GPU Performance

We’re shortly also recapping the GPU and gaming performance of the new S21 Ultras. We investigate that this new generation of SoCs isn’t quite as power efficient as we would have hoped for, meaning the increased peak performance the new chips are advertising comes at a great cost in power consumption.

Generally, any contemporary phone is only able to continuously dissipate between 4 and 5W of power through radiation and convection (42 to 50°C peak skin temperatures at 22°C ambient), and once it reaches that peak thermal envelope, it will have to throttle performance.

Basemark GPU 1.2 - Medium 1440p - Off-Screen / Blit GFXBench Aztec Ruins - High - Vulkan/Metal - Off-screen GFXBench Aztec Ruins - Normal - Vulkan/Metal - Off-screen GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 Off-screen GFXBench T-Rex 2.7 Off-screen

A Stand-Still Year for GPU Performance

This year’s Galaxy S21 devices look quite unimpressive when it comes to their gaming performance.

For the Snapdragon S21, I think Samsung here can do better in terms of thermal management, as the phones currently throttle down to 3W even though the device could in theory supports more. Xiaomi’s Mi 11 with the same chip showcases much better performance (we’ll have a review of that device soon), so it’s an area of improvement which could very well be achieved with future firmware updates.

For the Exynos S21, it’s a large generational boost for Samsung, however the absolute numbers are still lagging behind Snapdragon 865 devices. This is important to note for devices such as the S21+ - the S20 FE 5G actually features a Snapdragon 865 SoC in traditional Exynos markets, and if gaming performance is an important aspect for your, that device might be the more interesting purchase.

System Performance Display Measurement
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  • trajan - Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - link

    Any thoughts on existing or upcoming phones the size of the base S21, but with flagship specs?

    As someone who strongly prefers the smaller size of the S21, I'm annoyed that I need to compromise on this generation of phones. Either I get top specs but have to deal with the larger size that I don't like, or I have to go smaller and take a real hit. I've tried holding phones the size of the S21+/Ultra and its just not comfortable. I guess I have small hands (oh no).
  • flyingpants265 - Friday, February 26, 2021 - link

    Yeah exactly, oh no. All the phones on the market are crap, but you're complaining that your hands are too small..
  • Edwardmcardle - Friday, February 26, 2021 - link

    Is there any noticable difference in radio reception between snapdragon and exynos? I had the exynos version and both wifi and 4g were worse compared to my 7 pro side by side.
  • darkich - Saturday, February 27, 2021 - link

    Extremely well done camera comparison. Amazing work.
    Are those flares on HDR section normal? Looks like you forgot to clean the lenses.
    This little detail(cleaning the camera lens) can make a really major difference.
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Wednesday, March 3, 2021 - link

    They are cleaned, those are just results of the camera optics.
  • Steven Choi 4321 - Tuesday, March 2, 2021 - link

    Again, it is not the hardware. It is about the operating system. Android is 100 times hard to learn for the normal public like me.
  • Rude Russy - Tuesday, March 9, 2021 - link

    What are you talking about? its as simple as IOS. I guess you just must be really stupid?
  • redchar - Tuesday, March 2, 2021 - link

    Great review, as always!

    Though I got to say, regardless of review quality, the galaxy S phones just aren't good anymore.
    It's sad, they used to be the go-to phones, but between samsung removing hardware/firmware abilities and google doing the same for android, phones really plateaued. Haven't had a reason to have faster hardware in years since google's trying their hardest to prevent interesting software from even running that would need the speed. I'd say battery life would be interesting since the s21 and other phones have bigger batteries than previous gens, but android bloat keeps defeating advancements in batteries.

    Shoutout to the xperia 1 ii though. at&t forced me to buy a new phone from a very small subset due to their whitelisting of VoLTE devices, and the xperia was the only one I saw which: Has a headphone jack, has an sd card, can be bootloader unlocked without having to reverse engineer anything, has various custom roms, doesnt ship with the SAF nightmare that is android 11, and is still a new phone covered by carriers. It's not quite as great as the oneplus 5 i had before, and costs quite a bit more, but if telcos are going to force upgrades, it's slim pickings for an actual flagship these days.
  • markiz - Monday, March 8, 2021 - link

    "The flat display and the lower resolution do however feel very conventional, and not-quite flagship like."

    Ah, I see, so you are responsible for the plague :)
  • Edwardmcardle - Friday, April 9, 2021 - link

    Did you notice any difference in other areas of the chip? WiFi, GSM / 4G, AI etc?

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