GPU Performance

Gaming performance in a smartphone is dictated by three aspects: Firstly, naturally the hardware itself and how efficient and performance the GPU and Soc are. Secondly, the hardware design of the phone and how well it was designed to dissipate heat from the SoC to the whole chassis of the device, and secondly, the software thermal throttling configurations and how the vendor has programmed the thermal behaviour of the phone, such as how hot it allows the phone to get.

The results here can be all over the place depending on the vendor implementation, and it’s amongst the more interesting tests for this article.

3DMark Sling Shot 3.1 Extreme Unlimited - Physics

In the 3DMark Physics tests, we’re seeing largely a CPU load whilst the device is thermally constrained by it being heated up by the GPU load. The results we’re seeing here are very spread across the different vendors.

One result that does stand out is the Sony Xperia 1 which has some very bad throttling behaviour on the CPU, reaching only 40% of the peak performance of when the device is cold. The Black Shark 2 is also interesting as it showcases uniquely limited peak performance compared to the other Snapdragon 855 devices, possibly pointing out that Xiaomi is implementing a hard top CPU frequency cap when under GPU load.

The rest of the device vary in their sustained performance results. The best S855 device is the OnePlus 7 Pro, which is only showcasing a 15% degradation.

3DMark Sling Shot 3.1 Extreme Unlimited - Graphics

The two top devices are the OPPO Reno 10x, as well as the OnePlus 7 Pro which showcase nearly no throttling at all.

The Xiaomi Black Shark 2 showcases some pretty disappointing results, losing almost 45% of its performance when hot.

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

The 3D results continue on over the course of the GFXBench results. The OPPO Reno 10x and OP7Pro are the clear winners here in terms of sustained performance. The Xperia 1 and Mi9 also fare well, although the latter loses its edge in T-Rex which might be a throttling result of a different component such as the DRAM.

The issue with the OPPO Reno 10x and OP7Pro is that both devices get extremely hot. I’ve measured peak skin temperatures on the screen in excess of 50°C. In fact, the OPPO device actually stopped my benchmarking run via device overheating warning which is not something that you want to see in any phone; the hardware should throttle before such a warning is to occur. I’m not sure if this is a driver problem or something that both related vendors choose to deliberately implement, at least it doesn’t seem to be a cheating behaviour as I’m using modified benchmark ID APKs for our regular testing.

I mentioned in the device overview that the ZTE Nubia RedMagic 3 differs from all other phones, virtue of the fact that it’s using an actual fan in its internal design along with actual air intake and exhausts. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to measure any kind of measurable performance or temperature differences with the fan either on or off. The little unit moves just so little air that it hardly makes any difference. Similarly disappointing was the Black Shark 2, which distinguished itself by offering the worst gaming performance of the lot even though it’s supposed to be a gaming phone, essentially eliminating itself from contention as a viable smartphone option for any kind of buyer.

The rest of the phones see a 20 to 40% degradation in performance from peak. The best device for gaming amongst the Snapdragon 855 crowd was the OnePlus 7 Pro, as it was able to achieve the highest performance figures all without running into issues such as overheating warnings.

Machine Learning Inference Performance Battery Life
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  • yeeeeman - Thursday, September 5, 2019 - link

    Andrei, this is nice, but we could guesstimate how an 855+ will behave.
    We really want to see Exynos 9825 since that is harder to estimate.
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Thursday, September 5, 2019 - link

    I don't have the 9825/Note10 yet, we'll have to buy one. Currently this won't happen till maybe October as it's going to be busy with other stuff the next few weeks.
  • LarsBolender - Thursday, September 5, 2019 - link

    But you are going to review the 9825, are you?
  • rocketman122 - Thursday, September 5, 2019 - link

    all I care about is if the camera is great, and the op7 is garbage as has been all the others before it.
  • FunBunny2 - Thursday, September 5, 2019 - link

    "all I care about is if the camera is great"

    and, how many phone companies make the cameras? it is, of course, just a matter of buying off-the-shelf from other vendors.
  • IUU - Friday, September 6, 2019 - link

    Lol! Couldn't care any less about the camera! But each to his own.
  • cha0z_ - Monday, September 9, 2019 - link

    It would make an interesting read to see the benefits going from 8nm to 7nm, but from what is known - the benefits are super slim to even justify doing that in the first place for something different than "beta test" the 7nm for the next year SOC.

    There are more interesting things that comes like the A13 SOC and the next kirin.
  • FunBunny2 - Thursday, September 5, 2019 - link

    "all I care about is if the camera is great"

    and, how many phone companies make the cameras? it is, of course, just a matter of buying off-the-shelf from other vendors.
  • philehidiot - Saturday, September 7, 2019 - link

    I look at these charts and I get angrier and angrier about Samsung forcing me into Exynos when the performance (and other subsystems) are really quite inferior. It's marketed as one product but it's two very different phones. I compare this to motorbikes as that's my thing. A 1000cc Fireblade is NOT the same bike as a 650CC version. They are similar in looks and similar in purpose but they handle and perform differently and are worth different amounts because of this. I, personally, would be absolutely fine with a 650cc version as it would suit my riding better. I would NOT be fine with someone selling me a "Fireblade" and not specifying in the advert what model it is and trying to sell me a 650cc as if it was the same value as a 1000cc. Both models are marketed as different bikes with one called the CBR1000RR and the other the CBR650R. Just because they look similar and share many similar components does not mean they are the same machine when the core elements are different. Both have excessive performance for the road - more than you'll ever be able to apply and so arguing that the phones are both satisfactory for the market is missing the point.

    Samsung need to recognise they can not go selling an inferior phone under the same name as another model and using the same marketing as if they both have the same value. And if you're ever wondering, just ask yourself this - if you could have either a Snapdragon or an Exynos model and they'd both work the same on the networks you use, etc.... would you really choose the slower one for the same money? No, you'd go for the faster one with the better DSP, better imaging, better sound quality, etc.

    My other concern is that, whilst these are both adequate now, I might want my phone to last longer than the usual 2-3 years. What if I want 5? Mine is an S8 and it's already showing signs of slowing down as software requirements increase. So if you start off with a faster phone, logically it will likely make a difference towards the latter end of its life. So I buy an inferior phone which also has a shorter useful life and I'm expected to value it the same as the other model?

    Samsung, please tell your marketing department to kindly piss off. The bunch of raging arse parsnips.
  • s.yu - Sunday, September 8, 2019 - link

    I don't get your point, they're not for the same money, not even in the same range as twice I bought an SK variant Samsung for ~30% less than Mainland China's.

    They also have different code names. Note 10+ for example, directly from GSMA: Versions: SM-N975F (Europe); SM-N975F/DS (Global); SM-N975U (USA); SM-N975U1 (USA unlocked); SM-N975W (Canada); SM-N9750/DS (LATAM, Brazil, China); SM-N975N (South Korea)

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