Qualcomm Snapdragon 845: Benchmarking A Hot Rod Mobile Chip [Updated]

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Snapdragon 845 Graphics Benchmarks, Power Consumption, Expectations And Conclusions

Qualcomm claims the new Snapdragon 845, and more specifically its Adreno 630 "Visual Processing Subsystem", delivers 30% faster graphics performance. So let's put that to the test, shall we? 

3D Graphics Benchmarks: 3DMark Ice Storm And Sling Shot
Pushing The Pixels

Futuremark's 3DMark has been a staple 3D graphics benchmark at HotHardware across all mobile and desktop platforms for many years. In this case, we were running 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, which is targeted for mobile devices running in offscreen mode, taking display resolution out of the equation. This test and its 3D graphics engine are also based on the Open GL ES 2.0 API.

3DMark Sling Shot Benchmark Snapdragon 845
3DMark Sling Shot Benchmarking On Snapdragon 845

Furturemark (and Qualcomm) recommend retiring this benchmark for testing newer, high performance mobile platforms like the Snapdragon 845. Regardless, since we have amassed such a wealth of reference device performance data in this test over the years, we decided to include it here again. We will, however, also run 3DMark Slingshot next, which is based on much more advanced rendering technology, and is recommended for the current, more advanced smartphone platforms of today. 

3DMark Ice Storm Snapdragon 845

3DMark Ice Storm actually shows a 20 to 38% performance gain for Snapdragon 845 with Adreno 630 graphics, versus some of the fastest Android phones we've tested, the top quadrant of which are all based on Qualcomm's previous generation Snapdragon 835 with Adreno 530 graphics. 

3DMark Sling Shot Snapdragon 845 Test2

3DMark Sling Shot Snapdragon 845 FPS Test2

3DMark Sling Shot shows a tighter grouping of scores, with the Snapdragon 845 leading the pack of mostly Snapdragon 835 phones by roughly 10 to 17 percent, depending on whether you're looking at actual frame rate or the benchmark scores above. The Snapdragon 845's frame rate advantage is roughly 10%, though 3DMark scores its Graphics rank with roughly a 17% advantage versus previous generation Android devices, while the iPhone X/A11 Bionic is only middle of the pack. The Physics score shows a 5% edge for Snapdragon 845.

GFXBench T-Rex And Manhattan Benchmark
OpenGL 2.0 And 3.0 Graphics Rendering

GFXBench has also been one of our standard smartphone graphics performance benchmarks for quite a while now. In order to ensure display refresh (v-sync) and resolution are not limiting factors, we are comparing off-screen test results here. GFXBench tests OpenGL ES graphics workloads and we're specifically testing OpenGL ES 2.0 and 3.0 rendering performance in the following two benchmark modules. T-Rex is a legacy OpenGL 2.0 test, while Manhattan a more modern and strenuous Open GL 3.0 workload.

GFXBench T Rex Snapdragon 845 Test2

GFXBench Manhattan Snapdragon 845 Test2

GFXBench's T-Rex OpenGL 2.0 test shows Snapdragon 845 with a 27 percent advantage over the fastest Android phones we've tested that are based on Snapdragon 835. In the Manhattan test, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 distances itself even more, with a major 35 percent gain over the legacy phones in our test database. This is the strongest showing for Snapdragon 845 and it speaks to the more advanced architecture of its Adreno 630 graphics engine. It also shows that Qualcomm has essentially closed the gap or surpassed Apple's GPU technology performance-wise. As an aside, the iPhone X we tested throttled hard at one point, requiring us to let it cool before getting an optimal benchmark run. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 reference device got warm under continued benchmark testing but didn't show much evidence of throttling between runs. 

Snapdragon 845 test device antutu benchmark
Snapdragon 845 - No Sweat After A Hard Day's Work

Snapdragon 845: Faster But What About Power Consumption?

Being able to turn and burn up the benchmark charts might be all fun and games, but if your phone chokes out its battery sooner than later, all that performance will be for not. As it turns out, though Snapdragon 845 is faster, it's also tuned with more aggressive power gating and a new, more efficient architecture. And though it's built on the same 10nm manufacturing process, under similar workloads, Snapdragon 845 actually consumes less power.  Below is a A/B comparison demo Qualcomm presented at its Snapdragon 845 Benchmarking event.

Snapdragon 845 Power Consumption
Snapdragon 845 - Significantly Lower Power Draw

On the left, Snapdragon 845 is monitored while running GFXBench Manhattan with a 30FPS frame rate cap. On the right, Snapdragon 845's power draw is measured during 4K 60FPS video playback. In the test above, you also see real-time active power draw of Snapdragon 835 in the two smaller power monitor application windows (lower part of the screen). It was hard to [clearly] get it all in the frame, but to summarize, Snapdragon 845's average power consumption was 2964 mW running GFX Manhattan, versus 3843 mW for Snapdragon 835 (again, normalized to 30fps). With respect to 4K60 video playback, Snapdragon 845 consumed an average of 1618 mW, versus 2067 mW for Snapdragon 835 with the same video workload. What we don't see here is maximum power draw under continuous workload, which, while it might be an interesting data point, doesn't really represent real world usage scenarios of the average smartphone user. In typical smartphone workloads, we could assume Snapdragon 845 might track a traditional "HUGI" or hurry up and get idle curve in most cases. That said, we'd have to put a production handset to the test before drawing practical battery life conclusions. Samsung Galaxy S9, we're looking at you... 

Qualcomm Audio Labs Sound Chamber
Qualcomm Audio Labs Anechoic Sound Chamber

Last week, on our press and analyst trip to sunny San Diego, Qualcomm also gave us a tour of its Audio Labs. Though you might think of the new Snapdragon 845 as a simple processor or system on a chip, it indeed, as Qualcomm refers to it, is an entire "Mobile Platform." As such, Qualcomm brings significant resources to bear for developing and testing key subsystems of smartphones. Here we've stepped inside Qualcomm's Anechoic Sound Chamber, where audio testing is conducted in a completely echo and reflective-free environment, in order to evaluate call audio quality. Here, Qualcomm notes that it "simulates all sorts of noise and distortion that you would hear in the real world so we can provide the best echo cancellation and noise reduction algorithms." As you can see with the test dummy above, modeling actual human use cases and device positioning is also a key part of the process.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 - A Promising Next Generation Mobile Platform

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Chip card

At this point, we've shown you the key features of Qualcomm's next generation Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform, as well as an in-depth look at its performance across a number of workloads here today. As we've seen, performance is in line with Qualcomm's claims and then some in spots, especially when it comes to more modern mobile graphics engines and APIs. From here, it's up to major handset OEMs like Samsung, LG, Google, Motorola/Lenovo, HTC and others to flesh out retail-ready smartphones equipped with Qualcomm's most potent and powerful mobile platform yet.

And of course there's the unspoken but assumed prospect of Snapdragon Windows 10 convertible laptops powered by Snapdragon 845, as the next evolution of machines that could well be set to take on Intel with always-connected, true all-day battery life solutions. Clearly, in that product segment, Snapdragon 845 should take it up a notch as well.

A new crop of Snapdragon devices is set to take flight very soon, in a matter of weeks likely, with unveilings expected at Mobile World Congress at the end of this month. Based on what we've seen so far, mobile power users have a lot to look forward to. Stay tuned to here, as we put this new series of Hot Mobile Hardware through its paces in the days ahead. 

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