Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: we face the Exynos version with the Qualcomm version

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Table of Contents

Despite the superiority (at least on paper) that Qualcomm processors historically display, Samsung continues to use Exynos in European territory. Its high-end, like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, they have the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 in other territories and with the Exynos 2100 in Europe: the same mobile with a different heart.

We wanted to see if these differences are noticeable and which of the two units is more recommended.. For this, we have thoroughly compared a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra with the Exynos 2100 against another S21 Ultra with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888.


Technical differences

EXYNOS 2100

QUALCOMM SNAPDRAGON 888

PROCESS

5 nanometers

5 nanometers

CORES

8

8

CPU

1 x ARM Cortex-X1 (2.9 GHz)
3 x Cortex-A78 (2.8 GHz)
4 x Cortex-A55 (2.2 GHz)

1 x Cortex X1 at 2.84GHz
3 x Cortex A78 at 2.84GHz
4 x Cortex A55 1.8GHz

GPU

Mali-G78 MP14

Adreno 660

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

26 TOPS

26 TOPS

CONNECTIVITY

5G NR Sub-6GHz 5.1Gbps (DL) / 1.92 Gbps (UL)
5G NR mmWave 7.35Gbps (DL) / 3.67 Gbps (UL)
LTE Cat.24 8CA 3Gbps (DL) / Cat.18 4CA 422Mbps (UL)

5G NR Sub-6GHz 5.1Gbps (DL) / 1.92 Gbps (UL)
5G NR mmWave 7.35Gbps (DL) / 3.67 Gbps (UL)
LTE Cat.24 8CA 3Gbps (DL) / Cat.18 4CA 422Mbps (UL)

ISP

Spectra 580 Up to 200 megapixels
8K 30 FPS
4K HDR 120 FPS

Up to 200 megapixels
8K 60 FPS
4K 120 FPS

MEMORIES

UFS 3.1
RAM LPDDR5

UFS 3.1
RAM LPDDR5

SCREEN

4K 120Hz
QHD + 144Hz

4K at 60Hz
QHD + at 144Hz

On a technical level, the Exynos 2100 and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 are quite similar, although there are important differences that are not seen with the naked eye. The CPU in both cases is made up of ARM’s new Corte-X1 core, accompanied by three A78 and four A55 cores. While they look like clonic structures, It should be noted that Qualcomm customizes its cores (Kryo), so it is one step ahead of Samsung.

There are also differences in GPU, the Mali-G78 MP14 versus the Adreno 660. We already make you the little one spoiler about what Snapdragon 888’s GPU performs considerably better, although at a technical level there are not so many differences.

Sustained performance testing

Stress Test Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 left. Exynos 2100 right. The red zone represents a significant drop in performance.

Before talking about benchmarks, we are going to put these two phones to the test. The best way to make a processor suffer is to perform sustained performance tests, that is: put it to work at its best for as long as possible. For this test we have twice passed a 15-minute stress test (CPU) and the 3D Mark Unlimited Stress Test by 3D Mark, which puts the phone to the limit through several passes.

It took two passes to the test (30 minutes) for the Exynos 2100 to begin to kneel. The Snapdragon 888 drops, but less noticeably

During the CPU stress test it was not necessary to take more than two passes to see how the Exynos 2100 drops considerably on the second pass. In other words, by stressing the CPU to the maximum for less than half an hour the Exynos starts to drop in performance, while the Snapdragon 888 holds up much better. Being more technical, after 30 minutes of testing the CPU of the Snapdragon 888 has dropped to 78% of its performance, while that of the Exynos 2100 has dropped to 60%, almost 20% difference between both processors.

Screenshot 2021 05 31 At 9 38 44

To squeeze them even more, we have given both phones the Aztec Ruins High Tier 1440p test for 9 times in a row (the maximum allowed by the app), to measure sustained again. In this case the results have been curious, since the Qualcomm has remained similar to the Exynos. In fact, here has fallen before, although it comes to recover to reach the level of the Exynos in the next pass. In the last two passes, the most important ones (in which the phone is already warm and with the performance to the minimum) the Exynos has fallen more, although slightly.

