Liquid nitrogen-cooled M4 iPad Pro flaunts remarkable single-core performance gains — M4 outperforms M3 Max and M2 Ultra

M4 iPad Pro
M4 iPad Pro (Image credit: Geekerwan)

Liquid nitrogen is the go-to cooling substance for breaking overclocking world records in the PC hardware world. So the team at Geekerwan decided to use this exotic cooling method to see what Apple's new M4 iPad Pro can do.

Geekerwan benchmarked the M4 in its 3+6 core (3 performance cores, 3 efficiency cores) configuration but has already purchased the 4+6 variant for more tests.

Geekerwan placed a Kingpin Cooling T-Rex Rev 4 CPU LN2 pot at the back of the iPad Pro, probably where the M4 processor is located, and poured liquid nitrogen into it to keep the chip cool. Apple's silicon was operating at 4.41 GHz during the benchmark run. Geekerwan plans to release the video on May 18, so we'll get more details on the endeavor very soon.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
ProcessorSingle-Core ScoreMulti-Core Score
M4 (iPad Pro, 3+6)4,00113,595
M3 Max (MacBook Pro 16-inch, 12+4)3,12820,957
M2 Ultra (Mac Studio, 16+8)2,77421,330

Performance data for other Apple processors is from Geekbench 6's database.

The M4 iPad Pro achieved a single-core score of 4,001 points, 28% faster than the M3 Max in the 16-inch MacBook Pro. The M4 also defeated the M2 Ultra from the Mac Studio by a significant 44% margin. The M4 iPad Pro's score is perfect, considering it doesn't have the same active cooling as the MacBook Pro or Mac Studio. Even in its normal state, the M4's single-core performance is high at 3,000s and close to the 4,000-point mark. The liquid nitrogen helped push the M4 to the finish line for the last few yards.

The M4's multi-core performance didn't impress, however. It was 54% slower than the M3 Max and fell behind the M2 Ultra by up to 57%. Geekerwan submitted various Geekbench 6 entries, with the highest multi-core result of 14,785 points, so the M4 still lies behind Apple's older silicon.

The M4 processor, a product of TSMC's N3E process node, has debuted in Apple's new iPad Pros. Apple offers the M4 in two unique flavors. The 10-core configuration follows a 4+6 design with four performance cores and six efficiency cores, found in 1TB and 2TB iPad Pros with 16GB of unified memory. On the other hand, the 9-core configuration has a 3+6 layout with three performance cores and six efficiency cores, powering the 256GB and 512GB iPad Pros with 8GB of unified memory.

It's important to emphasize that Geekerwan's M4 iPad Pro wasn't utilizing the top 4+6 configuration. It'll be interesting to see how big of a difference the extra performance core can make. But we wouldn't hold our breath: Apple's iPadOS is still holding back the silicon, so we likely won't fully grasp the M4's performance until it makes its way into a MacBook Pro or Mac Studio with proper cooling and macOS.

Zhiye Liu
RAM Reviewer and News Editor

Zhiye Liu is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Although he loves everything that’s hardware, he has a soft spot for CPUs, GPUs, and RAM.

  • dmitche31958
    Do they call you lefty or four-fingers?
    Reply
  • Notton
    The M4 chip is seems to be dead center, so yes, that would be the best spot to cool.
    GN6ZlssqNAE
    Reply
  • DS426
    It's on the very most advanced node in the world at this time, so how is it surprising that it beats Intel and AMD on single-core performance? Also, kind of moot having a chip like this in an iPad; honestly, the M1 runs cool compared to its successors and wouldn't perform noticeably slower for most users -- even "Pro" users.
    Reply
  • Amdlova
    Apple for me is a big no...
    Reply
  • hushnecampus
    It's important to emphasize that Geekerwan's M4 iPad Pro wasn't utilizing the top 4+6 configuration. It'll be interesting to see how big of a difference the extra performance core can make. However, we wouldn't hold our breath because Apple's iPadOS is still holding back the silicon, so we likely won't fully grasp the M4's performance until it makes its way into a MacBook Pro or Mac Studio with proper cooling and macOS.
    This seems like a silly statement.

    He's cooling it with liquid nitrogen, I don't think the fans in a MacBook Pro or Mac Mini/Studio are going to top that.

    Clearly what will top that is more cores.
    Reply
  • funguseater
    This just in! Overclocked CPU outperforms Stock CPU!!! Halt the Press'
    Reply
  • JamesJones44
    The multi core score isn't all that surprising. The M4 used was the version with only 3 P core variant, so it's starting off in a defect to begin with. The multi-core score is about that of the 4 P core version of the M4, not surprising considering the single core score was only about 17.6% higher than the standard M4 single core score . It's also not surprising it loses in multi core score vs the 6 P core M3 Pro or the 12 P core M3 Max.
    Reply
  • hotaru251
    i mean this is a pretty "meh" article topic.

    apples always known to ignore cooling (and thus hamper own performance) as to them its fashion before function.
    Reply
  • kealii123
    hotaru251 said:
    i mean this is a pretty "meh" article topic.

    apples always known to ignore cooling (and thus hamper own performance) as to them its fashion before function.
    Thats not the point. The cooling only gives it a few percentage points improvement. The point is that a tablet is outclassing cutting edge desktop CPUs.

    "But its an expensive tablet" This variant of the chip starts at $1,000, while the desktop i9 14th gen that it handily beats sells for almost $700.
    Reply
  • hotaru251
    kealii123 said:
    The point is that a tablet is outclassing cutting edge desktop CPUs.
    again not a shock.
    Modern ARM CPU beating x86 CPU that have chosen to support stuff from 30yrs ago?

    AMD & others plan to have ARM cpu by like 2025 or 2026 and then we'll see how it compares.


    and thats ignoring fact Desktop have basically given up high singlecore advancement as its main focus for multithread. (and thats why near everything anymore can use multiple cores unlike back in the old days where it was hard to find stuff that did as everything was single threaded back then)

    Is the M4 chip impressive? yes.
    is it shocking? not really. (again ARM and RISCV will replace x86 and few ppl doubt that)
    Reply