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Monday, November 05, 2012, 04:08 pm PT (07:08 pm ET)

Review: Apple's fourth-generation iPad



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Performance



This is where the fourth-generation iPad excels. The new A6X processor is a monster, doubling the performance of the A5X chip found in the third-generation iPad — a device that was already one of the fastest on the market.

The latest iPad has the same 1 gigabyte of RAM, but its ARMv7 processor is clocked at 1.39 gigahertz, outpacing the 1-gigahertz processor in the third-generation iPad.

For a raw head-to-head comparison, we used the official Geekbench application for iOS. The new fourth-generation iPad and its A6X CPU earned an overall score of 1,768, which more than doubled the 744 score earned by the third-generation iPad and its A5X CPU.

Performance


Performance


For a real-world test, we did a side-by-side comparison of the fourth-generation iPad with its predecessor. We launched Epic's Infinity Blade II simultaneously on both devices, with each loading the same game save state from iCloud. The fourth-generation iPad was significantly faster, loading the level almost immediately, while the third-generation iPad sat for more than five seconds at a blank black screen.

The power of the A6X chip was not quite as evident when we tested Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto III. Load times were slightly faster when creating a new game, but the difference was not as pronounced as with the more graphically taxing Infinity Blade II.

The A6X chip also helps to boost website rendering on the Safari browser. In general, we found that sites loaded between a half-second and full second faster on the latest iPad than they did on the third-generation model.

The performance benefits with the new iPad can also be seen in boot-up time. Here, the fourth-generation iPad was again significantly faster than the third-generation model.

Even with this significant performance upgrade, Apple advertises that the fourth-generation iPad still gets up to 10 hours of surfing the Web on Wi-Fi, watching video or listening to music. Our tests found this to be the truth, as we achieved three days of moderate use before a recharge was needed, about in line with our use of the third-generation iPad.