A5X: Most Powerful Tablet GPU to Date

When the third generation iPad was announced on March 7th, Tim Cook claimed that the A5X chip in the tablet was able to outperform the Nvidia quad-core Tegra 3 GPU (graphics processing unit) four times over.

Now that the iPad has been released into the wild, those claims can finally be tested. How will the new iPad actually perform when it is pitted against the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime, which spots a Tegra 3 chip?

Surprisingly well, actually. Using the GLBenchmark 2.1, which has versions for both Android and iOS, the new iPad scored much higher than the Transformer Prime. With the Egypt Standard test (which displays a 3D animation of ancient Egypt) the new iPad processed 6718 frames at 60 frames-per-second (fps). The Transformer Prime processed just 5,939 frames at 53 fps.

In the Geometric test, designed to measure low-level shader performance, the iPad was the star, processing 7,530,524 frames at a rate of 57 fps while the Transformer Prime lagged far behind, processing 3,523,926 at 27 fps. The Fill test was similar (measures texturing speed) and the iPad processed 1.98 billion textels per second compared to the Transformer Prime’s 404.61 million.

Using Geekbench, which is benchmarking software that measures raw processing power instead of graphics power, the Tegra 3 managed to beat out the iPad with a score of 1,561 to the A5X’s 692. The Transformer Prime also scored higher on the floating point and memory subtests, but was bested by the iPad on the stream subset.

Using browser benchmark Sunspider, which is a Javascript rendering test, the iPad completed it in 1810 milliseconds, while the Prime took 2216 milliseconds.

The site that performed these benchmarks, Laptop Mag, also did a subjective test of the gaming performance of both tablets, and noted that the images looked “sharper and more colorful on the new iPad’s Retina display.” However, the Tegra 3 was able to render extra processor-intensive images and objects that were missing from the iPad. For example, in Riptide there were more reflections on the water and better splashing effects.

While it might seem like the Tegra 3 was the winner during the subjective test, neither game tested by Laptop Mag had been optimized for the iPad’s new processor, so it’s entirely possible that it, too, is capable of those extra effects over its iPad 2 predecessor. Check out the video to see their comments on each game – it seems like the new iPad, overall, won out on account of its crisp display, rather than its performance power.

About Juli: Contact me via Twitter: @julipuli

  • nd1090

    Wrong title to this article. The Tegra CPU is without doubt much faster than the A5X – given the 4 cores – from the very same article:

    When it came to the CPU, the Transformer Prime blew its competition away, more than doubling the iPad’s score in Laptop‘s Geekbench test

    Where the A5X is better sometimes is in GPU performance. Sunspider is a bad measure for CPU performance – it is much more about browser performance, not CPU performance. One suspects that once Chrome for Android gets out of Beta – the very same benchmark on the same Tegra tablet will be much faster, this is really a measure of Android’s antique browser vs. Safari. 

    Read more: http://techland.time.com/2012/03/19/new-ipad-a5x-performance/#ixzz1pbMco0lQ 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-G-Camp/1812519877 James G. Camp

    nVidia has pretty much conceded that the tablets are about gpu. What surprises me, nVidia has a 12 core gpu, the Apple 4 cores. Both the A5X & Tegra3 are Cortex A9 based, so I’m thinking that until you start to use all quad cores, you won’t see that big a difference. In a way it’s like the Atom cpu’s, there was little or no performance differences, mostly features & 64 bit capability up from 32 bit.

    Apple still has the quickest pad because of the gpu. But I would put money on nVidia to take aim at that, it’s supposedly what they do. If the A4, A5 & A5X have such great gpu’s, they oughta be making Apple Video cards ?