Mobile GPU benchmarks What they test and why they matter

first_imgWhile the average smartphone user may never consider running a GPU benchmark these tests are an important way of demonstrating the capabilities of current and future mobile devices.Today’s flagship phones are able to handle whatever you throw at them. If you’re a casual app user, music and video streamer, or if you’re big on taking pictures, the current crop of phones will be able to accomplish your tasks with no signs of slowing down. But if you’re the type to take advantage of more advanced features, like wirelessly streaming your phone via DLNA or Miracast, you’ll be happy that extra powerful hardware is available to you. Benchmarks don’t always perfectly reflect real-world circumstances but they do let us test capabilities and predict how devices will deal with demanding situations.There’s one other thing that our smartphones and tablets are starting to get really good at: playing games. We’ve got an army of simple 2D and 2.5D time-wasters of every shape, size, and description just begging you to throw a couple of bucks at them, but we’ve also got much more demanding titles on the market. First-person shooters like Dead Trigger, racing games that can compete visually with PlayStation 2 titles, and graphically intense hack-and-slashers all fill the category of game that are very demanding on current hardware.Why benchmark? If you already know a smartphone can handle your daily tasks just fine, it would make sense that you’d want to know what else it can do. Or you may be looking for a phone that can specifically handle games without choking. Instead of performing benchmarks on the entire system, you can perform a variety of tests on the graphics hardware itself and get a better feel for what the handset can really do.The GPU benchmarksRight now, there’s no one benchmark application for iOS and Android that will definitively tell you everything you need to know about a GPU. There is a lot of overlap between programs, and you’ll find that the 2D benchmarking tools aren’t as visually exciting as 3D ones. Testing 2D graphics is a lot like browser benchmarks — the goal is to see how many things you can display on the screen without the animation of each individual sprite slowing down or otherwise degrading. Since nearly all the most popular games for mobile devices use 2D graphics, this test is important.Unfortunately, there are no 2D benchmarking tools for iOS and Android that deliver a real-world prediction of game performance. You’ll just get shapes dancing across the screen with a score afterwards that has limited relation to actual gaming. The most popular benchmarking tools for Android, AnTuTu, will give you a score that is relative to other phones that have taken the same tests. This is useful from a comparison standpoint, but not a practical demonstration of what the phone is capable of.If you’re looking for games that test 2D performance instead of simulating it, your best bet is to play fast-paced 2D games like Puk or Super Hexagon and then compare device performance subjectively.Next page: Testing 3D performance on mobile devices… 1 2last_img read more