Benchmarks put iPad Pro’s A9X chip roughly on par with Intel’s 2013 Core i5

By , Nov 12, 2015

ipad pro a9x

The powerful Apple-designed ‘A9X’ system-on-a-chip—the engine that drives the iPad Pro—outperforms its predecessor inside the iPad Air 2 by a large margin while offering approximately the same performance as Intel’s Core i5 processor for notebooks from 2013.

In terms of graphics, the iPad Pro still manages to outperform the fluidness of the iPad Air 2 despite having more pixels on a bigger screen. That’s the gist of a series of synthetic benchmarks that ArsTechnica ran as part of its massive review of the iPad Pro in order to determine just how speedy Apple’s new tablet is.

No tablet can touch iPad Pro in CPU speed

Apple does not divulge details about its in-house designed chips for competitive reasons, but ArsTechnica suspects the A9X package includes a dual-core processor with Apple’s custom-designed “Twister” CPU architecture.

Each CPU core is clocked at about 2.25 GHz, a significant increase over a 1.84 GHz CPU inside the A8X system-on-a-chip that powers the iPad Air 2.

By the way, the A8X has three CPU cores so the iPad Pro’s benchmark scores achieved with only two CPU cores are even more fascinating. In addition, the A9X maintains its high speed without CPU throttling, unlike the A9 inside the iPhone 6s.

iPad Pro Geekbench single core ArsTechnica 002

As you can see, the A9X scored 3,233 on Geekbench’s single-core tests versus 1,831 for the iPad Air 2 and 2,537 for the iPhone 6S.

“The A9X can’t quite get up to the level of a modern U-series Core i5 based on Broadwell or Skylake, but it’s roughly on the same level as a Core i5 from 2013 or so and it’s well ahead of Core M,” Ars writes.

Fast, fluid graphics

As for the graphics, the OpenGL version of the GFXBench benchmark shows the A9X beating not only all previous iOS devices but also Intel’s Iris Pro 5200 graphics powering the 15-inch MacBook Pro and the Intel HD 520 in the Surface Pro 4.

iPad Pro gaming lifestyle 003

Most of that power is used to driving the iPad Pro’s higher-resolution screen. Make no mistake, the iPad Pro is still faster than the iPad Air 2 in terms of graphics. It’s just that GPU results for the A8X and A9X “will look more-or-less the same” because each is tested on its tablet’s native resolution (iPad Air: 2,048 x 1,536; iPad Pro: 2,732 x 2,048).

iPad Pro GfxBench ArsTechnica 001

Wrapping it up

Ars notes that even though the iPad Pro doesn’t look all that much faster than the iPad Air 2 in multi-core CPU tests, “the fact that it’s doing that work with two cores means the single-core scores are drastically higher.”

“There’s no hesitation while manipulating multiple apps at once in Split Screen mode or jumping between apps,“ the site writes.

“We’re looking at MacBook Air-class CPU performance and MacBook Pro-class GPU performance, so the iPad Pro ought to be able to handle more multitasking features with aplomb as Apple sees fit to add them.”

iPad Pro Geekbench dual core ArsTechnica 002

Unlike Android chips that usually achieve speed gains by increasing clock frequency and adding more CPU cores, Apple’s 100 percent custom CPU architecture designs have allowed its A-series chips  to outperform Android chipsets with just two CPU cores.

While high multi-core CPU performance is always appreciated, the real-world effects of multiple CPU cores are far less obvious because a vast majority of mobile applications just aren’t optimized for multi-core computing.

Despite the faster chip, the bigger screen and more pixels, the iPad Pro is roughly in line with the other iPads in terms of battery life.

“Apple has become a fascinating chip company,” concludes Ars.

Source: ArsTechnica

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  • Jackson Grong

    Missing from the 6S:
    – Hey Siri
    – 5MP front camera (only 1.2)
    – Force Touch
    Also I want to poin out that a MacBook Retina 15′ from 2012 has 1100 geek bench score and costs 1000$ second-hand in a like new condition.

    • -hey siri, not needed at all, using the home button to activate is fine.
      -5MP cam, agreed it should be higher res on a device with this price.
      -Force touch, meh more of a gimmick right now. once jailbroken it most likely would be easily enabled.

