Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Benchmark First Look, A Mobile Powerhouse Emerges

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Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 - A View Of Performance

Based on its features, specs and power consumption claims, Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 835 SoC (or Mobile Platform, as Qualcomm is referring to it now) was already looking like a notable improvement over the Snapdragon 820 and 821. The Snapdragon 835 is expected to provide up to 11 hours of 4K video playback and more than a day of talk time on next-gen smartphones with a single charge, for starters. However, it will also serve up hours of VR gaming and claimed general performance lifts of up to 25 percent in both CPU and graphics/gaming workloads.

Regardless, until now, we could only speculate about the Snapdragon 835’s performance. Qualcomm, however, recently invited us out to its sprawling San Diego campus to put its new chip and mobile platform to the test. The numbers we came away with confirm that the Snapdragon 835 (which sports the Adreno 540 GPU) packs a serious punch...

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 Prototype Test Smartphone
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 Prototype Test Vehicle

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 contains over 3 billion transistors, a new Adreno 540 GPU, and features more efficient Kryo 280 CPU cores as well. The SoC also incorporates Qualcomm’s Snapdragon x16 LTE, the world’s first gigabit-class modem.

qualcomm snapdragon 835

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 contains over 3 billion transistors, a new Adreno 540 GPU, and features more efficient Kryo 280 CPU cores as well. The SoC also incorporates Qualcomm’s Snapdragon x16 LTE, the world’s first gigabit-class modem. The Snapdragon 835 is built using the ARM Cortex architecture, but is a semi-custom design. Qualcomm had included dedicated busses to increase system coherence and has tweaked buffer sizes for improved performance and efficiency. 

qualcomm cpu config

The chip's Kyro 280 CPU core block has 4 high performance cores that can be clocked up to 2.45GHz and includes 2MB of L2 cache. Those four high-performance cores are joined by four lower-power, “efficiency” cores that can clock up to 1.8GHz (and include 1MB L2 cache). Qualcomm is projecting that in typical usage scenarios, devices will spend roughly 80 percent of their time using the efficiency cores.

qualcomm cpu strategy

The Snapdragon 835 has a 35 percent smaller package size than than the previous-generation Snapdragon 820/821, thanks the use of a second generation 10nm FinFET manufacturing process, while consuming roughly 25 percent less power. In fact, Qualcomm says that the power consumption is approximately cut in half compared to the Snapdragon 801 from a few years ago.

We also had a chance to check out some of the Qualcomm labs that have shaped its latest chip. We’ll take you on a tour as well, but let’s check out these benchmarks first…

Qualcomm Headquarters Patent Wall
Qualcomm's Heavily Decorated Patent Wall

We tested the Snapdragon 835 on unbranded prototype smartphones (running Android 7.1.1) and compared the results to scores from other production retail smartphone we’ve tested recently. We kicked things off with AnTuTu 6, a well-known suite that delivers metrics across multiple workload types and usage scenarios.

AnTuTu 6
Platform Benchmarks

AnTuTu’s latest benchmark returns a number of metrics ranked with scores, rather than frame rates or time to complete. We tested the Qualcomm 835 demo phone with the latest version of AnTuTu as we did with all other platforms. AnTuTu returns four top level performance metric results that we are including here: CPU, RAM, 3D, UX (or User Experience), along with a total score.

Snapdragon 835 AnTuTu Benchmark Score

The previous top score had ballooned to the 140,000’s with current Snapdragon chips, and even crested 150,000 with the Moto Z Force Droid. However, the Snapdragon 835 set an entirely new bar with an overall score of 183,540 and taking the lead in nearly every test routine. Its Adreno 540 graphics engine also powered the platform to a new high score of 76,461 in the 3D test and helped provide the best UX (User Experience) score we've seen in this benchmark to date.

Geekbench 4
Synthetic CPU Testing

Next, we fired up GeekBench, which is a CPU-centric test that gives us a look at how the chip handles heavily-threaded workloads. 

Snapdragon 835 GeekBench Benchmark Scores2

The Snapdragon 835-bearing proto-Android phone took the top spot again, although it didn’t trounce the competition quite as soundly this time. That’s thanks largely to the Huawei Mate 8, which runs a Kirin 950 that features four ARM A72 cores at 2.3GHz and four ARM A53 cores at 1.8GHz. Huawei’s smartphone rolled in at a very respectable 6216, just behind the Snapdragon 835’s score. And of course Apple's iPhone 7 rules the roost in single-threaded performance. 

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