System Performance

One of the highlights of the Pixel C is the fact that it is powered by NVIDIA's Tegra X1 SoC. This technically isn't the first time that X1 has shown up in an Android device since it powers the SHIELD Android TV, but it's the first time it has been used in a mobile device. This implementation of Tegra X1 has four Cortex A57 cores with a peak frequency of 1.91GHz, along with four Cortex A53 cores. There are a few things that need to be mentioned about how Tegra X1 differs from other SoCs with eight cores. The first is the fact that in theory, Tegra X1 uses cluster migration rather than Heterogeneous Multi-processing. The reason I said in theory is because the implementation in the Pixel C is really only using the A57 cluster and scaling the frequency as low as 51MHz and as high as 1.91GHz.

In any case, all of our benchmarks should trigger the A57 cores in a mobile device that pairs A53 and A57 cores, so the discussion of the A53 cores being disabled is more relevant from a power consumption standpoint than a performance one. To analyze the general performance of the Pixel C I've run it through our standard JavaScript tests, along with PCMark and BaseMark OS II.

Kraken 1.1 (Chrome/Safari/IE)

Google Octane v2  (Chrome/Safari/IE)

WebXPRT 2015 (Chrome/Safari/IE)

Unfortunately, the Pixel C doesn't make a very strong showing in our JavaScript benchmarks. I can't help but feel that this is the result of a rushed Android build, as there are regressions compared to the Nexus 9 in Octane and Kraken, and in all cases the score just isn't that impressive. JavaScript performance is definitely something Google will have to work on in the future, as the gap between the performance of iOS and Android devices is growing fairly large.

Basemark OS II 2.0 - System

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Memory

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Graphics

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Web

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Overall

The Pixel C only achieves decent results in BaseMark OS II. The NAND memory score definitely drags down the overall rating, with the web score being lower than expected, and the system score being shocking low. The stand out score is in the graphics test, with the Pixel C only coming second to Apple's iPad Pro, and beating out the next best Android device, which is also NVIDIA-powered, by a huge margin. Unfortunately, high as it may be, Tegra X1's graphics performance just isn't enough to carry the Pixel C here.

PCMark - Web Browsing

PCMark - Video Playback

PCMark - Writing

PCMark - Photo Editing

PCMark - Work Performance Overall

PCMark paints a different picture than BaseMark OS II, and highlights how performance can be highly variable based on workload, software, and whether an app is run as a native binary or through ART. In PCMark the Pixel C performs exceptionally well, with the exception of the writing test which seems to have been impacted by some change made to ART on Google's devices when moving to Marshmallow. Putting that aside, we see quite high and often chart topping scores in the remaining tests, resulting in a final score that only sits below the Huawei Mate 8.

Characterizing the Pixel C's performance is difficult. PCMark paints a very good picture, and I'm tempted to lean toward it as it is representative of the tasks that users will perform on a daily basis. There's a bit more discussion to be had about the Pixel C's general performance, and that'll come a bit later in the software section of the review. What I can say is that Tegra X1 certainly is fast as far as raw speed goes, but there's more to be said about the Pixel C's performance when you consider the role of both hardware and software.

Intro and Design System Performance Cont'd and NAND Performance
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  • ImSpartacus - Wednesday, January 27, 2016 - link

    You're paying for something that "just works". You'd be surprised at how attractive that is for a lot of people that are simply incapable of using modern tech.

    So you can either stick your fingers in your ears and demand that everyone spend years of their life becoming experts in modern tech, or you can realize that there's some money to be made. Apple is in the business of making money.
    Reply
  • Alexey291 - Saturday, January 30, 2016 - link

    No offence to your and your expertness. But do you honestly think that it takes "a few years" to become an expert of playing with touchscreen devices?

    Oh boy...
    Reply
  • jbelkin - Monday, January 25, 2016 - link

    Well, not ignorant, just an economy that only supports 9% of buyers being able to afford the stnadard bearer. Reply
  • Vlad_Da_Great - Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - link

    @jbelkin. EU are not as shallow and easy to manipulate as their USA counterparts. Also, biggest % of iPhone purchases in USA are done from people over 60y old. If you look around the globe the second biggest country with huge engineering population (India) has no interest in the iPhone.
    Asians on the other side love magic, that is what APPL is good of selling.
    Reply
  • vanilla_gorilla - Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - link

    That's mostly related to income. The vast majority of those people would much prefer an Apple device if they could afford it. Most Android devices are incredible cheap devices. Reply
  • the_comment_guy - Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - link

    What are you talking about? Apple hasn't been ableto open stores in India due to their laws requiring 30% of their components to be sourced from small to medium enterprises: that's why they've barely made a dent in the Indian phone market. Despite this, Apple's sales in India have been increasing every year. If India relaxes its backwards laws, and Apple is allowed to open their own stores, Apple sales will explode. Reply
  • Alexey291 - Saturday, January 30, 2016 - link

    Sure the sales have grown in india. Shame about the sales in the rest of the world.

