The Allwinner A13 is a system-on-chip based on a single-core ARM Cortex A8 processor, Mali 400 graphics, and a 1080p video decoder with up to 30fps supported. It can be found in many 7- and 8-inch budget Android tablets under $100 and oftentimes priced at only $70. I’ve tested real-world performance and benchmarked the chip embedded into the China-made Ployer Momo9 III 7-incher at 800-by-480 pixels and with 512MB of RAM (16-bit interface), which is the maximal supported amount on the A13. The chip-maker’s higher-end solution with support for up to 1GB is the A10 SoC, which also provides 32-bit memory interface, HDMI output, and 60fps 1080p playback capability.
When you start using the reviewed tablet with the A13, it becomes clear very soon that its performance isn’t as good as on higher-grade dual-core tablets, let alone quad-core devices. Sliding through the menus of Android 4.0.4 was pretty much smooth, but as soon as you start using any of the apps, you can notice lags. Also, switching between common apps like Facebook and web browser sometimes takes more than five seconds.
Web browsing speed greatly depends on which websites you visit. For example, blogs with relatively small number of images and text per page (like techonbudget.com) work almost perfectly fine, while scrolling through sites with a large number of big images (such as 9gag.com) has a somewhat noticeable lag. However, big pages with a lot of elements (CNN homepage, for example) really slow down web surfing and sometimes cause unresponsiveness pop-up messages. Zooming in and out isn’t totally fluid, as you can see in the video below.
When it comes to gaming, for this test I’ve played Raging Thunder II car racing and SG: DeadZone first-person-shooter games, showing off processor’s 3D gaming capabilities, as well as Fruit Ninja 2D game. As expected, Fruit Ninja was completely fluid, whereas it is noticeable that some frames were dropped in Ranging Thunder. DeadZone was even more demanding toward the Mali 400 and Cortex A8, resulting in somewhat choppy speed.
An area where the Allwinner A13 excels is video playback. A tested 1080p video with 10,000 kpbs bit-rate runs completely effortless, which is an excellent feature for tablets under $100.
To get a better impression about things written above, check out the video:
Regarding synthetic benchmarks, Quadrant, Antutu, and Sunspider tests show entry-level nature of the chipset. You can take a look at the benchmark screenshots:
Here’s how the Momo9 III with the Allwinner A13 stacks up against some of the well-known tablets in Antutu benchmark:
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 (first version) with single-core ARM Cortex A8 / PowerVR SGX540
- Amazon Kindle Fire with dual-core Texas Instruments OMAP 4430
- Asus Transformer with Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core
- Google Nexus 10 with Exynos 5250 dual-core
The closest competitor among these four tablets is the single-Core Samsung Galaxy Tab. As soon as we enter the dual-core territory, the Allwinner gets beaten by a large margin.
Here’s Java Sunspider benchmark result:
The Allwinner A13 is adequate for walking through OS, full HD media playback, and running basic web-based applications (browsing, Facebook, Twitter), but with no any serious multitasking involved. In short, the SoC is usable, but does not provide a pleasant experience.