Browsermark, GLBench, Game Compatibility, Battery Life
Rightware's Browsermark continues the "Good, not great," theme we've seen from Bay Trail. The gap between Chrome and Internet Explorer is particularly large on this system, even after we retested several times, with reboots between each set of runs. Using IE, the Transformer Book's performance slips towards the rear and is just barely faster than the original Surface. Under Chrome, it's much stronger.
GLBenchmark's off-screen Egypt HD and fill-rate tests come in just behind the reference Z3770 tablet that we tested for Bay Trail's debut. It's interesting to see how fill rate doesn't always correspond to raw performance -- the iPad 4's fill rate is nearly twice SHIELD's, but SHIELD is faster in the actual benchmark.
General performance here is reasonable and in the midrange for tablets in this price range.
Looking At Game Compatibility:
I decided to put the Asus tablet through its paces on some other titles, to see how the system would fare. One of the downsides to Clover Trail was that the tablet was basically useless for anything but the most basic gaming; even old titles like Torchlight couldn't run smoothly. I loaded Torchlight, Orcs Must Die, The Walking Dead and settled in to play -- or at least, tried to.
Intel clearly has some work to do in the game compatibility department. I picked these three basic games for low-end compatibility, simple graphics / gameplay, and general fun that wouldn't require much in the way of graphics horsepower. Of the three, Torchlight crashed repeatedly, only once allowing me into game, and dying promptly thereafter. Troubleshooting was ineffective -- the game simply couldn't run for any length of time.
The Walking Dead, in contrast, could run. While the menus and options settings were extremely slow, once the game had launched, the actual performance fine. The massive rendering errors, however, weren't. Certain camera views rendered perfectly, while others catastrophically failed, resulting in noise, static, and flickering random textures firing across the screen. While the game still ran, it was impossible to respond to anything that occurred on camera.
That leaves Orcs Must Die, which actually ran just fine. I had to drop the resolution to 1024x768 to pick up a playable frame rate, but the game worked, and that's far more than can be said for Clover Trail. By the same token, however, if you really care about gaming -- even low-end gaming -- AMD's Kabini does outperform BT in terms of both driver support and general frame rates. Then again, if you're buying a $350 tablet hybrid, gaming probably isn't at the top of your concerns and the AMD solution will give you less CPU horsepower and likely worse battery life.
Just be advised that for now, Intel still has some issues to work through on the gaming front. Simple games downloaded from the Microsoft store, like Jetpack Joyride, run just fine and anything in the MS Store obviously has been tested with the platform.
Battery life on the Bay Trail system was excellent. I tested the tablet with a high-quality Blu-ray rip of the 2009 movie Star Trek. The film encode was done in MPEG-4 High@L4.0 with a 6.77GB encoded file (7.6MBps overall bit rate). In other words, I picked an image quality and file size that would give the chip a workout.
The result was just over 11 hours worth of battery life -- enough to loop the movie more than five times. No doubt, impressive results.