MediaTek Helio X20, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 and Exynos 8890 are the latest and fastest chipset available for the Android smartphones.
In this post, we are doing a basic comparison for the flagship processors from MediaTek, Qualcomm, and Samsung, the three major semiconductor manufacturers in the World. Also, We are keeping the Apple A9 processor out, to have a more relevant comparison among Android flagship SOCs.
There are a lot of myths like more the cores the better a processor; we will try to bust some similar myths.
Also, We Answer a Fundamental Question – What is Better, A Quad-Core Processor or Octa-Core or Deca-Core?
Further, each processor has unique architecture and are better in different areas, for example, MediaTek’s Helio X20 has 10 cores, and Snapdragon 820 has just four cores, but still, Snapdragon 820 performs better when compared to the former.
Notably, the Helio X20 has a better approach to utilizing its multi-cores, Samsung’s Exynos, on the other hand, has higher clock speed, and is more suited to multi-threaded applications.
All the three processors are good performers, let’s check out the Key Specs and Compare them.
Mediatek Helio X20 Vs Snapdragon 820 vs Exynos 8890 (Compared)
|Specs||Helio X20||Snapdragon 820||Exynoss 8890|
|Number of cores||10||4||8|
|Max Clock speed||2.3 GHz||2.15 GHz||2.6GHZ|
|higher power cores||2||2||4|
|Min clock speed||1.4 GHZ||1.59 GHz||1.58GHZ|
|Lower power cores||10||2||4|
|GPU||Mali||Adreno 530||Mali T880MP12|
|GPU clock||0.78 GHz||0.62 GHZ||0.65 GHZ|
|GeekBench Single Core||2109||2300||2133|
|GeekBench Multi Core||7006||5591||6269|
The MediaTek is rushing with more number of cores. On the other hand, Snapdragon has reduced the number of cores when compared to the last year flagship processor – Snapdragon 810 (8 Cores).
The MediaTek Helio X20 has 10 cores and its first of its kind, the Exynos 8890 has 8-Cores, further, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 has just 4 cores.
How Much Does More Number of Cores Help? Should You Buy 8 Core or 10 Core Processor Phone?
The higher number of cores doesn’t mean a better processor, it depends on how well the cores are utilized on varying workload. For reference, we can run Asphalt 8 one of the most graphics intensive games, on a Dual-core Apple A9 and it works flawlessly. Most of the Games and Apps don’t use all of the cores simultaneously. In fact, most games can work well with just 2 cores.
In Multi-core processors, the common design used is big. LITTLE architecture.
Besides, Tasks with lesser workload are handled by low power cores and tasks with more workload are processed by high power cores.
Also, In a multi-core processor, not all cores are equal, simple tasks like navigating through apps use single core while complex tasks like games and photo editing are done using multi-cores.
The processor should not waste much power for simple tasks, and when it comes to complex tasks, they shouldn’t lag. That’s why each processor core has different power.
The utilization of high and low powered cores effectively ensures better energy efficiency and improved battery life. Further, the low power cores consume less power hence improving the battery life.
MediaTek Helio X20 Powered LeEeco LE 2
Furthermore, The Helio X20 has 10 cores, with 3 core clusters. So, One cluster has two high-performance cores having the highest clock speed of 2.3 GHz and the second cluster has 4 cores clocked at 2.0 GHz, used for less complex tasks.
Next, the third cluster comes with 4 low-performance cores at 1.4 GHz for handling simple tasks.
In between low and high power cores, an intermediate core exists, So the more powerful cores only kick in to handle highly demanding tasks. Additionally, the Helio X20 has a controller to manage the performance and task scheduling of all three clusters.
It is a complicated process for the Controller to assigns different tasks, and also to decide which core is perfect to handle a task?
A perfect balance is required to manage task assignment to ensure better power saving and performance optimization. Besides, with a 3 cluster design and more number of cores, it is a relatively complicated process.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Powered HTC 10
Even after releasing several processors with 8 cores, Qualcomm is switching back to approach of using lesser number of cores.
