NVIDIA Shield Tablet vs Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 Specs Comparison

Written by B Johnson January 22, 2015
NVIDIA Shield Tablet vs Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 Specs Comparison
Hi guys, welcome back to this site!

There’s no single doubt that NVIDIA Shield Tablet is one of the best gaming tablets that you can find on the market to date.

As a matter of fact, this NVIDIA’s homemade device is probably the best gaming tablet on the market right now, especially given its insanely powerful gaming performance, which according to console/PC game developers, is capable to deliver the same graphical performance as today’s desktops/PCs.

(NVIDIA Shield Tablet vs Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 Specs Comparison)

But for me personally, that’s not the only one that makes it really superior as a gaming device compared to other tablets out there on the market, even the iPads.

There are some other great things about NVIDIA Shield Tablet that makes it stand out among other rivals, especially as a specific gaming tablet.

Not only that. Besides really amazing as a gaming tablet, NVIDIA Shield Tablet is also really impressive as a note-taking device.

NVIDIA Shield Tablet vs Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 benchmarks and gaming performance

So this is the reason why today i’m really interested to make another comparison review that involves this NVIDIA’s tablet against other rival.

However, the tablet that i’m about to put in the same ring with NVIDIA Shield Tablet right now is not a note-taking device, but it’s more on the media-consumption side.

In fact, this one is a pure media-consumption device aimed at people that want to enjoy media contents right away every day. You probably already know it.

Nope, it’s not iPad – but this one is the latest-gen flagship tablet from Amazon. Yes, you’re right – it is Amazon Fire HDX 8.9.

Well, if you’re interested to see how these 2 tablets compete head-to-head in this review, including my take on each aspect and also their gaming performance, then here you go, my comparison review between NVIDIA Shield Tablet and Amazon Fire HDX 8.9.


Both of these 2 tablets are actually huge departure from their predecessors – with NVIDIA Tegra Note and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 being the predecessors of NVIDIA Shield Tablet and Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 respectively.

However, the improvements found on these 2 devices actually take place only on the hardware specs.

Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 now ships with the latest and greatest Snapdragon 805 processor along with a more advanced Adreno 420 GPU, while NVIDIA Shield Tablet is powered by Tegra K1 quad-core processor accompanied with a staggering 192-core of GPU.

So when it comes to graphical and gaming performance, both Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 and NVIDIA Shield Tablet are of course a huge jump from the previous-gen models.

And this means, any of these 2 devices are way more powerful especially in handling the next-gen games that are about to arrive this 2015.

However, given that most of today’s Android games haven’t really implemented some advanced console-quality graphics and visual effects, then the powerful gaming performance of Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 is still not really prominent to see.

But that really contradicts with NVIDIA Shield Tablet that has real life proof regarding how powerful this tablet for gaming.

Along with the release of Tegra K1 processor, NVIDIA actually also announced 2 of the next-gen games that later can be enjoyed only on Tegra K1 tablets like NVIDIA Shield Tablet.

They are Trine 2 and Half Life 2, which both interestingly are ported straightly from PS3 and PC.

And more impressively is, both of these games really implement the same console-quality graphics and visual effects just like the original versions.

So this of course puts NVIDIA Shield Tablet on a higher level than Amazon Fire HDX 8.9, especially in terms of gaming performance.

But even so, as a gaming tablet, Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 is still one of the best on the market to date.

In fact, thanks to its Snapdragon 805 processor and Adreno 420 GPU, this Amazon’s tablet is on the same level as other flagship devices like iPad Air 2 or NVIDIA Shield Tablet.

But the questions remain. With all of the powerful hardware specs and insanely powerful gaming performance found on both devices,

which one between NVIDIA Shield Tablet and Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 that deserves to take the crown here as the best gaming tablet in this comparison review?

Which one that will come out as the best tablet in the whole aspect?

Is it worth it to buy any of these 2 devices, especially for playing games?

You're gonna know my answers of these questions as well as my final conclusion of this comparison review, be sure to read the rest of this review!


As mentioned above, the only improvement made by each manufacturer – NVIDIA and Amazon they are – on NVIDIA Shield Tablet and Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 actually takes place on the hardware and software, not on the design.

So similar just like the predecessors – NVIDIA Tegra Note and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 they are – any of these tablets still looks just the same.

So if NVIDIA Tegra Note is already prominent with the dual-speaker grilles on the front side and 2 layer color around the side of the screen, then NVIDIA Shield Tablet still inherits those same exact elements on its design.

It goes the same with the port/hole of the stylus on the back that still can be found on NVIDIA Shield Tablet, along with the stylus of course.

