Apple iPad Air 2 GPU benchmarks are out: graphics neck and neck with Nexus 9's Tegra K1

After seeing the first preliminary results from the iPad Air 2 testing revealing that the Apple A8X uses a peculiar, tri-core CPU, today the company’s new tablet appeared on GFX Bench, showing off its capabilities as a gaming device.

Silicon battles have definitely heated up this fall as Apple’s A8X arrives with a whopping 3 billion transistors, and chances are that it is also one of the first to come with Imagination Technologies’ new PowerVR GX6650 GPU with six clusters (up from the four-cluster GX6450 on the A7).

The biggest rival on the GPU and gaming front on the Android side of the fence is the Tegra K1 chip with Kepler graphics, a chip used in the upcoming Google Nexus 9. Nvidia uses a different approach to graphics with Kepler so there is no use comparing the small, 192 shader cores directly with the large, hexa-cluster setup on the Img Tec’s GPU, but benchmarks do testify that performance-wise, the two are neck to neck. Take a look below:

*iPad Air 2, Nexus 9 results are preliminary

If the T-Rex HD component of GFXBench is demanding, then the Manhattan test is downright gruelling. It's a GPU-centric test that simulates an extremely graphically intensive gaming environment that is meant to push the GPU to the max. that simulates a graphically-intensive gaming environment on the screen. The results achieved are measured in frames per second, with more frames being better.

Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Google Nexus 9
Apple iPad Air
Apple iPad Air 2

*iPad Air 2, Nexus 9 results are preliminary

Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Google Nexus 9
Apple iPad Air
Apple iPad Air 2

*iPad Air 2, Nexus 9 results are preliminary

The T-Rex HD component of GFXBench is a demanding, GPU-centric test that simulates a graphically-intensive gaming environment on the screen. The results achieved are measured in frames per second, with more frames being better.

Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Google Nexus 9
Apple iPad Air
Apple iPad Air 2

*iPad Air 2, Nexus 9 results are preliminary

Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6
Google Nexus 9
Apple iPad Air
Apple iPad Air 2

Let’s also not forget that real-life performance is also dependant on software and here come APIs like Apple’s new Metal for graphics that promises to be up to 10x faster, and Nvidia’s CUDA. For all it’s worth, these two new chips are certainly setting a new standard for mobile graphics.

source: GFXBench via GSM Arena

Related phones

iPad Air 2
  • Display 9.7" 1536 x 2048 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A8X, Triple-core, 1500 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 7340 mAh



1. darkvadervip

Posts: 366; Member since: Dec 08, 2010

Oh the truth has came out! I give congrats to both but y'all going to hate on apple anyway

46. bendgate unregistered

I hate Apple but it did impressed me.

57. brrunopt

Posts: 742; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

Has it ??? nVidea Shield Tablet (32 bit version) = 30753 points iPad Air 2 = 21509 points

62. Ninetysix

Posts: 2965; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

67. brrunopt

Posts: 742; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

The A7's CPU can significantly outperform the A6 for other tasks with less complex data structures. However, we believe that benchmarking with complex tests that mirror real-world scenarios is more useful than measuring performance with simplistic low-level tests. Using a modified version of the Bullet Physics Library that optimized the data structures resulted in a 17% improvement in performance on the iPhone 5s, no change on the iPhone 5, and a slight decrease for some Qualcomm powered Android devices. ----------------------------- so basically you can get up to 17% more by optimizing it for the A7 ... witch will be a very small part , i'm not seeing developers rewriting their games to get that increase on just 1 chip; in real world it wont really matter But even graphics scores alone , still losses... : - nVidea Shield Tablet (32 bit version) Graphics test 1 - 209 FPS Graphics test 2 - 126 FPS - iPad Air 2 = 21509 points Graphics test 1- 147 FPS Graphics test 2- 127 FPS

68. Altsein

Posts: 12; Member since: Oct 23, 2014

The issue with IOS 3Dmark benchmarks is the physics portion of the test. Good thing we can look at things separately and exclude the physics portion from the test. K1 still manages to outperform the A8X in Graphics score.

74. rangoj

Posts: 46; Member since: Mar 29, 2014

This test needs to be optimized for CUDA core for real results - iPad on his side have really good optimization! I hope they will optimize benchmark for CUDA cores - and them, make test again! :)

2. Pattyface

Posts: 1658; Member since: Aug 20, 2014

Wow I'm pretty impressed actually! Can't wait to hear the people that said it would get crushed by k1

15. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Don't know who said that but even this is amazing for both. They should compare the image quality in both to see how equal they are as well. Plus, an Android chipset matching a PowerVR on iPads is quite amazing. It really hasn't happened this evenly before and I wouldn't be surprised if the Apple chipset turned out to be much larger than the K1 in this case too. Good times ahead if this is the new set of competitor chips to QC.

