System Performance: GPU

While CPU performance characterizes one part of an SoC, GPU performance characterizes another. Tablets have long been a form factor where GPU performance can be pushed much further than in a phone due to the larger chassis of a tablet having far fewer size and thermal limitations. While some tablets elect to use specialized SoCs with more powerful GPU hardware than smartphones, the Tab S2 uses the same ARM Mali T760 GPU used in the Galaxy Note 4 Exynos.

To characterize the Tab S2's GPU performance I've run it through our standard GPU benchmarks. First up is 3DMark which actually has both a CPU and GPU component, followed by BaseMark X and GFXBench which focus more strongly on the GPU alone.

3DMark 1.2 Unlimited - Physics

3DMark 1.2 Unlimited - Graphics

3DMark 1.2 Unlimited - Overall

In 3DMark all of the Tab S2's scores are roughly equivalent to the Galaxy Note 4 Exynos which is not unexpected. Unfortunately, it's clear that Mali T760 can't keep up with NVIDIA's mobile Kepler implementation or Apple's custom 8 core PowerVR 6XT part. While the Nexus 9 and iPad Air 2 both fall short in the physics sub test their scores in the graphics sub test are in a completely different league than the Tab S2.

BaseMark X 1.1 - Dunes (High Quality, Onscreen)

BaseMark X 1.1 - Hangar (High Quality, Onscreen)

BaseMark X 1.1 - Dunes (High Quality, Offscreen)

BaseMark X 1.1 - Hangar (High Quality, Offscreen)

In BaseMark X we again see the Tab S2 sitting fairly far behind the iPad Air 2 and Nexus 9. If I was considering the Tab S2 8.0 which retails for $399 these results would be perfectly fine, as the major competition at that price point is the iPad Mini 4 which has Apple A8 SoC. At $499 the GPU performance simply isn't competitive, and it outlines the issues with trying to make one SoC fit many different devices.

GFXBench 3.0 T-Rex HD (Onscreen)

GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan (Onscreen)

GFXBench 3.0 T-Rex HD (Offscreen)

GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan (Offscreen)

In GFXBench the Tab S2 is in the same situation as the previous tests. GPU performance is right around where the Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone 6 are, and it's just not good enough to justify the $499 price tag of the Tab S2.

Like I said on the last page, the fact that most Android tablet OEMs aren't providing CPU and GPU performance that is anywhere near competitive with the iPad Air 2 is a very bad thing for the entire tablet industry. Apple decided to not even update the iPad Air 2 despite it being a year old, and it's hard to blame them when nobody is close to them as far as performance is concerned. Having various manufacturers pushing each other to constantly improve is one of the primary drivers behind the advancements made in the mobile space, and I'm concerned that this no longer exists in the tablet market as the only tablets that come close are ones with NVIDIA's SoCs which also happen to be tablets that don't ship in very great volume.

System Performance: NAND

While it's still not advertised in specifications like on laptops, a mobile device's internal storage is now being recognized as a highly relevant part of overall system performance. Internal eMMC NAND solutions have traditionally had very poor storage performance, and different vendors have done different things to address the problem.

Internal NAND - Random Read

Internal NAND - Random Write

Internal NAND - Sequential Read

Internal NAND - Sequential Write

Both sets of read and write results are right around what you'd expect. Random writes in particular are very fast, and all the other results are fairly similar to those of the Galaxy Note 5. I don't expect internal NAND speeds will be a bottleneck on the Galaxy Tab S2, which is expected and fitting of a flagship tablet.

System Performance Display Analysis
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  • WorldWithoutMadness - Thursday, October 15, 2015 - link

    Pardon, is it typo on intro and design table, 'Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.4" ', is it really S2 or Samsung went wonky with this tablet line? Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, October 15, 2015 - link

    That was indeed a typo. Thanks! Reply
  • donnieevans - Saturday, November 14, 2015 - link

    I have a Samsung Galaxy Note Pro and this is the best table I've ever had! It's 32GB, can open multiple apps at the same time. The display is also amazing! Found at: http://www.consumerrunner.com/top-10-best-tablets/ Reply
  • GodHatesFAQs - Thursday, October 15, 2015 - link

    I bought a Tab S 8.0 earlier in the month, but had to return it over PenTile pixel arrangement which caused everything to look fuzzy and was not sharp at all. Display just didn't have the wow factor of last year's model. I think around 400ppi on RGB or 600ppi on RGBG PenTile is the real limit (at least for my eyes) for a display to be really sharp.