    Essentially last quarter's sales have been propped up by the Chinese and Indian sales growth. The rest of the world however...
    Reply
  • akdj - Thursday, February 04, 2016 - link

    Rest of the world? As in North, South America and a dozen European countries? Apple's BLOWN their OWN records out of the water with iOS device sales. iPads are down ...unfortunately for Apple, they're built too well! Seriously, as I've owned each iPad ...we use them with our business and both original and iPad 2s are still BOTH working & battery life on the first iPad continues beating a dozen hours watching movies. Eight browsing or a good 25-30 listening to music, screen off!
    My iPad '2' purchased on launch day and the kids use it all the time. No issues ...they're replied amid don't die. Apple is continuing support for older devices. Kicking their own selves in the sack! Or ...maybe not.
    While geeks like me justify with my job, personal business and personal 'wants' the purchase of each new iPad that drops, and because of each gen's phenomenal updates. iPad 3 aside, which I owned until 4 dropped - iPad 3 left on Craigslist the following day with its updated performance so obvious. The 'new' iPad 3, IMHO, is the only anomaly to the updates and performance increases, display/resolution updates, shaving weight, maintaining battery life and dramatically boosting its 'guts', sensors, display accuracy and smaller but significant user bonuses like the A/G display stack and their lamination & out of factory calibration ....make each iPad, in my line of work, play & education priceless! Original to iPad 2, the difference was/is obvious. 2-->3, 'Retina' on the iPad, a complete game changer. Oops, same engine as the iPad 2, 4 times the resolution, drop the 4 with its Apple designed SoC monster A8X --- exponentially bettering the iPad w/Retina experience!
    While somewhat less Ferrari, more Subaru ...Air 1 is today a fantastic tablet (I've both Air 1 & 2). It's slower than its younger sibling but its sporting the first 64bit processor in a tablet and mine continues to get a lot usage. My Air 2, there's nothing on the market comparable. Not w/the App Store and its million optimized, all inclusive app/software accompanying options to aggregate and integrate with the home Mac, studio Macs or your phone/tab with Handoff. The continuity Apple's built into iOS and OS X as well as supporting older devices with both desk OS's, it's no wonder folks aren't replacing them as quickly as a phone! They're still selling a quarter more than the rest of the field does in a year! When you take the <$149 tablet choices off the table, iPad in its slump is outselling the entire industry 2-1 quarter vs. year! It's a top 100 in the Forbes 500 business itself! That's crazy IMHO. But the addition of iPad Pro changes things. Doubling the RAM on the iPhone 6s & iPad Air 2 was obvious in use, day to day ...it was just a LOT quicker at everything than my Air 1. They've now doubled to 4GB in iPP and as an owner for 3 months, I've never been happier with an iPad. The iPad A2 still ROCKS! I use it daily and it's as robust and reliable as any predecessor, just a helluva lot faster and finally now, finally being targeted by developers to take advantage of the hardware...as older products are phased out

    Which left me curious about Josh's final comment/words
    'Overall, I’m not even sure this measures up to the iPad Air 2 which is well over a year old by this point. I cannot in good conscience recommend anyone buy this tablet until the touch screen issues and generally poor performance has been resolved, and even then that recommendation would be to a limited group of people solely interested in a touch-only Android tablet.A
    I read the review a second time all the way through. I went back and read the Air 2 review as well. While a couple of benchmarks seem to have parity or even exceed A2's --- the display performance, also beating A2, it's close in your measurements but EVERY other word strongly suggests not just an inferior experience in comparison (Pixel v A2), but performance destroyed by my iPad 4! Janky, unable to maintain connection, freezes and crashes and.... I can go on, it's not necessary though. Just seems to very much understate iPad A2's performance and without reading the rest, complete overstatement of the 'experience' of PixC as a couple of benches close, neck & neck, means absolutely nothing when it comes down to the user's overall experience. My iPad 2 seems to be a better comparison!
    Yikes
    Reply
  • lilmoe - Monday, January 25, 2016 - link

    Nice ignorant comment bro. Way to go. Reply
  • id4andrei - Monday, January 25, 2016 - link

    Hardware has nothing to do with Android's problem. Dev support for tablet operation in Android is lacking. Simple. Reply

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