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Nvidia Shield Tablet review

Sam Loveridge




  • Recommended by TR
Nvidia Shield Tablet


Our Score:


User Score:


  • Excellent screen
  • Tegra-optimised games look amazing
  • Great build quality
  • Powerful processor


  • Need to buy controller to get the full experience
  • Screen could be brighter

Key Features

  • Nvidia Tegra K1; 192-core Kepler GPU; 2.2GHz Quad Core ARM A15; 8-inch, 1920 x 1200 display; 390g
  • Manufacturer: nVidia
  • Review Price: £239.00

What is the Nvidia Shield Tablet?

The Nvidia Shield Tablet is an Android tablet designed specifically for gaming. It's the spiritual successor to the US-exclusive Nvidia Shield handheld, but it adopts a more familiar and practical form – a tablet and controller duo. That difference aside, however, the aim remains to supercharge your Android games and let PC gamers stream games to their tablet from their PC.

For a modest £240 you get an 8-inch HD tablet kitted out with Nvidia's custom-made Tegra K1 processor. On paper the K1 provides performance oomph that makes the Shield the best tablet for gamers, though you need the £50 Shield Controller to make the most of this power. That adds to the cost, but even with it the Nvidia Shield Tablet compares well to the iPad mini 3 and upcoming Nexus 9 while adding gaming features neither can offer.

VIDEO: Watch our Nvidia Shield Tablet video review

SEE ALSO: Best Tablet Round-up

Nvidia Shield Tablet: Design

What's immediately striking about the Nvidia Shield Tablet is its build quality. It hasn't quite got the premium finish of an iPad, but its metal body is complemented by a soft-touch rear that makes it very comfortable to hold for long periods of time.

To aid its comfort, Nvidia has tapered the edge of the back with a slight curve, making it easier to grip and hold one-handed. That means the back panel seems to blend seamlessly into the Shield Tablet's matt-black metal edges, which are just 9.2mm thick. Now that might not be the slimmest tablet around – just take a look at the likes of the 6.1mm iPad Air 2 or 6.6mm Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 – but there's no bend or flex. It looks and feels like a quality product.

From the front it has the look of an elongated HTC One M8, with a pair of front-facing speakers topping and tailing that 8-inch 1080p display. There's even a daintily placed front-facing 5-megapixel HDR-capable camera in the midst of one of those speakers.

SEE ALSO: Best Android Tablets

Down the right-hand edge of the Nvidia Shield Tablet you'll find the power/hold button, with a volume rocker and microSD card slot below that, supporting cards up to a whopping 128GB. At the very bottom, the new DirectStylus 2 is docked securely. In fact, it's so securely stored that it can take quite some force to actually free it from the tablet itself.

If you buy the 16GB Wi-Fi-only version, as we have here, there's also a phantom port along the right-hand side that you can't open. This is for the SIM card slot in the 32GB version, and it would have been better if Nvidia had removed this altogether on the 16GB model for a more streamlined edge.

Another small niggle is how the hold button and volume rockers take a little force to depress. If the buttons protruded a little more, or gave a little more of a click when using, they might feel more responsive. This might just be a default on the review sample we've got, but children may struggle with operating these buttons at times.

Along the top edge, there's another speaker and all the ports you could need. The Nvidia Shield Tablet has a micro USB port for charging, but also a mini HDMI port for connecting the tablet to your TV for big screen Android gaming, which is quite the treat. There's also your standard 3.5mm headphone jack.

The left-hand side has two strange-looking slots that are used to connect the Shield Tablet Cover. If you're willing to splash out the extra £24.99 for this cover (which doesn't protect the sides or back of the tablet), we'd strongly recommend it. It builds on the Apple SmartCover triangular support feature, but is the best execution of it we've seen yet. It's far more secure and manoeuvrable than the Apple alternative. Plus, if you plan to buy the Shield Controller, too, it's the best way to prop up the Shield Tablet for those gaming sessions.

Nvidia Shield Tablet: Screen

We loved the portability of the original Nvidia Shield, but its small screen meant it wasn't much use for anything other than games. It's a very different story with the Shield Tablet.

The Nvidia Shield Tablet has an 8-inch, 1920 x 1200p HD display. While it might not compete with the Retina display of the iPad mini 3 or Nexus 9, it's still a great display. Colours are rich and the clean, pure white level makes reading a pleasure.

It hasn't quite got the punch and contrast of a Super AMOLED display, but when you're runnning Tegra-optimised game you'll notice the detail and finesse of the Shield Tablet's display. Also, that 8-inch size makes the Shield the perfect size for gaming on the go -- as well as everything else an Android tablet should be used for.

There is one downside to the screen in that it isn't as bright as we had hoped. Watching particularly dark video content makes it pretty difficult to discern the more minute details of your movies and TV content. We haven't found it the biggest issue for gaming, but can be problematic for video content.

Nvidia Shield Tablet: Speaker Quality

The Shield Tablet has two front-facing speakers, plus two more along the top and bottom edges of the tablet.

That means the sound in the Nvidia Tablet really packs a punch. You'll rarely need to turn the volume up the whole way, but if you do it's quite capable of filling a room with music.

Related: Best Headphones

Unlike rival tablets, the Shield Tablet isn't equipped with Dolby technology or any other audio enhancements that Nvidia has mentioned anyway. However, it does have a dual bass reflex port to help reduce distortion at high levels.

Alex Walsh

July 22, 2014, 2:25 pm

It will be interesting to see how it actually compares in the wild to other SoC. I've had Tegra 2,3 and 4 devices and all of them have been slightly underwhelming in terms of performance against the hype surrounding them.


