Top 5 tablets for high-performance mobile gaming

Thinking about buying a tablet for high-performance gaming? You've come to the right place, as this article discusses the top 5 tablets for mobile gaming fans.

Before diving into our picks, it's best if we mention the elements that matter the most when it comes to gaming tablets. Probably the most important element is the app selection, as there's really no point in buying a gaming tablet that lacks a wide selection of games. Second, performance is a critical factor, as lags and stutters just won't cut it on a gaming tablet. Also very important are the quality of the display, since this is what matters towards an immersive experience. Last but not least, gaming tablets should be as compact as possible.

Performance is quite expensive in the tablet market, so don't expect any of the best gaming tablets to be affordable.

Apple iPad Air 2

In many ways, the best tablet for gaming that money can currently purchase is the Apple iPad Air 2. While Android has certainly gained a lot of traction with mobile game developers over the past few years, most mobile games are still developed with an "iOS first" approach. Furthermore, the iPad Air 2 also comes with sufficient processing power to handle any game you throw at it, while the display and the build quality are also top-notch. 

The iPad Air 2 is not the least compact tablet in this list (240 x 169.5 mm), nor is it the lightest (437 grams). On the upside, the Air 2 measures only 6.1mm, and its aluminum build does not disappoint.

The Apple iPad Air 2 specifications include a 9.7-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1536 by 2048 pixels at an aspect ratio of 4:3 and a pixel density of 264 per inch, a triple-core Apple A8X processor paired with 2GB of RAM and a custom-designed Apple/PVR GXA6850 GPU. Here's how these specs translate into benchmarks:

AnTuTu Higher is better GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Apple iPad Air 2 62856

Google Nexus 9

Over in the Android ecosystem, one of the most powerful tablet in terms of processing power is the HTC-made Google Nexus 9. While some complain about bugs and errors in the OS, most games run silky-smooth on the Nexus 9. Furthermore, the Android 5.1 Lollipop has now started spreading to the Nexus 9, allegedly solving most of the bugs that users reported.

The display is an 8.9-inch IPS panel running at a resolution of 1536 by 2048 pixels at a 4:3 aspect ratio and a PPI of 281. The Nexus 9 measures 228.2 x 153.7 x 8 mm and tips the scales at 425 grams.

The Nexus 9 draws its processing power from what benchmarks point out to as the fastest chipset available on any Android tablet, the 64-bit Nvidia Tegra K1 (Denver) chipset. The chip integrates a dual-core 2.3 GHz Denver processor and a Kepler DX1 GPU. Paired with 2GB of RAM, the 64-bit Tegra K1 offers great 3D performance.

AnTuTu Higher is better GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Google Nexus 9 56836

Nvidia Tablet Shield

Unlike the other tablets in this list, which are designed to be all-rounders, the Android-based Nvidia Shield Tablet is designed with mobile games in mind. Aside from being able to play Android games, the Nvidia Shield Tablet also allows you to stream games from PCs that integrate compatible Nvidia GeForce graphics cards, and also lets users stream games from the cloud using the Nvidia Grid system.

This Android-based tablet comes with an 8-inch IPS display running at 1200 by 1920 pixels at a 16:10 aspect ratio and a PPI of 283. The Shield Tablet measures 221 x 126 x 9.2 mm and weighs 380 grams.

The heart of the Nvidia Shield Tablet is a 32-bit Nvidia Tegra K1, a chip that integrates 2.2GHz quad-core Cortex-A15 processor and a 192-core ULP GeForce Kepler GPU. We have yet to benchmark the Shield Tablet ourselves, but external benchmark tests prove that the Shield Tablet comes with only slightly less processing power than the HTC Nexus 9. Many GPU tests show that the Shield Tablet actually performs better than the Nexus 9 in on-screen tests, which could be largely attributed to the fact that the 32-bit Tegra K1 has to push about 38% less pixels on the Shield Tablet.

Dell Venue 8 7000

If you're looking for a gaming tablet with a unique design design, a high-resolution display and an industrial build quality, the Dell Venue 8 7000 is one to consider. The display is an 8.4 OLED panel with a resolution of 1600 by 2560 pixels at an aspect ratio of 4:3 and a PPI of 359. The Venue 8 7000 is about 6.1mm thick, and it's dimensions are quite compact for an 8.4-inch tablet.

The brains of the Dell Venue 8 7000 is an Intel Atom Z3580, a mobile chip that features a 2.3GHz quad-core CPU and a PowerVR G6430 GPU. Benchmarks show that the GPU does a great job at keeping up with the high-resolution display, but it's worth mentioning that the numbers decrease by quite a bit compared to the iPad Air 2, the Shield Tablet, or the Neuxs 9.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is a mid-sized Android tablet that comes with an 8-inch display running a 1200 by 1980 pixels at a 16:10 aspect ratio and a PPI of 283.

