GPU, Throttling and Storage Performance

GPU performance from the Mali-T880 MP4 is disappointing. As I suspected, the version of this GPU with three times more cores in the Galaxy S7 Edge is almost exactly three times faster in heavily GPU-limited off-screen workloads. This is a huge performance difference for a flagship device, and it seems strange that HiSilicon would include such a weak GPU considering this SoC’s strong CPU performance.

On average, the Exynos Galaxy S7 Edge was 124% faster in GPU workloads than the Huawei P9 across all our tests. For Snapdragon 820 devices like the HTC 10, this performance gap increases to a huge 186% on average. Even older devices like the Galaxy S6 and Snapdragon 810-equipped Nexus 6P pack much faster graphics processors.

While the Huawei P9 won’t struggle in most games, devices loaded with the Snapdragon 820 could have a significant performance advantage in the future, as its GPU is nearly three times faster. Even with a higher-resolution 1440p display, Snapdragon 820 devices such as the HTC 10 are more than 50% faster in on-screen tests. This is a pretty disappointing showing from the Kirin 955.

Despite the weak GPU performance, the Huawei P9 still throttles considerably during heavy graphics workloads. The drop-off in performance is sharp, with peak speeds only lasting for a few minutes, reaching a steady state value around 30 percent lower after just 10 minutes. Long term, this still gives the Snapdragon 820 in particular a 2x to 2.5x performance advantage.

Storage performance from the 32 GB model is great. Sequential read performance is lower than some of its competitors, but Huawei compensates for this through excellent write performance, both in sequential and random situations. Random read performance is also quite good. Don’t forget: the Huawei P9 includes microSD card expansion as well, so it’s cheap and easy to get more storage in this device.