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Samsung Galaxy S7: Snapdragon 820 vs Exynos 8890 flavors compared

Samsung Galaxy S7: Snapdragon 820 vs Exynos 8890 flavors compared

The release of the Galaxy S6 was a watershed event for Samsung. Not only did the company prove that it can do design proper, but the phone was the culmination of what we imagine were a number of technological breakthroughs waiting to happen. Faster storage, better camera, quicker RAM... and a new home-grown processor for everybody.

For those among us that have intimate knowledge of the workings of the industry, the fact that Samsung used to mix it up when it comes to processors will be no news. Indeed, until the Galaxy S6, the South Korean conglomerate had a strong ongoing relationship with US-based Qualcomm, which supplied it with Snapdragon chipsets for the US market and a few others, while the rest of the world were treated to Samsung-made Exynos silicon. While the Galaxy S6 was only made available with an Exynos chip—mostly due to the Snapdragon 810's many shortcomings—the split is back with the new Galaxy S7.

So, if you live in the US, you'll be getting the quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor. If you live elsewhere, however, you'll be treated to an Exynos 8890—an octa-core chip. Here's a quick breakdown of the two system chips:

Samsung Galaxy S7: Snapdragon 820 vs Exynos 8890 flavors compared

As you can see, the most important difference between the two solutions is the CPU count, with the Snapdragon 820 utilizing four of them, while the Exynos 8890 makes use of eight. As you'll see in a bit, this distinction is mostly one on paper, though the two do prove slightly better in certain tests.

This dragon sure can breathe fire!


The Snapdragon 820 won in 6 out of 9 tests, but only by a hair. The Exynos 8890 proved it's more adept at web browsing.

When you drop $700 for a phone, you expect to get the latest and greatest. And you sure as hell wouldn't like it if your friend's otherwise identical device is a better performer than yours. Which is why fans have been requesting that we run our suite of synthetic benchmarks on both the Exynos and Snapdragon 820 flavors of the Galaxy S7. Since the S7 is identical to the Galaxy S7 edge hardware wise, we consider the results below representative of its performance as well.

Before we get to that, however, here's a quick rundown of the methodology used. Each of the tests you see below was ran with both devices in comparable condition in terms of the number of installed apps and processes running in the background. To correct for random flukes, all tests were ran three times, with the scores that you see being the average from the runs.

Samsung Galaxy S7: Snapdragon 820 vs Exynos 8890 flavors compared

As you can see, overall the two chips are very much comparable in most cases. Still, the Exynos variant did have a tiny bit more trouble with the GPU-heavy GFXBench Manhattan test, and posted a slightly lower score. The older, more forgiving T-Rex benchmark, however, consistently returned identical scores. 

That said, the Snapdragon 820 did fare notably worse when it came to browsing benchmarks, with double the score in Sunspider (lower is better). The Exynos 8890 also has a significant lead in the very comprehensive Vellamo Browser benchmark (which was developed by Qualcomm, mind you).

Finally, it's worth mentioning that both devices returned very consistent scores in all tests but one: Vellamo Metal. This has lead us to believe that something about the benchmark's design allows for a rather high variance in scores, with a delta of some 700 points between the lowest and highest scores recorded. So while the Exynos 8890 posted a notably lower score in Metal, it's worth pointing out that in its best run, it did manage 3,430 points, which makes the difference negligible.

No conclusion really needed, but here's one


We'll spell it out for you, just in case all the technical talk from those last few paragraphs sounded like alien language. In short, whether you end up with the Snapdragon 820 or Exynos 8890 flavor, it's fair to say that you can expect very comparable system performance. At least synthetic benchmarks agree on that. As soon as time permits, we'll be running another important test to answer another important question: are both these chips equally as power efficient, or does one allow for a notably better battery life? Hang around for the answer.

Now read...

107 Comments
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posted on 10 Mar 2016, 05:57 5

1. tech2 (Posts: 3487; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


Anyone know how the two performs in battery department ? Also, which of the two has a better GPU?

