3DMark is a standardized benchmarking tool that's widely used on desktops. Now the company brings the tool to Android mobile devices. It's a great tool to benchmark a device to see the potential power, but the results of the tests can vary an extreme amount.
The minimum system requirements for 3DMark start are Android 3.1+, so Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Jelly Bean users are potentially able to run the two tests included in the app. The app includes two benchmarking sequences called Ice Storm and Ice Storm Extreme. They include identical benchmark simulations with Ice Storm Extreme unlocking more visual effects and additional physics tests.
3DMark's hardware requirements aren't that high with 1GB of RAM, OpenGL ES 2.0, and 300 MB of storage required. But these specifications don't really take into account older mobile devices. Testing on a Nexus 7, Nexus 4, Galaxy Nexus, and Galaxy S3, all devices except the Galaxy Nexus could run the program. The app would just crash on the Galaxy Nexus.
Another nice feature of 3DMark is that the app will pull device information so you can see the specs of your device. It's more in-depth than regular system settings because it can determine the specific CPU and GPU in your device.
The tests run an overall simulation and then focus on specific parameters like graphics and physics. At the end of the test, it assigns a score and compares it to other devices.
The app is designed to test mobile hardware and doesn't have other options. You can see multiple benchmark scores and also see other scores based on the device that was tested on. There are obvious issues with 3DMark on Android, just like the PC version because performance can be affected by apps are running in the background and how much of the system is being used by other services.
3DMark is a good preview into the potential of a device, but it shouldn't be taken as a concrete benchmark for any device it is used on. Developers can optimize apps for different hardware and 3DMark is designed to be an all-encompassing benchmarking tool.
Works well with new devices
The app is a large download at 300 MB just to run benchmarks. It's apparent why the app is large because of the visual quality of tests.
The problem is that 3DMark may not work on older devices and while it supports Android 3.1, tablet devices running that version of Android are already dated. 3DMark also didn't take in account older devices that were updated with Android 4.0+. The Galaxy Nexus can download and install the app, but crashes the moment it attempted to load either test included.
It may have been smarter to optimize 3DMark for Android 4.0+ and look at various devices updated to 4.0 and above. Just with the tests on newer Nexus-branded devices and the S3 show that older hardware doesn't have the power to run 3DMark effectively.
Test once and forget
3DMark is an amusing tool to benchmark new devices to see the arbitrary potential of the hardware. It doesn't really coincide with real-world performance because many of those are optimized for specific devices while 3DMark casts a net over devices that meet the minimum requirements.
There's nothing to gain or lose by downloading and installing the app, except for the temporary loss of space for the app installation.