First iPad Mini vs. Retina: No contest

Going from the original iPad Mini to the Retina Mini is pretty jarring. Use the new Mini once and the old one is doorstop material.

iPad Mini Retina.
iPad Mini Retina. Sarah Tew/CNET

The iPad Mini Retina's speed seals the deal.

A lot has been written about the Mini Retina's display. For good reason, of course. Take a display with 786,432 pixels (iPad Mini original) and put it up against one with over 3 million (iPad Retina) and you notice the difference.

But I have been more impressed with the performance of the Mini Retina. After using it for two weeks, the speed is what has sold me.

The best analogy I can think of is going from a circa 2009 MacBook Air to today's fastest Haswell-based MacBook.

It's that dramatic. Those numbers (below) don't lie.

The reason is pretty easy to understand. The iPad Mini has a very old (in computer years) A5 chip -- that's the same chip that debuted in the iPad 2 in March 2011.

The Mini Retina has Apple's latest chip, the A7, with more RAM.

What does all of this speed add up to? With a tablet as good as the Mini Retina, it's another reason to use a laptop less.

One of the greatest barriers to productivity (you know, doing actual work, not just browsing social media or watching movies) on a tablet is performance. Add a keyboard , and you're three quarters of the way to a laptop.

Which leads me to a final thought. The A7, or its successor the A8, would work just fine in a newfangled future 64-bit Apple device.

PC makers are already doing this with Intel's new "Bay Trail" chip, which is similar in performance to the A7 .

Take Dell's Venue 11 Pro high-end tablet. It can be converted into a professional productivity platform via its modular design.

I have to think Apple has bigger plans for the A series chips than just the iPhone and conventional iPads.

An iPad Pro, anyone?

Geekbench scores for first-gen iPad Mini (top) and Retina Mini. Numbers are single core benchmark (left) and multi-core. And, yes, it actually feels that much faster.
Geekbench scores for first-gen iPad Mini (top) and Retina Mini. Numbers are single core benchmark (left) and multicore. And, yes, it actually feels that much faster. Brooke Crothers
About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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