Samsung’s latest and greatest Galaxy S21 series has just launched to receive rave reviews. There is a lot to experience here between the drastically redesigned design, improved camera systems, and first-class performance. However, not everyone gets the same experience. As every year, the phone comes in two variants. They are almost identical on paper, except for one major difference: the choice between the Snapdragon and Exynos processors.
This also remains the case for the Samsung Galaxy S21 series. The North American and South Korean markets have access to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra with Snapdragon 888. The rest of the world has to deal with the Exynos 2100 variant.
Year after year, the Exynos version of the phone lags behind its Qualcomm counterpart. Will this year be different? We put the two phones against each other in a benchmark fight to find out how the two variants fared. Here’s the analysis of our Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Snapdragon vs Exynos test.
What’s the difference between Snapdragon 888 and Exynos 2100 processors?
|Samsung Exynos 2100
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
|1x Cortex-X1 @ 2.9GHz
3x Cortex-A78 @ 2.8GHz
4x Cortex-A55 @ 2.2GHz
|1x Cortex-X1 @ 2.84GHz
3x Cortex-A78 @ 2.4GHz
4x Cortex-A55 @ 1.8GHz
|Arm Mali-G78, 14 cores
|LPDDR5 / LPDDR4X
|AI / DSP
(Fused Scalar, Tensor, and Vector)
5G sub-6Ghz & mmWave
(integrated Exynos 5123)
5G sub-6Ghz & mmWave
(integrated Snapdragon X60)
Both 2021 flagship chipsets have a lot in common. From the 5nm EUV manufacturing process to using the latest Arm Cortex CPU cores and built-in 5G modems. In particular, the switch to a 5nm node provides a significant gain in efficiency and thus the life of the battery.
This year, the Exynos 2100 chipset is a big step forward for Samsung. The company is completely ditching its custom Mongoose cores for Arm’s Cortex cores. The resulting performance improvement is quite remarkable.
The Snapdragon 888 and Exynos 2100 are also remarkably similar when it comes to the CPU. They both use a primary Cortex X1 core, with the Snapdragon 888 running at 2.84GHz, while the Exynos 2100 is slightly higher at 2.9GHz.
The Snapdragon 888 and the Exynos 2100 are remarkably similar when it comes to the CPU.
Then three Cortex A78 cores ensure the daily performance. With the Snapdragon 888 these are clocked at 2.4 GHz, the Exynos 2100, on the other hand, is clocked higher at 2.8 GHz.
Finally, four Cortex A55 cores provide background activity. These are clocked at 1.8GHz and 2.2GHz on the Snapdragon 888 and Exynos 2100 respectively.
The biggest differences are on the GPU side. The Adreno 660 takes on the ARM Mali-G78 MP14 GPU in the Exynos 2100. The GPU is generally where Exynos chips have historically lagged behind their Snapdragon counterparts. Samsung has signed a license agreement with AMD to address this issue in the future. For now, however, Samsung is claiming a 40% improvement in graphics performance over the outgoing chip.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Snapdragon Vs Exynos: Classic Benchmarks
To keep things fair between the two phones, the Snapdragon and Exynos variants of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra were kept at the standard Full HD resolution. The adaptive frame rate option was enabled, allowing it to be boosted to 120 Hz.
We’ve also included benchmarks of last year’s top-performing phones on all chipsets, as well as hardware. This is to give you a better idea of the improvements from year to year and to see exactly where phones fit into the wider smartphone ecosystem.
Starting with the classic set of benchmarks, we first have Geekbench 5. The CPU-centric benchmarking is designed to test computational performance and the results are quite clear. With a similar CPU design but higher clock speeds, the Exynos is 2100 inches higher than the Snapdragon 888. It scores 1,109 points versus 1,098 points for the Snapdragon-equipped Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Multi-core benchmarks follow a similar trajectory, with the Exynos 2100 scoring nearly 300 points over the Snapdragon 888. Higher clock speeds across the board for all cores mean the Galaxy S21 Ultra equipped with Exynos 2100 will improve the computer for once. . heavy workloads.
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The GPU advantage of the Snapdragon 888 is reflected in the GPU-centric 3DMark benchmark. This year, however, the performance gap is much smaller than between the Snapdragon 865 and last year’s Exynos 990. The Snapdragon 888 with Adreno 660 scores 7,895 points compared to 7,761 points for the Mali G78 in the Exynos 2100. A much narrower gap compared to the nearly 350 points difference between last year’s chipsets.