24. tury694

Posts: 167; Member since: Aug 25, 2014

That thing is a monstrosity. Too bad the software is garbage, but Apple is good at embarrassing people when it comes to mobile gpu benchmarks.

27. jcdz89

Posts: 78; Member since: Mar 01, 2013

Wow impressive. . But gsmarena article mentioned about nvdia sheild tab not N9. . ..

51. madmikepr

Posts: 138; Member since: Aug 09, 2011

That's Right even GsmArena Says "We're eagerly waiting to see how much better the 64-bit Tegra K1 will be than the 32-bit one in the Shield Tablet and Mi Pad 7.9. As it happens GFXBench lists a Nexus 9 unit (the HTC-made Google tablet with the 64-bit Tegra K1) with scores in both T-Rex and Manhattan but there's nothing in the Info screen to indicate this is legitimately the Nexus 9.

3. joseram695

Posts: 79; Member since: May 28, 2012

Impressive Apple. Coming from a android enthusiasts. I can't wait to try both the nexus 9 and air 2. I'll probably still stick with a nexus 9 tho, just because I like to be able to cutomize my tablet and not get stuck with the way it comes out the box

34. Zomer

Posts: 361; Member since: May 31, 2013

I always hear Android peeps talking about how you can customize everything, but they never seem to explain what they want to change?

41. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2275; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

Exactly!!! Homescreen and widgets. Oh and maybe a different launcher. LOL!!! Wasted time.

45. alrightihatepickingusernames

Posts: 474; Member since: Dec 29, 2013

Doesn't make a big difference to you but Android users (like myself) see grid after grid of squares as pretty ugly.

44. Jobayer

Posts: 167; Member since: Feb 22, 2013

Stock android is boring for me (so is iOS), so I change to custom roms .

55. Joulukas

Posts: 115; Member since: Jun 05, 2013

My phone is crucial for me fo every day tasks, when i open it up i need tons of information then and there, not open up apps to get after half an hour of browsing my phone. Sadly only phone to give me that option, is sadly android.

4. Jason2k13

Posts: 1469; Member since: Mar 28, 2013

technology is going so fast, i feel like benchmark results is just used for fanboys to hate on each other and other brands. I dont think anybody will see the difference with real life performance on any of those phones and tablets.

5. Felix_Gatto

Posts: 942; Member since: Jul 03, 2013

It's not surprising, the A8X is more advanced in manufacturing process than the K1 (20nm vs 28nm). Nvidia have made a mistake again, they should design the Denver variant of K1 in 20nm.

17. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

They will most likely, but the fact that they match it right now with a larger process means the future is looking pretty damn good for the Android crowd.

21. Felix_Gatto

Posts: 942; Member since: Jul 03, 2013

It's not about performance alone but also power consumption, both of A8X CPU & GPU should have less power to draw than K1 while outperform it in perfomance. So, the conclusion is: A8X > K1. Nvidia will never made to defeat Apple as they are still trailing in 28nm.

32. TylerGrunter

Posts: 1544; Member since: Feb 16, 2012

You can see it the other way around: they are neck to neck even when they are one node apart, so the future is very bright for Nvidia and Tegra.

42. synot

Posts: 277; Member since: Sep 14, 2012

This article is posted with wrong information.The test was not done by a tech site but some individual sent in the information and the chip was not the K1 Denver used in the Nexus 9 but the one used in the Xiaomi Mi Pad which is the Nvidia Shield and the chip was also 32 bit and not the 64 bit in the Nexus 9.

53. renz4

Posts: 319; Member since: Aug 10, 2013

i don't think that's a mistake for nvidia part. initially denver wasn't supposed to come out until gen 6 tegra (2015 tegra). but somehow nvidia want denver out in developer hands early instead of waiting until 2015. if they wait for 20nm they might not able to win nexus 9 deal.

6. UglyFrank

Posts: 2194; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

NVidia is still trailing as they are on a 28nm process

43. synot

Posts: 277; Member since: Sep 14, 2012

This test was not done by Phone arena but unconfirmed information sent by unknown individual and the chip tested was not the one in the Nexus 9 but Nvidia Shield used in the Xiaomi Mi Pad.

7. hortizano

Posts: 294; Member since: May 22, 2013

Well played Apple. You win this round. Anyhow I can't get an iPad because of my "condition"... My loss I guess.. Long Live Nexus!!

25. Felix_Gatto

Posts: 942; Member since: Jul 03, 2013

Don't forget, Samsung is still have their trump card : The Exynos 5433. Apple is not yet win. Sadly, Snapdragon have become dominant in Samsung's flagship line since the S5. This is the first time Exynos has become a minority in Samsung's flagship line.

33. TylerGrunter

Posts: 1544; Member since: Feb 16, 2012

Exynos 5433 is worse in GPU and CPU than Tegra K1, just saying. No much hope there.

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