First Nvidia Tegra 3 Benchmarks Score The Quad-Core Chip Just Slightly Faster Than Apple’s A5

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Forget that specs do not matter for a minute. The first bit of competitive benchmarks of the Nvidia Tegra 3 are just now hitting thanks to the Asus Transformer Prime. Nvidia’s quad-core mobile platform will likely be the de facto chipset to power Ice Cream Sandwich tablets; it will be everywhere next year. Nvidia has long touted the Tegra 3’s processing power, stating that the platform will absolutely trounce all competitors including the aging dual-core Apple A5. That doesn’t seem to be the case though. Early benchmarks are stating the A5 keeps up just fine.

Hot Hardware and AnandTech both got their hands on a Transformer Prime tablet and ran it through their exhaustive tests including a number of benchmarks. In most tests the Tegra 3-powered Transformer bests the iPad 2, but only just slightly. Most of the benchmarks used test real world activities such as web browsing and JavaScript. However, graphic rendering was tested also tested and only when using GLBenchmark 2.1 does the Transformer Prime completely destroy the iPad 2. The A5 in the iPad 2 actually outpaces the Tegra 3 in BaseMark ES 2.0’s frame per second OpenGL test.

The tests do show that the Tegra 3 is a big improvement over the Tegra 2.

Of course these early benchmarks could be skewed in a number of ways. The benchmark mark software might not yet be optimized for the quad-core Tegra 3. GLBenchmark’s Android app was last updated in September. Also, there isn’t a benchmark yet available on both platforms that tests CPU performance. The Tegra 3’s quad-core setup will likely clobber the A5 when directly compared.

The Tegra 3’s rendering and OpenGL performance is just one part of the chip’s appeal. The quad-core chip actually features a fifth so-called companion core for low-level and background processing that will ultimately improve battery life. The Tegra 3 also offers developers a much more robust system, which will hopefully improve the overall Android ecosystem.

Once again, specs (and benchmarks) are becoming less meaningful. The average consumer doesn’t care about companion cores or Javascript performance. Simply stating that a tablet is powered by a powerful processor that’s easy on the battery should satisfy most. But the iPad once again wins if that same consumer is told Apple’s tablet features a just slightly less-power chip but ten times the amount of available apps. Content is still king.