Some graphical benchmarks are meant to be fairly boring but reliable tests of visual output - the reliable Quadrant benchmark from Aurora Softworks is a good example. Others create an intense graphical test by making a fully-realized 3D environment, essentially a tech demo that's meant to be a digital ruler for the performance of competing components or devices. 3DMark's Android benchmark, with its space battle cutscene, is one of these tests.
Last year, Samsung got into some hot water for including an automatic "high power mode" for certain apps, dialing up the processor and GPU scaling. There's nothing wrong with that in theory, but these changes were enabled specifically for benchmark apps, giving the benchmarks results that, while not technically incorrect, were artificially inflated and unlikely to be indicative of everyday performance.
Update: We've heard back from Sprint on the "Restriction to benchmark sites removed" line. Here's what a representative told us:
During the development phase of this device, we had blocked benchmarking sites/apps. Now that it is released to our customers this fix will allow users to download benchmarking apps on their note 3. Hope that answers your question.
So presumably any favorable treatment that the Galaxy Note 3 demonstrated in review units, as shown by the Ars Technica report below, is still in effect.
The Geekbench benchmarking program is a staple on PCs, thanks to quick and varied tests for multiple hardware systems and an impressive database of results. The Geekbench 2 test has been gaining steam on Android as well - we've used it in a few reviews and comparisons. Version 3 has been released as a stand-alone app, but the small list of improvements hardly seems to justify it. It's a good thing that it only costs a dollar.
Update: Samsung has posted an official response to yesterday's benchmark kerfuffle, explaining that the maximum frequency for the S4 is actually 533MHz, but that it is actually scaled down for "certain gaming apps that may cause an overload". The maximum frequency, according to the statement, is also attainable in "apps that are usually used in full-screen mode" like the gallery, S Browser, etc. This may not fully explain the explicit mention of certain benchmark apps in TwDVFSApp, but it is at least nice to see an official response to the situation.
Hardware enthusiasts are probably already aware of Futuremark and its PCMark software, a standard for testing and comparing computer hardware for years. PCMark is popular among reviewers and users for its comparison of hardware on standards that are more likely to reflect real-world, typical usage. Today Futuremark announced that it's bringing the software to the "Big three" mobile operating systems, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Futuremark's press release did not include a date.
If you don't keep an obsessive eye on video game development, you might not be aware of Unity. It's a 3D game engine that makes it easy to develop games for multiple platforms and multiple rendering engines, including Direct3D, OpenGL, and (on Android and iOS) OpenGL ES. It's not the most powerful or flexible thing around, but a lot of developers rely on the tool. Now they've got an easy way to estimate game performance on different Android hardware, via the Basemark X benchmark from Rightware.
AnTuTu is quickly becoming one of the most popular benchmarks on Android, and for good reason: the devotion of its developer to providing timely updates is admirable (even if his talent for GUI design isn't... at all). The bump to version 3.0 brings a host of major changes, including a brand-new OpenGL ES 2.0 3D benchmark, along with a new 2D benchmark specifically for testing (wait for it) 2D gaming performance.
Popular benchmark and performance test maker Futuremark today announced that their 3DMark product, "the world's most popular benchmark and PC test," will be getting an update that brings it to Windows, Windows, RT, Android, and iOS, allowing the tool to join the ranks of cross-platform benchmarkers like the popular GeekBench.
The new version of 3DMark, which is expected to hit "before the end of the year," will include three all-new tests designed to benchmark devices from smartphones all the way up to high-performance gaming PCs.