When Phil Schiller took the stage last week to talk about Apple's new A5X SoC, he threw up a slide claiming that it has four times the graphics performance of Nvidia's competing Tegra 3. In order to check the validity of the "four times" claim, the folks at Laptop Mag compared the performance of Apple's new iPad with that of Asus's Transformer Prime using some benchmarking software available on both platforms, and the results appear to be less one-sided than Apple would like. Overall, it appears that the iPad offers better 3D graphics performance, but Tegra 3 is the faster number-cruncher.
Looking at Open GL 3D performance, Laptop Mag found that A5X came out far ahead of Tegra 3 on GLBenchmark 2.1, rendering roughly twice as many frames per second and more than four times as many texels (texture pixels) on the graphically-intense Egypt test. Number-crunching was a different story, however. Tegra 3 outclassed the iPad both at integer and floating point performance, as well as memory performance, which looks at the memory hardware (including the motherboard and chipset) and the OS's memory management software. The iPad did, however, come out ahead on the stream subtest, which looks at memory bandwidth, or the speed with which data can be written to or read from memory.
Laptop Mag also takes a look at gaming performance on the two devices, pitting the new iPad against the Transformer Prime on two games — Riptide GP and Shadowgun (video below). While it finds that the iPad's Retina Display made the two games look "sharper and more colorful" on the new iPad, it also draws attention to some effects that are present in the Tegra 3 version of the games but missing in the iPad versions, including some splash effects in Riptide and billowing flag effects in Shadowgun. As Nvidia has noted though, these games have been optimized specifically for Tegra 3, so the presence of these effects doesn't mean that they can't be duplicated on the iPad, and perhaps we'll see updates with the extra eye candy in the future.