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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  • tipoo - Monday, November 3, 2014 - link

    Maybe I spoke too soon, seeing the benchmarks, it seems to ping between great and average. Joshua, think what I said is coming into effect with spaghetti code?
  • abhaxus - Monday, November 3, 2014 - link

    Well, in the article he points out that the firmware is nearly two months old. I imagine there are more optimizations in the release FW.
  • tipoo - Monday, November 3, 2014 - link

    Yeah, hopefully it's all in the software. The CPU looks great when it does well, and the GPU absolutely is killer.
  • Dribble - Monday, November 3, 2014 - link

    When other sites are getting full reviews up anandtech can only manage a half hearted preview using an ancient build?

    What's happened?
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Monday, November 3, 2014 - link

    The final firmware builds were supposedly pushed Sunday afternoon via OTA. Can't comment on what other sites do but our review will be on that firmware, and understandably it's impossible to do a review within 24 hours.
  • melgross - Monday, November 3, 2014 - link

    I wouldn't expect to much of a gain. A few percent here and there most likely.
  • tential - Monday, November 3, 2014 - link

    So go read those reviews then?
    Wait, you still came here to complain about anandtech's review not being up?

    I'm going to guess it's the same reason I came here to see if anandtech's review was up. Because I wanted a more in-depth review. Depth takes time obviously so I guess we'll have to wait.
  • edwpang - Monday, November 3, 2014 - link

    True, some reviews from other sites contains even less information than this preview. If Anandtech posts a review too quickly without fully testing the hardware, a lot more people will complain.
  • chizow - Monday, November 3, 2014 - link

    I guess it also really depends what you consider a "full review". Personally I think AnandTech is the only site that actually tries to do a comprehensive performance review from a true tech enthusiasts point of view.

    Now compare with these other consumer tech gadget sites that throw up 3 benchmarks for 3 devices with another 2500 words of subjective filler regarding aesthetics that anyone who walked into a Best Buy could ascertain on their own.
  • dragonsqrrl - Monday, November 3, 2014 - link

    I'll wait for quality analysis. As the article stated the final firmware has only been available for a day, so that should tell you something about the "full reviews" you love so much.

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