After a good bit of sleuthing, we can confidently say that Samsung appears to be artificially boosting the US Note 3's benchmark scores with a special, high-power CPU mode that kicks in when the device runs a large number of popular benchmarking apps. Samsung did something similar with the international Galaxy S 4's GPU, but this is the first time we've seen the boost on a US device. We also found a way to disable this special CPU mode, so for the first time we can see just how much Samsung's benchmark optimizations affect benchmark scores.
Geeks love benchmark tests, but tend to be dismissive on their potential to influence purchase decisions by the consumers.
While the average consumer will probably never read benchmark test results, and the more informed geeks will have read about the manipulation Samsung has promoted, there is a whole class of users that sits in between who are:
- Heavily influenced by spec checklists;
- Will be "well informed" just enough to have heard somewhere that the Galaxy Note's benchmark test results were awesome;
- Are regarded by their families and friends as "people who understand computers" and are therefore capable of influencing others themselves.
Those are the same people who can't be convinced to buy a Mac because "you can get a better computer for the same price" by a different manufacturer.