New iPad vs iPad 2: App launching and web rendering speed test

The new iPad has a dual core Apple A5X processor with quad core graphics, compared to a dual core Apple A5 processor with only dual core graphics in the older iPad 2. The new iPad also has twice the RAM as the old iPad 2, a full 1GB as opposed to 512MB. However, the new iPad also needs to throw around 4 times as many pixels as the old iPad 2 -- 2048 x 1536 as opposed to 1024 x 768. How does that all net out when it comes to launching amazing, Retina-ready apps like Infinity Blade II and Tweetbot, and web sites like iMore, The New York Times and the Sun Spider benchmark?

First up we launched Infinity Blade II on both the new iPad and the iPad 2, and while there's no doubt the A5X quad-core GPU will make for better gaming eventually, when it comes to raw launch tests, the results were pretty even. They both smoked the original, first generation iPad, but were fairly close to each other.

The same thing happened with Tweetbot, even though on the new iPad it had to move a much, much larger PNG file around.

When it came to loading up iMore.com on the Safari browser, the mostly CPU-intesive activities, namely the WebKit HTML5 rendering engine and the Nitro JavaScript Engine seemed to be neck-and-neck for the most part. The same was true for the New York Times site.

To make sure, we ran both browsers through WebKit's SunSpider JavaScript benchmark as well, and while the new iPad won, it wasn't by as much, certainly not as much as the iPad 2 improved on the original iPad.

The point of all this isn't that the new iPad or the Apple A5X chipset isn't a powerhouse or a great improvement -- is most assuredly is. It's just that most of that power is going to the Retina display and moving around the 2048x1536 pixels that make it up, rather than to speeding up the general performance of the device.

This the iPad 2 was snappy to begin with, that's a good thing. Instead of making something already fast even faster, Apple took this generation to make it better.

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Georgia

Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, co-host of Vector, Review, and Isometric podcasts, and should be followed on Twitter @Georgia_Dow.

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