Every year tablet graphical performance gets a hefty bump, and there are now several tablets available that give dedicated portable gaming systems more than a run for their graphical horsepower money. Here's a look at the best ones.
Nvidia Shield Tablet
The Nvidia Shield Tablet is an 8-inch Android based slate that's essentially an amalgamation of the Nvidia Shield and the EVGA Tegra Note. It includes a stylus, zippy processor, sharp resolution, and front-facing speakers. As a stand alone tablet, the $59 controller (which will run you £50 in the UK; pricing's not yet available for Australia) is an optional addition, but an optimal way to enjoy gaming.
Nvidia's first tablet-as-gaming-system deserves a place on this list thanks to its inclusion of a touchscreen, Android 4.2, and a Tegra 4 processor running at maximum speed. However, it's the well-engineered console-like controls that elevate it beyond all other tablet competitors when it comes to gaming.
There are three reasons the iPad Mini with Retina Display is so high on this list. One, the A7 chip is as powerful as any current mobile processor. Two, the Retina Mini's small size makes it easier to hold during multiple sessions of Real Racing 3. And three, dat App Store. It's hard to argue with great software, and with access to the most and best games of any tablet, there's really nothing more to discuss. If only it had built-in physical controls.
The iPad Air is one of the fastest gaming tablets in the market. While it doesn't completely eclipse its competition, it doesn't really have to. The Apple App Store still houses the highest quality -- and quantity -- of gaming apps anywhere. If there's a tablet game you're itching to play, it's likely you'll find the best version here.
There are two reasons the EVGA Tegra Note 7 is on this and neither has anything to do with its stylus. While the stylus is well-integrated, the Galaxy Note 8 still makes for a better -- if more expensive -- stylus tablet.
No, reason 1 why the Tegra Note 7 makes this list is the inclusion of pure Android, which gives it access to the multitude of games on the Google Play store. Reason 2 is the fast 1.8GHz Tegra 4 processor inside.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 system-on-chip is the reason Amazon's latest tablet made it on the list. Sure, the screen is as sharp as a well-filed bayonet and navigation performance is as zippy as it gets, but it's the power of the Snapdragon 800 and its ability to deliver frame rates as high as we've ever seen on Android that really seals the deal.
The 8.9-inch Fire HDX is here for the same reasons as the 7-incher, but with a larger, even sharper screen, the Fire HDX 8.9 is an even more impressive tablet gaming specimen. However, it is more expensive.
While the Nexus 7 lacks the latest and greatest GPU hardware, it makes up for it in software support. The Nexus 7 is one of very few tablets that supports OpenGL 3.0, which essentially supercharges the GPU performance of the tablet's Snapdragon S4 Pro to elevated levels. Couple that with a color-accurate and impressively bright screen, and it's easy to see how the Google flagship tablet earned its place here.
The Xperia Tablet Z was the first Android tablet to best the Google Nexus 10 in raw graphical performance, according to scores derived from the 3DMark benchmark. Since then, however, a number of newer, much cheaper tablets have hit the market with better gaming performance. It's not the type of tablet you'd buy to play games on, but it's still a good tablet that continues to hold its own in graphical performance.
The 8.4-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro is one smooth operator; it looks sleek, works fast, and -- though it's in a smaller package -- outperforms the Sony Xperia Z2 and Google Nexus 10 in raw graphical performance. With multi-window abilities and a pixel-packed screen, it's great for gaming, but also for getting some work done and video watching.