Retina iPad mini’s A7 chip slightly underclocked versus iPad Air

four iPad mini retina display

In a surprise non-announcement, Apple’s iPad mini with Retina display has unexpectedly gone on sale this morning. For the time being, the device is available online for shipping or with in-store pick-up.

What you can’t do (yet) is just walk in and purchase one due to supply constraints and ongoing manufacturing woes as Apple is “working hard” to meet demand. Availability issues aside, what’s there to get excited about the device?

For The Loop‘s Jim Dalrymple, the answer is simple: the iPad mini with Retina display is a no-compromise play – thou shall no longer sacrifice clarity for portability as the tablet packs in the same Retina display like its bigger brother, the iPad Air.

In fact, the only difference between the two is the screen size as the new iPad mini runs the same A7 processor that debuted on the iPhone 5s and made its way into the iPad Air. And just how speedy is the Retina iPad mini vs. the iPhone 5s and iPad Air?

Here are the first benchmark scores…

Someone just ran Geekbench on their Retina iPad mini.

Long story short, it would appear that the Retina iPad mini’s A7 chip is slightly underclocked relative to the iPad Air’s 1.39GHz A7. Clocked at 1.29GHz, the 0.1GHz is not something that’d necessarily make a noticeable difference in terms of real life use.

Specifically, the iPad mini with Retina Display scores a 1390 in single-core tests versus the iPad Air’s score of a 1466. Likewise, the Retina iPad mini has a score of 2512 in multicore tests versus 2658 for the iPad Air.

Apple probably tweaked the frequency of the Retina iPad mini’s A7 chip to reduce its thermal output and save power needed for the Retina display, which requires more powerful LED backlight.

iPad mini 2 (Retina, Geekbench 001)

Note that the Retina iPad mini (the left column) is listed with the same 1GB of RAM as the iPad Air on the right. By comparison, the first-generation iPad mini with its A5 chip scored a 261 in single core tests and 496 in multicore performance.


For those wondering, the A7 inside the iPhone 5s is clocked at 1.3GHz and scored 1399 and 2523 on single and multicore test, respectively.

Bottom line: while the speed difference between the Retina iPad mini and iPad Air is negligible, those upgrading from the original iPad mini should see a world of difference in responsiveness, snappiness and overall speed – as in 5x times faster performance.

And unless you’re really, really into speeds and feeds, I can’t imagine how the 0.1GHz difference would dissuade anyone from getting this no-compromise iPad mini.

What’s your opinion? Are you glad that specs-wise the Retina iPad mini is essentially the same as the iPad Air?

You can easily benchmark your own iDevice using Primate Labs’s official Geekbench 3 iOS app, a 99-cent download optimized for the A7, 64-bit computing and iOS 7.