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First Snapdragon 865 benchmarks reveal appreciable performance boosts and narrowed multi-core performance gap with the Apple A13 Bionic

A Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 reference device.
A Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 reference device.
Coming soon to an Android flagship near you. Qualcomm's latest flagship SoC is now official, and on the sidelines of the recent launch event we had a chance to test out the Snapdragon 865 in action. We compare the Snapdragon 865 in Qualcomm's reference device with the Snapdragon 855, 855+, Apple A13 Bionic, and the Kirin 990 to see the kind of performance improvements one can expect when new Android flagships launch next year.

Earlier this month, Qualcomm unveiled its latest Snapdragon SoC lineup that includes the flagship Snapdragon 865 and the upper mid-range Snapdragon 765/765G. During the event, we got a chance to take the Snapdragon 865 (SD 865) for a short test drive on a Qualcomm reference device. Here are the results of some of the benchmarks and a comparative analysis of how good the new SoC is, compared to the Snapdragon 855 (SD 855) and Snapdragon 855+ (SD 855+).

Note: All tests were run with Performance Mode turned on. Performance Mode does not boost clocks but offers faster clock ramping and shifts the load from little to big cores faster. OEM devices may change how Performance Mode is implemented depending on battery life targets. 

CPU benchmarks

For testing the CPU, we ran AnTuTu v8 and Geekbench 5. Overall system performance was measured using the PCMark for Android Work 2.0 test. In AnTuTu v8, we see up to a 15% increase in the total score compared to the SD 855+ while there is a substantial increase by about 48% compared to the SD 855. Similarly, the CPU-only score shows a respectable 25% improvement over the SD 855+ and nearly a 60% lead over the SD 855. 

In Geekbench single core, the SD 865 scores 932 points, a 29% improvement over the SD 855 in the Google Pixel 4 and a 22% improvement over the SD 855+ in the Asus ROG Phone 2. In multi-core, the SD 865 shows about a 37% improvement over the SD 855 and SD 855+. Interestingly, the performance gap with the 855+ was comparatively narrower when the OnePlus 7T Pro is considered. Compute performance seems to be up by a decent 15% compared to the SD 855. 

The Apple A13 Bionic has traditionally been the leader when it comes to mobile SoCs and this holds true even now. However, Qualcomm has been able to bridge the gap significantly in multi-core Geekbench, coming within 4% of the A13 Bionic. The A13 is still the leader when it comes to raw single-core scores. The SD 865 handily beats the Kirin 990 in the Huawei Mate 30 Pro in both single-core and multi-core tests. 

The SD 865 also brings overall boosts in productivity as evidenced by the 20% increase in PCMark Work 2.0 score compared to the SD 855 and the Kirin 990.

Qualcomm claims up to 25% performance improvement with the new Kryo 585 over the Kryo 485 in the Snapdragon 855 despite having similar clocks and we see that this holds true for the most part in these tests. The performance increase could be attributed to the IPC improvements in the Cortex-A77 chips combined with an increased L3 cache (4 MB).