Tg Image 2238018437 Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 on Genshin Impact. It stays at about 40 FPS throughout the game.
Tg Image Exynos 2100. The FPS rate is also around 40, but it is a lot more inconsistent.

Lastly, we have measured the FPS Genshin Impact can move at maximum graphics settings. Here the graphs show us that Qualcomm is somewhat more stable than Exynos, which has more frequent performance drops. Both move about 40 FPS (in 2K settings and at maximum quality).

What the benchmarks tell us

Img 8848

As the benchmarks have been telling us since both processors were released, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 is well above the Exynos 2100. We leave you below with the data that both phones have thrown in a wide list of tests. Beyond Geekbench, PCmark and 3D Mark (our three usual ones), we have carried out specific tests within the tests and used GFXBench, a benchmark that includes more than 20 tests.

SAMSUNG GALAXY S21 ULTRA EXYNOS 2100

SAMSUNG GALAXY S21 SNAPDRAGON 888

GEEKBENCH

1,084 / 3,368

1,131 / 3,430

3D MARK UNLIMITED STRESS TEST

3,290 / 3,275

5,316 / 3,226

PCMARK

13,543

13,680

GFXBENCH

1,721 frames (27 FPS)

1,761 (27 FPS)

Of these tests, highlight the performance of the S21 Ultra in Qualcomm version in 3D Mark in its most demanding version, another tough stress test. The difference is more than 2,000 points against the Exynos, again demonstrating the extra power of the Qualcomm.

Battery test

Drums Qualcomm on the left. Exynos on the right.

To test the battery of the S21 Ultra in its Qualcomm and Exynos versions we have used the PCmark test, that squeezes the phones for a good number of hours. The test was carried out with the two mobiles in the same room, at the same temperature and with the manual brightness level, at maximum.

The results indicate what we will discuss later in the user experience section: the Exynos 2100 drains faster. Specifically, it is the synthetic tests that have given us a difference of 40 minutes, almost about an hour of screen less, under the same conditions.

Tg Image 3216427149 Qualcomm consumptions. Quite consistent and close to 5,000mW.
Tg Image 787492984 Exynos consumptions. Much more fluctuating and close to 6,000 / 7,000mW.

To complete these tests, we have measured consumption in real time by squeezing the processor to the maximum, with Genshin Impact. Here the graphs indicate how the Qualcomm consumptions are much more linear and low, while the Exynos consumes something else, fluctuating throughout the game.

Camera Processing Test

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Even though both S21 Ultra have a 108 megapixel camera, there may be some difference at the processing level. This is because the ISP (Image Signal Processor) is not the same in each processor, so the photographs may vary a priori.

Although the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra have the same camera, each processor has an ISP, which can generate small differences in processing

It was enough to take a couple of photographs to check slight differences in processing. They are minimal details that do not tip the balance to buy one or another model, but we wanted to spin the finest possible thread to rescue those data that go unnoticed.

Tg Image 3706403717 Qualcomm on the left, Exynos on the right.
Tg Image 2506698105

In this first photograph we observe that the photography with Qualcomm is slightly more saturated. It is necessary to resort to color spaces such as DCI-P3 to fully appreciate the difference in colorimetry but, in the light of the photography that the average user will take, the difference is not noticeable.

Tg Image 2081160910 Qualcomm left. Exynos right.
Tg Image 1962549670

In this case, we again notice differences in color, but what is most striking is that the Exynos model rescues much more detail. The railing on the Qualcomm model is significantly more blurred.

User experience

Img 8846

Looking at the numbers, it seems clear that the Snapdragon 888 is above the Exynos 2100, but does this difference end up being noticed in everyday use? Absolutely. While on a technical level the Exynos 2100 is somewhat below the Snapdragon 888, the user experience with both is excellent.

Despite the fact that the Snapdragon 888 is more powerful and efficient, at the user experience level the sensations are very similar

The main difference we notice at the usage level is that the Snapdragon 888 heats up considerably more, about three or four extra degrees under the same conditions of use, according to the AIDA64 brand. For the rest, the differences in performance level that we have seen in synthetic tests are not perceived in everyday use.

Considering the performance of both, we are convinced that no reason to worry about performance on the Exynos version, despite the fact that the synthetic tests make it clear that it follows a small step behind the Qualcomm processor.


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