System Performance

One of the highlights of the Pixel C is the fact that it is powered by NVIDIA's Tegra X1 SoC. This technically isn't the first time that X1 has shown up in an Android device since it powers the SHIELD Android TV, but it's the first time it has been used in a mobile device. This implementation of Tegra X1 has four Cortex A57 cores with a peak frequency of 1.91GHz, along with four Cortex A53 cores. There are a few things that need to be mentioned about how Tegra X1 differs from other SoCs with eight cores. The first is the fact that in theory, Tegra X1 uses cluster migration rather than Heterogeneous Multi-processing. The reason I said in theory is because the implementation in the Pixel C is really only using the A57 cluster and scaling the frequency as low as 51MHz and as high as 1.91GHz.

In any case, all of our benchmarks should trigger the A57 cores in a mobile device that pairs A53 and A57 cores, so the discussion of the A53 cores being disabled is more relevant from a power consumption standpoint than a performance one. To analyze the general performance of the Pixel C I've run it through our standard JavaScript tests, along with PCMark and BaseMark OS II.

Kraken 1.1 (Chrome/Safari/IE)

Google Octane v2  (Chrome/Safari/IE)

WebXPRT 2015 (Chrome/Safari/IE)

Unfortunately, the Pixel C doesn't make a very strong showing in our JavaScript benchmarks. I can't help but feel that this is the result of a rushed Android build, as there are regressions compared to the Nexus 9 in Octane and Kraken, and in all cases the score just isn't that impressive. JavaScript performance is definitely something Google will have to work on in the future, as the gap between the performance of iOS and Android devices is growing fairly large.

Basemark OS II 2.0 - System

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Memory

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Graphics

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Web

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Overall

The Pixel C only achieves decent results in BaseMark OS II. The NAND memory score definitely drags down the overall rating, with the web score being lower than expected, and the system score being shocking low. The stand out score is in the graphics test, with the Pixel C only coming second to Apple's iPad Pro, and beating out the next best Android device, which is also NVIDIA-powered, by a huge margin. Unfortunately, high as it may be, Tegra X1's graphics performance just isn't enough to carry the Pixel C here.

PCMark - Web Browsing

PCMark - Video Playback

PCMark - Writing

PCMark - Photo Editing

PCMark - Work Performance Overall

PCMark paints a different picture than BaseMark OS II, and highlights how performance can be highly variable based on workload, software, and whether an app is run as a native binary or through ART. In PCMark the Pixel C performs exceptionally well, with the exception of the writing test which seems to have been impacted by some change made to ART on Google's devices when moving to Marshmallow. Putting that aside, we see quite high and often chart topping scores in the remaining tests, resulting in a final score that only sits below the Huawei Mate 8.

Characterizing the Pixel C's performance is difficult. PCMark paints a very good picture, and I'm tempted to lean toward it as it is representative of the tasks that users will perform on a daily basis. There's a bit more discussion to be had about the Pixel C's general performance, and that'll come a bit later in the software section of the review. What I can say is that Tegra X1 certainly is fast as far as raw speed goes, but there's more to be said about the Pixel C's performance when you consider the role of both hardware and software.

Intro and Design System Performance Cont'd and NAND Performance
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  • jbelkin - Monday, January 25, 2016 - link

    Nailed it.
  • McDuncun - Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - link

    If you can show me one magnifying/proper visual difference between iOS 7-9 then I will buy myself a iPhone 6s Plus even though I still think it`s overrated beyond the point of no return.
  • lightman0731 - Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - link

    Actually, the third-world consumers that you say is not ignorant now. I come from China, in this market, opinion leader is indispensable, maybe consumers could not know how to choose SoC, but opinion leader is clearly know faster single core performance is key factor when we choose a smartphone or tablet, opinion leader usually care the single performance result from GeekBench or anything else. So if some company want to make a illusion that more cores are somehow better than faster individual cores, I believe it doesn't work in this information age.
  • lilmoe - Wednesday, January 27, 2016 - link

    just ignore that douchebag bro...
  • GotThumbs - Wednesday, January 27, 2016 - link

    "ignorant third-world consumers"
    "mistaken belief that targeting the poorer class"
    "market to the upper class."


    Talk about a person oozing ignorance.

    We have a winner!

    vFunct is THE king sphincter.

    No facts, but lots of personal prejudice, bias and ignorance.
  • Alexey291 - Saturday, January 30, 2016 - link

    Its really funny that he also thinks that google and apple actually operate in the same business too xD
  • thegamper - Saturday, February 20, 2016 - link

    I think it's just that ignorant third world customers are so stupid that they haven't yet grasped the joy of paying for apples huge profit margins, stock buybacks, shareholder dividends, etc so they can have the "look at me" product that makes them "feel" superior. Apple has done a truly magnificent job getting people to part with their money and feel good about getting gouged. Ever notice that nearly every protective case for Apple products has a cutaway to show the Apple logo. I think if you are honest with yourself, you know that's because if people can't see the logo, it might as well be a paperweight. So, you can pay through the nose for image, or you can pay a reasonable price for function. Maybe the 80% plus of the world running Android are more than ignorant peasants after all.
  • randix - Friday, March 25, 2016 - link

    LMAO. Having an iPad makes you so SUPERIOR. What kind of a loser would think like that? Upper Class?? The marketing of Apple makes those idiots like you to think it's cool to have an iDevice and you're poor if you choose other platforms and it seems to have worked for some iTards. I used to have a a few iPhones and iPads, I still have a Macbook. I guess I'm the Bill Gates now.
  • Drout - Saturday, January 12, 2019 - link

    ?????? wow, this is a hell of a quirky comment, full of nonsense. I bet it was made by some spoiled kid between 13 and 15yo :)
  • MonkeyPaw - Monday, January 25, 2016 - link

    I concluded long ago that anything over 7" on Android will be frustrating thanks to the lack of App support. It's a pretty good phone OS, but it has never properly taken on in the tablet space.

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