Thanks.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 06:00 26

3. rubyonrails3 (Posts: 291; Member since: 01 Oct 2014)


GPU for sure its Snapdragon.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 06:33 18

17. alex3run (Posts: 715; Member since: 18 May 2014)


Exynos has better GPU. It won't beat records in synthetics but will beat SD820 in real apps and games.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 06:35 13

19. tyrionTheWise (unregistered)


Adreno has a boost clock, it can't sustain the performance for more than a minute or so. The boost clock will result in better benchmarks though.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 06:41 10

21. Arch_Fiend (Posts: 3145; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


Snapdragon for days.http://www.anandtech.com/show/10120/the-samsung-galaxy-s7-review/4 They only test the Sd820 version but the GPU results she help you understand why I say Sd820 has the better GPU.
They'll be testing the E8890 when given the chance so when Anandtech decides which soc/gpu is better we'll have a definitive answer.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 07:22 4

24. Back_from_beyond (Posts: 94; Member since: 04 Sep 2015)


A Dutch website that tested the Exynos version said batterylife had improved substantially compared to the S6, Phonearena suggested the SD820's batterylife however wasnt that great. A proper comparison is needed, but sounds like the Exynos version might have the better batterylife.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 07:39 1

29. darthmaul (Posts: 27; Member since: 04 Feb 2015)


Phonearena and battery life tests...mine is Exynos and lasted after the first charge for 20 hours, with almost 5 hours of screen on time, data on.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 08:28 3

32. rd_nest (Posts: 1626; Member since: 06 Jun 2010)


Check this image. GFXbench continuous test. For 1st time, Exynos showed better performance for first 10 iterations.

http://abload.de/img/throttlingikodz.png

Now wait for Anandtech to do more thorough test.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 08:32 1

33. rd_nest (Posts: 1626; Member since: 06 Jun 2010)


Yes, true.

Source:http://tweakers.net/reviews/4431/6/samsung-galaxy-s7-lichtsterk-lekvrij-en-luxueus-accu.html

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 08:46

36. Punchy506 (Posts: 127; Member since: 10 Jan 2016)


The sd820 comes with very high android system and Android OS battery drain. The two together represent ~45% in battery stats. Check xda.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 09:29 1

41. Shocky (unregistered)


Nice, Qualcomm are basically cheating then.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 09:32

42. Shocky (unregistered)


Faster for 15 minutes and then the throttling kicked in, I wonder how low Exynos 8890 would gone with another 20 minutes.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 09:33

43. tech2 (Posts: 3487; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


Good info, buddy ! +1

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 09:37 11

45. tyrionTheWise (unregistered)


Not exactly. It will give you better performance in bursty GPU workload. Gaming doesn't qualify but suppose you're rendering a webGL based webpage, or an image via OpenGL. In those cases, this burst frequency will come in. Also, benchmarks will be higher. Apple A9 is also similar. It can't sustain performance for long.

Many desktop manufacturers do that, and it's a good thing as it helps in bursty workload. All Nvidia GPUs have a boost clock.

However, the adreno 530 is definitely not a better GPU than the mali T880MP12 for gaming. Gaming is not bursty.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 09:47 3

47. rd_nest (Posts: 1626; Member since: 06 Jun 2010)


It's not minutes, it's iterations.
And this is because metal frame in iPhone allows to dissipate heat more easily than glass.
Point being this is first time it happened that Exynos had better control for 'considerable amount of time' than A9.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 09:50

48. Shocky (unregistered)


Still sounds like cheating to me, I don't see how a brief increase on clockspeeds will make any real world difference in your examples.

Benchmarks on the other hand will get a nice boost from this and that's unfortunate.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 09:57 3

49. tyrionTheWise (unregistered)


Rendering an image is a small process, a faster GPU for a short amount of time will help in that. It's the 'race to finish' type of scenario.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 09:59

50. Shocky (unregistered)


FYI - the test they're running lasts almost 1 minute exactly.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 10:05

52. Shocky (unregistered)


Images render pretty damn quickly on my Galaxy S6, would a small boost in GPU clockspeds really make it notability faster? I don't think it would.

I don't think Qualcomm believe that either.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 10:56 1

57. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4275; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)


It's most definitely not cheating. Pushing a GPU or CPU to a higher speed, even if just for a short time until thermals limit it, is a very standard feature. Nvidia has been doing that for years on their GPUs with GPU Boost. It's a feature that's so standard that I wouldn't be surprised if Samsung has this feature too, and if they don't, it's their own fault for not fully utilizing the chip.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 11:48

58. Shocky (unregistered)


If your referring to desktop GPU's then that's not how GPU boost works, it's a sustained boost, not temporary.