    I really hope Apple moves to 3072x2034 (3x rather than 2x) with iPad Air 3 with locally dimmed backlight like the iPhone 6s/Plus. It won't be as deep black as AMOLED displays, but I'm not willing to sacrifice sharpness for deep blacks.
    Reply
  • Solandri - Thursday, October 15, 2015 - link

    The whole point of pentile RGBG is that you don't need 600 ppi RGBG to equal 400 ppi RGB. The green resolution for that pentile display would be 600 ppi, while the red and blue would be 300 ppi.

    Your eyes are sharpest in green, with blue being really bad, and red only slightly better. Pentile attempts to match that (or put another way, RGB has way more R and B subpixels than it needs. Just look at the images on this site where the R, G, and B channels have been reduced to 1/3 and 1/4 their original resolution. The image with the reduced blue channel is nearly indistinguishable from the original. The one with the reduced red channel is barely distinguishable. While the one with the reduced green channel is absolutely terrible.

    http://nfggames.com/games/ntsc/visual.shtm

    In other words, if the individual pixels are smaller than the resolving limit of your eye (about 0.5 arc-minutes), then 400 ppi RGB can be replicated with 400 ppi RGBG pentile. If you don't believe me, consider that every color video format uses this trick to reduce bandwidth by reducing blue and usually red resolution. You've already been looking at the equivalent of pentile images on TV your entire life.
    Reply
  • krumme - Thursday, October 15, 2015 - link

    Thanx.
    Look at samsung galaxy s2 rgb next to a s3 pentile and its pretty obvious the s3 is far far sharper subjectively.
    As for the tab s2 beeing unsharp its damn nonsense to me and i regard myself as very sensitive and prefer higher than 1080p on a 5 display. I dont know how close the person above uses the tab s2 but for my part its very much like my note 3 and it means the tab s2 looks sharper to me.
    Now the s2 is damn light. Only a bit more than a s6plus lol so you use it more like a smartphone but never is it closer than 40cm for my usage. Its a 8 inch.
    Reply
  • Wwhat - Tuesday, October 20, 2015 - link

    NTSC was a very bad example of a color format, and you switched cause and consequence around, they had too little bandwidth, so they used desperate tricks to cram color into it, that's not an ideal situation.

    The same thing is still done but now to save cost and chip/PCB bandwidth, but that doesn't mean it's equal to the real thing.
    Plus they go for the average person, which means that there can be a large number of people for whom it DOES make a difference.

    Hell, when they introduced MP3 they also said that 128Kbit (and joint stereo) was the same as CD quality 'basically' (sometimes they even claimed the same for half that bitrate). But such things are based on theoretical papers and on the average person and on 'good enough for now' thinking, and don't represent a perfect world.

    The difference between a person with very sharp eyesight and the average person can be astounding, some people have twice or even four times better eyesight than average. There are notable incidents in that with famous astronomers and jet fighter pilots demonstrating the difference in a pronounced manner. And it's a pure coincidence if you are such a person, but they do exist. But at the same time there are many people who truly could not tell the difference of course, but there is no reason to start denying each other's existence. Nor is there a reason to feel superior/inferior since we all have strengths and weaknesses in various areas.
    Reply
  • thedons1983 - Saturday, October 17, 2015 - link

    I'm sorry, but there is something wrong with your eyes... The one thing that these tablets have going for them, is the incredible screen. If you can't appreciate the quality of it, then there is something wrong with your sight. Reply
  • theduckofdeath - Sunday, October 18, 2015 - link

    Full time Apple trolls on the internet?! What a shocker! Reply
  • lurker22 - Thursday, October 15, 2015 - link

    Issue with android tablets, will they get software updates in a year or two Reply

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