AnTuTu v8
UX (sort by value)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Reference Device
Adreno 650, SD 865
77910 Points ∼94%
OnePlus 7T Pro
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
78191 Points ∼94%
Asus ROG Phone 2
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 512 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
70382 Points ∼85%
Google Pixel 4
Adreno 640, SD 855, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
51228 Points ∼62%
Apple iPhone 11 Pro
A13 Bionic GPU, A13 Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
82947 Points ∼100%
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Mali-G76 MP16, Kirin 990, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
70955 Points ∼86%
MEM (sort by value)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Reference Device
Adreno 650, SD 865
80160 Points ∼80%
OnePlus 7T Pro
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
64026 Points ∼64%
Asus ROG Phone 2
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 512 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
92659 Points ∼92%
Google Pixel 4
Adreno 640, SD 855, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
52596 Points ∼52%
Apple iPhone 11 Pro
A13 Bionic GPU, A13 Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
74262 Points ∼74%
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Mali-G76 MP16, Kirin 990, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
100390 Points ∼100%
GPU (sort by value)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Reference Device
Adreno 650, SD 865
217300 Points ∼100%
OnePlus 7T Pro
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
199051 Points ∼92%
Asus ROG Phone 2
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 512 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
193059 Points ∼89%
Google Pixel 4
Adreno 640, SD 855, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
158097 Points ∼73%
Apple iPhone 11 Pro
A13 Bionic GPU, A13 Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
209164 Points ∼96%
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Mali-G76 MP16, Kirin 990, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
160733 Points ∼74%
CPU (sort by value)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Reference Device
Adreno 650, SD 865
181940 Points ∼100%
OnePlus 7T Pro
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
145386 Points ∼80%
Asus ROG Phone 2
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 512 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
145684 Points ∼80%
Google Pixel 4
Adreno 640, SD 855, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
114777 Points ∼63%
Apple iPhone 11 Pro
A13 Bionic GPU, A13 Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
168185 Points ∼92%
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Mali-G76 MP16, Kirin 990, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
151146 Points ∼83%
Total Score (sort by value)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Reference Device
Adreno 650, SD 865
557310 Points ∼100%
OnePlus 7T Pro
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
486654 Points ∼87%
Asus ROG Phone 2
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 512 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
501784 Points ∼90%
Google Pixel 4
Adreno 640, SD 855, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
376698 Points ∼68%
Apple iPhone 11 Pro
A13 Bionic GPU, A13 Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
534558 Points ∼96%
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Mali-G76 MP16, Kirin 990, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
483224 Points ∼87%
Geekbench 5
OpenCL Score (sort by value)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Reference Device
Adreno 650, SD 865
3115 Points ∼70%
OnePlus 7T Pro
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
2716 Points ∼61%
Asus ROG Phone 2
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 512 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
2727 Points ∼61%
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Mali-G76 MP16, Kirin 990, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
4442 Points ∼100%
64 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Reference Device
Adreno 650, SD 865
3450 Points ∼97%
OnePlus 7T Pro
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
2940 Points ∼82%
Asus ROG Phone 2
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 512 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
2519 Points ∼70%
Google Pixel 4
Adreno 640, SD 855, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
2494 Points ∼70%
Apple iPhone 11 Pro
A13 Bionic GPU, A13 Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
3575 Points ∼100%
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Mali-G76 MP16, Kirin 990, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
3059 Points ∼86%
64 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Reference Device
Adreno 650, SD 865
932 Points ∼69%
OnePlus 7T Pro
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
792 Points ∼59%
Asus ROG Phone 2
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 512 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
761 Points ∼57%
Google Pixel 4
Adreno 640, SD 855, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
725 Points ∼54%
Apple iPhone 11 Pro
A13 Bionic GPU, A13 Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
1343 Points ∼100%
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Mali-G76 MP16, Kirin 990, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
783 Points ∼58%
PCMark for Android - Work 2.0 performance score (sort by value)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Reference Device
Adreno 650, SD 865
12330 Points ∼100%
OnePlus 7T Pro
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
10442 Points ∼85%
Asus ROG Phone 2
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 512 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
11690 Points ∼95%
Google Pixel 4
Adreno 640, SD 855, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
10254 Points ∼83%
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Mali-G76 MP16, Kirin 990, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
10322 Points ∼84%

GPU Benchmarks

The Adreno 650 GPU also shows considerable improvements over the Adreno 640 in GPU benchmarks. However, the benefits do not seem to be perceivable across all tests. In 3DMark Slingshot tests, we see up to a 42% increase in performance in OpenGL ES 3.1 and up to a 47% boost in Vulkan 1.0 compared to the Adreno 640. The difference is reduced to about 20% when compared with the Adreno 640 with boosted clocks in the SD 855+. We also see good leads in 3DMark OpenGL ES 3.1 tests compared to the A13 Bionic.

GFXBench is where the Adreno 650 throws up a few surprises. Offscreen tests of Aztec Ruins, Car Chase, and Manhattan show significant performance improvements — as much as 54% compared to the SD 855 and up to 11% compared to the SD 855+. In the Onscreen tests, the SD 865 trailed significantly behind the SD 855+ in the ROG Phone 2, the SD 855 in the Pixel 4, and even the Kirin 990. However, the SD 865 still manages to edge out the SD 855+ in the OnePlus 7T Pro. The A13 Bionic leads in all GFXBench tests by a considerable margin.

Qualcomm mentioned during the reveal that the Adreno 650 is about 25% faster in graphics rendering compared to the previous generation. While it does hold good for the most part, the anomaly in results in the Onscreen tests is somewhat surprising given that the new SoC has 50% more ALUs and double the TMUs from the previous generation.

