Today’s a big day for us here at GameBench. Our vision of an honest, transparent and industry-wide mobile benchmark has come a step closer, thanks to an important deal with ARM Semiconductors to provide access to our Enterprise suite of tools.
If you ever shop at Tesco’s in the UK, then you’ll surely have noticed the in-store promotions for the supermarket’s latest own-brand tablet, the Hudl 2.
What you might not have noticed, however, is that the £129 ($195) Hudl 2 runs on an Intel mobile processor, from a family of chips that has historically suffered from bad battery life and optimisation issues on Android devices — something GameBench demonstrated back in early 2014.
Fortunately, the Intel Bay Trail chip inside the Hudl 2 represents a fresh generation of technology, versus the old Clover Trail devices we tested previously. What’s more, the Android operating system has also evolved to become friendlier to non-ARM silicon. So it’s about time we put the Hudl 2 to the test with GameBench, to see if it's ready to be taken seriously as a power-efficient, gaming-ready Android tablet.
The Galaxy Note 4 has already proved its mettle in traditional benchmarks like AnTuTu and GFX. But how does Samsung's latest phablet respond to real-world gaming scenarios, like hurtling around a track in Asphalt 8: Airborne?
More to the point, does the Note 4’s supremely high-resolution display (2,560 x 1,440) have any negative impact on frame rates or battery life in this sort of graphically immersive game, compared to the older Note 3 (which has a more common 1080p display)?
It's more than a year since bloggers at Anandtech produced a definitive list of Android benchmark cheaters -- manufacturers who tweaked their devices to produce artificially high scores in GFX Bench, AnTuTu and other synthetic mobile benchmarks. (Recap: it was just a couple of little-known vendors like Samsung and HTC.)
The issue of cheating has lessened since then, but gamers are still getting gamed -- this time through a tactic that can best be described as "benchmark avoidance." Fortunately, GameBench has a solution to this issue, just as it did to the first cheating scandal, but first let's look at how the avoidance tactic works.
Benchmark avoidance is when hardware companies deliberately disable parts of the Android operating system in order to make a mobile device more inscrutable to the most revealing types of benchmarks -- particularly to real-world benchmarks like GameBench.
When you’re on a long flight, have you stopped yourself from playing a mobile game in order to conserve your battery? Have you experienced too many stutters when you play a visually intensive title? Do you think it’d be helpful if you could choose a phone to suit your specific needs, based on public data about how well each model handles the best games and apps?
Smartphone and tablet reviewers try to distill their sense of how well a phone performs, but no matter how good their intentions, their conclusions are inevitably subjective and anecdotal. That’s why a market has developed around benchmarking apps like GFX, CPUBench, AnTuTu etc.