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Making some marks on some iPhone 8 benches

With the arrival of my iPhone 8 Plus and its A11 Bionic CPU, I thought it'd be interesting to compare its benchmark performance (for the CPU and GPU) with some of the other gear in our home—iOS devices, Macs, and even a PC and a Linux box. In total, I tested 15 devices.

How did I test? I turned to Geekbench, which you can run on MacOS, Windows, and Linux (anywhere from free to $99), as well as on iOS ($.99). It has tests for both the CPU (using single and multiple cores) as well as the GPU (OpenCL and Metal on iOS/macOS; OpenCL and CUDA on Windows; CUDA on Linux).

What follows is far from a scientific study; I was just curious how the CPU and GPU in the iPhone compared to other tech gear in our home. As such, I didn't run the tests under "ideal lab conditions," I just ran them—one time per machine, with no special setup other than some basic stuff…

For the computer tests, I made sure no other foreground apps were running, but paid no attention to things that might be going on in the background, like Spotlight or Dropbox. For the iOS tests, I swiped away every background app tile, so that just Geekbench was running. All devices were plugged into power. And that was it for setup.

Your results, should you wish to do this yourself, will clearly differ from mine. Heck, mine would probably differ from mine if I were to do this again. Enogh jabbering; here's what I found. (Note that the results are presented in reverse chronological order within each section.)

Device CPU / Speed Single CPU Multi CPU Metal GPU
── iPhones ──
iPhone 8 / 256GB A11 Bionic / 2.05Ghz 4,184 10,235 15,674
iPhone 7 / 128GB A10 Fusion / 2.34GHz 3,291 5,595 12,772
iPhone 6 / 64GB A8 / 1.4GHz 1,255 2,299 4,207
iPhone 5c / 16GB A6 / 1.3GHz 639 1,222 --
── iPads ──
iPad Pro 9.7" A9X / 2.26GHz 2,743 5,100 15,760
iPad mini (Retina) A7 / 1.3GHz 1,191 2,092 569
iPad mini A5 / 1.0GHz 273 562 --
── Computers ──
Mid 2017 Hackintosh Core i7-6700K/4GHz 5,493 18,842 93,880
Mid 2017 Linux Mint Core i7-6700K/4GHz 5,656 19,734 --
Mid 2017 Windows 10 Core i7-6700K/4GHz 5,281 17,601 --
Mid 2017 21.5" retina iMac Core i5-7500/3.4GHz 4,985 14,643 33,790
Mid 2017 13" retina MBP Core i5-7360U/2.3GHz 4,468 9,473 25,598
Late 2014 27" retina iMac Core i7-4790K/4GHz 4,789 16,071 45,447
Late 2013 13" retina MBP Core i7-4558U/2.8GHz 3,696 7,282 18,977
Mid 2012 11" MacBook Air Core i7-3667U/2GHz 3,262 6,327 7,927

Some notes and observations on my testing…

  • The CPU speed of the iOS devices is as reported in Geekbench. For the computers, it's from the About box.
  • The Mid 2017 Hackintosh, Mid 2017 Linux Minut, and Mid 2017 Windows 10 machines are all the same box: I just have a hard drive for each, and rebooted into each OS to run the tests.
  • I wish I would have recorded the time required to run the tests on each machine. The slowest, an original iPad mini, took well over 18 minutes to run the CPU test!
  • That original mini, as well as the Windows and Linux boxes, can't run Metal, so that result is excluded. I did run the OpenCL test on both Windows and Mac (Linux can't do it); the results had Windows slightly ahead—about 3% or so.
  • As expected, the oldest stuff—an original iPad mini and the first retina iPad mini—were the slowest. It's pretty amazing just how slow they are, though: Compared to the original iPad mini, the iPhone 8 Plus's CPU results are up 15x (single) or 17x (multiple); the GPU test is even more extreme, with the iPhone 8 Plus at 27x that of the first-gen retina iPad mini.
  • Even more impressive is the improvement since the iPhone 6 of 2014, the first to support Metal: The iPhone 8 Plus scores over 3x that of the iPhone 6 in both CPU and GPU tests. Not bad for three years' time!
  • The GTX1080 video card in my Hackintosh simply crushes the Metal benchmark—it's double that of the iMac, the next closest competitor. Granted, it's a nice video card, but at $530, it's nowhere near the top of the line. I'd love to see Apple's upcoming Pro Mac and iMac Pro offer a range of high-end desktop video cards—let us choose, and we'll give you more of our money.
  • On the computer side, I expect that Mint had the fastest CPU results because I don't have much of anything running on it. Both my Windows box and my iMac have lots of stuff installed and running that I didn't bother to disable.
  • In Geekbench, there's no way to test graphics across Linux, MacOS, and Windows: The Linux machine can only run a CUDA test; Windows can run CUDA and OpenCL; and macOS can run Metal and OpenCL. I did run the OpenCL test on both Windows and macOS, and the results were within 2% of each other, so basically the same.

I know benchmarks may or may not have real world applicability, but by running the same test across multiple devices, it's at least possible to compare using the same basis. And that comparison shows the iPhone 8's CPU and GPU are indeed very fast. Real world use so far matches those results—this is one speedy phone.

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