3DMark
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (Vulkan) Unlimited (sort by value)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Reference Device
Adreno 650, SD 865
6610 Points ∼100%
OnePlus 7T Pro
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
5509 Points ∼83%
Asus ROG Phone 2
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 512 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
5506 Points ∼83%
Google Pixel 4
Adreno 640, SD 855, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
4509 Points ∼68%
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Mali-G76 MP16, Kirin 990, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
5570 Points ∼84%
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) Unlimited (sort by value)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Reference Device
Adreno 650, SD 865
8059 Points ∼100%
OnePlus 7T Pro
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
6916 Points ∼86%
Asus ROG Phone 2
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 512 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
6886 Points ∼85%
Google Pixel 4
Adreno 640, SD 855, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
5685 Points ∼71%
Apple iPhone 11 Pro
A13 Bionic GPU, A13 Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
6006 Points ∼75%
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Mali-G76 MP16, Kirin 990, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
6382 Points ∼79%
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) (sort by value)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Reference Device
Adreno 650, SD 865
7140 Points ∼100%
OnePlus 7T Pro
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
6266 Points ∼88%
Asus ROG Phone 2
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 512 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
6253 Points ∼88%
Google Pixel 4
Adreno 640, SD 855, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
5615 Points ∼79%
Apple iPhone 11 Pro
A13 Bionic GPU, A13 Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
4901 Points ∼69%
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Mali-G76 MP16, Kirin 990, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
6048 Points ∼85%
GFXBench
Aztec Ruins High Tier Onscreen (sort by value)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Reference Device
Adreno 650, SD 865 (Vulkan 1.0)
19 fps ∼42%
OnePlus 7T Pro
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
17 fps ∼38%
Asus ROG Phone 2
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 512 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
27 fps ∼60%
Google Pixel 4
Adreno 640, SD 855, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash (Vulkan 1.0)
24 fps ∼53%
Apple iPhone 11 Pro
A13 Bionic GPU, A13 Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
45 fps ∼100%
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Mali-G76 MP16, Kirin 990, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash (OpenGL ES 3.1)
26 fps ∼58%
2560x1440 Aztec Ruins High Tier Offscreen (sort by value)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Reference Device
Adreno 650, SD 865 (Vulkan 1.0)
20 fps ∼69%
OnePlus 7T Pro
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
19 fps ∼66%
Asus ROG Phone 2
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 512 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
18 fps ∼62%
Google Pixel 4
Adreno 640, SD 855, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash (Vulkan 1.0)
13 fps ∼45%
Apple iPhone 11 Pro
A13 Bionic GPU, A13 Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
29 fps ∼100%
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Mali-G76 MP16, Kirin 990, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash (OpenGL ES 3.1)
19 fps ∼66%
Aztec Ruins Normal Tier Onscreen (sort by value)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Reference Device
Adreno 650, SD 865 (Vulkan 1.0)
29 fps ∼51%
OnePlus 7T Pro
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
26 fps ∼46%
Asus ROG Phone 2
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 512 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
41 fps ∼72%
Google Pixel 4
Adreno 640, SD 855, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash (OpenGL ES 3.1)
33 fps ∼58%
Apple iPhone 11 Pro
A13 Bionic GPU, A13 Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
57 fps ∼100%
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Mali-G76 MP16, Kirin 990, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash (OpenGL ES 3.1)
40 fps ∼70%
1920x1080 Aztec Ruins Normal Tier Offscreen (sort by value)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Reference Device
Adreno 650, SD 865 (Vulkan 1.0)
53 fps ∼72%
OnePlus 7T Pro
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
47 fps ∼64%
Asus ROG Phone 2
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 512 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
47 fps ∼64%
Google Pixel 4
Adreno 640, SD 855, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash (OpenGL ES 3.1)
32 fps ∼43%
Apple iPhone 11 Pro
A13 Bionic GPU, A13 Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
74 fps ∼100%
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Mali-G76 MP16, Kirin 990, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash (OpenGL ES 3.1)
49 fps ∼66%
off screen Car Chase Offscreen (sort by value)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Reference Device
Adreno 650, SD 865 (OpenGL ES 3.1)
50 fps ∼79%
OnePlus 7T Pro
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
48 fps ∼76%
Asus ROG Phone 2
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 512 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
43 fps ∼68%
Google Pixel 4
Adreno 640, SD 855, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
34 fps ∼54%
Apple iPhone 11 Pro
A13 Bionic GPU, A13 Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
63 fps ∼100%
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Mali-G76 MP16, Kirin 990, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
41 fps ∼65%
on screen Car Chase Onscreen (sort by value)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Reference Device
Adreno 650, SD 865 (OpenGL ES 3.1)
28 fps ∼57%
OnePlus 7T Pro
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
24 fps ∼49%
Asus ROG Phone 2
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 512 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
38 fps ∼78%
Google Pixel 4
Adreno 640, SD 855, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
30 fps ∼61%
Apple iPhone 11 Pro
A13 Bionic GPU, A13 Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
49 fps ∼100%
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Mali-G76 MP16, Kirin 990, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
34 fps ∼69%
GFXBench 3.1
off screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Offscreen (sort by value)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Reference Device
Adreno 650, SD 865
88 fps ∼79%
OnePlus 7T Pro
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
79 fps ∼71%
Asus ROG Phone 2
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 512 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
71 fps ∼63%
Google Pixel 4
Adreno 640, SD 855, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
57 fps ∼51%
Apple iPhone 11 Pro
A13 Bionic GPU, A13 Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
112 fps ∼100%
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Mali-G76 MP16, Kirin 990, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
56 fps ∼50%
on screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Onscreen (sort by value)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Reference Device
Adreno 650, SD 865
49 fps ∼67%
OnePlus 7T Pro
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
40 fps ∼55%
Asus ROG Phone 2
Adreno 640, SD 855+, 512 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
58 fps ∼79%
Google Pixel 4
Adreno 640, SD 855, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
51 fps ∼70%
Apple iPhone 11 Pro
A13 Bionic GPU, A13 Bionic, 256 GB NVMe
60 fps ∼82%
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Mali-G76 MP16, Kirin 990, 256 GB UFS 3.0 Flash
73 fps ∼100%

