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ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime - Ultra Thin, Ultra Powerful (Updated!)

By Sidney Wong - 3 Feb 2012

Performance Benchmarks

** Updated on 3rd February 2012 **

Taste of Quad-Core Power

Being the first quad-core tablet in our labs, we were naturally very eager to test out the speed demon within the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime. The significant features of the NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor are covered extensively here, hence we shall waste no time to put the Transformer Prime against the top tablets today which include the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Apple iPad 2. Its predecessor, the Eee Pad Transformer is also compared to see if there are any meaningful performance gains.

The following benchmarks were used for raw performance evaluation:

  • Quadrant evaluates the CPU, memory, I/O and 3D graphics performance. This is an Android OS based test.
  • Smartbench 2011 is a multi-core friendly benchmark application that includes both the Productivity and Games indices for a more complete gauge of the overall performance of Android tablets.
  • SunSpider Javascript benchmark measures the browsing performance of the tablet.

How the Tablets Stack up

Device ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime  ASUS Eee Pad Transformer  Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1  Apple iPad 2
CPU NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core 1.3GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz Apple A5 dual-core 1GHz
GPU  12-core GeForce  ULP GeForce ULP GeForce PowerVR SGX 543MP2
OS Google Android 3.2 / Google Android 4.0 Google Android 3.0 Google Android 3.1 Apple iOS 4.3

Unfortunately, we ran into problems conducting both the Quadrant and Smartbench 2011 benchmarks on the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime. Both benchmarks reflected scores that were significantly lower than dual-core mobile devices (including smartphones), which we felt were not true representations of the performance of the Transformer Prime. 

One possible reason we could think of is that the Android Honeycomb operating system is not optimized for use with Tegra 3 quad-core processor. This led to the rather dismal performance of the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime in the Quadrant and Smartbench 2011 benchmarks. Nevertheless, we managed to run SunSpider benchmark on the Transformer Prime and the results are as shown below:

The performance boost is evident in the SunSpider Javascript benchmark where the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime garnered a convincing lead over the other tablets. As NVIDIA has claimed, the Tegra 3 quad-core processor is able to carry out parallel processing, allocate multiple Web scripts and deliver speedier execution of Javascript heavy pages through its four cores. Statistics aside, we found the web browsing experience on the Transformer Prime to be great during normal usage conditions. It loaded our website faster than the Transformer by a mere two to three seconds, which can be considered insignificant for mainstream consumers. 

Despite the lack of the Quadrant and Smartbench 2011 benchmark figures to verify its performance, our observations should suffice. Generally, the user experience was fluid and smooth. The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime could handle pretty much anything we threw at it from multitasking to loading of apps. However, we did encountered some slight setbacks occasionally such as the browser app crashing on us when loading YouTube videos. Another puzzling aspect is the length of time taken for the Transformer Prime to boot up. We reckon that the time taken is long enough for anyone to head off for a quick toilet break.


The Android 4.0 Update

** Updated on 3rd Feb 2012: This segment of the article has been added to consolidate the Android 4.0 OS based test results.

We have since updated the above test with a new set of results based on the Transformer Prime's performance with Android 4.0. Our results did match up to what Google offered in its Android Developer page, with our 1948.8ms score that's somewhat identical to Google's 1963ms. What did come as a surprise to us, is the lower Sunspider score we got out of the Android 3.2 Transformer Prime. Unfortunately, we aren't able to provide you with any concrete reasons for this outcome.

Fortunately, though the numbers for its Android 4.0 variant is slightly higher than the Honeycomb version, the Transformer Prime's Sunspider score is still lower than its competitors, namely the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Apple iPad 2. The browser experience during our time with the Android 4.0.3-powered Transformer Prime proved to be much better than its Android 3.2 variant. There were noticeable speed improvements and the overall user experience was evidently better.

The overall performance of ICS on the Transformer Prime is an improvement from the Honeycomb tablets we have reviewed in 2011, including the Android 3.2 version of the Transformer Prime. We also managed to get Quadrant and Smartbench working on the updated Android 4.0 Transformer Prime, with the following results shown:

As apparent and expected, the Quadrant and Smartbench scores are reflecting higher numbers on the quad-core Transformer Prime. Do remember that the benchmarks are not a definitive measure of the tablet's performance, but when it comes to the actual user experience, the general feel is that of an improved and faster interface. Almost everything is snappier such as the home screen transitions and animations. We encountered no lags or system crashes even when we had multiple apps running in the background. Swiping to quit apps and remove notifications felt effortless as well.