Redmi Note 9 vs Redmi Note 8: Is the Helio G85 really a performance upgrade?

The Redmi Note 8. (Source: Xiaomi)
Is newer better? The Redmi Note 9 was launched months ago debuting with MediaTek’s new Helio G85, but how does it compare to the tried and tested Snapdragon 665 on Xiaomi’s last-gen Redmi Note 8? Well, the results are nuanced.

A while ago, we compared the Redmi Note 8 Pro to the new Redmi Note 9 Pro in an attempt to find out which phone offered better performance across the board. This time out, it’s a fight between the cheaper models⁠—the Redmi Note 8 and the Redmi Note 9. Like with the previous comparison, it’s a MediaTek versus Qualcomm battle, only this time, the newer phone has the MediaTek chip.

Starting out with Geekbench, the Redmi Note 8 and its Snapdragon 665 records a single-core score of 309. The Redmi Note 9 flexes its mucles here, with a score of 357. That’s a powerful showing by the Redmi Note 9, translating into a 13% advantage. In the multi-core test, the Redmi Note 8 earns a score of about 1,312. The new Redmi Note 9 is also on top here, as it comes away with a 1,320 score. The difference is negligible.

Moving on to AnTuTu, the similarities in CPU performance continue. The Redmi Note 8 earns a CPU score of 71,021. The Redmi Note 9 is ahead here, too, with a score of 74,066. That translates into a 4% advantage for the Redmi Note 9 and its MediaTek Helio G85.

It’s in the GPU department that things get interesting, as the Redmi Note 8 manages a score of 32,316 in AnTuTu’s GPU test. The Redmi Note 9 wins handily with a score of 41,644⁠—a significant 29% advantage.

So, what do these numbers imply? Most notably, that the Redmi Note 8 and Redmi Note 9 will offer similar day-to-day performance. The two phones and their respective chipsets deliver similar numbers in the CPU tests, albeit with the Redmi Note 9 slightly edging the Redmi Note 8 by right about 10%. It’s in the gaming department that the newer phone really shines, however, as it appears to have a significant advantage.

Of course, it’d be facetious to ignore the fact that MediaTek has been caught cheating on benchmarks in the past. The company’s response wasn’t particularly encouraging either. In terms of efficiency, the two phones should also be similar. We don’t have perf/watts numbers, but the Helio G85 is built on TSMC’s 12nm node, while the Snapdragon 665 is built on Samsung’s 11 nm LPP node.

Does the Helio G85 on the Redmi Note 9 outperform the Redmi Note 8’s Snapdragon 665? Yes, it does. But it mostly comes down to the GPU, and CPU performance is similar enough that the overall differential isn’t a game-changer⁠—unless you’re a gamer.

Martin Christopher