The GPD Pocket 3 is a tiny, but versatile laptop with an 8 inch touchscreen display, a QWERTY keyboard that’s just (barely) large enough for touch-typing, and a hinge that allows you to fold the screen down over the keyboard and hold the computer like a tablet. A modular port system also lets you adjust the functionality of the computer.
Expected to ship in January following the conclusion of an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, the GPD Pocket 3 is also a surprisingly powerful little computer, with up to an Intel Core i7-1195G7 processor, 16GB of RAM and up to a 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD. I’ve been testing a pre-release demo unit for the past few weeks, and I’ll have a full review soon. But in this article I wanted to take a look at benchmark performance.
GPD offers two models of the Pocket 3. For $649 and up during crowdfunding, you can reserve a version with an Intel Pentium Silver N6000 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. Or for $997 and up you can reserve the higher-spec version with an Intel Core i7 Tiger Lake processor, twice the memory and storage, and a Thunderbolt 4 port.
That’s the version GPD sent me to test.
As you might expect from a little computer with Intel’s most powerful 11th-gen U-series processor, it scores well in single-core performance in tests like GeekBench and Cinebench, but lags behind the latest AMD Ryzen 5000U processors when it comes to multi-threaded performance in those same tests.
You’d think that thermal constraints would lead to throttling when putting such a powerful processor into such a small space… and you’d probably be right in at least some situations. For example, an MSI Prestige 14 thin and light laptop I tested earlier this year has a slightly less powerful Intel Core i7-1185G7 processor, but the MSI laptop notched a higher score in PCMark than the 8 inch GPD Pocket 3.
But that said, the Pocket 3 still came out well ahead of other Intel-powered devices including handhelds like the One Mix 4 and ONEXPLAYER mini laptops, and laptops like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano in that general-purpose performance test.
When it comes to graphics performance, the GPD Pocket 3 certainly isn’t the most powerful system around, but its Iris Xe integrated graphics should be enough to handle light gaming duties on the go.
One thing that likely helps the GPD Pocket 3 out is that it has a pretty speedy SSD with read/write speeds up to nearly 3500MB/s and 2800MB/s, respectively according to CrystalDiskMark.
But when looking at all the benchmarks above, there’s something you may not know about the Pocket 3: it’s not left-handed. At least not all the time, but it’s been fighting with its left hand in all the comparison charts above.
That’s because I ran those tests with the GPD Pocket 3 running at its “nominal” setting with power limits in the 15-20W range. But if you enter the computer’s UEFI/BIOS settings by hitting the Del key during startup, there’s an option to change the TDP Boot Mode to “Up” or “Down” configurations depending on whether you want to prioritize performance or power consumption.
Here are some benchmark results showing how performance varies between the Down (12-15W), Nominal (15-20W), and Up (20W-25W) settings.
As you can see, boosting the TDP level results in significant performance gains across the board, whether you’re looking at CPU or graphics performance. And reducing it leads to a significant decrease in scores.
It’s nice to have the option to tweak the performance level… although I cannot say for certain if the version of the Pocket 3 that ships to customers will be quite as configurable. GPD does have a habit of sending pre-release hardware to reviewers that have more features unlocked in the UEFI Settings utility than customers will find in the retail versions.
If the retail version of the Pocket 3 does in fact have an unlocked BIOS that allows you to adjust the TDP, just keep in mind that you’ll likely get the longest battery life on the “Down” setting, and the shortest on the “Up” setting.
For some tasks, it makes little difference which version you use. For example, I’ve been able to consistently stream YouTube videos for around 5 hours before the 38.5Wh battery died no matter which power setting the system was set at. But modern computers are pretty well optimized to stream video without using much power.
More resource-intensive tasks like gaming or video editing will likely run down the battery much more quickly in Up mode.
I’ll have more performance notes when the full review is ready. In the meantime, here’s my unboxing and first impressions video, in case you missed it:
And here’s a video showing how the modular ports work, allowing you to replace a USB port with Serial port module or a KVM module that allows you to connect the GPD Pocket 3 to a server or another PC with an HDMI cable and USB-C cable to use the little laptop as a portable external display and input device:
One other thing to keep in mind whenever looking at GPD hardware is that the company makes some of the most interesting devices in the mini-laptop space, but GPD is a small Chinese company that ships its products to customers worldwide while offering limited customer support.
The company has also made some mistakes in the past, like shipping hardware with the wrong components. So I’d only really recommend buying GPD gear if you’re the adventurous and tech savvy type willing to troubleshoot any problems that may arrive… and possibly willing to eat the cost if anything goes wrong and you’re unable to get your device repaired or get a refund.