Snapdragon 888 benchmarks: Exciting performance gains across the board

The Snapdragon 888 is all set to make its way into the best Android phones starting early next year, and there’s a lot of reasons to be excited for the chipset.

Qualcomm detailed the changes at the launch of the Snapdragon 888, claiming that the chipset features a 25% uptick in CPU performance and a huge 35% uptick in GPU performance over the Snapdragon 865. The chipset also includes an integrated 5G modem, offers sizeable improvements to the ISP, and has an AI engine that’s twice as fast.

Qualcomm is now backing up those claims by offering the first benchmark scores of the Snapdragon 888 reference design (QRD). The reference design is a phone that features the Snapdragon 888, and Qualcomm usually flies media out to its HQ to go hands-on with the device to get a first look at the performance on offer.

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But seeing as how that’s not possible this year, Qualcomm ran the benchmark scores itself and shared the findings. The reference design is running the Snapdragon 888 with the Cortex X1 core at 2.84GHz, three Cortex A78 cores at 2.42GHz, and four energy-efficient cores at 1.80GHz. It has a 6.65-inch FHD+ screen with 120Hz refresh rate, 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM, 512GB of UFS storage, and a 3780mAh battery.

Snapdragon 888 benchmarks: Evaluating CPU and GPU performance

The Qualcomm reference design gives us an early look at what the Snapdragon 888 can achieve, and while these scores will differ to consumer devices like the Galaxy S21 or Xiaomi’s Mi 11 series, they serve as an initial baseline. I’m pitting the reference design against the Snapdragon 865, Snapdragon 765G, Exynos 990, A14 Bionic, and the older Snapdragon 855+ to give you an indication as to just what the Snapdragon 888 has to offer.

That’s just an early look at what’s possible with the Snapdragon 888. Qualcomm has also shared similar gains around AI and machine learning workloads, and it looks like the Snapdragon 888 will be a standout option on Android flagships in 2021.

The Snapdragon 888 beats the A14 Bionic in multi-core scores — but the big talking point is GPU performance.

It is a big deal that the chipset beats out the mighty A14 Bionic in multi-core workloads. We’ll obviously have to wait until we get our hands on retail devices running the Snapdragon 888, but for now it looks like the Snapdragon 888 delivers a decent performance boost in all key areas.

That brings us to another question: what do you do with all this power? Even the most intensive of Android games don’t really leverage the full power on offer with the Snapdragon 865, so it stands to reason that the Snapdragon 888 won’t be fully utilized. We’re at a point where the hardware has more than enough headroom to run games with better visual fidelity, and the onus is now on game makers to realize the full potential of Qualcomm’s latest chipset.

Phones with 90Hz refresh rates were first introduced nearly two years ago, but most mainstream titles on Android are still locked to 60fps. With the Snapdragon 888 unlocking console-quality gaming at 144fps, I’d like to see game manufacturers take better advantage of the hardware and start unlocking high framerates on visually-intensive games.

With the Galaxy S21 series slated to make its debut on January 14 and Xiaomi set to announce the Mi 11 in the next two weeks, we don’t have to wait long to find out just how the Snapdragon 888 will hold up in real-world use. In the meantime, what do you make of the initial Snapdragon 888 benchmarks?

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