Jun 11 AT 2:20 PM Taylor Wimberly 36 Comments

High-end Android GPU showdown

During our last high-end Android phone showdown we learned that Qualcomm’s Snapdragon was the fastest mobile processor currently available in the United States, but faster platforms are coming later this summer.

The Samsung Galaxy S features the 1 GHz Hummingbird CPU (S5PC110) which they claim has the fastest GPU and the upcoming Droid 2 (and Droid X) feature the new Texas Instruments OMAP3630.  Both of these new processors, the Samsung S5PC110 and TI OMAP3630, use a 45nm production process which offers lower power consumption and they are cheaper to make.

I’d love to put both of these new phones through a series of benchmarks, but I have neither on hand at this time. Instead we are going to look at graphics processing units (GPU) and see how they match up.

We know which current U.S. phones have the fastest processors (Snapdragon), but which Android phones have the fastest GPUs?

The Players

For this round of testing, we are going to be looking at five current Android phones, plus a preview of one upcoming. We are mainly comparing the two most dominant GPUs found in Android phones – the Adreno GPU found inside several Qualcomm chipsets and the PowerVR SGX that appears with a couple different CPUs.

  • myTouch 3G Slide: 600 MHz Qualcomm MSM7227 – Adreno GPU
  • Droid: 550 MHz OMAP3430 – PowerVR SGX 530
  • Nexus One (Android 2.2): 1 GHz Snapdragon – Adreno GPU
  • EVO 4G: 1 GHz Snapdragon – Adreno GPU
  • Droid Incredible: 1 GHz Snapdragon – Adreno GPU
  • Galaxy S: 1 GHz S5PC110 “Hummingbird” – PowerVR SGX 540

All phones in this test are running Android 2.1, except for the Nexus One which has Android 2.2 installed. I had three Snapdragon phones, so I wanted to try and measure the graphics performance increase (if any) from the update to Android 2.2.

Every phone in this benchmark was also running a stock version of Android.

GLBenchmark 1.1

First up is GLBenchmark which can be downloaded from GLBenchmark.com. This application includes over 30 individual benchmarks, but we are going to focus on two tests – GLBenchmark HD ES 1.1 and GLBenchmark PRO ES 1.1.

GLBenchmark

As you can see, the mid-range myTouch 3G Slide comes out on top in this first test. This is because the Slide is the only phone tested with a HVGA display while the others are WVGA. The Slide only has to push 153,600 pixels (480×320), while most of the other phones mentioned are pushing 384,000 pixels (480×800). The Droid runs at the highest resolution (480×845) and pushes the most pixels at 409,920.

Even though the myTouch 3G Slide has the slowest CPU, it is able to perform quite well in GPU tests because it has to do less work than the higher resolution phones.

For the high-res phones, the Droid and its PowerVR SGX GPU come out on top. This is a complete reversal from our previous system benchmarks, where the Droid was coming in behind all the Snapdragon phones.

Looking at the Snapdragon phones, we find some interesting results. Even though the Incredible and EVO are essentially the same hardware, we see the Incredible is slightly faster. This could be evidence of the 30 fps limit in place on the EVO, which looks like the Incredible is lacking. The Nexus One with Android 2.2 comes out on top, which we expected thanks to the new JIT compiler.

NenaMark1

NenaMark is a benchmark of OpenGL ES 2.0, using programmable shaders for graphical effects such as reflections, dynamic shadows, parametric surfaces, particles and different light models to push the GPU to its limits. It can be downloaded from the Android Market or nena.se.

NenaMark1

Once again we see similar results as the GLBenchmark tests. The lower resolution Slide pumps the most frames, the Droid tops the high-res phones, and the EVO brings up the rear.

Neocore

Neocore is an OpenGL ES 1.1 graphics performance benchmark for Android devices. It shows off some of the techniques that are possible on accelerated platforms such as 1-pass light maps and bump mapping. This benchmark was developed by Qualcomm to show off the graphics capabilities of the Adreno GPU.

Neocore

Wrapping up our GPU testing we turn to Neocore, which is one of the oldest Android benchmarks. This time around we threw in a result from the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S. I did not have the Galaxy S on-hand, so we borrowed some benchmark scores from a post over at FrAndroid.

In this test the Galaxy S easily crushes all other Android phones with its newer PowerVR SGX 540 GPU. We were told the Galaxy S could deliver 2x-3x the graphics performance of Snapdragon phones and it appears to deliver.

Surprisingly or not, the Droid comes in last for this benchmark. Neocore was designed for Adreno graphics (featured in the Qualcomm chipsets) and the Droid features the PowerVR SGX 530.

Conclusions

This is by all means not the end of this debate, but I think we can draw several conclusions from this round on GPU benchmarks.

  • The Droid and its PowerVR GPU is faster than the Snapdragon phones in game performance.
  • Most Android phones will see a graphics performance boost with Android 2.2.
  • Phones with lower resolution displays (Slide) produce big results because they do less work.
  • The Samsung Galaxy S appears to have the fastest GPU – the PowerVR SGX 540.

