The iPad mini has an older A5 processor, the new iPad goes all the way up to the state-of-the-art A6X.
We’ve got our hands on both devices, and are putting them to the Geekbench test to see which one comes out on top. Hint: it’s going to be the one with the all-new A6X processor.
iPad mini: Hardware
The iPad mini is sporting the A5 processor first found in the iPad 2. Because it’s been a while since the A5 came out, we thought there might have been some slight changes to the chipset, but recent photo analysis suggests otherwise.
Geekbench reports that the iPad mini (which is iPad2, 5 according to Apple’s internal numbering) has a single ArmV7 CPU running at 999MHz with two cores . It has 32KB L1 cache and 1MB L2 cache (no L3 cache). Geekbench report 303MB RAM (so that will be 512MB in total with some being used by the system).
In terms of specifications then it’s pretty close to an iPad 2 (actually, it is an iPad 2).
The Geekbench Score is 748, considerably slower than the iPad 4, but faster than the 471 of the original iPad, and in the same ballpark as the new iPad (third-generation) 757. The third-generation iPad wasn’t significantly faster than the second-generation, it’s extra power pushed the Retina display.
So that’s pretty impressive. The iPad mini is on-par with the iPad (third-generation).
We found the iPad mini perfectly capable of running all the games we threw at it, including powerhouses such as Real Racing 2 and N.O.V.A 3 with a respectable framerate and no frame drops.
What it isn’t as powerful as is the new iPad (fourth-generation) or iPhone 5. Both of which show serious boosts in power.
Apple iPad 4: Hardware
As usual Apple has updated the hardware of the tablet. First and foremost is a new processor, the A6X. This dual-core processor with quad-core graphics is supposedly twice as fast as the A5 chip found in the iPad 3 with twice the graphics performance.
Naturally we put these claims to the test. Apple doesn’t publish clock speeds and such like but the GeekBench 2 app states the A6X is 1.39GHz and the iPad 4 has 1GB of RAM – 988GB for our exact sample.
While the numbers can amaze and astound, it’s the real life user performance which is important. The iPad 4 is a nippy device but the overall impression is that it’s not much quicker than the iPad 3, certainly not twice as fast.
We did find graphics performance impressive with a frame rate of 39fps, the iPad 3 managed 22fps. So it’s the graphics improvements which are the more noticeable. We could see no difference in general navigation but more noticeable in more demanding tasks. In Apple Maps, for example, pinch zooming is a little bit smoother.