Performance & Gaming

The ASUS ROG Phone is the first ever smartphone to have a speed-binned 2.96GHz Snapdragon 845 chipset. The base Snapdragon 845 version only runs at 2.8GHz, and the ROG Phone is the one and only smartphone with the factory overclocked chip.

Let’s take a look at the full list of specs on the ROG Phone once more.

  • 6-inch 18:9 AMOLED display with 2160×1080 resolution
    • 90Hz refresh rate with 1ms pixel response time
    • 108.6% DCI-P3 color gamut
    • Discrete image processing chip that supports HDR display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
    • 4x 2.96GHz Kryo 385 Gold (binned) + 4x 1.7GHz Kryo 385 Silver
    • Adreno 630 graphics
  • 8GB LPDDR4 RAM
  • 128GB UFS 2.1 internal storage (available in 512GB as well)
    • no microSD card slot
  • 4,000mAh battery

Does the extra 0.16GHz make a difference, though? Let’s take a look at the benchmarks here.

ASUS ROG Phone 3DMark benchmark

ASUS ROG Phone Antutu benchmark

ASUS ROG Phone Geekbench benchmark

ASUS ROG Phone VRMark benchmark

In pure CPU tests, yes. Remember – the architecture for Snapdragon 845 chipsets are 4 cores + 4 cores. This is called “big.LITTLE” where one quad-core is higher powered and more power hungry, while another quad-core is with slower speed but better energy conservation. The ROG Phone only has the higher powered quad-core to be speed-binned and factory overclocked to 2.96GHz.

For GPU-dependent tests like 3DMark, we don’t see much of a difference from other smartphones with Snapdragon 845 chipset. That’s because the ROG Phone’s GPU is the same as any other Snapdragon 845 smartphones in the market.

But what about X Mode and the AeroActive Cooler? Does those help?

Here are more benchmarks for comparison. Whenever we mention “with fan”, it means the AeroActive Cooler is plugged in and manually set to 100% fan speed.

ASUS ROG Phone 3DMark benchmark against different modes

ASUS ROG Phone Antutu benchmark against different modes

ASUS ROG Phone Geekbench benchmark against different modes

ASUS ROG Phone VRMark against different modes

There’s not much difference, really. But for some reason, VRMark seems to consistently get a higher score if we set the ROG Phone to run at 90Hz refresh rate. Not by a huge amount, but a tangible, repeatable result.

ASUS ROG Phone

Like we mentioned before, the X Mode is actually a rebrand of the existing AI Boost in the ZenFone 5 and ZenFone 5z. For those two phones… the AI Boost did absolutely nothing. As for the ROG Phone? X Mode did nothing as well.

ASUS ROG Phone AeroActive Cooler airflow

What about the AeroActive Cooler? Does that help in boosting the performance? Not really. It did reduce the temperature while gaming – and cooled my fingers too. Speaking of that, let’s jump to the next section.

Gaming

We are big fans of the utilities that the ROG Phone offers – notchless 90Hz AMOLED screen with 1ms response time, dual front-facing stereo speakers, AirTriggers, and Game Genie specifically.

Throughout our gaming test, we tried with a total of 4 games – Asphalt 9, Honkai Impact 3, and PUBG Mobile. Unfortunately, not all games are able to make use of the hardware that the ROG Phone has to offer. We also used the “real-time info” toolbar in Game Genie to gather the data.

ASUS ROG Phone

Asphalt 9 for example, is able to run at 90Hz but the Snapdragon 845’s GPU failed to keep up with the demanding graphics. The game is already using 99% of the GPU before reaching 90Hz! Asphalt 9 can only reach about 46FPS in the highest graphical setting.

From here, we can actually tell that the Snapdragon 845’s GPU is not powerful enough for this kind of technology. We also hope that ASUS speed-binned the GPU instead of the CPU, since the CPU isn’t used that much while gaming anyway.

Then comes Honkai Impact 3. It’s a beautiful game but the CPU and GPU utilization is so low that it didn’t even scratch the 90% usage mark. Also, the game is locked at 60Hz only.

ASUS ROG Phone

Last but not least, PUBG Mobile. This one game alone is the reason why ROG Phone is conceived this way. We also gathered the most data from PUBG Mobile, as it is the most demanding title in our list.

We tried and tested PUBG Mobile in multiple different configurations – with and without X Mode, with and without the AeroActive Cooler. We compiled all the data below.

After a long time of playing PUBG Mobile
X Mode off; no fan X Mode & Aura on; no fan X Mode off; fan at 100%

 

X Mode & Aura on; fan at 100%

FPS 41 41 41 41
Temperature (°C) 39 39 37 37

PUBG Mobile in itself is a pretty demanding game but ironically, the game is only using about ~30% of the CPU and ~80% of the GPU. We cannot confirm if the PUBG Mobile is not optimized or there’s another reason behind not utilizing the GPU entirely.

We did realize one thing – when the ROG Phone’s battery drops to 10%, performance throttling starts to happen and the FPS drops to sub-30FPS.

ASUS ROG Phone
This piece of metal helps a lot in dissipating the heat!

Depending on the game you’re playing and the graphical settings that you’re comfortable with, you can adjust the accordingly to prolong your battery life. Here are a few recommendations that we have for you:

  • PUBG Mobile – locked at 60FPS
    • Highest graphical settings with the screen set to 60Hz (since the game can only run at 41FPS)
    • Lower settings to run at a consistently smooth
  • Honkai Impact 3 – locked at 60FPS
    • Highest settings, no issues
  • Asphalt 9 – can go up to 90Hz
    • Highest graphical settings with the screen set to 60Hz (since the game can’t reach >70Hz consistently)

Setting the screen to 90Hz at “default” graphical settings in Asphalt 9 doesn’t help, by the way. It still can’t maintain >70Hz.


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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design & Materials
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Software
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Connectivity and ports
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Screen
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Specifications
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Camera
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Battery and charger
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Value
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The enthusiastic nanoelectronic engineer who found his way into simplifying the world of tech for everyone. Introverted, but noisy. Nice to meet you!