Snapdragon 888 vs Exynos 2100: Which is Best / Fastest CPU?

If you’re picking up a Samsung Galaxy S21, the CPU you get will depend on where you live. But is Samsung’s Exynos 2100 better than the Snapdragon 888? Let’s find out…

If you’re thinking about picking up a Samsung Galaxy S21 this year, you might be wondering about what CPU you’ll get inside your phone. As always, Samsung is allocating different CPUs for different regions.

And here’s how the regions break down:

  • If you’re in the USA, you’ll get the Samsung Galaxy S21 – all models – with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 CPU.
  • If you’re anywhere else, meaning Asia, the UK, Europe, you’ll get the Samsung Galaxy S21 with Samsung’s own Exynos 2100 CPU.

And this applies to all models, including the Galaxy S21+ and Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Both the SD888 and Exynos 2100 are 5nm SoCs. Both use the same ARM-based architecture. But which is best? As always, there’s quite a bit of debate about this. Let’s investigate what’s known thus far about these two CPUs…

Snapdragon 888 vs Exynos 2100

First, let’s take a look at the core specs for each chipset.

Snapdragon 888

  • 1x ARM Cortex-X1 (2.8Ghz)
  • 3x ARM Cortex-A78 (2.4GHz)
  • 4x RM Cortex-A55 (1.8GHz)

Exynos 2100

  • 1x ARM Cortex-X1 (2.9Ghz)
  • 3x ARM Cortex-A78 (2.8GHz)
  • 4x RM Cortex-A55 (2.7GHz)

As you can see, while both the SD888 and Exynos 2100 run the same cores, the Exynos 2100 has higher clock speed across the board.

In ANTUTU, the Exynos 2100p-powered Galaxy S21 scored 638941 which is pretty impressive until we start looking at ANTUTU benchmarks for the Xiaomi Mi 11 with the Snapdragon 888 – it scored 704019.

Exynos 2100, Snapdragon 888 & Kirin 9000 Benchmarks

Total CPU GPU MEM UX Temp Increase Battery Decrease
Xiaomi Mi 11
Snapdragon 888
704019 201440 306598 99943 96038 12 5
Xiaomi Mi 11
Snapdragon 888
690985 194203 299801 100399 96582 9 6
Huawei Mate 40 Pro
Kirin 9000
657784 180692 275208 116336 85542
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Exynos 2100 test 2
638941 177801 269430 108391 83319 7.6 4
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Exynos 2100
620524 174258 255138 107257 83871 9.8 3
Realme X50 Pro
Snapdragon 865
590914 183192 104222 104222 84877 4.2 4
Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G
Exynos 990
553479 162603 221089 87876 81905
Redmi K30 Pro
Dimensity 1000+
482257 134822 197568 73916 75951 8.6 4

In GeekBench, the Exynos 2100-powered Galaxy S21 posted a single core score of 1139 and a multi-core score of 3693. Again, not bad. But when we look at the Xiaomi Mi 11’s it pales in comparison – that phone scored 1139 and 3693, respectively.

What’s odd is that, in ANTUTU, Huawei’s Kirin 9000 SoC has been shown to be faster than the Exynos 2100. But in GeekBench, the Exynos 2100 beat out the Kirin 9000 but still loses to the Snapdragon 888.

Qualcomm’s GPU Makes All The Difference

Benchmarks are one thing, but real world tests are much better. During research for this post, I came across multiple instances where CPU performance across the Exynos 2100 and Snapdragon 888 were more or less on a par – with respect to real-world usage, meaning how fast the phone feels in the hand.

However, one area where Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 consistently outperforms the Exynos 2100 is in the GPU department. The SD 888’s Adreno 660 GPU is just faster than the Exynos 2100’s 14-core Mali-G78 GPU. But, with Samsung’s new AMD GPU partnership, you can expect this advantage to be decimated in 2021 and beyond.

Is US Galaxy S21 Better Than The UK One?

As of right now, and based on current SD888 benchmarks, it would appear that, yes, the US version of the Samsung Galaxy S21 is better than its Exynos 2100 counterpart.

The SD888 has been shown to be both faster and have better GPU performance. And GPU performance is important, this is what powers your phone’s graphics and makes games run smooth. You want the best GPU performance you can get.

I also think this is why Samsung has inked a deal with AMD; it knows that, without AMD’s assistance, it will not be able to catch Qualcomm up. And, if reports are to be believed, we won’t have to wait too long to see the fruits of the two companies labors.

However, it is worth noting that the differences between the SD888 and the Exynos 2100 are not massive. In fact, to the end user they’ll barely be perceptible. We’re talking about slight differences in clock speeds and GPUs here, not huge differences in the available amount of RAM.

In the hand and in real-life, most users will not notice a difference. And if they do, it’ll be so small as not to cause concern. The arms race happening in the CPU space right now is driven by numbers and stats but, as with most things concerning numbers and stats, most of the stuff you read about doesn’t really have any effect in real life usage.

For this reason, you needn’t worry about which model of the Galaxy S21 you get – it’d be like not getting a Tesla just because the US model is 3mph faster. The difference is negligible in the grander scheme of things. And, while we’re on the subject, check out our complete guide to Samsung’s brand new Galaxy S21 range.

Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin is a leading UK technology journalist with a focus on consumer tech trends and data security. Renowned for his insightful analysis, Richard has contributed to Sky News, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 2, and CNBC, making complex tech issues accessible to a broad audience.

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