System Performance

System performance of the ROG Phone III should be interesting given its gaming phone nature, as well as for the fact that it’s the first Snapdragon 865+ device we’ve come to test. As always, system performance doesn’t necessarily just depend on the hardware of a device, but also on the software tuning that a vendor does to its DVFS and SoC scheduler settings.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Web Browsing 2.0  

In the PCMark web-browsing test, the workload is quite sensible to scheduler and DVFS settings. Here the ROG Phone III is rather conservatively tuned in its 60Hz setting, only catching up due to the higher 144Hz refresh rate when in that mode.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Writing 2.0

The writing sub-test is the most important of PCMark, and the ROG3 here fares slightly better than most other Snapdragon 865 devices on the market, but falls just short of Kirin 990 phones as well as the Snapdragon Galaxy S20.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Photo Editing 2.0

We see a similar positioning for the photo editing test.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Data Manipulation

The data-manipulation test seems refresh-rate bottlenecked and here the ROG3 sees a big jump when scaling from 60 to 144Hz.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Performance 

Overall, in the PCMark performance scores, the ROG Phone III only falls short to the Snapdragon Galaxy S20 Ultra in our tests. There are a few details I want to expand in regards to this positioning and why it doesn’t fare better:

The test scores here were performed under the phone’s default operating conditions, with X-Mode being disabled. Unfortunately, it seems that under these conditions, the phone’s performance is very conservative and doesn’t really stand out much from the crowd.

The scores are significantly improved when enabling X-Mode, however I take issue in publishing these figures into our charts given that what this mode does is simply cripple normal DVFS operation of the SoC by raising the minimum operating frequencies, or essentially just pegging them to their maximum.

There’s been a delicate balance by various vendor’s performance modes, some which implement quite reasonable settings, whilst other simply are akin to just enabling a benchmark cheat mode. Samsung’s and Huawei’s performance modes are still reasonable as they still use the full dynamic range operating frequencies of the SoC, only increasing the aggressiveness of the scaling behaviour.

Other vendors such as OPPO, and ASUS here, just enable a rather dumb “all-out” mode that in my view isn’t very realistic for a battery powered device, and that I wouldn’t recommend anyone on actually using. I’ll get into more detail about this in the GPU performance section, but I don’t find the default X-Mode levels particularly well implemented when it comes to the balance between performance and power consumption.

JetStream 2 - OS Webview  WebXPRT 3 - OS WebView

The ROG Phone III did adequately in the browser Javascript benchmarks, although WebXPRT 3 does showcase its rather conservative performance tuning when in its default operating mode.

Speedometer 2.0 - OS WebView

I had some really odd issues with Speedometer 2.0, in that the ROG Phone III kept performing quite horribly in WebView containers as well as Chrome. I’m not sure what happened here, as the same versions of the apps performed quite well on other Snapdragon 865 devices, which points out to possibly some OS-specific issue on the ASUS device. Using Samsung Internet for example made it perform normally – really odd.

Update: The issue has been resolved with the latest firmware update.

Overall, system performance of the ROG Phone III is excellent, but generally I wouldn’t say that it’s in any way class-leading or able to distinguish itself from other 120Hz phones. The 144Hz mode isn’t something that you will notice over other 120Hz phones, and whilst the phone is very snappy, without the questionable every-day use of X-Mode, it lags behind Samsung’s devices. In this regard, the ROG3 doesn’t perform much differently to any other high-refresh rate Snapdragon 865 phones.

ASUS's Gaming Features GPU Performance & Power
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  • Lolimaster - Sunday, August 30, 2020 - link

    SE soc even after thermal throttling it's as fast as an 865 in peak performance. The brute force of iphone lasts just a few seconds.
  • nandnandnand - Friday, August 28, 2020 - link

    20 GB RAM when?
  • MrCommunistGen - Friday, August 28, 2020 - link

    Had higher hopes for the performance of the S865+ and the IMX686.

    I'd have been curious to see performance of the phone with and without the AeroActive cooler on Lvl1 and Lvl2 to see how much it actually cools the phone and if that leads to better performance by keeping skin temps within the allowed range.
  • sonny73n - Friday, August 28, 2020 - link

    “ I don’t see the 999€ or 1099€ variants of the ROG Phone III being worth it, however the 799€ base model should make for a quite balanced phone which shines in terms of battery life, and gives you a great high-refresh rate experience. If you can live with the weak cameras, then it should represent a good phone for you.”

    Has the dollar disappeared? Why don’t you convert 799€ to USD? And for $950 USD, this phone is way overpriced.

    I would not choose this ugly outdated design over the $400 Xiaomi Poco F2 Pro which also has almost the same specs and better design. But hey, there’s still plenty of fools out there who eager to be parted with their money.
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Saturday, August 29, 2020 - link

    The phones have not been released in the US yet and do not have official USD prices. You could just 1:1 the figures.
  • Lolimaster - Sunday, August 30, 2020 - link

    The "outdated" will always be justified of you provide frontal stereo speakers. Basically the best of all phones. Most people listen to their media over the phone speakers in my car I would mix the designs.

    Motorized camera + reduced top/bottom bezels with the space being used by high quality speakers.
  • flyingpants265 - Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - link

    No idea what you just said, but I agree 100%. Front speakers are godlike. Once you have them, you don't go back.

    Thru-screen cameras exist, they're just bad but could possibly be improved.
  • Manya3084 - Friday, August 28, 2020 - link

    I've been using the Strix model for over a week (SD865, 12GB ram) and I am very happy. I easily get through a 8 - 12 hour work day with over 60% battery remaining.
    I don't mobile game, and I'm using the phone purely for work purposes.
  • hammer256 - Friday, August 28, 2020 - link

    That cooler through the USB-C plugs seems quite clever. If the implementation is good, that solution should do quite a bit better than blowing air on to the back of the phone (plastic?).
  • Great feedback - Saturday, August 29, 2020 - link


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