GPU Performance

Although most of the industry has done a great job in pushing CPU performance forward, Apple remains largely uncontested when it comes to mobile GPU performance. This isn't really due to some unsurmountable advantage, but rather a willingness to spend on SoC die area and incorporate big GPUs into its designs. The graphics IP all comes from Imagination Technologies, and although it's very well integrated by Apple, there are other SoC vendors that could push the envelope here - they simply have chosen not to.

Things are beginning to change as we saw with the introduction of Qualcomm's Adreno 320 based Snapdragon S4 Pro. NVIDIA's Wayne (Tegra 4?) SoC is expected to be much more competitive on this front as well.

As a result of many of the competing devices using slower GPUs, the mini looks a lot better in our GLBenchmark tests than its competitors.

We'll start out with the raw theoretical numbers beginning with fill rate:

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Fill Test

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Fill Test (Offscreen 1080p)

Other than the Nexus 10, the only devices that outperform the iPad mini here are other iPads or the iPhone 5. The mini's low native resolution will help ensure that gaming performance remains high for any currently available content.

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Triangle Texture Test

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Triangle Texture Test (Offscreen 1080p)

Triangle throughput looks very good here although the Tegra 3 based Nexus 7 is able to pull ahead on the offscreen test.

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Triangle Texture Test - Fragment Lit

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Triangle Texture Test - Fragment Lit (Offscreen 1080p)

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Triangle Texture Test - Vertex Lit

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Triangle Texture Test - Vertex Lit (Offscreen 1080p)

The mini continues to do quite well here vs the competition, although in the heavier triangle tests we see a clear difference between it and the A5X/A6/A6X based iOS devices.

With the synthetics out of the way, we can look at simulated game performance using the Egypt HD and Egypt Classic benchmarks. Remember the on-screen tests are run at native resolution with v-sync enabled, while the offscreen tests are run at 1080p with v-sync disabled for an architectural apples-to-apples comparison.

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Egypt HD

The mini does reasonably well running Egypt HD, which is a good indicator of future gaming performance on the device (perhaps ~2 years out for high end titles). The iPad 4's GPU does a good job of keeping up with its insane display resolution. The Nexus 7 doesn't fare nearly as well. Tegra 3 manages to run most current games just fine, looking forward though the GPU will probably not age too well.

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Egypt HD (Offscreen 1080p)

The offscreen tests show us what everything is really capable of given equal footing, and here the mini looks a lot more middle-of-the-road.

The Egypt Classic test is a much lighter workload, as a result most of these devices hit 60 fps at their native resolution:

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Egypt Classic

Although Egypt HD is a bit overkill for today's games, Classic undershoots by a good amount. The offscreen test however does provide some guidance as to whether or not these devices would be able to hit 30 fps on an appreciably heavier workload:

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Egypt Classic (Offscreen 1080p)

The mini does a good job here, although the iPad 3/4 and iPhone 5 are clearly quicker.

Overall the mini isn't a performance slouch. If you thought the iPad 2 was fast enough, the mini won't dissappoint. Its GPU remains very good and should be able to handle both present and upcoming iOS games. That being said, if Apple remains true to its typical cadence and gives next year's mini an A6 SoC I think that will end up being a much better match of price/performance.

CPU Performance Battery Life and Charging
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  • jaydee - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    Keep in mind those FPS benchmarks don't take into account screen resolution. Nexus 7 is driving a higher resolution display, pushing 30% more pixels. Reply
  • Azuredragoon - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    The GPU test does take into account screen resolution with the offscreen 1080 tests Reply
  • lowlymarine - Thursday, November 22, 2012 - link

    GPU performance isn't anywhere near "better than even the newest Android-running hardware." It's identical to Exynos 4412's Mali400 MP4 and the ubiquitous MSM8960's Adreno 225, and markedly behind Exynos 5's Mali 604T and APQ8064's Adreno 320. Unless you were forgetting to look at the "offscreen" results?

    http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph6429/51693...
    Reply
  • DeciusStrabo - Thursday, November 22, 2012 - link

    1 GB RAM and the iPad Mini would be so much better, at basically no cost for Apple or in battery life. Reply
  • drx11 - Sunday, November 25, 2012 - link

    because more RAM is free and takes up absolutely no space or battery power? What are you smoking?

    So it looks like Apple did install more RAM - its invisible and takes up no space and does not use any energy/battery at all ... and well its not actually in the iPad mini because Apple has to deal with the pesky physics of the world.
    Reply
  • seanleeforever - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    few things here:

    nexus 7 actually fit in all my pant's pocket, it has portability of a phone as far as i am concerned.

    nexus 7 has usb host mode which can access your usb device.

    if i need to carry ipad mini in a bag, which i will have to, i might as well just get regular size ipad.

    just my 2 cents.
    Reply
  • seanleeforever - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    also, could we please have a nexus 7 and ipad mini display at the same size at least?
    the side by side thing you guys have shows a zoomed in nexus 7 vs zoomed out ipad mini, it shows the illusion that ipad mini displays much more content than nexus 7 while in reality the nexus 7 packs more pixel.
    Reply
  • Mumrik - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    Actually a pretty good point. Reply
  • EnzoFX - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    Is this not the default behavior of the Nexus? Everything in Chrome always looks so big to me, all of Android I think actually. The UI, the buttons, just are way too big. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    Done, updated :) Reply

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