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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

Benchmarking the iPad Air
and iPad mini Retina
versus iPad 4 and iPad 3

Posted Monday, November 4th, 2013 by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Added the iPad mini Retina results on November 19th, 2013.

Apple says the new iPad Air is twice as fast as last year's iPad 4. We ran some of our favorite iOS benchmark apps to see for ourselves.

GeekBench 3
This popular benchmark runs a combination of integer, floating point, and memory tests that are optimized for iOS 7 and includes full support for 64-bit processors. Go to the iOS App Store to download the iPhone or iPad version. (
HIGHEST rating means FASTEST)

The LINPACK Benchmarks are a measure of a system's floating point computing power. They measure how fast a computer solves a dense N by N system of linear equations Ax = b, which is a common task in engineering. The solution is obtained by Gaussian elimination with partial pivoting, with 2/3ŠN3 + 2ŠN2 floating point operations. The result is reported in millions of floating point operations per second (Mflops/s). (
HIGHEST number means FASTEST)

SunSpider Javascript Benchmark
This browser benchmark tests the core JavaScript language only, not the DOM or other browser APIs. (
LOWEST number in milliseconds means FASTEST)

This browser benchmark measures a mix of browser functions including 2D and 3D performance, CSS crunching, Document Object Model Tree (DOM), resize and page load, WebGL and Canvas graphics performance -- as well as a selected array of Javascript operations. We ran it using iOS 7's Mobile Safari 7 app. (
HIGHEST score means FASTEST)

Using console-quality gaming content, GFXBench 2.7 (formerly known as GLBenchmark 2.7) provides a tool for unified cross-platform graphics benchmarking on major consumer platforms. New features for more realistic content include parallax mapping, animated and batched particles, motion blur on moving objects, realistic shadows, Z-prepass rendering, and pseudo instancing. We feature the HD Onscreen test with a T-Rex chasing a motocross rider (C24Z16). (
HIGHEST frames per second means FASTEST)

If you are wondering why the iPhone 5s beat the iPad Air, it's because it has fewer pixels to push. There is an "OffScreen" version of the benchmark but "OnScreen" better reflects "real world" experience.

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited is used for chip-to-chip comparisons of the hardware inside your device without vertical sync, display resolution scaling and other operating system factors affecting the result. In Unlimited mode the rendering engine uses a fixed time step between frames and renders exactly the same frames in every run on every device. The frames are rendered in 720p resolution "offscreen" while the display is updated with small frame thumbnails every 100 frames to show progress. We show the results of Graphics Test 2 here. (HIGHEST frames per second means FASTEST)

The iPad Air is truly twice as fast as the iPad 4 running the three CPU crunch tests and two GPU intensive tests above. BrowserMark was the only exception.

In addition, the iPad Air (compared to the iPad 3 and 4) is a sleeker on the outside -- narrower, thinner and lighter. "The power of lightness."

We added the iPad mini with Retina screen (iPad mini R) to the graphs on November 19th, 2013. As you can see, it is slightly slower than the iPad Air in all but one performance test.

Finally, it is a mystery to me is why Apple doesn't offer the iPad 4 with 16GB flash as the new entry level iPad. Paying $399 for a three year old iPad 2 is just crazy. You are better off buying a used iPad 4 on eBay.

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copyright 2013 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"