I've never read anything refering to this on their mobile parts.

No Samsung does not have this feature, they all throttle eventually, however boosting the GPU to a frequency it can't maintain for more than a minute or more is cheating.

Based on a continuous looping test Exynos 8890 maintained near peak performance for around 15 runs of an intensive benchmark before throttling kicked in, that's pretty good and shows no evidence of what you're suggesting.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 12:52 3

61. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4275; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)


Yes, that is how it works. Boosts will be sustained until temperatures rise to a point where it is unsafe for the GPU to operate, then they will throttle to keep the GPU from damage. This is no different to what Qualcomm is doing, except phones reach that point much more quickly than laptops or desktops because they don't have active cooling. The GPU rises to a frequency past the rated clock speed, then goes back down when temperatures get too high. If cooling were better on phones, it would sustain that frequency, just as Nvidia GPUs with better coolers have better performance than similar GPUs with worse coolers.

If Samsung doesn't have that feature, then that's their own fault. It's a very effective way to boost performance for short GPU intensive tasks. There's nothing wrong with it.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 13:04 1

62. DoggyDangerous (Posts: 966; Member since: 28 Aug 2015)


I prefer Qcom over others bcoz of wide developers support and custom ROMs. So, small throttling is acceptable to me.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 13:26

63. Shocky (unregistered)


It's completely different, the stock coolers on nvidia cards can sustain this performance, they generally run well within temp limits even with gpu boost, most of the cards are from 3rd parties with improved coolers anyway.

Do either of my GTX980 cards throttle? the answer is NO, I have all the stats displayed while a play, from temps, frequency and gpu usage I would know if they were throttling.

How can you even compare that with that Qualcomm are doing? You don't know what you're talking about. Go away.

In a laptop? sure, because heat can be an issue if the manufacturers were lazy, but desktop cards? No.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 13:38

64. Arch_Fiend (Posts: 3145; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


Should help******

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 13:44

65. Shocky (unregistered)


This is a little different to your standard throttling.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 13:53 1

66. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4275; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)


Reference cards can sustain performance above stock clocks, but can't get as high as non-reference designs due to temperature limits. Here's a comparison between various 980Ti models from different manufacturers with different coolers;

http://techreport.com/review/28685/geforce-gtx-980-ti-cards-compared/5

Notice how every single card gets better scores compared to the reference design. This is because they all have better coolers. The better the cooler, the more performance you get. That is how it works.

Qualcomm is using the same thing in their GPUs. However, it is less effective because phones don't have active cooling, and they can't sustain their performance for very long. If you compared a tablet and a phone running the 820, the tablet would score higher because it has more surface area to spread the heat, keeping the GPU cooler and sustaining that boost speed.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 14:01

67. Shocky (unregistered)


Even when the stock cards reach 80C the cards don't drop to stock clocks, it just reduces the boost.

Non-reference usually don't have that issue due to better cooling.

It's not the same as what Qualcomm are doing as this can be sustained and partially sustained in worst cases, excluding user error.

What Qualcomm are doing can NEVER be sustained, I don't understand why you're even comparing the two. It's ridiculous.

/shakes head in disbelieve.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 14:08

68. Shocky (unregistered)


One is sustainable and represents actual performance, the other has no hope in ever being sustainable.

Even in a tablet it won't be a able to sustain this for long enough , it may take a little longer to throttle but that's it.

posted on 10 Mar 2016, 14:11 2

69. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4275; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)


Of course they wouldn't go below stock at 80 degrees, Nvidia usually sets TJ Max to 92 degrees, that's when they go below stock. But the point is that the lower the temps, the higher the boost. Qualcomm is doing the same thing, it's just a worse case scenario because it's passively cooled. The 820 goes past stock clocks for a few minutes, then back down to stock when the temperature gets too high. It COULD be sustained longer with more surface area, but on a phone it can only be done for a few minutes.

This is NOT cheating. It's just boosting the GPU when temperatures allow it, which only happens to be a couple minutes for something as small as a phone. Completely fair game.

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