The new iPad Pro is almost as fast as one of Apple’s $2,800 laptops — but it only costs $800

Apple’s new iPad Pro. Kif Leswing
  • The first Geekbench processor speed test score is out for Apple’s new iPad Pro.
  • Its score is very close to what a 15-inch MacBook Pro with an Intel Core i7 chip gets.
  • Although benchmark tests aren’t perfect, the scores still underscore how powerful Apple’s chips have gotten.
  • Apple’s new iPad Pro costs $US799 and will hit stores next Wednesday.

If you want the most powerful computer, you’re usually looking for a laptop or desktop – after all, those are computers that can do “real work,” often powered by high-performance Intel chips.

But Apple’s new iPad Pro, which was announced on Tuesday, has a processor that’s nearly as fast as high-end laptops, according to an early Geekbench score, which tests processor speeds.

The iPad Pro’s 5030 Geekbench single-core speed score is not too far behind the 5053 score a current-generation 15-inch MacBook Pro with an Intel Core i7 processor earns, as pointed out by MacRumors.

The new tablet falls a little behind on a multiple-core score, even though it has eight cores. It got a 18,106 multi-core score from Geekbench, as compared to a 21,351 score for the laptop.

Still, that’s an impressive showing for a tablet.

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The MacBook costs $US2,799 from Apple, versus a starting price of $US799 for an 11-inch iPad Pro. There are other specs differences, like RAM and memory, but the comparison still underscores how quickly more affordable mobile computers are catching up with laptops and desktops.

The other difference is that Apple designs the A-series “A12X Bionic” chip in the iPad Pro – Intel is the company that makes the Core i7 in the laptop.

The rapid improvement in Apple’s own chips might explain why company executives didn’t want to say “Intel” at its launch event on Tuesday, even though it released new Mac Mini and MacBook Air computers powered by Intel chips.

Geekbench iPad Pro
The Geekbench score for the new iPad Pro. Geekbench

Benchmark scores like Geekbench aren’t a perfect way to test how fast a computer is, especially when comparing ARM chips like Apple’s A-series to Intel’s x86-based chips, but they put the computer through a range of tests that simulate how rapidly the computer can perform everyday tasks.

Geekbench scores are what initially revealed that Apple was slowing down iPhones with old batteries.

Apple has been rumoured for years to be building a Mac computer based on one of its own ARM chips, which would enable it to greatly increase battery life at the expense of raw power.

But based on how quickly Apple’s chips are improving – many people in the tech industry consider them the leader in high-performance silicon – it might not need to make a raw power trade-off in the near future.

In fact, the new iPad Pro had a 94% higher multi-core score than last year’s model. Soon, one of these chips could power a Mac.