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Tested: The OnePlus Nord beats the 7T Pro at sustained performance

Can the OnePlus Nord provide enthusiasts with a high-performing experience on a budget? Remarkably, yes.

Published onJuly 27, 2020

OnePlus Nord rear holding the phone
Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

If you can wade through the frankly toilsome amount of marketing hype for the OnePlus Nord, you’ll find countless references to its Snapdragon 765G chipset and top-tier performance.

OnePlus’ Carl Pei is bullish on the chip himself, telling Android Authority, “we really believe that putting this 765G processor here is the right thing for a product at this price point.” In addition, Pei is also touting “almost 300 optimizations” to ensure “the same fast and smooth experience that OnePlus users know and love”.

Needless to say, expectations that the Nord will provide OnePlus enthusiasts with a high-performing experience on a budget are high. Albeit, you won’t get quite the same extreme performance offered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 865-powered flagships.

Does the OnePlus Nord live up to these claims and can it provide an experience above and beyond similar handsets? Remarkably, yes.

Take a closer look: Snapdragon 765G vs Snapdragon 865 benchmarked

Classic benchmarks: OnePlus Nord vs AnTuTu, Geekbench, and 3DMark

We’ve already benchmarked the Snapdragon 765G inside ZTE Axon 11 and ran the OnePlus Nord through the same tests for a head-to-head comparison. We also grabbed our data from previous OnePlus handsets, including this year’s Best of Android winner, the OnePlus 8 Pro, to showcase where the Nord fits in the growing OnePlus portfolio.

As expected, the OnePlus Nord doesn’t keep up with this year’s flagship handset, or even last year’s for that matter. However, the Snapdragon 765G isn’t miles behind the Snapdragon 855 in terms of system and CPU performance. It also compares quite well to the three-year-old Snapdragon 845.

By far, the biggest disparity is in graphics performance, where the Nord’s more expensive siblings run away with a major lead. Even so, the Snapdragon 765G is a capable gamer. I’ve clocked in a few rounds of PUBG Mobile without any performance issues. Just don’t expect to turn on every graphical bell and whistle.

The OnePlus 8 Pro offers exceptional sustained performance. Can the Nord do the same?

The Nord’s overall performance appears very similar to the ZTE Axon 11, as we’d expect from two Snapdragon 765G handsets. However, the Nord clocks in some marginally improved GPU results. This is worth exploring in more detail, as we take a look at sustained performance and the implications for gaming capabilities.

Nord your average mid-ranger: OnePlus puts on its secret sauce

While these classic benchmarks provide a good snapshot of a phone’s performance, they don’t reveal how a handset handles heat and stress in the long run. Sustained performance is important if you fancy a 30 minute or longer gaming session.

We turned to our in-house Speed Test G benchmark for a fine-grain look at performance over time. We’ve previously noted that the OnePlus 8 Pro offers exceptional sustained performance. Can the Nord do the same?

The answer is a resounding yes. The OnePlus Nord is highly consistent across both CPU and GPU benchmarks.

Over a full four hours and 30 minutes of testing (270 minutes), the OnePlus Nord only really drops performance once the battery dips below 5%, as the handset attempts to squeeze out a few more minutes of life. This is actually better than the Snapdragon 855 Plus in the OnePlus 7T Pro — its performance is quite up and down in the GPU portion of the test.

It’s also worth noting that both the 7 Pro and 7T Pro see a slight, gradual reduction in CPU performance over time. This is likely a result of heat build-up. This doesn’t happen with the Nord or the OnePlus 8 Pro.

The two older handsets also seriously downclock their CPUs when under 20% battery. This reduces their performance to below OnePlus Nord levels and almost as low as the ZTE Axon in order to extend battery life. In our testing, the Nord doesn’t need to do this, and still offers longer battery life overall, at 270 minutes. The OnePlus 7 Pro survived for 191 minutes, while the 7T Pro lasted 202 minutes.

The OnePlus Nord squeezes and sustains every drop of performance from its Snapdragon 765G.

What’s very interesting from the comparison with the ZTE Axon 11 is that it’s not a given that the Snapdragon 765G can sustain running at full tilt for long periods of time. Despite its lower energy consumption and therefore heat output compared to the 800 series Snapdragons, the 765G can still be forced to dial back performance under extreme loads.

The Axon 11 starts out with a marginally higher Speed Test G score than the OnePlus Nord, but cannot sustain it for more than 20 minutes. This is due to CPU downclocking, as the phone manages to keep up a GPU score that’s actually slightly higher than the OnePlus for a couple of hours. However, the Axon 11 5G struggles for GPU consistency thereafter.

See also: Snapdragon SoC guide: All of Qualcomm’s smartphone processors explained

The Nord, by comparison, retains its peak CPU and GPU performance for virtually the entirety of the test, hinting at either a cooler internal layout or a design choice to keep the GPU ever so slightly more reserved in order to prolong the overall system performance.

In summary, the OnePlus Nord squeezes virtually every drop of performance from the Snapdragon 765G for its entire battery life cycle. That’s very impressive.

OnePlus Nord: Performance that won’t let you down

OnePlus Nord Angled view of the home screen on a table
Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

We never expected the OnePlus Nord and its Snapdragon 765G chipset to rival the latest-and-greatest Snapdragon 865 for peak performance. However, this mid-range chipset still hands in plenty of performance for your day-to-day tasks and sustains its peak capabilities for prolonged gaming sessions. Importantly, the OnePlus Nord lasts longer and sustains its performance better than last year’s OnePlus 7 Pro and 7T Pro. That’s a major win for the affordable handset.

Related: Is the OnePlus Nord a better deal than the OnePlus 8?

Perhaps more importantly, the Snapdragon 765G also packs in SoC features that were previously reserved for the high end. As a result, the Nord includes integrated 5G and Wi-Fi 6 network support, 5.5 TOPS of AI performance, 4K 30fps and 1080p 240fps slow-motion video capture, AI camera features, and a 90Hz display refresh rate.

When it comes to performance and chipset features, the OnePlus Nord certainly won’t disappoint OnePlus fans.

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