Which tablet is the fastest?

by , Senior Technology Researcher Tablets 05/04/2013
Speedy tablets

Which tablet is the fastest?

Tablets are supposed to be speedy devices. A large part of their appeal is that they turn on, boot up and access whatever it is you want to access quickly. Slow loading web pages, apps that are sluggish to respond and constant buffering when playing video are just some of the problems that affect slower tablets. That’s why we put all the tablets we test through a series of speed tests to see how well they fare.

You can find out more about our lab tests on our how we test tablets page.

Fastest tablet

We found that the Microsoft Surface Pro, with its Intel Core i5 processor, came out top of our speed tests. It’s designed to be a hybrid device – somewhere between an ultraportable laptop and a tablet – and its processor is similar to those used in laptops giving it that extra punch in the speed department.

The Surface Pro is followed by the Google Nexus 10 – making it the best performing dedicated tablet device. The Nexus wields a super-fast dual-core ARM Cortex A15 processor.  Bringing up the rear is the cheap Versus Touchpad 7 which plods along with a very poor speed rating.

How do we work out which tablet is the speediest?

The ratings in the infographic are based on Geekbench testing, which assess a variety of factors including how fast data is shuffled round the system, how fast the screen can present the pixels being produced and how quickly it retrieves and presents info from its memory.

Each individual test is scored, the scores are mixed together and weighted which eventually presents a final numeric score. With Geekbench scores, the higher the number the better. 1000 is taken to be the base – so ideally you want a tablet with a higher score than 1000.

See our league table below for the raw Geekbench scores:

  1. Microsoft Surface Pro – 7257
  2. Google Nexus 10 – 2495
  3. iPad with Retina Display – 1769
  4. Google Nexus 7 – 1542
  5. iPad mini – 753
  6. Versus Touchpad 7 274

What does this mean in real life?

These numbers are all well and good but you might be wondering what this will mean when you lovingly scoop your tablet out of the box for the first time. Overall, the higher the Geekbench score, the faster the tablet should be in day to day use.

A faster tablet should mean your web browser opens quicker and accesses web pages faster. If you’re running multiple programs a faster tablet will also make sure you don’t see any slow down and fewer crashes. Similarly, videos should load quicker and you should see fluid playback.

Gamers will particularly benefit from a faster device, with slower tablets often grinding to a halt when playing higher end games. Overall speedy tablets make for a smoother, quicker tablet experience.

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5 comments

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Bluemoonin65

You failed to mention the two largest factors when considering which tablet to purchase, the being software or apps if you prefer and the second battery life.

Have you tried and tested the software on the Surface? It really does not stand up to the wealth available on the iOS or Android platforms. If the software is poor then its pointless having to fastest processor to run it. After all you buy a tablet to use it not to run tests or merely to look at. Equally if you can only run a tablet for a couple of hours before having to plug it in again then what’s the point of having a tablet?

I must also take issue with the suggestion that other tablets “grind to a halt” when playing games or watching video. I have never once experienced this on an iOS or Android device. If anything I find data speeds to be a far more limiting factor than those you chose to mention.

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Mike Cutmore

The software on the Surface Pro more than stands up to anything. It is the only device listed that has full compatibility with fully fledged desktop software. This means it will run anything that is compatible with Windows 7. Battery life isn’t good for such a powerful device, but its not a mobile phone. You’d need to tether it to one for a portable wifi connection anyway so usually a proper mains outlet would be within range since otherwise you’d just use your smartphone in the first place for better truly portable convenience including phone calls, GPS or Camera.

Hi Bluemoonin65,

Thanks for your comment.

Speed is just one factor Which? looks at when testing tablets. We also test battery life, actual storage space (after the OS has been added), screen quality, audio quality and many other things. Take a look at our how we test tablets page for a blow by blow of our testing program. Our full tablet reviews and scores also consider all elements of testing.

On the blog we often highlight certain aspects of our testing, such as speed, battery life or storage, to see which tablet performs best. In the case of speed it was the Surface Pro.

I have certainly experienced lower end tablets running older Android operating systems grinding to a halt. Speed is an important factor when purchasing a tablet – you don’t want a device that is sluggish to respond and slows down when running multiple apps. At the same time you’ll also want to consider other factors, such as battery life, storage space and connectivity.

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NotanApplefanatic

It’s good to see Apple not winning every test and Which proving its independence by showing the real results of tests

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Howard

What a silly review.
I have a surface Pro, an Ipad 2 (and 1) and a Nexus 10 and have never faced any performance issues during use. They are all more than fast enough.
My Surface Pro was bought second hand on EBay in the USA and cost me the equivalent of £600 even then.
It is expensive, heavy, hot (it has ventilation round the outside of the frame) and has relatively poor battery life – it is absolutely not comparable to the other tablets in this test, in daily use it’s a completely different kettle of fish. I got mine ‘cheap’ because so many people are finding the same problems I found – its still worth buying f you ever want to do anything useful though….
Wouldn’t a normal ‘Surface’ have been a better comparison for this test?
The Pro is selling in a completely different financial universe to a very different consumer.

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