GPU Performance & Power

We also finished up our GPU testing for the Galaxy S20 Ultra, and are able to showcase the Snapdragon 865’s true power efficiency as well as long-term performance for the first time.

The new Adreno 650 iGPU is a continuation of the architecture that has powered Qualcomm’s last two generations of SoCs. The company is advertising a 25% boost in performance, which we were able to verify in our performance preview of the SoC. What wasn’t very clear back then was the power efficiency of the new chip – again, our figures on the QRD865 weren’t very accurate – so testing out the new chip on an actual commercial device will be a much more representative measurement.

This is also the first time we’re able to showcase the sustained performance figures of the new generation SoC. Qualcomm had put a lot of emphasis on this aspect of the new chip, claiming it’s able to throttle a lot less than some other competing devices in the market. We hadn’t had the time to test this on the QRD865, so the S20 Ultra here will be the first device of 2020 going through this test. As a reminder, sustained performance not only is linked to the power consumption of the SoC, but also the thermal dissipation capabilities of the phone that it’s employed in, as well as the thermal limits imposed by the vendor.

3DMark Sling Shot 3.1 Extreme Unlimited - Physics

Starting off with the 3DMark Physics test, the new chip behaves fantastically, and even manages to perform better than the QRD865. The new Cortex-A77 cores are doing extremely well, and most interestingly, the sustained performance showcased by the unit is also excellent.

3DMark Sling Shot 3.1 Extreme Unlimited - Graphics

The graphics test of 3DMark is more GPU bound – and here again it showcased no throttling. This was a bit odd in the context that I did see more significant throttling in GFXBench…

GFXBench Aztec Ruins - High - Vulkan/Metal - Off-screen

In the Aztec High test, peak performance is identical to what we’ve seen on the QRD865, and sustained performance after a while throttles down by 25%. Although it’s a good showcase, the new Galaxy S20 Ultra here doesn’t fare any better than some of the best Snapdragon 855 devices out there, as well as lagging behind Apple’s iPhones.

GFXBench Aztec High Offscreen Power Efficiency
(System Active Power)
  Mfc. Process FPS Avg. Power
iPhone 11 Pro (A13) Warm N7P 26.14 3.83 6.82 fps/W
iPhone 11 Pro (A13) Cold / Peak N7P 34.00 6.21 5.47 fps/W
Galaxy S20 Ultra (Snapdragon 865) N7P 20.35 3.91 5.19 fps/W
iPhone XS (A12) Warm N7 19.32 3.81 5.07 fps/W
iPhone XS (A12) Cold / Peak N7 26.59 5.56 4.78 fps/W
Mate 30 Pro (Kirin 990 4G) N7 16.50 3.96 4.16 fps/W
Galaxy 10+ (Snapdragon 855) N7 16.17 4.69 3.44 fps/W
Galaxy 10+ (Exynos 9820) 8LPP 15.59 4.80 3.24 fps/W

Doing power measurements on the S20U, we see quite better figures than experienced on the QRD865. Thus, the Snapdragon 865 moves up in the efficiency scoreboard, inching closer to Apple’s A-series chipsets.

What’s interesting to see here is the absolute power figure itself coming in a little under 4W. This is an excellent improvement and reduction compared to the Snapdragon 855 last year, and it means heat generation should be a lot more in check compared to previous generation flagships.

GFXBench Aztec Ruins - Normal - Vulkan/Metal - Off-screen

GFXBench Aztec Normal Offscreen Power Efficiency
(System Active Power)
  Mfc. Process FPS Avg. Power
iPhone 11 Pro (A13) Warm N7P 73.27 4.07 18.00 fps/W
iPhone 11 Pro (A13) Cold / Peak N7P 91.62 6.08 15.06 fps/W
iPhone XS (A12) Warm N7 55.70 3.88 14.35 fps/W
Galaxy S20 Ultra (Snapdragon 865) N7P 54.09 3.91 13.75 fps/W
iPhone XS (A12) Cold / Peak N7 76.00 5.59 13.59 fps/W
Mate 30 Pro (Kirin 990 4G) N7 41.68 4.01 10.39 fps/W
Galaxy 10+ (Snapdragon 855) N7 40.63 4.14 9.81 fps/W
Galaxy 10+ (Exynos 9820) 8LPP 40.18 4.62 8.69 fps/W

The Aztec Normal test also shows excellent absolute peak power figures, and peak performance is where it’s expected to be at. Meanwhile, throttling on the S20 Ultra is again at around -25% of peak performance for sustained scenarios.

GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 Off-screen

GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 Offscreen Power Efficiency
(System Active Power)
  Mfc. Process FPS Avg. Power
iPhone 11 Pro (A13) Warm N7P 100.58 4.21 23.89 fps/W
Galaxy S20 Ultra (Snapdragon 865) N7P 88.93 4.20 21.15 fps/W
iPhone 11 Pro (A13) Cold / Peak N7P 123.54 6.04 20.45 fps/W
iPhone XS (A12) Warm N7 76.51 3.79 20.18 fps/W
iPhone XS (A12) Cold / Peak N7 103.83 5.98 17.36 fps/W
Mate 30 Pro (Kirin 990 4G) N7 75.69 5.04 15.01 fps/W
Galaxy 10+ (Snapdragon 855) N7 70.67 4.88 14.46 fps/W
Galaxy 10+ (Exynos 9820) 8LPP 68.87 5.10 13.48 fps/W
Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon 845) 10LPP 61.16 5.01 11.99 fps/W
Mate 20 Pro (Kirin 980) N7 54.54 4.57 11.93 fps/W
Galaxy S9 (Exynos 9810) 10LPP 46.04 4.08 11.28 fps/W
Galaxy S8 (Snapdragon 835) 10LPE 38.90 3.79 10.26 fps/W
Galaxy S8 (Exynos 8895) 10LPE 42.49 7.35 5.78 fps/W

In Manhattan 3.1, things are also looking better for the Snapdragon 865. The improved power figures do have it now able to leap the A12 in power efficiency. The sustained performance comes in at 73% of peak performance in our testing conditions.

GFXBench T-Rex 2.7 Off-screen

GFXBench T-Rex Offscreen Power Efficiency
(System Active Power)
  Mfc. Process FPS Avg. Power
iPhone 11 Pro (A13) Warm N7P 289.03 4.78 60.46 fps/W
iPhone 11 Pro (A13) Cold / Peak N7P 328.90 5.93 55.46 fps/W
Galaxy S20 Ultra (Snapdragon 865) N7P 205.37 3.83 53.30 fps/W
iPhone XS (A12) Warm N7 197.80 3.95 50.07 fps/W
iPhone XS (A12) Cold / Peak N7 271.86 6.10 44.56 fps/W
Galaxy 10+ (Snapdragon 855) N7 167.16 4.10 40.70 fps/W
Mate 30 Pro  (Kirin 990 4G) N7 152.27 4.34 35.08 fps/W
Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon 845) 10LPP 150.40 4.42 34.00 fps/W
Galaxy 10+ (Exynos 9820) 8LPP 166.00 4.96 33.40fps/W
Galaxy S9 (Exynos 9810) 10LPP 141.91 4.34 32.67 fps/W
Galaxy S8 (Snapdragon 835) 10LPE 108.20 3.45 31.31 fps/W
Mate 20 Pro (Kirin 980) N7 135.75 4.64 29.25 fps/W
Galaxy S8 (Exynos 8895) 10LPE 121.00 5.86 20.65 fps/W

Finally, in T-Rex, we’re again seeing a healthy boost in efficiency compared to previous figures, but in terms of sustained performance, the S865 is still largely behind the A13 chips.

Besides the improved power efficiency numbers, we’ve now measured on the Galaxy S20 Ultra, the one thing that I really liked about the new device’s behavior is its thermal behavior. The phone wouldn’t exceed 41-42°C peak skin temperature, remaining only relatively lukewarm no matter the kind of workload you’d throw at it. This is some excellent thermal management and I appreciate this a lot more than having higher performance that leads to the phone getting uncomfortably hot. Samsung deserves some praise here.

Fantastic Performance; Stay Tuned For The Full Review

When it comes to performance, the Galaxy S20 Ultra has so far been an immensely impressive device, easily being the single fastest, most responsive, and most fluid phone I’ve had the pleasure to use, quite far ahead of any second contender. The combination of a 120Hz screen with the new Snapdragon 865 is a match made in heaven, and people prioritizing this aspect of a phone will seemingly not be disappointed in the S20 line-up.

There’s still a lot of work to do until we get the full review finished, notably still waiting on the Exynos variants of the devices. One aspect that I want to make note of right now is that there’s been some concerns in regards to the battery life aspect of the new 120Hz mode of the phones, and I can confirm that in this setting the S20 Ultra showcases worse battery life than the S10+ (-10% in our web test), even though the new unit has a more efficient SoC as well as a 21% bigger battery. Samsung’s implementation of the 120Hz mode comes at quite a large power hit that’s very disappointing in how it behaves, and the device in general seems not quite as efficient even at 60Hz.

I’ll be posting a separate battery preview once I get more battery testing numbers together, and of course we’ll have a full feature review out once all the thorough testing is completed.

Intro & System Performance, CPU Power
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  • peevee - Friday, March 13, 2020 - link

    TL;DR: in normal mode which will be used by 99% of customers, without the battery-killing "Performance" option enabled, S20 Ultra is about the same as S10+, and even with the option still trails last year iPhones by a whole lot.
  • patel21 - Friday, March 13, 2020 - link

    Yes, I just thought the same.
    I just focused the SD865/60Hz scores, and ignored the 120Hz and P mode.

    The reason being even if I or any sane person considering buying S20 series device, its either going to be S20 with its 4000mah battery or the S20+ with 4500mah one.

    So when I think of how fast is it from S10+ with the same battery size as S20, the numbers are not interesting at all.