Qualcomm said that both the CPU and GPU were tuned for better sustained performance. We noticed higher frame times often while running Aztec Ruins in High Tier and Normal modes, which explains the low scores in the Onscreen test. The Offscreen performance was relatively uniform. We feel this could be software and/or thermals-related, but we will have to test out more phones in the coming months to confirm.

Higher frame times seen in Aztec Ruins Vulkan High Tier Onscreen
Higher frame times seen in Aztec Ruins Vulkan High Tier Onscreen
Better sustained performance in Aztec Ruins Vulkan High Tier Offscreen
Better sustained performance in Aztec Ruins Vulkan High Tier Offscreen
Higher frame times seen in Aztec Ruins Vulkan Normal Tier Onscreen
Higher frame times seen in Aztec Ruins Vulkan Normal Tier Onscreen
Frame times fluctuate in Aztec Ruins Vulkan Normal Tier Offscreen but are lower than the Onscreen test
Frame times fluctuate in Aztec Ruins Vulkan Normal Tier Offscreen but are lower than the Onscreen test

AI Benchmarks

The SD 865's Hexagon 698 DSP is touted to offer 15 TOPS of AI performance with massive improvements across most neural networks. The Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine (SNPE) runtime allows applications to natively take advantage of the Hexagon 698's tensor cores. We ran the AiTuTu Benchmark that uses SNPE to check how high the SD 865 scores in AI performance over our OnePlus 7 Pro test device based on the SD 855. We find that the SD 865 posts 472,277 points compared to the SD 855's 209,473 points, which is an impressive 2.2x improvement. We look forward to testing the SD 865's AI prowess across various neural networks as soon as the first devices become available next year.

OnePlus 7 Pro Snapdragon 855 AiTuTu score.
OnePlus 7 Pro Snapdragon 855 AiTuTu score.
Snapdragon 865 reference device AiTuTu score.
Snapdragon 865 reference device AiTuTu score.

Overall, the preliminary benchmark results seem to suggest that the Snapdragon 865 looks to be a good improvement over the Snapdragon 855 but offers only little incentives over the Snapdragon 855+. We would like to emphasize that these results are from Qualcomm's reference device and that numbers will vary with OEM phones depending on their software, memory, and thermal implementation. With OEMs now coming up with designs that offer more thermal headroom, they can now push the SoC to operate at near 5 W TDP, which should afford some added performance. 

That being said, Qualcomm is still way behind Apple's A13 Bionic when it comes to single-core numbers, although the company has been able to close the multi-core gap significantly. Graphics is still Qualcomm's strength as evidenced by the impressive show put up by the Adreno 650. However, while 3DMark scores tilt in favor of the Adreno 650, the A13 Bionic seems to ace every GFXBench test.

Phones powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 can be expected to be announced during MWC 2020. We look forward to testing this chipset more extensively as more devices become available, so stay tuned.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 12 > First Snapdragon 865 benchmarks reveal appreciable performance boosts and narrowed multi-core performance gap with the Apple A13 Bionic
J. Simon Leitner, Vaidyanathan Subramaniam, 2019-12-16 (Update: 2019-12-17)
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam
I am a cell and molecular biologist and computers have been an integral part of my life ever since I laid my hands on my first PC which was based on an Intel Celeron 266 MHz processor, 16 MB RAM and a modest 2 GB hard disk. Since then, I’ve seen my passion for technology evolve with the times. From traditional floppy based storage and running DOS commands for every other task, to the connected cloud and shared social experiences we take for granted today, I consider myself fortunate to have witnessed a sea change in the technology landscape. I honestly feel that the best is yet to come, when things like AI and cloud computing mature further. When I am not out finding the next big cure for cancer, I read and write about a lot of technology related stuff or go about ripping and re-assembling PCs and laptops.