The Z3 Tablet Compact is the only tablet on this list that comes with protection against the elements (IP68 certified dust and water resistant), meaning that you can play games in the hot tub if that's what you want. The tablet measures 213.4 x 123.6 x 6.4 mm and weighs 270 grams. True to its name, this is the most compact tablet mentioned here, and it's the lightest as well.

Under the hood, the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chip, a mobile SoC that makes use of a 2.5GHz quad-core Krait 400 CPU and an Adreno 330 GPU. Paired with 3GB of RAM, the Snapdragon 801 behaves decently in 3D benchmarks, although not as well as the tablets mentioned above.

AnTuTu Higher is better GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact 42089.67



1. gaming64 unregistered

iPad is the best one for gaming. Why? Metal API Screen Lightweight for better handling Better exclusives. The must have for all tablets. :D

5. vergil9

Posts: 517; Member since: Apr 06, 2015

I would agree if the shield tablet didn't exist.

18. techperson211

Posts: 1280; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

You can't even compare console quality games to tablet apps. These tablets only runs apps that's it.

21. Phonecall01 unregistered

Where is console quality games compared to tablets apps?

40. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

41. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

24. vincelongman

Posts: 5817; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

You can compare these to the last gen of consoles (PS3 and 360) The K1 and A8X are almost on par with the PS3 and 360 in terms of house power and controls when you use a controller They just lack quantity of quality games Console games are basically locked down apps too Its PC games that leave consoles and tablets behind Cheaper, mods, best graphics, gameplay and controls

28. vergil9

Posts: 517; Member since: Apr 06, 2015

Who's comparing? This article is about the best TABLET that can bring the best gaming experience compared to other TABLETS, it didn't say "Top 5 mobile gaming consoles for hardcore gamers" or "Top 5 tablets that can replace your console/PC"

42. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Not to worry, i been hearing the generations of gamers whining about the change of preferred interface and gaming models. From, atari 2600 joystick to nintendo entertainment system gamepad to PC keyboard and mouse to consoles gamepads and now touch screen interface. So history always repeats itself. sign..

13. NopeNein

Posts: 147; Member since: Feb 04, 2015

Still, r/PCMASTERRACE, or console. you know maybe if you were into that kind of stuff. idk.

22. Ruturaj

Posts: 1484; Member since: Oct 16, 2014

I have both, ipad air 2 and shield, both are best, depends on game (screen ratio, in which game feels more comfortable) which one I will use.

36. UglyFrank

Posts: 2200; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Samsung need to make Exynos X processors so they can compete with iPads.

45. renz4

Posts: 319; Member since: Aug 10, 2013

so what game actually use the API?

2. javy108

Posts: 1004; Member since: Jul 27, 2014

I dont like tablets, but If I had to choose, Ill pick de Nexus 9.

3. theguy2345

Posts: 1216; Member since: Jun 24, 2014

I only play halo Spartan strike and tales of a pale swordsman reaper on my tablet. All my real gaming is on dedicated gaming machines.

12. TheWeasel

Posts: 403; Member since: Dec 26, 2014

Exactly, real gaming.

4. shiftt

Posts: 333; Member since: May 03, 2015

Why the Z3 tablet and not the Z4 tablet? I don't know much about them but .... You know, just curious.

10. arch_angel

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

they were focusing on compact tablets that's why they used the z3 compact and not the normal z3 the z4 is huge lol.

17. techperson211

Posts: 1280; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

Ipad air 2 is compact?

20. arch_angel

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

more compact than the z4 tablet anyway lol and i just realized that the z3 tablet compact is the only z3 tablet lol so excuse my mistake in post 10.

38. Iodine

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

iPad Air 2 compact = iPad mini 4

6. DeusExCellula

Posts: 1390; Member since: Oct 05, 2014

Ipad Mini 2 and Nexus 7

7. arch_angel

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

the air 2 is just a beast. and the air 3 is going to be a monster the A9x is going to destroy benchmarks.

33. ninja_master

Posts: 306; Member since: Feb 27, 2015

Unless the tegra x1 does it first

34. arch_angel

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

true true or the exynos 7430.

8. 99nights

Posts: 1152; Member since: Mar 10, 2015

Obviously the one that's built for gaming which is the shield, the others don't even fall into the same category. If you're gonna game just get a dedicated gaming hand-held, why use a tablet???

9. 99nights

Posts: 1152; Member since: Mar 10, 2015

Theguy2345 knows what I'm talking about.

11. MuddyCow

Posts: 90; Member since: Oct 09, 2014

Surface Pro 3 *grabs popcorn*

31. livyatan

Posts: 867; Member since: Jun 19, 2013

And now please inform me which games would you play on it, and how?(if you say "mouse and a keyboard", then good luck with that!)

14. PBXtech

Posts: 1032; Member since: Oct 21, 2013

Just picked up a Dell Venue. Love the size and screen on it, but the internal memory sucks. Giving this 32 gig would have made it a really solid tablet, instead it lacks a lot due to it only having 16 gig, of which around 7 gigs are used by the OS.

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