We should also note that the upcoming Droid 2 and Droid X on Verizon will likely feature the newer TI OMAP 3630 processor, but it still uses the same PowerVR SGX530 GPU found in the Motorola Droid. We should expect better performance in the new phones thanks to the faster CPU (and maybe higher clocked GPU), but it looks like the Samsung Galaxy S will be the king of graphics performance.

Feedback

For those that hack and overclock, what kind of scores are you seeing? What other Android GPU benchmarks have you tested and which do you think provides the most accurate results? Are you surprised by the results of the lower-resolution Slide? Does the fast GPU found in the Galaxy S change your mind about purchasing it?

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • http://Website Jesse

    I want your job.

    • http://Website AndroidPower

      Here is the latest score of Neocore on Tegra250 based device. The performance is very interesting. Half of what it is on GalaxyS and G2.

      Neocore running on Tegra 2 at 26fps Here is the link:

  • http://Website Ryan

    The Droid is a tough cookie the thing many people tend to forget is that the qualcom 1ghz proocessor that most view as god is not the best in game playback and while the phones with the qualcom may perform better as far as operating with the OS the same is not to be said with the gpu performance there is still And will for a log time be a place for the Droid in the smartphone world! Droid FTW!

  • http://www.youtube.com/emogamer Christopher Chavez

    This also translates into “swiping” of the homescreens…
    I’ve noticed that its a lot more choppy on a stock N1 and my stock Evo, than it was on my G1 or Maxtouch Slide…
    I always said it was cuz the N1/Evo had more pixels to move but I always figured the Snapdragon would compensate for that. =/
    I know Froyo helped a lot with this on the N1 so let’s see how it pans out with the Evo :P

  • http://Website Aladar

    FYI, just did the Nena benchmark on Desire with 2.1, got 11.2fps. Nice score :)

  • http://www.typhon4android.org/ Mike Leahy

    Nice post.. A quick comment.. Android 2.2 is going to improve CPU bound performance and not the GPU performance. The good thing is that game loops will execute quicker and the CPU bound stuff will be faster and the game will be faster over all. The nice thing about the JIT is it opens the door to dynamic per frame buffer filling such that you can do more CPU side computation and fill one buffer per frame and make one GL draw call instead of many. This can speed up certain graphics techniques and give really nice results, but this will be possible with JIT / FroYo only (or native code/dev).

    The second the PowerVR SGX 540 is the same GPU that is expected to be seen in the OMAP4 processor, so Samsung will not have a definitive winner on the GPU front for long as I understand we will see OMAP4 devices by the end of the year. It’s quite likely though the PowerVR SGX 540 based devices will be status quo for the 3rd generation Android devices. Perhaps it may even be appropriate to call the Galaxy S the leading edge of the 3rd generation though I’m sure it’s CPU may be good it will be on the lower side of the 3rd gen Android devices, but the GPU should be adequate to keep it in the running against next year models.

  • http://Website brian

    So, I love my EVO It’s such a sweet little tank. I personally don’t use my Evo for lots of gaming, It’s a movie, internet, social, and txt/call, my xbox handles the gaming in my life lol, so long as the GPU can handle movies and an occasional “world war” game I am content. Then 2.2 will be sexy! Plus the gorgeous screen is great for reading blogs and books

  • http://Website GuardianAli

    What most people need to realize is that with a mature custom rom like Cyno or Bugless Beast..you can use SetCPU app from app store and make your Moto Droid run 1ghz rock solid like I am…some even have gotten it running at 1.1 and 1.2 but 900mhz – 1ghz seems to be the magic rock sold point with no bugs or issues or heating probs.

    So it might not be a ‘snapdragon’ but right now i am running a 1ghz Droid rock solid with the benefit of the PoverVr GPU to boot. Best of ALL worlds ;)

    • http://Website Mark C

      I second that. I’m sporting a Droid 1 @ 1.2ghz and it out performs my Droid X in many ways even with it’s native 1ghz cpu. It’s truly a screaming demon! ;)

  • NPHHaru

    I’ll note here that I _can’t_ say more. BUT. A few days ago a device (not black, which is uncommon for an android phone pre-release) crossed my desk for some work. I ran Neocore on it for shits, and it hit 38fps. This is a _very_ pre-release device, from a company that I think nobody has on their radar right now (a big player nonetheless) for android. The phone is _zippy_. 38fps isn’t bad for a device that’s firmware/integration is clearly in it’s infancy.

    • http://Website NeoteriX

      Well the solution is simple: take the company rep out for some drinks at a local bar, get him liquored up, hit em over the head, grab prototype device, sell device to Gizmodo for expose… Profit!!!

    • http://Website Bronto

      The Philips Astorios is crap. Stop hyping it.

      • NPHHaru

        Nope, not Philips :)

    • http://Website Drew

      As a behold2 owner.. I don’t care how fast any of their new stuff is. I will never purchase something by them again. You never know if when you get the box home if it will have a phone in it or a pack of lies.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dalex7777 dalex7777

    There is a known-issue with the EVO where it’s video is clipped to 30fps in 2D and 3D.

