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As the tablet space becomes increasingly crowded, we look to compare the performance of multiple hardware architectures supporting iOS, Android, Windows RT, and now Windows 8 as well. That's not easy, since Microsoft and Apple, in particular, are restrictive about the software running on their platforms. As of now, there are no cross-platform benchmarks available for Windows RT.
Right now, Web browser-based benchmarks represent the only way for us to compare the Surface to other devices. We're consequently revisiting these tests to pit Samsung’s Windows 8-based tablet against the competition from Microsoft.
These tests aren't the last word on performance, though. Browser support varies by operating system, and we know that, even on a consistent platform, performance varies between each Web browser. So, when you consider the many different tablets we're testing today, along with the permutations of software available for them all, these numbers are affected by several variables. Fortunately, Windows 8 lets us test IE10, Chrome, and Safari, creating parallels to other hardware with those same browsers.
We also see that the Atom/Windows 8 combination from Samsung is almost twice as fast as Tegra 3/Windows RT under IE10. Moreover, the ATIV Smart TV 500T gives you the freedom to ditch IE10 altogether and install Chrome to realize that first-place finish. The Surface lacks this flexibility.
Our next test, BrowsingBench, was created by the Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark Consortium, a non-profit organization tasked with developing testing methodology for embedded hardware. While it's meant for testing "smartphones, netbooks, portable gaming devices, navigation devices, and IP set-top boxes," it's just as useful for measuring browser performance in general.
Again, we see the Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T demonstrate why an open ecosystem is a good thing, as Chrome on Windows 8 finishes in first place. Two iPads interestingly take second and third place, followed by Samsung's tablet running Safari and IE10. A trio of Tegra 3-based devices bring up the rear.