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Scaling Tegra 3's Performance Back

Asus Transformer Pad TF300T Review: Tegra 3, More Affordable
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For a quick refresher on Nvidia's Tegra 3, the recent Transformer Prime review includes an excellent summary comparing it to the competition.

The Transformer Pad TF300T is quite clearly being positioned as a less expensive derivative of Asus' Transformer Prime TF201. In addition to its ABS chassis, the Transformer Pad TF300T features a lower-clocked Tegra 3.

Android ICS
Power Profiles
Transformer Pad (T30L)
Transformer Prime (T30)
Power Saving Mode
1 Core Active
1 Core Active: ≤1.0 GHz
2 Cores Active: ≤1.0 GHz
3 Cores Active: ≤0.72 GHz
4 Cores Active: ≤0.6 GHz
1 Core Active: ≤1.0 GHz
2 Cores Active: ≤1.0 GHz
3 Cores Active: ≤0.74 GHz
4 Cores Active: ≤0.6 GHz
Balanced Mode
2 Cores Active
1 Core Active: ≤1.2 GHz
2 Cores Active: ≤1.2 GHz
3 Cores Active: ≤1.2 GHz
4 Cores Active: ≤1.2 GHz
1 Core Active: ≤1.3 GHz
2 Cores Active: ≤1.3 GHz
3 Cores Active: ≤1.3 GHz
4 Cores Active: ≤1.3 GHz
Performance Mode
3 Cores Active
1 Core Active: ≤1.3 GHz
2 Cores Active: ≤1.2 GHz
3 Cores Active: ≤1.2 GHz
4 Cores Active: ≤1.2 GHz
1 Core Active: ≤1.4 GHz
2 Cores Active: ≤1.3 GHz
3 Cores Active: ≤1.3 GHz
4 Cores Active: ≤1.3 GHz


Beginning with Android 4.0, Google introduced vendor-configurable power profiles that facilitate more granular control of battery life and performance. Within each of these profiles, the TF300T's Tegra 3 operates at specific clock rates depending on the number of active cores. Voltages correspondingly scale up and down as well.

Asus chose to arm its more mainstream TF300T with a slightly slower bin of Nvidia's Tegra 3 called T30L. This helps drive the tablet's price down without affecting performance too significantly. In Balanced and Performance modes, the Transformer Prime's full-speed T30 only operates 100 MHz faster. In Power-Saving mode, the clocks are almost identical.

GeekBench v2.2.7
Power-Saving
Balanced
Performance
Overall
TF201: 834
TF300T: 839
TF201: 1445
TF300T:
1272
TF201: 1632
TF300T: 1534
Integer
TF201: 655
TF300T: 684
TF201: 1110
TF300T: 994
TF201: 1399
TF300T: 1380
Floating Point
TF201: 1217
TF300T: 1169
TF201: 2334
TF300T: 1881
TF201: 2554
TF300T: 2231
Memory
TF201: 785
TF300T: 839
TF201: 1068
TF300T: 1190
TF201: 1100
TF300T: 1214


Performance under Android's Power-Saving mode is fairly similar. The Balanced and Performance profiles show Asus' Transformer Pad TF300T operating slightly slower than the Transformer Prime, though. Then again, we're doubtful those differences are detectable in the real world. An application that takes three seconds to execute on the TF201 takes the same amount of time on TF300T.

The Transformer Pad TF300T does enjoy a notable memory speed advantage. The flagship TF201 employs 1066 MT/s low-power DDR2 memory, while the newer TF300T features low-power DDR3. In adopting low-power DDR3-1333, Asus empowers its latest tablet with additional memory bandwidth across each power profile in GeekBench.

GLBenchmark 2.1.4
Transformer Pad (TF300T)
Transformer Prime (TF201)
Egypt Standard
5752 frames (51 FPS)
5720 frames (51 FPS)
Egypt Fixed
62.768 s (45 FPS)
65.250 s (45 FPS)
Egypt Offscreen (720p)
7178 frames (64 FPS)
7122 frames (63 FPS)
Pro Standard2796 frames (56 FPS)
2744 frames (55 FPS)
Pro Fixed22.982 s (54 FPS)
23.599 s (53 FPS)
Pro Offscreen (720p)
4006 frames (80 FPS)
3827 frames (76 FPS)

Results from GLBenchmark suggest that the TF300’s higher GeekBench memory score doesn't yield a noticeable overall performance advantage. That might simply be a reflection of GLBenchmark, though. The metric isn't considered CPU-bound, but we've also heard Nvidia argue that it doesn't tax an embedded graphics subsystem particularly intensely.

The company won't comment as to whether the T30L's graphics component operates at a lower frequency than T30, you'd have a hard time discerning the difference in a real-world game. We have a hard time telling one apart from the other in a synthetic benchmark, even. Shadowgun and Riptide GP appear to run just as smoothly on the Transformer Pad TF300T as they do on the Transformer Prime TF201.

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