    Here is the Google issue tracking page here: http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=8942

  • http://Website spruleme

    I just ran the GLBenchmark on my moto droid running 2.2 with it overclocked at 1.1ghz. It scored a 5.7 fps on PRO ES 1.1 and 38.9 fps on HD ES 1.1. A little conflicting data here, but I would chalk this up to this phone being loaded with all my apps and not being a vanilla rom flash.

  • http://Website Dell Damon

    This sucks a little and idk if man know, but the fps on the EVO is actually capped at 30; driver issues w/ HTC, so hopefully they will get that fixed soon. Google has said that their goal is 60fps, so I hope they work w/ HTC and get a fix out very, very soon.

    • http://Website Johnnie

      I seriously doubt that cap is what is holding the evo back… especially on the harder test. Does it really seem so unreasonable that the evo performed in-line with other devices powered by similar hardware?

      I guarantee that the cap being removed won’t make the evo suddenly pull 60 fps on the hard test. I also doubt that it will cause the evo to suddenly score significantly higher than other phones powered by the exact same chip.

  • Uncemister

    I tested my new MyTouch 3G Slide on the GL benchmarks:

    10.2 fps on GLBenchmark PRO ES 1.1
    and 60 fps on GLBenchmark HD ES 1.1

    just got it two days ago so its not loaded up with apps. One other thing that may contribute to the slides better performance is its much higher memory.

    • http://Website prot

      It’s not mouch higher memory, it’s much lower screen resolution – 320 x 480 (myTouch) vs. 480 x 800 (Nexus One, Evo 4G, Droid Incredible) and 480 x 854 (original Droid).

      • Uncemister

        Right I saw that, but I noticed that when I had my Nexus, I’d be lucky if I had more than 100mb after starting it, with the mt3gS I still have way over 175 when I started it.

        But you basically summed it up, smaller screen doesn’t have to push as many pixels =3

        • http://Website rj7855

          My nexus has 218Mb memory free after using it 155 hours since the last reboot. the original shipping rom could only use 50% of the ram this is since long been resolved by CM and others (and I think also on official Froyo)

  • http://Website Chidori602

    mytouch FTW

  • http://Website Matt Yearian

    I wish they would benchmarks with HTC Sense disabled to see if there is s performance improvement.

  • http://imgur.com/CCUV8.png Rob Riddle

    Managed to get 5.9 and 40.2 on my Motorola Droid. It is not running stock though. I have cyanogenmod and I have overclocked it to 800mhz.

  • http://Website Pesheto

    Hey guys,
    on GLBenchmark Pro Es 1.1 CPU skinning i have 456 frames(9.1 fps)
    and on GLBenchmark HD Es 1.1 CPU skinning i have 900 frames(30.0 fps)
    nice results :P

  • http://Website phani9

    Why is the Sony Xperia X10 missing from this list? Its an awesome phone.

  • http://Website xynetech

    Just wanted to share incase you are interested..
    I did test my Galaxy S with the tests below and the results are..

    * for NenaMark, tried running it 3 times to get the best result.

    GLBenchmark 1.1:

    GLB Pro ES 1.1 CPU Skinning – 1062 frames (21.2 FPS)
    GLB HD ES 1.1 CPU Skinning – 1671 frames (55.7FPS)
    GLB Pro ES 1.1 – 784 frames (15.7 FPS)
    GLB HD ES 1.1 – 1671 frames (55.6FPS)

    NenaMark1 – 39.9 FPS (lowest is 38.6 FPS when run right after GLBenchmark)

  • http://Website juliano

    Milestone over in 1k, pro es 1.1—> 5.9 fps ; hd es 1.1 38.6 fps.
    Milestone @550Hz, pro es 1.1—> 4.5 fps ; hd es 1.1 38.5 fps.

  • http://Website Ramon

    my g1 got 28.4 neocore rooted

  • http://Website Jimothy

    My EVO managed 13 FPS in the NenaMark1 test… but it is overclocked to 1.2 Ghz and also running Froyo. All that and it only managed 3 more FPS than what this guy managed. Such a slow phone. Will be looking forward to the Samsung Epic :) I’ll probably give my EVO away…

  • http://Website Jason

    My Evo just managed a 12.8 fps in Nenamark1, a 29.8 fps in NeoCore, a 3.6 fps in GL Pro, and a 41.4 fps in GL HD. That basically puts the EVO in 2nd place in 3 out of 4 rounds and 3rd place in the first round. Customs Roms can really do wonders when you remove all the bloatware from Sprint.

    And to Jimothy….you can always give me your EVO if you want

  • http://Website Frenicx

    Dead thread brought to life!
    T-Mobile G2 by HTC
    GLBench Pro GPU 14.7 FPS
    GLBench HD GPU 58.0
    GLBench Pro CPU 28.8
    GLBench HD CPU 58.2
    Nenamark1 32.2
    Neocore 57.5
    Lets get the droid x in here

  • monlosez
  • Tyler

    Reminds me of the old Nvidia 5200FX demos.

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