      For now its not a Macbook replacement and Apple makes it clear that they don’t want it to be. Getting a macbook would put you better off if you don’t care about spending more on the pencil to use the Pros best feature.

      • George

        Why did Tim.cook say “why would anyone buy a pc anymore?” They do think this is a laptop replacement.

      • N&LH

        I think once more pro apps will be available then yep. but not for everyone

      • You’re mistaken, They said why would anyone buy a PC not a Macbook, They don’t want to stop selling MacBooks in favor of this iPad.

      • Manuel Molina

        But as much as they want this, it isn’t. Tablet’s aren’t selling as much as people would like for them to sell. A lot of people are upgrading their phones yearly, a lot of people are not updating their tablets yearly. The pad pro is stronger, but sometimes people prefer a laptop.

      • George

        I think the more and more normal people realize how much an iPhone actually costs them they will not be updating every year. Look how fast apple had to react to making a payment plan this year.

      • Kelby Bricker

        the iPhone 6s does have all those features what are you talking about

  • TechnoBuff

    A shame that this product with its decent processor is weakened by its OS and lack of other features by Apple
    More so key features in IOS 9 like Hey Siri, 3D touch etc were not added, so that Apple can add them as REVOLUTIONARY features in its second generation.

    • Even with new features the iPad Pro is still just a gigantic iPod. It’s great that it’s got a powerful CPU and GPU but you still need a Mac to develop for it or to sideload apps on to it.

      • TechnoBuff

        I agree. it is a decent machine hardware wise but the OS is severely crippled, Just funny how Tim Cook is quick to criticize Microsoft.
        It is funny that the icon arrangement is still the same as an ipod, its laughable really.

      • Rowan09

        Yes and that’s why I think putting terminal, finder, etc on the Pro would be great. I don’t necessarily need an OSX hybrid because OSX is not touch optimized and never is Windows hence hybrids not that popular.

      • Agreed. iOS with Terminal, Finder, sideloading (like on OS X where you have to manually trust an application installed from outside of the AppStore to shut Gatekeeper up) and root access would be amazing. Perhaps we’ll get this by iOS 50 😉

      • charles greenwood

        i doubt theyll ever let you sideload apps or give this thing the ability to do more than 2 things at a time. but itll be jailbroken and thatll probably do it.

      • George

        Windows is not optimized for touch? Lol.

      • Rowan09

        Nope have you tried it? How many touchscreen apps do they have?

      • Orion4tech

        Quite a lot of apps.
        Microsoft started optimizing Windows for touch since Windows 7.
        OSX is not optimized for touch and there isn’t a touch enabled OSX computer.

      • Rowan09

        Apps that’s needs to get a Surface Pro to accomplish tasks or just a Surface? My point is people say we need a hybrid device and then make specific apps for such device. If I can get the same apps on a Surface that I can on the Pro, it’s not much of a difference apps wise making it less of a NEED for a hybrid.

      • Orion4tech

        Surface Pro has apps and also has applications, I don’t understand why is this so confusing.
        Quite frankly I don’t understand what you want to say, learn to express yourself like a normal human.

      • Rowan09

        There’s no need for a hybrid like the Surface Pro right now and it’s clear and evident. It’s no different than someone purchasing an iPad it’s extra. If the Surface Pro was the perfect laptop and tablet why release the Surface Book? If you are using AutoCAD you need a large screen and that’s why they did increase the size of the Surface Pro as well. I have no issue with the device especially since I don’t own one, but people just don’t have a need for a laptop and definitely a hybrid much.

      • Orion4tech

        “There’s no need for a hybrid like the Surface Pro right now and it’s clear and evident.”

        Says who exactly?You? don’t make me laugh.
        When will it be the right time? when Apple says so?
        Who exactly said Surface Pro is the perfect laptop?? Nobody.

        But what do people need? A big and overpriced ipad? That must be the “perfect laptop”right there.
        You have no point, just babbling some nonsense.

      • Rowan09

        Who said the iPAd or iPad Pro was a laptop that’s exactly my point? People are buying the iPad even Galaxy Tabs over the Surface and Surface Pro. Give me sales figures backing up the need for a hybrid? Microsoft said the Surface was a perfect laptop replacement and is comparing it to the MacBook Pro not the iPad anymore. If the Surface was all I need since it was originally released, why the Surface Book? This has nothing to do with Apple. If Apple released a hybrid it would be replacing the MacBook, etc so it will fill a slot. Microsoft just starting making its own laptops, tablets, etc so there are other competitors since Windows is on other laptops, etc.