    You also need to keep in mind that S20 Ultra is a Huge phone, with lots of body space to cool it down, so the performance numbers might be different from the smaller models, and whatever battery/power the new architecture of SD865 is going to save is more probably going to be wasted by the external modem.
  • Alistair - Friday, March 13, 2020 - link

    Yeah I'm most interested in the S20 normal results, not the + or Ultra. It is already an extra $300 over the iPhone 11, I'm not really interested in the phone that costs double. I'm not interested in the 11 Pro Max etc. either.
  • flyingpants265 - Friday, March 13, 2020 - link

    Reviewers love to focus on superficial stuff like specs and benchmarks.

    Ever notice how flagship phones lag, even on release? The software is EXTREMELY badly written. A lot of these apps should be using maximum 1 megabyte of RAM.. Instead they're loading gigabytes of assets and libraries, makes no sense at all, but makes it much easier on the developers. I wish Terry A. Davis had written a modern smartphone OS. Multi-tasking support should be better, and app-switching should be instantaneous. Even Microsoft Windows can do that.

    Oh, and also,
    No front speakers = no buy.
    No headphone jack = no buy.
    And unless it performs miracles (it doesn't), $999 = no buy.
  • Alistair - Saturday, March 14, 2020 - link

    That's why I picked up my first iPhone since the iPhone 4 this week. Cheap, fast, works (yet sadly filled with stupid Apple decisions, but ones I can live with). I want iMessage for the browser, and T9 dialing, basic stuff that Apple refuses to do out of pigheadedness. But it works, battery life (stand by time in particular) is amazing. My less than one year old flagship Android phone, it's Android auto stopped working (the voice assistant), and Google has known about the bugs for 6 months now and hasn't fixed them. Bought the iPhone for Carplay, which is great. Only problem is I use all google services, so I have to append "on Youtube music" to every request, which is annoying.

    Android and Apple both need to add a default music player setting option, for god's sake.
  • NickCPC - Saturday, March 14, 2020 - link

    I'm a Brit and have had the Exynos 990 S20 Ultra since Monday - really impressed - previous phone being a Pixel 2 XL. Completely agree with the review that the 120Hz mode is a significant step forward - I don't even mind it being a lower resolution. I guess I'm coming forward 3 CPU generations (S835) even though it's less than 2.5yrs since I got the P2XL. Completely expecting the S865 to be superior to the E990 but it's still overall a very good phone. Ironically not had much chance to use the camera yet, but speakers are infinitely better than the P2.
  • 4k HDR - Saturday, March 14, 2020 - link

    You forget one important test 4K HDR YouTube video with full resolution of the S20 ultra cause S10 Exynos and S10 snapdragon 855 lags if you watch these kind of extreme resolution videos and throttling so fast snapdragon throttle even worst than Exyons.
  • Tlh97 - Sunday, March 15, 2020 - link

    Can you add Perf/W efficiency of SD865 GPU in warn condition like in Apple chipsets?
  • Quantumz0d - Sunday, March 15, 2020 - link

    Finally some generational improvements like 820 and 835 (efficiency), I think this is a good platform to buy and get it going for a long time since the battery consumption of these planned obsolescence devices will be at-least good enough to keep them going for 3+ years instead of just 2.

    Coming to SPEC, yeah as usual. Apple's iPhone 7 is defeating this, but one simple question, will the consumer market, Including the supply and demand with respect to the ROI and performance (meaning people's usage patterns and their satisfaction rate) so does these benchmarks translate to the pricing and the user experience ? to put it simply, an iPhone 8 or X as shown in SPEC, will they be able to beat an S10 or S20 experience ? I don't think so at all..

    Next up, Samsung S20 series phones are ugly and looks like trash, their camera module is so big and thick and it's an eye sore comparing it to the Note 8,9, S10 this is a huge downgrade, when DJ Koh left Samsung, or since the rumors were coming, I speculated changes but not for worse.

    - Lack of SpO2 sensor in Samsung health app now, it's just a pedometer now.
    - Removal of 3.5mm jack, what the fuck is this ? This phone is right up at over $1000 without tax and it lacks basic stuff like that for no reason except for greed, their stupid Galaxy Buds do not even have AptX or AptXLL and they use cheap shit Balanced Armatures and demanding over $100 for that ANC, absolute rip off when you see their guts sporting coin cells which could be slot loaded or such but we have another planned obsolescence gadget. AKG is trash, AKG N5005 is shit, they have huge regression in the whole QC, Sound, K3003i was great but this is nothing. Shows in their Galaxy Buds and inbox set.
    - Insane price for the base version as well.
    - Seeing the camera, they removed that Dual Pixel PDAF and got focusing issues for some nonabinning bullshit.
    - Still having a hole despite showing off their Under Screen Camera in 2018, in China.
    - Their Knox chip, I wonder Exynos will have bootloader unlock or not this time and how hard is it.
    - No stereo speakers which are FF, I know their sound is great on Note10 but it should have been done by now.
    - 120Hz for bragging rights, downgraded the display resolution to FHD. It's a shame when their OP7P panel does it at 1440P, they couldn't give the base version at 5K mah ? Zenfone 6 did it last year, LG V60 is doing it this year..
  • cheetah2k - Monday, March 16, 2020 - link

    How does it compare to the exynos 990 S20 Ultra?? This is the question everyone is after!

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