Further, the Snapdragon 820 has only 4 cores. A high-end processor having just 4 cores sounds strange, but according to Qualcomm, its custom Kryo core is claimed to have boosted the performance and power efficiency, stated as 30% improvement over the SD 810.
Moreover, the Snapdragon 820 processor includes 2 high power cores clocked at 2.15 GHz and 2 low power cores clocked at 1.59 GHz
So when it comes to performance, the 2 high power cores of 820 perform better than the 2 high power cores of Helio X20.
But the Snapdragon 820 lags behind the Exynos 8890 and Helio X20 in multi-core performance slightly, and the reason is a limited number of cores (2+4+4 in Helio X20, 4+4 in Exynos Vs. 2+2 in Snapdragon 820).
But there are rarely any tasks which use that many cores other than benchmarks, hence the Snapdragon 820 outperforms both.
Samsung Exynos 8890 Powered By Exynos 8890
Samsung’s Exynos has the highest clock speed of all the processors, having four cores clocking at 2.6 GHz and on the four low power cores have 1.58 GHz. In theory, the Exynos 8890 should be better than Snapdragon 820.
But in reality, it beats 820 only in the multi-core performance, while lags behind the 820 in single core tests.
Also, It means the Snapdragon 820 performs better in handling the bits with a single core, but the Exynos 8890 works better when it operates by splitting up the data to each core.
In real world performance, they are very close to each other as far as CPU related tasks are concerned and much ahead of the Helio X20 processor.
Antutu Benchmark Comparison
We consider the Antutu benchmark of each processor to determine relative performance.
- Snapdragon 820 – 1,36383
- Samsung Exynos 8890 – 1,29866
- Helio X20 – 85,632
Here the Snapdragon 820 tops the list with its high score, followed by Samsung’s Exynos in the second place, and Helio X20 at last.
From benchmark results, we can say that core count doesn’t matter in performance; here a quad-core processor easily outperformed an Octa-core and Decca core processor.
The utility of these cores mainly depends on the software, the application should be coded to utilize all the cores. There are very few Apps that can unleash the real potential of all cores.
Furthermore, at present no Android apps are coded to make use of all the cores on a processor, whether you own an Octa-core or Hexa-core, they never use all the cores together to run your apps.
What are the motive behind Octa cores and Decca cores?
There is no processor having 8 separate cores arranged in 8 different clusters.
Moreover, cores are arranged in 2 set of Quad-Core clusters with different power, one having less power while the other having more power. These clusters are utilized based on the complexity of the task.
This setup is said to be energy efficient according to manufacturers since the high power cores are used only when needed.
Concluding Thought: Which is the Best processor! Quad-Core Vs. Octa-Core Vs. Deca-Core – Solved.
MediaTek may have a higher number of cores, but it doesn’t help to score high on benchmark or real-world performance.
Furthermore, MediaTek chipsets are using the 20nm process that is less power efficient and have low performance than Snapdragon 820 and Exynos 8890.
The good thing is Helio X20 too scored close to Exynos 8890 in multi-core processing with a small difference,( Exynos 8890 – 6500, Helio X20 – 6400) making it better than Snapdragon 820 (5300 points).
Also, MediaTek chipsets are cheaper than its counterparts if you are not going to invest more than 20K then the Helio Based smartphone is a good choice,
If you are going to spend more money and need the processor with high performance you can choose Snapdragon 820.
Also, it is worth mentioning that Snapdragon 820 scored high in single-core tests on Antutu benchmark and lies on top of the list, after beating Apple’s A9, the world’s fastest processor before Snapdragon 820 was launched.
The Exynos 8890 also scored very close to Snapdragon 820 in single core test, just a difference of 6000 points, you won’t notice any difference in real life usage.
If I can speak my mind, all the three processors are great regarding performance, but the Exynos 8890 and Snapdragon 820 are in a different league and of course a lot more expensive.
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