The fastest Android gaming tablets

Which Android tablets provide the smoothest gaming experience? CNET Labs delves deep to find out.


Editors' note: This list was originally published on April 26, 2013, and is updated periodically.

If you're looking for an Android tablet that can deliver impressive graphics, we've got you covered. We gathered every high-performance Android tablet we could find in the CNET Labs and put them to the test. Below are our top five.

We've listed each tablet with as much pertinent-to-gaming-performance information as we could think of and have listed them here in order, from weakest to strongest based on benchmark scores derived from 3DMark.

3DMark runs a canned demo of a simulated sci-fi game called Ice Storm. The 3DMark scores are determined by three tests: two focus on GPU speed, and another on CPU performance. The tests were run on each tablet a few times, and the chart below represents the highest score for each tablet, with higher scores indicating faster performance.

Check here for more on the intricacies of 3DMark's scoring system.

Tablet 3DMark Unlimited
Sony Xperia Z2 18,971
Amazon Kindle Fire 8.9 (2014) 20,298
Google Nexus 9 25,854
Nvidia Shield Tablet 28,104

The Xperia Z2 tablet has a smartphone counterpart. CNET

Sony Xperia Z2

Device CPU GPU RAM OS tested
Sony Xperia Z2 2.3GHz quad-core Krait 400 Adreno 330 3GB Android 4.4.2

If you like playing games in the bath or while casually lounging in your pool, the Sony Xperia Z2 is the tablet for you. The waterproof 10-inch slate is a speedy performer, packing a mighty 3GB of RAM, and it's also thin and lightweight for easy travel. However, it's only waterproof for up to 30 minutes, so don't expect to fully prune in the tub while gaming.

Read the full review here.

The 2014 version of the Fire HDX 8.9 is faster. Sarah Tew/CNET
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9

Device CPU GPU RAM OS tested
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (2014) Qualcomm Snapdragon 805; 2.5 GHz quad-core Krait 450 Adreno 420 GPU 2GB Amazon Android Sangria 4.0

The Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 is a great tablet for sharing with your family, and it's not too bad for gaming, either. The 2014 model looks exactly like last year's, but houses a faster Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 system-on-a-chip. The Amazon Appstore doesn't offer as many gaming options as the iOS or Google Play app stores, but the big games available consistently launch fast and perform smoothly.

Read the full review here.

The screen on the Nexus 9 is technically 8.9 inches big. Josh Miller/CNET

Google Nexus 9

Device CPU GPU RAM OS tested
Google Nexus 9 NVIDIA Tegra K1; 2.3GHz dual-core Denver Kepler DX1 2GB Android 5.0

Google's latest flagship tablet is a powerful performer with a beautifully subdued design. It didn't outscore the top gaming tablet (below) in overall performance, but it reigns supreme in graphics performance. Running the latest version of Android 5.0, the Nexus 9 is the prominent premium Android tablet to get.

Read the full review here.

The Nvidia Shield tablet was made for gaming. Sarah Tew/CNET

Nvidia Shield

Device CPU GPU RAM OS tested
Nvidia Shield Nvidia Tegra K1; 2.2GHz quad-core A15 ULP GeForce Kepler 2GB Android 5.0

The Nvidia Shield tablet is a gaming machine, quite literally. It houses the same SoC as the Nexus 9, boasting excellent graphics despite a different GPU, and you can stream PC games with compatible gaming PCs. The addition of the wireless Shield controller also allows you to connect to your TV for gaming or streaming video. Its latest OTA update includes an upgrade to Android Lollipop 5.0 and, if you need data to go, it comes in an LTE version.

Read the full review here.

If gaming isn't your only priority, check out our list of the best Android tablets in general. And if you're not tied to Android, we've rounded up our picks for the best tablets overall, regardless of platform.


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