CPU-coupled performance is almost neck-and-neck between the two phones. However, the Snapdragon 888’s GPU is moving forward.
Finally, we switch to AnTuTu. The popular system-level benchmark gives us a comprehensive overall score. It is based on several parameters including CPU and GPU performance as well as stress test memory and UX operations. It has long been a proven way to measure the comparative performance of phones across all chipsets.
Here the Snapdragon 888-equipped Galaxy S21 Ultra advances dramatically thanks to its faster GPU, but also how those benefits translate into the overall user experience, including image processing. The phone scores 701,672 points here compared to 644,316 points managed by the Exynos 2100.
Interestingly, both phones show a generational leap from the outgoing models, especially in the case of the Exynos 2100. The drastically improved CPU, in particular, helped the Exynos 2100 improve its AnTuTu scores by a whopping 155,475 points.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Snapdragon vs Exynos: G speed test
With the classic benchmarks out of the way, let’s move on to Speed Test G. You can read more about Android Authority’s standalone testing program here. Most importantly, however, Speed Test G combines the best of existing benchmark tools and eliminates any possibility of bias. The entire stack is internal, meaning no company can optimize specifically for performance. This is as real as it sounds.
For our first benchmark, we compared the two phones to see how they fare in an average of 10 races. When running 10 consecutive tests, the results are mostly in line with what we expected, with one exception.
You see, the Snapdragon 888 version completes the test in 36.23 seconds, a perfectly usable figure. However, our Exynos 2100 equipped Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra needs an extra second to complete the CPU test. Wraps it in 37.82 seconds. This indicates that sustained performance on the Exynos 2100 is starting to decline faster than on the Snapdragon 888.
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Elsewhere, GPU-linked test results are also in line with paper specifications. The Adreno 660 assists in executing 10 rounds of Speed Test G in 26.28 seconds. Meanwhile, the Mali G78 takes 34.43 seconds to complete the same. Compared to the Exynos 990, significant gains can be seen here. However, they are still not enough to catch up with the Snapdragon 888.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: Endurance Tests
We move on to Speed Test G’s durability test. This is the big daddy of smartphone benchmarking. A true torture test pushes both the CPU and GPU to the limit of 100% load until the battery runs out.
The Exynos 2100 starts to slow down much faster than the Snapdragon 888.
Looking at the data, we can see that the Snapdragon 888-equipped Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is noticeably faster than the Exynos 2100 variant, not only completing individual races faster, but the continued decline in performance occurs much later than the Exynos. , with a sharp drop in performance around the 14th G speed test.
Furthermore, we can see that the Snapdragon 888 offers more consistent performance over the benchmark.
Finally, regarding the battery life, we see that the higher performance results in shorter battery life for the Galaxy S21 Ultra equipped with Snapdragon 888. The difference in battery life between the two variants is not drastic. At full throttle, however, the Snapdragon 888 variant lasts 199 minutes, 27 minutes slower than the Exynos variant, which managed to run 226 minutes.
Samsung Exynos Processor Guide: Everything You Need to Know
Our testing shows that the Snapdragon 888 version starts to slow down after about 38 minutes of peak performance. Meanwhile, the Exynos version slows down much earlier, about 25 minutes. However, this reduced performance translates into lower power consumption and makes it last nearly half an hour longer.
Snapdragon 888 Or Exynos 2100: Which Variant Of The Galaxy S21 Ultra Is Faster?
Samsung has taken big steps this year with the Exynos 2100 chipset. While it is still slower than the Snapdragon 888, the difference in performance between the two chipsets is not quite as dramatic as on previous models. Users shouldn’t be disappointed if they can’t get the Qualcomm version.
The CPU performance on both phones is very broad. This should translate into equivalent performance in everyday use. That said, if you use a lot of games, the Snapdragon version is still your best bet, if you can get it.
The Exynos-based S21 Ultra is much closer to the Snapdragon version than in previous years.
With Samsung licensing AMD’s Radeon technology to improve its GPU game, the next generation of Exynos chipsets should have what it takes to match or even exceed Qualcomm’s offering. As it stands now, if you want maximum performance, you should consider the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra with Snapdragon 888.