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iPad Pro comfortably outperforms iPad Air 2 in benchmarks, Apple Pencil beats Surface Pro stylus [Video]


ArsTechnica has been putting the iPad Pro through its paces in a whole raft of benchmark tests, comparing it to other iOS devices as well as to MacBooks and Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4.

When it comes to other iPads, nothing comes close in Geekbench tests. In single-core tests, the iPad Pro gets an overall score of 3233 against 1831 for the iPad Air 2. The much newer iPhone 6S gets closest, at 2537.

In multi-core tests, the differences look far more modest, but there’s a twist … 

While the A8X chip in the iPad Air 2 uses three CPU cores running at 1.84GHz, Apple has managed to comfortably outpace it using just two cores running at around 2.25GHz. So while the overall gain is more limited, Apple has managed to squeeze far more performance out of each core.


On paper, the iPhone 6S also gets close to the performance of the iPad Pro, but the piece notes that the much larger casing of the giant iPad gives it greater cooling capacity than the phone. While the A9X chip in the iPhone 6s can’t maintain its maximum clock-speed for long without frequent and dramatic throttling, the iPad Pro version can.


Similar results are seen in Sunspider, Kraken and Google Octane benchmarks, the iPad Pro significantly outperforming other iPads, while the iPhone 6S puts up a brave fight but can’t match its performance.

Tim Cook had suggested that the iPad Pro could replace a laptop for many. Reviewers seem to universally disagree, because iOS apps don’t match OS X ones, but it doesn’t do badly in pure performance terms.

The A9X can’t quite get up to the level of a modern U-series Core i5 based on Broadwell or Skylake (see the 2015 MacBook Air and Surface Pro 4 results), but it’s roughly on the same level as a Core i5 from 2013 or so and it’s well ahead of Core M. And despite the fact that it lacks a fan, the A9X shows little sign of throttling in the Geekbench thermal test, which bodes well for the iPad Pro’s ability to run professional-caliber apps for extended periods of time.

As always with ArsTechnica‘s detailed reviews, the full piece is well worth a read.

El Mundo‘s tech writer Angel Jimenez de Luis has been putting the Apple Pencil through its paces (via GforGames), to see how it compares with Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 stylus. The Apple Pencil clearly does deliver lower latency, though the real-life difference is less dramatic than one might have expected.

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  1. applegetridofsimandjack - 7 years ago

    I’m furious about the fact Apple didn’t upgrade the iPad Air. They couldv’e at leadt dropped the price 100$.

    • taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

      I think Apple will adopt a 18 month upgrade cycle to iPads. They wanted the Pro and mini 4 to get some increased sales.

      • o0smoothies0o - 7 years ago

        No. They don’t have the resources to continue upgrading all of the products they are doing now.

    • You can easily get $100 off Air2 right now. Costco, B&P Photo, ect all have discounting Air2.

      And during black Friday there is $150 gift cards for Air2

      • applegetridofsimandjack - 7 years ago

        not everyone lives in the us, why do you people always assume everyone is american?

  2. Scott Mead (@scottamead) - 7 years ago

    Ipad Pro’s stylus performance in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator is certainly lacking ;-)

    • rnc - 7 years ago

      What about procreate, Pixelmator, goodnotes, illustrator line on the surface pro ?

      • Kenneth Drew - 7 years ago

        Procreate is hands down the best experience for drawing app-wise. The latest improvement are nice! 2 finger tap to undo is much faster than touching the icon or flipping a stylus over to erase (a lot of the reason I don’t see what the fuss is about with the Apple Pencil not having an eraser. I use tons of art pencils to draw. Not a single one has an eraser on it of any sort.)

        I have yet to try Pixelmator. I also hear Graphic by Autodesk is a nice Illustrator replacement for vector work. It responds well to the Apple Pencil as an input device. I don’t think we will ever see mouse support on an iOS device, but it would certainly help us graphic designer folks a lot!

    • Kenneth Drew - 7 years ago

      AstroPad App. I use Photoshop and Illustrator all the time.

  3. taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

    Shows it a bargain compared to the MacBook.
    The $1299 model score is 2400/4450
    The $1599 score is 2600/5300

  4. It would be nice if iPad Pro acted like graphic tablet for a Mac computer.

    • rnc - 7 years ago

      It can. AstroPad app.

      • Thanks. I didn’t know that.

      • Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

        There might be others that will emerge, but yeah, it’s just an application like AstroPad turns it into a graphic tablet, just like there are other apps that turn iPads into a Final Cut Pro control surface or another app that turns an iPad into a mixing console control surface.

        I’m wondering if this is going to effect the Wacom 13 inch Cintiq model graphics tablet sales.

      • Bob M. Guthrie - 7 years ago

        (doh) What rnc suggested (sry, rnc, should have read the whole thread first)

    • Bob M. Guthrie - 7 years ago

      AstroPad app on the iTunes store.

      • Bob M. Guthrie - 7 years ago

        Maybe a can fix my own dumbness: Try the USB option over the WIFI one if you can (the latency is definitely almost negligible),… also, a longer USB cable =) (iPad Air 2 with Adonit Bluetooth Pro)

  5. vkd108 - 7 years ago

    Where are the results of iPad Pro against the Surface Pro 4?

  6. Rob40 - 7 years ago

    Surface uses a digitizer, not a stylus and the difference is enormous between the two items.

    • Ben Stansfield - 7 years ago

      different how?

      • Rob40 - 7 years ago

        The review points to the windows active digitizer and calls it a stylus. The digitizer offers things like: hover state, pressure sensitivity [from the pen], multiple buttons, eraser, etc so as a tool to do an enormous ammount of work such as special artistic effects, in fact making epic “paintings” can be accomplished by the active digitizer, and not a stylus. A stylus doesnt have pressure sensitivity and all thethings above.

  7. srgmac - 7 years ago

    The A9X is very impressive!


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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