July 22, 2014, 2:35 pm

Yes, I agree, although K1 is more the 'real deal' in my eyes due to the Kepler GPU architecture. It really does need developers to target it, though, which is the larger problem. Power is nothing if it's left untapped.


July 23, 2014, 8:42 am

No WiFi ac? I would think gaming over wireless would justify going for ac like nothing else.

Tom Carter

July 23, 2014, 9:27 am

Nvidia have certainly started well in encouraging developers to make "full" PC games work on their architecture. Look at Half Life 2, Portal and Mount & Blade for example


More games like this, combined with the streaming options, and I think they may get a good following of hardcore gamers

I do think its a shame however that they didn't update and continue the shield "portable", the AIO design does have some benefits over the new tablet design (specifically for people wanting a dedicated gaming device for "on the go") so having a K1 version of that would also have been great


July 23, 2014, 10:55 pm

Really? I've always found nvidia tegra to be underwhelming in benchmarks, however compare a tegra 4 to a snapdragon 800 series when playing, say, GTA San Andreas and the tegra will pwn the snapdragon in both fps and length of use.

Kulti Vator

July 23, 2014, 11:22 pm

I agree - some of us would like to sit on the sofa remotely playing PC games whilst the Missus is watching chick-flicks, soaps and the like.

The original format made it possible to be playing Titanfall on a handheld device - whilst the console mode is great, it means I need to sit in front of a TV in a different room to the wife - unless I manage to perch the tablet on my lap whilst wiggling thumbs on the separate controller - which doesn't sound that comfy or practical with just an 8 inch screen.

Is this the first gaming device that requires you to be seated at a table to really be competitive in a multi-player game?


July 24, 2014, 11:45 am

I`m very disappointed with Qualcomms 2014 offerings. the 801 and even 805 are barely better than the 800. i have a nexus 5 and i don't even want to upgrade yet, because all 2014 phones just use the cheap 801 SoC that even loses to the 1-year old tegra 4 in some tests. its ridiculous that no one is pointing this out. the Shield tablet is just about the only device that is substantially faster than last year`s offerings


July 24, 2014, 10:38 pm

Oh, the Tegra K1 is definitely going to be force to be reckoned with, even if the benchmarks don't seem to dictate its true performance potential. I mean, come on. Desktop grade CUDA cores based on current gen Kepler architecture!? That's crazy, especially considering that there is no active cooling and no beefy power supply. I mean, its truly the first step in merging computers and mobile devices. Sure, there are a number of devices now utilising Intel CPU's, and SOC's are just becoming more and more ridiculously powerful with each revision, but none of them can even start to touch the Tegra K1's hardware level gaming capabilities. An Adreno 330 is only going to get you so far, but with 192 CUDA dedicated CUDA cores originally designed for desktop use you're going to get enough performance to probably outlast the next Tegra revision, and some!


July 25, 2014, 4:28 pm

I would argue that the Nvidia Shield Tablet does have a 'retina' display. It offers a PPI of 283. Retina is not a resolution, it is a recommended number of PPI required to not see pixels. That number changes based on how far you hold a device from your face. For phones, it's anything above 300, for tablets it's anything above 260 and for laptops it's anything above 220. While it's not written in stone, I am basing this off of the iPhone 5S (326 PPI), iPad Air (264 PPI) & the 13" Retina Macbook Pro (227 PPI).

While the Shield Tablet certainly doesn't offer the pixel density of the latest phones like the LG G3 (549 PPI) or the latest tablets like the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (359 PPI). I do feel it does provide the bare essential 'retina' experience.


October 29, 2014, 12:40 pm

Looks like you've upped the production values on your video review. Nice work, TR.

Matthew Bunton

October 29, 2014, 5:44 pm

This is actually more like how they used to be, sadly the quality has declined on this site over the past few years. I still like it but not as much as I used to.

Matthew Bunton

October 29, 2014, 5:46 pm

I agree but don't hold your breath they'll release the odd game but not much else.

A. Mir

October 30, 2014, 9:32 am

I have the 1. gen. Nexus 7 but it's beginning to show its age and the Wi-Fi is fried so it's pretty much useless as a daily table for reading mails, articles and such.

I've been wanting a new Nexus tab for quite some time now and I was ready to buy the Nexus 9 when first announced. I like the Nexus 9 and it's size. The 4:3 aspect ratio doesn't bother me because I don't do a lot of reading or watching movies on my tablet (or on my phone for that matter). However, I was a bit let down by its price tag and the low storage spec. I know it's a premium tablet - something the Nexus 7 really wasn't - but it's still quite a jump in price for the N9 when compared to the N7.

I've then decided to go for the nVidia Tablet Shield instead. Here in Denmark it's priced almost identically to the N7 (2013), and there's no doubt that the Shield is better in every aspect. I was also thinking about purchasing the Tablet S from Samsung because of its design, form factor and screen but it's still more expensive than the Shield and I don't really like Samsungs UI and its bloatware.

I've placed an order on the Shield. I hope I made the right choice. For those of you who either have the Shield or tried it: Can you give me some feedback on how it is as a pure tablet? If you don't need all the CPU/GPU power it's still a great tablet in its own right, right?


Graham Robson

May 4, 2016, 10:56 pm

Until Nvidia implement Android M correctly and it is able to overcome the bugs which are plaguing so many users. Namely excessive battery use, apps2SD, formatting to internal storage, Wifi issues, pops and ticks on the speakers when nothing is playing, poor screen sensitivity, I don't recommend this tablet.
It is a game of chance as to whether you'll get one which works correctly, already had a batch RMA for battery issues.
I am returning mine along with all accessories and that's me done. 6 months of nothing and a wasted subscription to Nvidia GeforceNow.

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