System Performance

System performance on the QRD865 was a bit of a tricky topic, as we’ve seen that the same chipset can differ quite a lot depending on the software implementation done by the vendor. For the performance preview this year, Qualcomm again integrated a “Performance” mode on the test devices, alongside the default scheduler and DVFS behaviour of the BSP delivered to vendors.

There’s a fine line between genuine “Performance” modes as implemented on commercial devices such as from Samsung and Huawei, which make tunings to the DVFS and schedulers which increase performance while remaining reasonable in their aggressiveness, and more absurd “cheating” performance modes such as implemented by OPPO for example, which simply ramp up the minimum frequencies of the chip.

Qualcomm’s performance mode on the QRD865 is walking this fine line – it’s extremely aggressive in that it’s ramping up the chipset to maximum frequency in ~30ms. It’s also having the little cores start at a notably higher frequency than in the default mode. Nevertheless, it’s still a legitimate operation mode, although I do not expect very many devices to be configured in this way.

The default mode on the other hand is quite similar to what we’ve seen on the Snapdragon 855 QRD last year, but the issue is that this was also rather conservative and many popular devices such as the Galaxy S10 were configured to be more aggressive. Whilst the default config of the QRD865 should be representative of most devices next year, I do expect many of them to do better than the figures represented by this config.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Web Browsing 2.0

Starting off with the web browsing test, we’re seeing the big difference in performance scaling between the two chipsets. The test here is mostly sensible to the performance scaling of the A55 cores. The QRD865 in the default more is more conservative than some existing S855 devices, which is why it performs worse in those situations. On the other hand, the performance results of the QRD865 here are also extremely aggressive and receives the best results out there amongst our current device range. I expect commercial devices to fall in somewhere between the two extremes.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Video Editing

The video editing test nowadays is no longer performance sensitive and most devices fall in the same result range.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Writing 2.0

The writing test is amongst the most important and representative of daily performance of a device, and here the QRD865 does well in both configurations. The Mate 30 Pro with the Kirin 990 is the only other competitive device at this performance level.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Photo Editing 2.0

The Photo Editing test makes use of RenderScript and GPU acceleration, and here it seems the new QRD865 makes some big improvements. Performance is a step-function higher than previous generation devices.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Data Manipulation

Finally, the data manipulation test oddly enough falls in middle of the pack for both performance modes. I’m not too sure as to why this is, but we’ve seen the test being quite sensible to scheduler or even OS configurations.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Performance

Generally, the QRD865 phone landed at the top of the rankings in PCMark.

Web Benchmarks

Speedometer 2.0 - OS WebView WebXPRT 3 - OS WebView JetStream 2 - OS Webview

The web benchmarks results presented here were somewhat disappointing. The QRD865 really didn’t manage to differentiate itself from the rest of the Android pack even though it was supposed to be roughly 20-25% ahead in theory. I’m not sure what the limitation here is, but the 5-10% increases are well below what we had hoped for. For now, it seems like the performance gap to Apple’s chips remains significant.

System Performance Conclusion

Overall, we expect system performance of Snapdragon 865 devices to be excellent. Commercial devices will likely differ somewhat in terms of their scores as I do not expect them to be configured exactly the same as the QRD865. I was rather disappointed with the web benchmarks as the improvements were quite meagre – in hindsight it might be a reason as to why Arm didn’t talk about them at all during the Cortex-A77 launch.

CPU Performance & Efficiency: SPEC2006 Machine Learning Inference Performance
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • Bulat Ziganshin - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    Unfortunately the first page lack latency picture for Core i9
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    Whoops! Reload and try it now.
  • shabby - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    Performance looks good but I'm really wary of the external 4g/5g chip and its additional antennas and how they'll affect battery life. Not going to buy any new sd865 phone until reviews pop up.
  • eastcoast_pete - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    That's the elephant in the room! Haven't seen any good real-world data on just how much power 5G use will actually add. Faster data are nice (in principle), but if 5G cuts battery life by 30-40% vs. current 4G LTE , pretty much useless. If anyone here has any links to such tests, please post - Thanks!
  • Kangal - Friday, December 20, 2019 - link

    Well, I think generally they're going to stick the 5G SoC next to the QSD 865 SoC.
    That means heat from one will affect the other, and so OEMs will potentially require a larger phone (and larger screen = more drain), but with a smaller area for the battery.

    Not to mention, there is going to be significant battery life hit when using an external radio chipset instead of an integrated one. Remember the huge power savings we saw going from the QSD 600 to the QSD 800 back in 2013. So it will be kind of reversed.

    I think overall, what will happen is that all the improvements in the battery technology and the Cortex A77 are going to be nullified. So phones from 2019 which had the best battery life and performance, are going to see a "side-grade" compared to 2020 flagships. So I believe in essence, the QSD 865 will be much less competitive against the Apple A13 and Exynos 990... compared to the QSD 855 against the Apple A12 and Kirin 980.

    ...I do believe more in-depth benchmarks and reviews will come within 3 months (and validate my hypothesis).
  • MrCommunistGen - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    Based on the initial performance estimates from the Cortex A77 announcement article Andrei published back in May, I was actually really excited to see the next generation Snapdragon 865. The lack of performance uplift in the real-world web metrics with the QRD865 is a bit underwhelming, but my main concern is the requirement of an external modem.

    I don't have any experience with the current crop of 5G external-modem devices, but back in the day I used several Qualcomm APQ external-modem devices. Back then battery life being terrible was basically a given since batteries were small and Android was pretty bad at power management, but in hindsight I'm sure at least some of it was due to the external modems...
  • tuxRoller - Wednesday, December 18, 2019 - link

    The disappointing web improvements were also seen last year (

    "The web-based benchmarks such as Speedometer 2.0 and WebXPRT 3 showcase similar relatively muted results. Here I had expected Qualcomm to perform really well given the scheduler performance showcase of the Snapdragon 845. The results of the Snapdragon 855 are quite meagre, especially in a steady-state throughput workload such as Speedometer 2.0. Here the Snapdragon 855 only manages to showcase a ~17% improvement over the last generation, and also lags behind the Kirin 980 by some notable amount."

    However, compare those 855qrd to the numbers seen in this article with actual shipping devices. Pretty big difference.
  • generalako - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    >Not going to buy any new sd865 phone until reviews pop up.

    Shouldn't really ever do that anyhow...
  • Kishoreshack - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    Don't know why the Performance looks disappointing in web browsing test
  • Kishoreshack - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    What is the reason is it performs worse than last years 855 chip
    are we gonna see same kind of implementation in real world devices?

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now