Our testing methods
The following page covers all the nerdy details related to our test methods and systems. If you're already familiar with how we do things around here, feel free to skip ahead to the performance results.
To put the Nexus 7's performance in perspective, we tested the tablet against a wide range of competitors, including the full lineup of Asus' Transformers, the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Kindle Fire, and the last two iPads. Most of the Transformers offer multiple operating modes with different performance levels. We tested those tablets in all of their possible configurations. Despite the fact that the Nexus 7 is also manufactured by Asus, the Google tablet has only one operating mode.
Here are the key details for the systems we tested:
|System||Processor||Screen size||Display resolution||Memory||Storage||OS|
|Galaxy Tab 10.1||Nvidia Tegra 2||10.1"||1280x800||1GB||16GB||Android 3.2|
|iPad 2||Apple A5||9.7"||1024x768||512MB||16GB||iOS 5.1|
|iPad 3||Apple A5X||9.7"||2048x1536||1GB||16GB||iOS 5.1.1|
|Kindle Fire||TI OMAP 4430||7"||1024x600||512MB||8GB||Android 2.3|
|Nexus 7||Nvidia Tegra 3||7"||1280x800||1GB||16GB||Android 4.1|
|Transformer||Nvidia Tegra 2||10.1"||1280x800||1GB||16GB||Android 4.0|
|Transformer Pad 300||Nvidia Tegra 3||10.1"||1280x800||1GB||64GB||Android 4.0|
|Transformer Pad Infinity||Nvidia Tegra 3||10.1"||1920x1200||1GB||64GB||Android 4.0|
|Transformer Prime||Nvidia Tegra 3||10.1"||1280x800||1GB||32GB||Android 4.0|
We're still working out the best ways to test tablet performance, and I expect we'll be using the high-speed camera more in future reviews. For now, standard benchmarks give us an easy way to assess relative performance across a broad array of contenders. We used the following test applications:
Unfortunately, the Kindle and the iPads won't be able to participate in all our tests due the availability of benchmark applications on each platform. The Fire needs to be rooted to access the Play store, and the iPads run an entirely different operating system that requires separate binaries.
Some further notes on our methods:
GLBenchmark was tested with its standard and offscreen modes. The standard tests run at the native resolution and often invoke vsync, which can't be disabled. The offscreen tests run at 1280x720 but aren't shown on the screen, preventing vsync from artificially limiting the performance of the graphics processor.
The iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1 were tested with an older version of GLBenchmark than the other tablets. We've included the results for reference, but they're not directly comparable.
We did our best to match the screen brightness of each tablet before our battery life tests. The original Transformer, the Transformer Prime, and the Transformer Pad 300 were all configured with a ~40% brightness level. The Infinity's screen is a tad darker, so it took a brightness setting closer to 50%. Matching that level on the Nexus 7 took the brightness slider up to around 25%. That seemed a little low, but we confirmed with our colorimeter that the brightness levels were comparable.
All battery life testing was conducted with the Transformers running in balanced mode. After being run dry for a first test, those tablets were connected to their optional keyboard docks, which include secondary batteries, for a second round.
The tests and methods we employ are generally publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.
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