Testing

Methodology

I’m going to evaluate the Nexus 7 based on my use of the device over the last week, as well as a few synthetic benchmarks. As well as raw performance, I’ll be looking at how well suited the tablet is for its intended role as a media consumption device, as well as the other things one is wont to do with a tablet – writing, gaming, organising and the like. Let’s start with the benchmarks, to get a good idea of the raw power of this tablet.

Benchmarks

Perhaps the best way to quantify the strength (or weakness) of the Nexus 7 is through synthetic benchmarks. There are quite a few available for Android, so I will use six:

 

Results

In this section, we’ll be sharing the results of these benchmarks and comparing them to scores from these leading handsets and tablets:

  • HTC One X (GSM variant w/ Tegra 3 quad-core)
  • Asus Transformer Prime (Tegra 3 quad-core)
  • HTC One S (Qualcomm S4 dual-core)
  • Samsung Galaxy S III (Exynos 4412 dual-core)
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 (TI OMAP 4430  dual-core)
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 (TI OMAP 4430 dual-core)
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus (TI OMAP 4460 dual-core)
  • Kindle Fire (TI OMAP 4430 dual-core)

Quadrant

Google Nexus 7 Tablet

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Google Nexus 7

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  • Overall score: 3665
  • CPU: 11257
  • Mem: 2802
  • I/O: 1579
  • 2D: 251
  • 3D: 2435

Quadrant is a general purpose benchmark that’s quite popular amongst the critical Android crowd. The results here show that while the Nexus 7 is behind the Galaxy S3, HTC One X and HTC One S – some of the most powerful Android phones on the market – it is better than every other tablet we looked at, including the Transformer Prime, both Galaxy Tab 2 models, the Kindle Fire. It also handily beats out my daily smartphone, the Galaxy Nexus. CPU performance is excellent, but it has a much lower I/O score than even the Galaxy Nexus, which I assume is because of the relatively slow RAM (although Google do state it is DDR3). 2D performance also isn’t as highly rated as the One X or Galaxy S III.

GLBenchmark

Google Nexus 7 Tablet

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Google Nexus 7

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Google Nexus 7

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  • Egypt standard: 48 fps
  • Egypt off-screen: 62 fps
  • Pro standard: 54 fps
  • Pro off-screen: 82 fps

GLBenchmark is a fairly hefty graphics benchmark. Egypt is the newer of the two benchmarks, and I’ve listed the standard and off-screen scores here. Standard means just the benchmark running at the device’s native resolution, while off-screen is the device rendering to a virtual 1280 x 720p display, which allows results between devices with different screen resolutions to be easily comparable.

The Nexus 7’s gaming chops have been bigged up by Google, and I’ve got to say they deliver. On the standard test at 1280 x 800, the tablet comes just 6 FPS below the Transformer Prime, and 8 to 10 FPS below the HTC One S and Galaxy S III, some of the most capable mobile gaming portables on the planet. It even comes above the HTC One X, which comes with a faster clocked Tegra 3 processor, as well as all of the other tablets and the Galaxy Nexus.

Offscreen, the HTC One S’ qHD display doesn’t come into account and we see a corresponding drop in relative performance for that phone. The Galaxy S III leads the pack handily, but the Nexus 7 comes fairly close to the One X in fourth position and still above 60 fps. Beating out the One S and its Snapdragon S4 processor is impressive for the lower clocked Tegra 3 tablet. Of course, the Galaxy Nexus and other tablets come some way behind in gaming performance.

Vellamo

Google Nexus 7 Tablet

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Google Nexus 7

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  • Score: 1720

Vellamo is a browser benchmark that tests rendering, Javascript, networking and the rather nebulous ‘user experience’. Here the Nexus 7 presented itself very well, scoring 1720 to put it behind only the One S and the Galaxy S III. The big differentiator for the Nexus 7 was Javascript performance and networking, which I believe comes down to the optimisations put into place on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The rendering score was lower than the Snapdragon S4 powered One XL; otherwise the two devices would have been nigh-inseparable.

Linpack

Google Nexus 7 Tablet

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Google Nexus 7 Tablet

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Google Nexus 7

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Google Nexus 7

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  • Single thread: 45.911 MFLOPS, 1.83 seconds
  • Multi-thread: 127.392 MFLOPS, 1.32 seconds

Linpack is a benchmark that looks at raw CPU power and is measured in megaflops. You’d expect high-end, low core count devices to excel here and that’s essentially what we see – the One S, Galaxy S III and One X lead the pack in the single threaded test, with the Nexus 7, Galaxy Nexus and Transformer Prime all scoring in the same range behind the front runners – all three devices have relatively lowly clocked cores.

It was a bit different in the multi-threaded results, with the Nexus 7 edging the One X to take third place after the One S and the Galaxy S III. It’s a good result for the Nexus 7 that speaks to its operating system more than anything else, as it beats the One X and Transformer Prime which should be running the same or faster processor.

Sunspider

Google Nexus 7 Tablet

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Google Nexus 7

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  • Total: 1711.7 ms (+/- 1.1%)

Sunspider is a pure Javascript benchmark that looks at how long it takes to render various Javascript constructs – as it’s a measure of time, the smallest number is best here.

It was here that I expected the Nexus 7 to have a good shot at taking the title, but unfortunately the device was only able to take third place, trading on its Jelly Bean OS and the optimisations it brought to web browsing and overall Javascript performance.  It was beaten by the superlative Galaxy S III and One S and was similar to the One X, but heavily paced out the rest of the pack.

Browsermark

Google Nexus 7 Tablet

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Google Nexus 7

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  • Score: 130260

Again we’re looking at a browser-based benchmark, and again the Nexus 7 and its Jelly Bean OS performs beautifully. The Nexus 7 got a 2nd place here – its best result – and only lost to the Galaxy S III. I think that really speaks volumes to the strength of the OS in this area, as the hardware underlying the Nexus 7 isn’t as convicingly superior.

Results Rundown

The Nexus 7 has proved to be a very capable performer in benchmarks. It was never beaten by the Galaxy Nexus, either of the Galaxy Tab 2 models or the Kindle Fire. It beat the One X and One S in graphical benchmarks and the Transformer Prime in CPU and browsing benchmarks.

So this Nexus 7 tablet –  I’ve just said it never lost a benchmark to the four low to mid-range devices and it was mixing up with all of the front-runners except maybe the the Galaxy S III – and yet it is available for the lowest price.

About The Author
William Judd

Editor-in-Chief for XSReviews. Find me @wsjudd or on G+.