      • Orion4tech

        Well Cook said the ipad pro can replace a PC.
        The ipad pro definitely is no laptop of any sorts, I just made a joke.

        The Surface Pro is not meant for the same people that spend half the money on a smaller tablet that runs a mobile OS, it’s such a simple thing is funny I have to explain it. So no the ipad doesn’t steal costumers from the Surface.
        Like I said sales are increasing. Going by your broken logic I can say that nobody wants tablets because sales are going down and down under for multiple quarters now.
        And of course Microsoft compares it’s Surface to the MBP it’s logical to do so.

        HP, Dell and Lenovo will also be making Surface Pro clones. The interest for this kind of devices is growing there is no denying that. Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book were very well received by the tech media and most importantly by general people expressing their opinion.

      • Rowan09

        There are tons of tablets running full Windows made by HP, Lenovo, etc. I read what Cook said and off course he would but the key word was “possible”. It’s possible for an iPad to replace a Mac as well depending on the user. How do you know sales are increasing with no figures? I never said and will never say the Surface Pro sucks especially since I don’t own one. I said and will continue until proven wrong, I don’t believe people want a hybrid tablet right now, it’s just not needed for a regular consumer or a professional. It might be a want but definitely not a need. Time may change this perception but now is not the time. Regardless I have no issue with Microsoft doing what they need to because it’s a smart move to make a product and the OS.

      • Tracey Cross

        I returned my surface pro 4 for the iPad pro. I hated the surface. It had awful battery life. Just 7 hours. I’m getting 14 hours on the iPad. The surface used to heat up in one corner with heavy use. I have always wanted an iPad with a bigger screen even before the pro was released. So do quite a lot of people I know. The home screen does need revamping to set the iPad pro apart from other iOS devices but I think that will happen soon. People are still using the first gen iPad today so I think my pro will last me a few years.

      • The BS claimer clearly hasn’t heard of the 669k+ tablet optimized apps on the Windows Store (http://goo. gl/JTDqto) after just 3 years, which is pretty close to the 725k+ ipad optimized apps on the App Store (http://goo. gl/24fdw) after 5 years…

      • If you can read, that 669k+ is for “phones, desktops, and tablets,” according to Microsoft.

        The 725k+ you are comparing it to, is just iOS devices. So handhelds and tablets.

        And that’s it.

        All of a sudden that’s worth a damn lot more isn’t it?

        So, BS claimer is you?

      • Shinonuke

        I am still a bit confused as to why a desktop class OS is needed on a tablet if it’s able to do what the desktop can do? Does have sometime to do with easier application installation – like installing desktop class apps on it so you don’t have to buy a new one?

      • A desktop OS is designed to get stuff done. While you can get stuff done on an iPad it’s quite often limited to note taking and productivity applications. iOS is mostly for content consumption and fails miserably at doing any serious work. Also yes, as you’ve rightfully pointed out a ton of good desktop class apps already exist where as iOS is lacking considerably in the app market for what I’ll call prosumers. Adapting iOS for touch or building a hybrid OS that’s OS X when docked with a keyboard and iOS without a keyboard (with applications switching to adapt to the different paradigms) would be much better than the iPad Pro we currently have.

      • Shinonuke

        Thanks for explaining it. I think that the surface book is a better buy given that it can be transform into a tablet. Also it turns into a powerful laptop with integrated graphics card when docked. The keyboard also have an extra battery pack built.

        Considering cost…better wait for a few generations of the iPad pro before getting it as Apple tends to slowly roll out the techs

      • Rowan09

        It’s also 1.5 times the price. Not everything with a touchscreen should be compared.

      • Shinonuke

        It should be compared if we are considering these touch screen units for work. The value of each product is determined by how much of it is usable. With the surface, applications can be reused if the user already own the applications. In that instance, the cost of the original product makes it more affordable. Not sure of AutoCAD is optimized for the surface, but if it is then it’s worth buying the surface book.

      • Rowan09

        Why not just buy any laptop for a fraction of the price though? If you’re purchasing an app from the Windows store can’t I use it on another Windows device? People saying for work as if it’s the only option.

