AH GPU Benchmarks

Android Headliner: Do GPU Benchmarks Serve A Major Purpose To Mobile Gamers?

October 12, 2014 - Written By Justin Diaz

When it comes to the world of mobile games, they’re often thought of as not being able to provide the same great experience that can be had on any console or PC setup. While this might have been true more than a few years ago, in today’s times, some of today’s mobile devices, smartphones and tablets in the higher end sector can offer up nearly as great of a gaming experience as those home consoles and PC gaming rigs. Do they provide the exact same type of graphical performance? Most of the time no, but mobile devices are catching up thanks to the technology advancements in mobile chips and the game engines that mobile game developers now have to work with. All the tools are there and it really is just a matter of using what’s available. A device of course is needed that can handle the best of the best when it comes to rich vivid graphics, and GPU benchmarks are a way that we can commonly measure whether a device is equipped to handle the kind of graphics performance that we’re looking for.

GPU Benchmarks are often used to test the graphics in just about every mobile device released now, although I believe they’re over used and people automatically discount a device with a noticeably lower score, and chock them up to not being able to handle graphically advanced mobile games. This isn’t always true, and we have to remember that graphics benchmarks generally tend to put the most amount of stress on GPU’s as possible. They’re designed this way on purpose. With that being said, the benchmark can be considered as giving an inaccurate look at how some devices might perform while playing some of today’s more graphically advanced games. With most mobile titles, the game will automatically detect the best settings fit for your device, whether that be with graphics cranked up as high as they can go or graphics set to a more modest and lower setting to account for the lack in GPU processing power to handle the graphics at maximum. This is basically in an attempt to give the gamer the best framerate they can possibly get with the equipment they’re using so they can enjoy the game at a steady pace with little to no framerate drop.

GPU benchmark tests however don’t generally take this into consideration, as they’re meant to show how a device would run the most stressful of graphics. So while they can be useful in helping a consumer find the absolute best device they possibly can if they want one that can play mobile games at their highest settings, they also have a tendency to mislead some consumers into thinking that a device that scores lower in a GPU test won’t be able to perform or handle games at all or not very well. This isn’t the case, as any mobile game that contains graphics settings that you can modify won’t be trying to run the graphics at their highest possible output, unless the user manually changes them on their own. Even devices with lower scores  can sometimes play games at a higher setting with little to no noticeable lag or framerate drop, although this is something that just has to be tested on the device running any specific game that a user might consider playing.

GPU benchmarks that test framerates aren’t the only ones out there of course, there are benchmarks that test for rendering speed as well, and a device that plays any or most mobile games with graphics settings placed reasonably high can still render graphics slower. As an example, my recent review of the LG G Pad 10.1 got a rather low score of  233 with GFX Bench and as I watched the test I noticed some pretty poor framerates in parts of the test, however with the current game I am playing on it called Darkness Reborn by Gamevil, I have the graphics settings cranked all the way to max,(there are three graphics settings within the game)and I haven’t noticed any loss of framerate or any lag. It runs smooth and plays nice and clean. However it does tend to render things a little slower than something like the LG G3. So what’s my point? GPU benchmarks serve a purpose, but they shouldn’t cause anyone to automatically assume that a device won’t be able to handle top mobile games just because they received a low score. Do GPU benchmarks serve a major purpose to mobile gamers? I would personally say no, not a major purpose, however they are useful in helping to show how certain devices will perform with multiple aspects that relates to a games graphics. Just remember that framerates aren’t the only thing to look for, and in the end, testing a game itself is always a better test than running a GPU benchmark.