NVIDIA Shield Tablet
NVIDIA Shield Tablet
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 (2014)
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 (2014)

I personally already like this design of HP Slate7 Extreme/Tegra Note from the beginning. So i think it’s a good decision by NVIDIA to stick with the same design on the second-gen NVIDIA Shield Tablet.

For your information, this design actually reminds me with HTC’s flagship smartphone – HTC One M8, which has the same dual-front-speaker grilles.

Not to mention Google Nexus 9, made by HTC as well, that also takes the same design cues of HTC’s smartphone.

The same thing happens on Amazon Fire HDX 8.9. If the predecessor is more prominent with its dark black color that blends perfectly with the screen and UI as well, not to mention the weird shapes all over the rear cover, then it goes the same with Amazon Fire HDX 8.9.

It still has those elements on its design.

Compared to NVIDIA Shield Tablet, i think Amazon’s tablet looks really generic just like other regular Android tablets on the market.

So it doesn’t look unique and it also doesn’t have its own characteristic compared to other tablets.

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Nvidia ShieldAmazon Fire HDX 8.9 (2014)

Released July 2014
390 g (Weight)
DirectStylus 2
8.0 inchCapacitive touchscreen, 1920 x 1200 pixels, 16M colors (~283 ppi pixel density)
Quad-core 2.2 GHz Cortex-A15 Nvidia Tegra K1 Chipset
ULP GeForce Kepler 192-core GPU
Dual bass reflex port audio enhancement
microSD card slot for up to 128GB
Internal 16 GB
5 MP rear-facing camera HDR
5 MP front-facing camera with HDR
Android OS 4.4.2 KitKat
HTML5 Browser
No Radio
Java MIDP emulator
HDMI port
19.75 Wh Li-Ion battery
    4G LTE
    Released October 2014
    8.9 inch 2560 x 1600 pixelsIPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, (~339 ppi pixel density)
    Android OS 4.4 KitKat - customized
    Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 450 Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 Chipset
    Adreno 420 GPU
    2 GB RAM
    * Fire OS 4 Sangria UI
    * Dolby Atmos sound enhancement
    No Memory Card slot
    16/32/64 GB Internal storage
    8 MP rear-facing camera LED flash
    Secondary front-facing camera
    No Radio
    GPS (4G model)
    No Java
    Non-removable Li-Ion battery
    Talk time: for up to 12 hours

    As i said earlier above, the only improvements made by each manufacturer on these 2 devices actually take place only on the internal hardware and software as well.

    And that’s shown perfectly by the use of more advanced and more powerful processors on both devices, not to mention the newer build of software and UIs.

    NVIDIA Shield Tablet is more prominent with the latest and greatest Tegra K1 quad-core processor along with 192-core Kepler GPU, while Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 gets upgraded with a more powerful Snapdragon 805 and Adreno 420 GPU.

    Between these 2 devices, i think NVIDIA Shield Tablet brings a lot more improvements on the hardware than Amazon Fire HDX 8.9, compared to the predecessor.

    NVIDIA Tegra Note/HP Slate7 Extreme comes with a 720p display, VGA front-facing camera, microSD card slot for up to 32GB, 1GB of RAM, 4100mAH battery and older-gen Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean.

    On the other hand with NVIDIA's tablet, Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 now comes with a much sharper and larger 8-inch 1080p display, 5MP front-facing shooter, microSD card for up to 128GB, 2GB of RAM, 19.75Wh battery (or equal to 5400mAh if i’m not mistaken) and the newer build of Android 4.4.2 KitKat – which by the way, can be upgraded to Lollipop.

    Meanwhile, Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 actually is not a huge departure from the predecessor, with the exception with its processor and GPU of course.

    So basically, it still inherits the same 2.5K display, 2GB of RAM, 8MP rear-facing camera with LED flash, the same promised battery life and of course, the same looking design.

    However, its software now gets revamped with the new build of Fire OS through Sangria UI, which is based on Android 4.4 Kitkat, but still works relatively similar with the previous build UI.


    When it comes to sharpness, there’s no single doubt that Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 is gonna blow NVIDIA Shield Tablet out of the water with its 2.5K display.

    And it’s because its 8.9-inch display is sporting the much higher 2560x1600 pixel resolution compared to the full HD (1920x1200 pixels) resolution found on the smaller 8-inch screen of NVIDIA Shield Tablet.

    However, it’s not just on paper the screen of Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 is superior than NVIDIA Shield Tablet, but also in the real life implementation.

