Ever since Amazon discontinued their Fire HDX line of premium tablets and began focusing on more affordable tablets, the Amazon Fire TV has been the most powerful device they produce. That’s not surprising since it’s the closest thing they have to a game console, so it needs the horsepower to run demanding games. What is surprising is that, according to an internal benchmark, the Fire TV has been dethroned as the most powerful Amazon device by the Echo Show.
Benchmark results for the Echo Show have surfaced on GFXBench, a graphics benchmarking utility commonly used to test the gaming capabilities of phones and tablets. The test results aren’t explicitly labeled as being that of the Echo Show, but the hardware specifications listed for the “Amazon AEOKN” device match the Echo Show perfectly.
What’s interesting is that even though the Echo Show does run a heavily modified version of Android, and can therefore theoretically run the GFXBench Android app, nobody has thus far been able to sideload 3rd-party apps on the device outside of Amazon’s official Alexa skills. This suggests the benchmark utility was likely run by an Amazon employee who has access to the operating system that is not available to regular users. The benchmark results are also dated June 27, a day before the Echo Show was released, providing further evidence the test was run internally. We know Amazon uses GFXBench during their hardware development cycle since that is how the 2nd-generation Fire TV first leaked and is how the upcoming “AFTN” Fire TV model has leaked.
Regardless of who ran the benchmark, or how they managed to do it, the results are very surprising. The offscreen T-Rex test results reveal that the Echo Show can be a very capable gaming device if Amazon chooses to exploit that ability. The T-rex test is a demanding OpenGL test that utilizes 3D graphics, high-resolution textures, parallax mapping, motion blur, and complex particle systems. It tests the GPU’s raw performance and demonstrates that the Echo Show’s Intel HD Graphics are about 15% more capable than the GPU in the 2nd-generation Fire TV.
The ALU test is another graphics benchmark which tests raw shader performance. Shader complexity impacts lighting, animation, and image quality in apps and games. The Echo Show managed an impressive 23% improvement over the 2nd-generation Fire TV, which already had an impressive score that more than doubled the 1st-generation Fire TVs score.
The final benchmark I’m comparing is the Driver Overhead test which, unlike the previous two tests, stresses the Echo Show’s CPU performance more than the GPU. This test taxes the GPU’s software driver by performing many draw calls for simple primitives. The Echo Show’s 1.9 GHz quad-core Intel Atom CPU, which is most commonly found in budget Windows laptops, might be a slouch in the world of i5 and i7 powered laptops, but it pulls in a benchmark score that is nearly 50% better than the 2nd-generation Fire TV.
Benchmarks aren’t necessarily a good indicator of a device’s real-world performance, but these scores do show that Amazon has packed their flagship Alexa device with components that seem to be overkill for what the Echo Show can do today. Amazon could have big plans for the Echo Show that would necessitate the horsepower they’ve packed in, or perhaps they just want it to be ready for whatever direction 3rd-party developers take it.