GPU Performance

Following along the same lines, we can also take a look at the GPU performance of Tegra13x in the Nexus 9. This really shouldn’t change too much though as the same GPU is used at the same maximum clock speed of 852 MHz. For those that are unfamiliar with the GPU in the Tegra K1, this is effectively a scaled-down version of their desktop Kepler GPUs.

3DMark 1.2 Unlimited - Overall

3DMark 1.2 Unlimited - Graphics

3DMark 1.2 Unlimited - Physics

BaseMark X 1.1 - Overall (High Quality)

BaseMark X 1.1 - Dunes (High Quality, Offscreen)

BaseMark X 1.1 - Hangar (High Quality, Offscreen)

BaseMark X 1.1 - Dunes (High Quality, Onscreen)

BaseMark X 1.1 - Hangar (High Quality, Onscreen)

GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan (Onscreen)

GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan (Offscreen)

GFXBench 3.0 T-Rex HD (Onscreen)

GFXBench 3.0 T-Rex HD (Offscreen)

As one can see, the Nexus 9 is effectively equivalent to the SHIELD Tablet in GPU performance. The one anomaly here is 3DMark, which seems to be mostly due to differences in CPU. It's likely that this isn't representative of performance though, as 3DMark's physics test seems to perform better on CPU configurations that rely on larger numbers of cores and higher clock speeds. In the purer GPU tests like Basemark X and GFXBench performance across the board is effectively identical to the Cortex A15 variant of the Tegra K1.

Initial Conclusions

For the most part, the Nexus 9 shows some level of promise as a tablet. While Denver in NVIDIA’s Tegra K1 is a bit bimodal in performance, with sufficient optimization it has immense promise from a sheer performance aspect. While the SoC alone makes the Nexus 9 a fascinating device to look at, the rest of the package has a great deal of potential. The minimalistic design of the device, combined with good material design and stereo front-facing speakers really shows the high-end aspirations of this tablet. While we haven't received anything in the way of accessories, the keyboard folio case seems to be a way of pushing the tablet formfactor in a new direction. This is especially evident when seeing the focus on previous Nexus tablets which seemed to assume touch-only input.

While only a first look, there’s definitely a lot to be impressed by here. However, it will take a full review to really determine whether the Nexus 9 can compete with the iPad Air 2 as a tablet is more than just a function of battery life and SoC performance. In addition, it's hard to draw any real conclusions about this tablet quite yet as the software we received in no way represents a shipping build. Even if inactive, loggers and debug tools generally reduce performance, and it's likely that a great deal of optimization has occurred in the two months since this software build was completed. Once again, we haven't been able to get a newer build, but the full review should be done with shipping firmware.

CPU Performance and Battery Life
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  • speculatrix - Monday, November 3, 2014 - link

    Quite often Nexus devices have a close sibling from the same manufacturer but with extra hardware niceties, such as gaining a memory card slot, different or removable battery, USB on the go etc.

    So it will be interesting to see if HTC come out with a very similar table to this Nex9 but with a memory car slot and some premium features?
  • arkhamasylum87 - Monday, November 3, 2014 - link

    Can you guys do a comparison article between apple a8x, tegra k1 and intel core m ? would love to understand your thoughts on the tablet/hybrid market as a whole and if there is a potential here.
  • varad - Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - link

  • agoyal - Monday, November 3, 2014 - link

    I think the real question is, how will it fair in comparison with A57 which should be coming soon!!
  • darkich - Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - link

    The 20nm 1.9GHz A57 is already out in the Galaxy Note 4.
    Scores around 1250 in single core Geekbench.
    But power draw in the octa core setup should be incredibly low considering that the 20nm Exynos 5430(Cortex A15/Galaxy Alpha) doesn't even cross 3W under maximum load!

    Also,if the rumors are true that Snapdragon 810 will have it clocked at 2.7GHz, the end result should be quite incredible.
  • NotLupus - Monday, November 3, 2014 - link

    I bought a Nexus 7 2013 from Walmart last year just as it was released. Battery life was about 6 hours of screen time with low brightness and no background syncing, doing mostly web browsing or local video playback. It was nowhere near Anandtech's 12 hours, not even the advertised 9 hours. Ever since then I'm skeptical battery life claims for android devices. This Nexus 9 review sample was probably cherry-picked.
  • agoyal - Monday, November 3, 2014 - link

    I have had similar experience with android devices, I have owned nexus 7 2013,LG G pad 8.3 and Galaxy pro tab 10.1. Had IPad Air and the battery would last a long time mostly with web browsing, much more than the review sites.
  • poohbear - Monday, November 3, 2014 - link

    between my 5.7" Note 3 phablet, my 13" ultrabook, and my 27" desktop beast, what exactly do u need a tablet for? All my friends that bought one say it just sits there unused. Seems like a niche market or just a gimmick.
  • WarlockOfOz - Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - link

    One solution to your question: replace the phablet with a small, basic phone plus a 8" wide screen tablet and you get something that's more convenient for actual phone calls, provides more screen space for everything else, has a lower total cost and can still be carried in your pockets. Not sure about tablets that need bags myself, but lots of other people seem to like them.
  • darkich - Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - link

    I disagree that 8" wide screen tablet is more convenient than a 5.7" palmtop (I happen to own both, palmtop being the Galaxy Note 3).
    The Note 3 is simply much easier to hold. And the screen is still perfectly big for reading and even movies while laying in bed.
    Handling Web pages and gaming is also much easier.

    While my tablet is perfectly okay for what it is, I find it using it mostly when my Note 3 is charging.

    So I tend to agree with the above post. Phablets (or palmtops as I prefer to call them) are the reason for tablet market stagnation, and are rightfully booming right now.

    Just look at Apple's reaction if you need further evidence - neutering the iPad mini a release of the iPhone 6 plus.

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