ASUS Transformer Prime Review

Laptop - Netbook - Ultra Portable 5 Page 3 of 14 Published by


Hardware - Tegra 3



For the Prime series tablets ASUS pursued the hot off the press Tegra 3 quad-core Cortex-A9 CPU microprocessor running at 1.3 GHz. And it is fast, especially in combo with the right Android installation.

For your daily usage like web browsing and the majority of apps it is swift alright. The tablet as such feels fast and responsive.

Despite the thinness, which is 8.3 mm, according to the spec sheet, Asus really impressed us by packing in some valuable ports too. There's a Micro SD card slot for side loading files and micro-HDMI out for content and movies and other goodies on your big screen TV.

Ports keep adding themselves once you attach the Transformer Prime to the laptop dock, but more on that later.

Tegra 3
With the the Prime series tablets the most intricate part is NVIDIA's new Tegra 3 quad-core processor. In tech land we call it an SOC, system on a chip.

The Transformer Prime is actually the first tablet to utilize it, and once you play around with it for a minute you'll be convinced, it is the sexiest tablet you'll have fooled around with. Really, you'll notice it straight away. Swiping between home screens and launching apps feels faster and smoother than any tablet I've ever had my hands on.

Games used on Prime run really good as well thanks to a small GPU with 12 shader cores, just as smooth as any high-res computer or console game I've played. However, you are going back into time games wise, say going back ten years when gaming just started. BTW if you get that laptop dock, gaming becomes so much easier in terms of control.

Tegra 3 more in-depth
You are on Guru3D, and we need to know how chips and technology work. Despite that, I want and need this review to remain understandable and readable for a generic audience but I do want to get a little more in-depth into the silicon. Perhaps you guys can remember the codename 'Kal-El', well that was the rumored System on a Chip design from NVIDIA that now has become known under and as Tegra 3. Much better running flash, HTML and webGL applications, games included, versus low power consumption is what this chip is about.


The Kal-El architecture actually houses four ARM Cortex A9 MPcore cores which can reach 1.3 GHz speeds. Actually I need to refine that a little, Up to 1.4 GHz in single core mode. Up to 1.3 GHz per core with two to four main cores active and then up to 500MHz for the companion core. Each core has 1 MB Shared L2 Cache, 32KB /32KB (I/D) L1 Cache per core.

So though you might think this is a 4-core processor, it's actually 5. To help out in the low power state, it can shut down four cores and run the one vSMP (500 MHz) core which basically turns the Tegra 3 into a five-core chip. I should note that the chip won't use all five cores at once; it can only use either the four main cores or the single vSMP core if power needs to be preserved.

Graphics wise the GPU has 12 shader cores of its own. That by itself brings up to three times more graphics performance to the table compared to Tegra 2, it supports resolutions up to 2,560 × 1,600, and yes, it even has support for 3D stereo.

All in all, it should be about five times faster than the Tegra 2, which could already play Full HD media (1,080p), Flash animations or apps, etc. The video decoder supports H.264 1080p30/60i (HP @ 40Mbps), VC1-AP 1080p30, MPEG2 1080p30/60i, MPEG4 1080p/30, DivX 4/5/6 1080p30, XviD HT 1080p30, H.263 4CIF/30, Theora, VP8 720p30.

The Kal-El chip is manufactured by TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) using a 40nm process.

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