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CPU Performance: Comparing Tablets And Tablet PCs

Lenovo's ThinkPad X230T Tablet PC, Tested And Reviewed

Mobile Ivy Bridge-based CPUs are only slightly faster than their Sandy Bridge-based predecessors. Covered last month in Second-Generation Ultrabooks: Faster And Cheaper With Ivy Bridge, we realize similar results in our synthetic GeekBench chart. But more interesting than comparing two evolutionary architectures from Intel is how the power-hungry, performance-oriented x86 hardware in tablet PCs differs from the ARM-based SoCs installed in tablets.

Just take the apples-to-oranges match-up between the X230T and iPad 3. The performance gap between the Cortex-A9-based tablet and Core i5 processor is vast. According to Geekbench, there is a ~8x performance advantage favoring the Core i5-3320M. Naturally, that makes tablets look pretty homely. But it's also important to remember that devices like the iPad use operating systems with much lighter resource requirements than Windows. The trade-off, of course, is that multi-tasking isn't handled as elegantly, and the applications are generally much leaner (read: endowed with fewer features).

In contrast, tablet PCs wield operating environments that make it easy to run multiple heavy-duty apps at the same time. This really isn't something that benchmarks can tell you. But it has to be a consideration when you weigh both form factors against each other.

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