While this may not be the most scientifically controlled experiment you’ll see, there’s something undeniably fun about watching a guy submerge smartphones in ice water, to see if cooling them down changes the processor performance. Yes, it’s all a bit questionable, and the results aren’t exactly that surprising, but it’s exactly the kind of geeky experimentation we love to see.
Produced by LinusTechTips, the idea came about after the iPhone 6S was revealed, and its performance exceeded that of certain MacBook computers in a Geekbench 3 benchmarking test. The team had previously shown the MacBook in question responded well to water cooling — an established technology in the computing world — and wondered whether the iPhone 6S would be the same.
The short answer here is no, it’s already rather good, and doesn’t suffer from ‘thermal throttling,’ where the chip slows down when it gets too hot. The interesting work comes when a variety of Android phones, including two running the notoriously toasty Snapdragon 810 chip, are put to the same test.
It’s the 810 inside the HTC One M9 and ZTE Axon, alongside an Exynos-powered Galaxy S6 Edge, and a Snapdragon 808 in the LG G4. Each is benchmarked repeatedly over a 10-minute period to establish how each performed as temperatures increased. The LG G4 was excellent and remained consistent throughout, while the Galaxy S6 Edge only fell slightly over time. The One M9 and the Axon’s performance both dropped off dramatically.
All four phones were then popped in an ice water bath, and the tests run again. The result? The Axon and the One M9’s tests were much more consistent, and although they still varied a little, the 810’s performance potential was realized for a longer amount of time. What does it prove? Unsurprisingly, that the 810 gets much too hot and slows down, therefore cooling it improves performance. The One M9 got so hot that despite being in ice water it was still warm to the touch after being taken out of the bath.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 has a checkered history, and the chip installed in the One M9 is the improved v2.1 model, which supposedly doesn’t suffer from overheating in the same way as the first version. That may be so, but this round of tests do indicate the chip still has problems when faced with intensive computational tasks. Qualcomm is working on the 810’s replacement, the Snapdragon 820, and it’s expected to be ready early next year.