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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  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    That's not exactly true, the iPad mini was launched nearly a month ago, our review of it is very late. In the interim I have published articles on Intel's SSD DC S3700, Microsoft's Surface, the Titan Supercomputer at ORNL and Samsung's Cortex A15 based Chromebook.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Alucard291 - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    No offence but you could have just said - "same soc as ipad 2. Same display as ipad 2 except smaller so pixels are slightly denser Its lighter than ipad 2 and has the same form factor but smaller."

    There I wrote the review for you.

    Instead you guys put out this monster - showing tests? Of the same soc? Again?

    Well one more review site feels the need to get some apple advertisement revenue.

    And I approve how you compared it to mini cooper. Yeah great comparison especially since mini cooper is a car for people who can't afford a decent one but really want to seem cool...

    So yeah. What makes this product great is the apple logo on the back. As usual.
    Reply
  • Jakers Ugly Brother - Thursday, November 22, 2012 - link

    It would be so nice to read one single tech thread without running into a paranoid "Oh noes another site has sold out to Apple" screed like yours.

    But no, you haters have to spread your sick, sad bile across everything you see.

    Thanks for lowering the signal to noise ratio of yet another comment section.
    Reply
  • ltcommanderdata - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    Anandtech's Microsoft Surface review was up 3 days before the device was on sale and their Windows RT review was up the day before it shipped. The iPad Mini review comes 18 days after the tablet went on sale and they aren't or haven't yet done an iPad 4 (18+ days) or 5th gen iPod Touch (36+ days) review. From this you conclude that Apple reviews get done right away and Microsoft reviews take forever?

    Ryan already explained why they aren't doing a massive review for Windows 8 and are doing more focused articles instead, which doesn't seem unreasonable.
    Reply
  • blacksamurai30 - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    I don't see the reasoning behind your dissapointment. I've been reading for years (despite my only just making an account haha); they are easily the most informative on the internet. The crew here does stellar indepth reviews for pretty much everything. Don't use your own personal misgivings against Apple in an attempt to discredit the hard work that goes into reviewing these products, or the invaluable service it does for the internet and consumer knowledge.

    Keep up the good work Anandtech!
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    Wow, honest mistake, let me reshoot that real quick. I shot that before I left for SC12 and didn't catch it in my final assembly of the article today.

    If anything, the photo I posted is contrary to the point I make in the text above. Things are bigger on the iPad compared to the Nexus 7.

    Give me a few and I'll get a better photo up.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Kepe - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    The same thing happened in two pictures. On pages 4 and 11, although that's the same image file.

    http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/tablets/apple/...
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    Fixed in both places. Thank you! Reply
  • seanleeforever - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    and now you have to update the tags..

    for example. the last page, ipad mini is actually on the right. i am sure no one would mistaken those two, but still.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    Fixed. The black mini wasn't mine so I no longer had that for comparison, had to use the white model for this shot - but I hope this better shows the difference. I also exported the full size shots at 2800px wide if you want to get a better, up-close look between the N7 and iPad mini.

    I included two shots on the display page, but here's a link to all 4 I just took:

    http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/tablets/apple/...
    http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/tablets/apple/...
    http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/tablets/apple/...
    http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/tablets/apple/...

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply

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