      • Shinonuke

        Because life doesn’t work that way. Sometime, versatility, convenience, and/or comfort is needed; therefore, there are a wide variety of products. Your augments can be applied to everything. Why buy a muscle car when an economic car can do the same for a fraction of the price? Why buy expensive steak at a steakhouse instead of Denny’s, both essentially fills you up, for a fraction of the price?

      • Rowan09

        The problem is parts besides maybe the screen on the Pro can be bought on any laptop for a fraction of the price. I still cannot justify paying so much for a small laptop but that’s just me.

      • Shinonuke

        That’s just it. You can’t justify the price for the product because you don’t have the need like others do. If you’ll able to adapt what you have for any given situations then all power to you. It goes back to my previous responds that it’s the need of the user. The surface book is perfect for me. It does not necessarily be right for you; therefore, you can’t justify it. I can’t justify why I would buy a Rolls Royce that cost more than my house, but others can. It doesn’t mean that the product is not needed. You can’t justify buying a giant MRI machine to take brain scans because you don’t use it often but a hospital can.

      • Rowan09

        Why is it perfect for you? Does it do something the hundreds of other Windows laptops can’t do? I’m not trying to convince you of purchasing something else just showing there are many other options with Windows, but if Apple made the iPad Pro a hybrid it would cut into the sales of the MacBook/Pro and I don’t believe they want to do that right now.

      • Shinonuke

        Actually, the surface pro fits the bill but it’s just nice to have the keyboard with the built in battery for charging. iPad doesn’t cut it when it comes to the computer works that I do. It is not as accurate. Now I have not tried the iPad pro for my line of work but installing a window based proxy on the surface pro is a lot easier than the iPad. With the surface pro, accuracy of the pen and tablet makes the work a lot more smooth and convience which saves me a bit of time. Now with a laptop, it is a clutter and work is not as convience. I don’t want to give out too much information about my line of work but it is what it is. Save me time, convience, and preference makes the product worth it. Makes work a little less stress.

      • Rowan09

        Oh ok cool.

      • “A desktop OS is designed to get stuff done”

        Looking forward to the evidence of your claim.

        “While you can get stuff done on an iPad it’s quite often limited to note taking and productivity applications”

        No, it isn’t. I’m assuming you haven’t used one.

        “iOS is mostly for content consumption and fails miserably at doing any serious work”

        I’ve replaced my laptop for both work and school. I guess I’m not a serious user because I’m only studying Information Assurance and Security (Bachelors degree, 1 year left), and work for a major Telecom company as an Information Security Engineer?

        “Also yes, as you’ve rightfully pointed out a ton of good desktop class apps already exist where as iOS is lacking considerably in the app market for what I’ll call prosumers.”

        Have you even looked at the apps? I’m considered a ‘prosumer” and have been quite comfortable using apps that are available. You come across as someone reciting what they have read instead of actually trying it out.

        “would be much better than the iPad Pro we currently have”

        Not really, not if you use the product. I went with the 9.7″ pro. Couple that with the software I use (Pixelmator, ProCreate, Concepts, Graphic, Garage Band, AudioBus, djay Pro, Chronicle, Pages, Numbers, KeyNote, Gourmet, Bodyweight, Airport, Server Admin, 1Password, OmniGraffle, OmniPlan, TimeLine 3D, Ulysses, Scrivener, Calendar…) and it’s got as much “Pro” status as any “Pro” device does.

        Adapting OS X for touch is like saying, “let’s adapt an engine you find in a rig for a commuter car.” What I need is enough power to get the job done. Being more efficient getting the job done does not mean I’m less capable.

        And that is the heart of your argument. You have confused efficiency with capability.

        The iPad Pro benchmarks as high as a 2013 i5, and it does it on 20% of the electricity. The iPad Pro hardware does the same stuff 500% more efficiently while taking up 50% less space and being 200% lighter, with as good a resolution….

        And MORE capability. 2013 i5 with built in LTE? Where? With 10 to 14 hours of use? Where?

        Those things matters.

      • iPhoneWINS


    • iPhoneWINS

      yup fail

  • Ashy Larry

    Apple has turned into a fantastic chip company. Now it’s time to open up iOS to take full advantage. Just my humble opinion.

    • iPhoneWINS

      they won’t

    • Rowan09

      They will when Microsoft opens up office and Google google services, which is never.

