Review

Today we take a look at the latest addition to Nvidia's Shield line of gaming devices. No mobility here, this new Shield is for the living room!

GPU Core Benchmarks

3DMark

One of several benchmarking products from Futuremark, 3D Mark’s Ice Storm test measures GPU performance on Android devices using OpenGL ES 2.0. Using the company’s in-house engine, the two results we get out of the Ice Storm benchmark are Graphics, which looks at GPU performance via 720p tests, and Physics, which runs a stress test on the CPU.

It’s not very surprising that the newest device on the list would take the lead. The Tegra X1-based Shield performed better than both the Tegra K-powered Nexus 9 and its predecessor, the Shield Tablet, while the Apple iPad Air 2 and its exclusive A8X fall into fourth place.

Basemark X 1.1

Recently liberated from Rightware, Basemark X is an aggressive graphics benchmark that’s based on the Unity 4.0 gaming engine. Using two scenarios, Dunes and Hangar, the tests push the target system by using heavy game-like graphics with an emphasis on rendering, lighting and post processing.

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Looking at the overall results for both the medium and high quality testing, when it comes to performance at this level of processing, we can see that Nvidia needed a game changer. For this test, the Shield Tablet was pretty much pacing along with the competition, but with the new Shield and the Tegra X1, things are looking pretty bright for Nvidia. We’ve also seen this kind of leap before when the Tegra-K was first released in the Shield Tablet.

GFXBench 3.0 Corporate: High Level

One of the more comprehensive tests around, Kishonti’s GFXBench 3.0 GPU benchmark produces a collection of test results that look at high-level and low-level processes, both in onscreen and offscreen modes. High level tests include the Manhattan and T-Rex scenarios, with the former scene using OpenGL 3.0 to render a night time event in the middle of a lit city, and the latter is a daytime joyride escape from a dinosaur with quick shifting jungle scenes via OpenGL 2.0.

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T-Rex is one of my favorite benchmarks, something that I don’t mind running and watching, over and over again. We definitely see the Shield shine as the action is happening on screen. What was more impressive were the results we got for the Manhattan test. We definitely see the Nvidia Shield ready to tackle OpenGL 3.0. Looks-wise, what we saw on the display was great, especially the lighting, but more importantly, the numbers from Manhattan speak for themselves.

GFXBench 3.0 Corporate: Low Level

GFX 3.0’s low-level benchmarks focus on a GPU’s subsystems by testing shader compute performance on the arithmetic logic unit (ALU), alpha blending for texture rendering, a driver overhead test to see how the CPU responds to draw calls and state changes, and two degrees of render quality. Lastly, the fill rate test measures the rate it takes to render four compressed textures.

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The low-level benchmarks are interesting. Maybe it’s a case of the whole being greater than the sum of all the parts. In most of these benchmarks, the Shield did pretty well, while in others it was just a face in the crowd. Alpha Rendering and Fill are the two highlights in this set of tests. Again, we see the older Shield Tablet sitting in the shadow of the Apple iPad Air 2, which enforces what I wrote earlier about how Nvidia needed something serious in the SoC space. That something is the Tegra X1.