    According to some display benchmark tests held by some tech sites, the 2.5K screen of Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 impressively scored the highest and even managed to outperform the display quality of most flagship tablets on the market, even the iPads.

    So with that being said, then you can expect the same thing on Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 because it still uses the same and probably much improved display than predecessor.

    It looks gorgeous, sharp, crisp, the colors look popping out, the viewing angle is great and everything just looks amazing on this tablet.

    But even so, having the full HD resolution on a smaller 8-inch display actually already looks really sharp and crisp for most of the users of NVIDIA Shield Tablet.

    It may not look as sharp as the 2.5K screen of Amazon Fire HDX 8.9, but at least, it still looks sharp and delivers an eye-pleasing experience to most of the users.

    User Interface

    If there is one thing that really separates these 2 devices in entirely different side of the road, then it’s definitely their UIs. NVIDIA Shield Tablet comes with the stock vanilla Android UI without any significant customization of manufacturer, while the UI of Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 is the simplified version of standard UI.

    And by ‘simplified version’, it means it strips off all of the standard elements and even design layout of standard Android UI – like the homescreen, widgets, notification and setting windows, as well as other features of stock Android OS.

    So if you’re a big fan of stock Android UI with all of its standard elements like widgets, homescreen, etc, then you will be left disappointed if you decide to buy Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 because it doesn’t have them all.

    As replacement, the Sangria UI of this Amazon’s tablet looks and works really simple with some huge icons of apps or contents in the grid-slider view.

    The good thing is, there is the app drawer that can be dragged from the bottom position. Meanwhile, the top navigation still exist so you can easily shop for new contents on Amazon ecosystem.

    Meanwhile, the stock Android of NVIDIA Shield Tablet has nothing to write home about, especially if you’ve already known and are familiar with the standard Android UI with homescreen, widgets and many more.

    However, there are some new things to be found on its UI, especially the ones related to the stylus – like lasso feature, note-taking app, paintbrush-alike app and many more.

    Not to mention, there is also one NVIDIA’s dedicated app called "NVIDIA Hub" that gives users the access to the app market filled with well-optimized games for Tegra K1 devices.

    Back to Top
    Both Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 and NVIDIA Shield Tablet are actually really powerful for playing games. In fact, the hardware package found inside these 2 tablets are currently the best on the market, alongside iPad Air 2.

    So basically, with any of these devices, you are able to play even the latest and most graphically demanding games like GTA San Andreas, Modern Combat 5 or Asphalt 8: Airborne – all in buttery smooth performance and in full highest graphics.

    However, if compared side-by-side against each other, then NVIDIA Shield Tablet is of course the one that will come out as the winner here because its Tegra K1 quad-core processor is just too powerful compared to the Snapdragon 805 processor found inside the Amazon Fire HDX 8.9.

    And their performance difference can be seen directly from their gaming capability.

    So besides powerful for playing all Android games aforementioned above, NVIDIA Shield Tablet is also capable to execute the next-gen games with console-quality graphics and visual effects.

    As a matter of fact, there are some console-quality games that have been able to play on NVIDIA Shield Tablet from long time ago.

    And 3 of them are Half Life 2, Trine 2 and Oddworld Stranger's Wrath, which both are ported straightly from consoles and PC.

    I believe there will be a lot more games in 2015 that are also well-optimized to maximize the use of powerful 192-core GPU inside this NVIDIA’s tablet.

    And thanks to NVIDIA’s close relationship with many famous console/PC game developers, i think that’s really possible to happen.

    Besides in gaming performance and graphical capability, NVIDIA Shield Tablet is also a much better gaming tablet than Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 in terms of sound quality.

    And that’s thanks to the dual-front-speaker grilles on this device, making the experience of playing games more realistic for gamers.

    Even so, Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 is actually still a great gaming tablet. in fact, it’s one of the tablets with the best gaming performance on the market to date.

    But of course, NVIDIA Shield Tablet is just way more powerful than Amazon’s device, especially in terms of gaming experience as a whole, not just gaming performance.

    And the fact that NVIDIA Shield Tablet also ships with its dedicated gaming controller from NVIDIA, also makes this device a far more ideal gaming machine than Amazon Fire HDX 8.9.


    Camera is actually not the specialty of Amazon Fire HDX 8.9. In fact, if there is any feature of this device that Amazon never really tries to show off or promote aggressively to its users, then is definitely its camera.

    However, despite not being ‘so important’ for most of Amazon users, the camera quality of Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 is actually not to shabby at all.

    Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 comes with an 8MP camera on the back and another one on the front, along with LED flash. So according to some reviews, the camera of this tablet apparently is able to take good shots, especially in daylight.

    Meanwhile, in low light condition, its LED flash can also be handy to help improve the photo or video quality. So if you’re into photography, then you are in great hands with this tablet.

    Its camera may not be as great as the iSight camera of iPads, but at least, it gets the job done and in fact, the photos or videos will look gorgeous when seen directly on the 2.5K display of this tablet.

    It actually goes the same with the cameras of NVIDIA Shield Tablet. So this tablet is equipped with 5MP cameras front and back, but without LED flash.

    The predecessor – NVIDIA Tegra Note/HP Slate7 Extreme – is known with its good quality camera, especially the rear one.

    So you can totally expect the same thing on NVIDIA Shield Tablet.

    Its quality may not be as great as the iPad mini Retina, but at least, its photo and video quality still looks good and sharp for most of users.

    As a matter of fact, taking photos with NVIDIA Shield Tablet actually can be a lot more fun than on iPad because you can do some creative stuff on the photos with the stylus.

    Battery Life

    Unfortunately, there’s no information about the exact battery capacity that Amazon crams inside this device. So i cannot make a thorough battery life comparison between these 2 tablets.

    But according to GSMarena, Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 has a promised of 12 hours battery life for talk time (multimedia), which is actually the same promised of battery life on the predecessor.

    But i think that can be believable especially because this Amazon tablet deploys a light-weight UI that has been known for its efficiency with the use of battery life.

    Basically, you can expect to see this tablet survive in full solid day on a full 100% charge. But of course, if you use it intensively with some heavy stuff without resting the screen at all – like for watching HD movies in marathon or playing games in the row -, its battery life could drop drastically to just around 5 to 7 hours, maybe more and maybe less.

    But the battery life of Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 is probably much better compared to NVIDIA Shield Tablet. So according to some reviews on YouTube, apparently this tablet could only last around 2 to 3 hours when used for playing heavy games without stopping – maybe some console-quality games like Trine 2 or Half Life 2.

    But the good news is, this NVIDIA’s tablet now can be upgraded to Android 5.0 Lollipop officially from NVIDIA itself.

    And you probably already know that Android Lollipop brings a lot of improvements and tweaks especially on the battery life department – like Project Volta, the battery saving mode on lockscreen, etc.

    So this probably could really help a lot in making this tablet more efficient in terms of battery life especially when used to play some console quality games, which is the reason why NVIDIA creates this tablet in the first place, right?

    My Personal Opinions

    So in my final conclusion is, as a gaming tablet, of course NVIDIA Shield Tablet is far more superior than Amazon Fire HDX 8.9, especially given that its Tegra K1 processor is just too powerful and in fact, capable to deliver the same graphical performance as today’s desktops/PCs.

    However, it’s actually not only its gaming performance that makes NVIDIA Shield Tablet a much better offering than Amazon Fire HDX 8.9, but also on some other sectors.

    First of all, it has a stylus and the stylus of NVIDIA Shield Tablet – as i always mentioned over and over again in many of previous reviews – is really amazing and in fact, it matches the S-Pen of Samsung GALAXY Note series – in terms of writing and drawing experience.

    So long story short – without too much of explanation -, the stylus of NVIDIA Shield Tablet is so amazing you can literally create some beautiful and even professional paintings out of it.

    NVIDIA Shield Tablet is also more superior than Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 in terms of sound quality. And that’s thanks to its dual-front-speaker grilles.

    Meanwhile, the existence of expandable storage that’s even able to handle for up to 128GB microSD card also really makes NVIDIA Shield Tablet a far better offering than Amazon’s tablet.

    Even so, there are also some other strengths found on Amazon Fire HDX 8.9, which make NVIDIA Shield Tablet look a bit inferior – from its 2.5K display, better battery life thanks to Amazon’s optimization on the software, better rear-facing camera, LED flash and larger screen real estate.

    However, for the most part, i think NVIDIA Shield Tablet is still more superior than Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 in the whole aspect.

    I think its amazing stylus and insanely powerful gaming performance that really put this device on the higher level compared to Amazon Fire HDX 8.9.

    But at the end of the day, i believe the final decision to buy any of these tablets will come down entirely from your personal preference and needs.

    So if you’re in the search for a decent note-taking device that happens to have powerful gaming performance, then NVIDIA Shield Tablet won’t disappoint you at all.

    Meanwhile, if you’re only looking for a pure media-consumption tablet, then Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 can also be a good choice here.

    Both devices are powerful. Both devices are great.
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