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How does the performance of the iPad 3rd Gen compare to the iPad 2? How much faster is the iPad 3rd Gen?
Please note that the iPad 3rd Gen has been discontinued. Apple continues to sell a 16 GB configuration of the iPad 2.
In the company press release, Apple noted that the iPad 3rd Gen models -- the iPad 3rd Gen (Wi-Fi Only), iPad 3rd Gen (Wi-Fi/4G LTE AT&T/GPS), and iPad 3rd Gen (Wi-Fi/4G LTE Verizon/GPS) -- pack a "powerful new A5X chip with quad-core graphics. . . to deliver a fast, responsive user experience while supporting the incredible Retina display" and that the A5X processor provides "double the graphics performance of the A5" processor that powers the older iPad 2 models.
Although "double the graphics performance" sounds impressive, it is also important to temper one's expectations because of the high-resolution Retina display on the iPad 3rd Gen models.
Both the iPad 3rd Gen and iPad 2 have 9.7-inch displays, but the iPad 3rd Gen has a resolution of 2048x1536 at 264 ppi and the iPad 2 has a resolution of just 1024x768 at 132 ppi. This means that the iPad 3rd Gen graphics processor has to power four times as many pixels. Whether or not the "double the graphics performance" is apparent in actual use only can be determined by real-world testing.
It's also important to note that Apple is addressing graphics performance rather than overall performance. An astute student of marketing would notice this quiet admission and assume that overall performance of the iPad 3rd Gen must be similar to the iPad 2 or at least not so much faster than it merited mention.
For a solid general overview of the performance differences between the iPad 3rd Gen and the iPad 2, Everyi.com's own Ultimate iComparison makes it quick to compare side-by-side Geekbench benchmark averages for each device as well as the original iPad and all iPhone and iPod touch models.
The iPad 3rd Gen models return an average Geekbench score of 756. This compares to 721 for the iPad 2 models and 453 for the original iPad.
Consequently, overall performance of the iPad 3rd Gen is roughly 5% faster than the iPad 2 models and 67% faster than the original iPad.
Third-Party Benchmark Tests
For graphics performance, specifically, third-party graphics benchmarks can provide a good idea of the overall theoretical performance difference between the iPad 3rd Gen and iPad 2.
Of the numerous blogs that churn out benchmarks, the always excellent BareFeats likely is the best with GLBenchmark 2 Offscreen and Onscreen graphics tests, OpenGL Viewer tests and more. Although the full piece should be reviewed in its entirety, BareFeats concludes that the graphics performance of the iPad 3rd Gen "has nearly doubled."
Although benchmarks and commentary are a good way to get an idea of relative performance, a side-by-side video of the two iPad models could be even better.
This video, from PhoneArena, demonstrates the performance difference of each with benchmarks and gaming tests:
Ultimately, the iPad 3rd Gen models are slightly faster overall and a bit faster in real-world graphics performance as well, even pushing pixels to the much higher-resolution display. The real-world graphics performance of the iPad 3rd Gen typically isn't twice as fast as the iPad 2, but it is noticeably faster, nevertheless.
For those who already have an iPad 2, performance alone is unlikely to justify an upgrade, but other features -- the display in particular -- very well could.