    • hydzior

      This chip is only good in benchmarks and i dont think that it’ll manage to run full OS and real multitasking.

      • Interesting, I guess we can look back and say, “Sorry, you’re wrong.”

    • rockdude094

      Part of the reason why it works so well is b/c they have total control over each part of the os

  • Gabriel Mira Gon

    The multicore part you wrote is wrong. Go study before writing an article.

    • Source?

    • Niclas

      Actually, no. The mobile apps are in their nature “low core number hungry”. Most apps never use more than a single core. Even on android.
      There isn’t a need for many cores really. 2-3 is plenty sufficient.

  • Joe_HTH

    LOL! Let’s get one thing straight. The A9X doesn’t come close to touching Intel’s i5 chip. If you are stupid enough to believe a 4.5 watt ARM chip has the same performance as a 15 watt Core i5, then you are dumber than a box of rocks.

    Geekbench is a mobile benchmarking program made for mobile chips, running on mobile operating systems. It is completely useless at comparing an ARM chip with an x86 Intel chip. It also favors the ARM chip in benchmark comparisons due to Secure Hash Algorithm.

    Those benchmarks are bullshit.

    • So when we have two devices, do the same thing, in the same amount of time side by side, and they both do it, but one does it with less electricity…

      That makes the benchmark, bullshit…

      Even though it’s mathematically demonstrable as THE SAME THING?

      Oh… there’s bullshit.

      Keep slingin it pardner…

      ARM (Advanced RISC Machines) use a MUCH more modern and efficient architecture than the CISC based CPU’s Intel makes and sells.

      I guess if you knew anything about hardware, or electronics, you’d know that.

      So let’s get one thing straight. The A9X does an amazing job of providing 2013’s i5 power in a smaller, and more efficient package.

  • Abbas Mustafa Bhaiji

    I would buy it with OSX

  • X-47B

    Only an idiot compares Geekbench score across 2 different ISA’s.

  • You can’t run VMWare, VirtualBox, or Parallels because it’s a different architecture. The architecture of the iPad Pro runs an OS that is more efficient and has less “cruft.” So, I can run a 64 bit CPU, without multi threading, and only 2GB of RAM and compare it to an i5 for 2013. In order to run Parallels you NEED more than 2GB, and then you still have to run the host OS.

    That said I manipulate and use my VM’s just fine. I use a client for Parallels on my iOS device and run the VM’s on my server at home. I use a VPN to accesss them when I am not at home. So problem solved for me on that front.

    Everything -I- use terminal for I can do with SecureCRT from my iPad. BTW, everything that I do in terminal in OS X can NOT be done at CMD.exe.

    Compiling on the iPad. You’re right, they don’t have XCode for iPad. I guess as long as you get your coding done in 4 hours…

    See, I need more than 4 hours of use. A work day for me is 8 hours long. So how can a Surface be considered professional when it can only last 4 hours on a battery? Full time work for me is an 8 hour day minimum. I can only imagine the embarrassment “Yeah, I’m out of power…. uh sorry.” “Yeah, I went someplace that had no WiFi…. Sorry.” LTE exists in the iPad for a reason 🙂

    At the end of the day my expectations for “Professional” and “Portable” were unmet by the Surface. If professional is working 4 hour days in WiFi coverage where you’re from, more power to you (well, I guess half as much in this case)…

    • It’s great that you’ve found a workflow that works for you (which is all that matters at the end of the day) but I can’t imagine ever using an iPad Pro the way you do. Occasionally I find myself in places with spotty Internet connection or none at all. Having all my work on a remote server would mean I’d be unable to access any of it. As far as battery life goes on laptops and devices such as the Surface, I can see where your coming from, but in my opinion, the benefits of running a full desktop operating system outweigh the advantages of running a mobile operating system on a device such as the iPad Pro. With power banks / battery packs, etc battery life isn’t exactly a major concern not to mention nearly every coffee shop has a plug socket of some sort.

      I’d like to like the iPad Pro, I really would but as it stands I find it completely incompatible with the sort of work I do. Who knows perhaps a few years down the line I’ll re-evaluate and things will be different. As it stands though the iPad Pro has clear limitations that need to be solved.

      • Well, with no anomosity I wish you happy computing. Maybe someday the iPad will suit your needs. And until then, it sounds like you have a tool that does.