I turned my new iPad Pro 2024 into a gaming powerhouse with this one app — here’s how

i turned by ipad pro 2024 into a gaming rig
(Image credit: Future)

Before we go any further, let me get this out of the way: if I didn’t own one of the best gaming PCs on the planet, this past Memorial Day weekend I just enjoyed getting acquainted with my new iPad Pro 2024 doesn’t happen. 

Apple’s first OLED tablet is capable of running modern games like Resident Evil 4 natively relatively well — the free demo feels like it’s running with a mix of medium to low settings at 30 fps to my obsessive eye. That’s commendable for an iPad. But hoo-boy what I’ve just squeezed out of my 13-inch Pro is on a whole other level. 

I spent most of last Saturday night playing Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty on my iPad Pro M4 at a graphical level even my beloved Steam Deck OLED could only achieve in its sweatiest dreams. When I say “play,” I guess I actually mean “stream.” So yes, turning a tablet into a high-end gaming system obviously requires a bit of a cheat-like workaround.

Enter Steam Link. Valve’s game streaming app works a treat on iPadOS 17. It’s incredibly simple to navigate and getting my PC and tablet to talk over Wi-Fi, then connecting my DualSense Edge to the latter via Bluetooth is a hassle-free process. There are two major caveats that allow me to play CD Projekt RED’s futuristic open-world at graphical settings that shame even the best PS5 games, though. 

Caveat the First: I have a really good internet connection. Like “1GB fiber optic” good. Caveat the Second: as previously alluded to, my RTX 4090-powered rig with 32GB of DDR5 RAM and AMD’s incredible Ryzen 7 7800X3D CPU would make Sony’s much-rumored PS6 cry, it’s got so much grunt under the hood.  

I admittedly don’t have a frame counter on my iPad — but I can tell you I’ve yet to experience any stuttering while streaming Cyberpunk 2077 on what’s surely the best tablet Apple has ever made. Every single setting is maxed out, and I’ve even got path tracing turned on. That’s what an RTX 4090 and gorilla-strong Wi-Fi get you.   

Daft (Cyber)Punk

Cyberpunk on iPad

(Image credit: Future)

While I’ve used Steam Link before on my old iPad Pro (2021), I wasn’t dealing with a 13-inch Tandem OLED (2,752 x 2,064 pixels) back then. Holy smokes, what a screen.

I’ve already watched a bunch of movies and shows on this display, and it thrills at every second. Also, how did it take me so long to get around to Yellowstone?! Anyhow, the iPad Pro features such a gem of a panel, I knew I needed to give Steam Link — which had impressed me in the past without fully blowing me over — another chance.

In general, the experience of revisiting Night City on Crew Cupertino’s latest slab has been nothing but a pleasure. I’ve had to up the camera sensitivity settings to combat the input lag you still can’t avoid when it comes to streaming video games, but compared to the hideous experience I endured with the PlayStation Portal, Steam Link is miles ahead. Image quality is immaculate on a good internet connection (I’ve never once spotted any artifacting), while latency feels low enough that I’ve still won more firefights in V’s gorgeous open-world than I’ve lost.

I got a pretty good deal on my $1,299 13-inch iPad Pro with 256GB thanks to the TV/cable supplier I use here in the U.K. offering me a way to pick it up with relatively low monthly installments. Forking out that fee in a lump sum obviously isn’t chump change, of course. Yet finding a way to fund my Pro purchase has at least stopped me from obliterating my credit card when I was severely tempted by a powerful HP beast last week.

On that note, the HP Omen Transcend 14 Gaming Laptop with RTX 4070 GPU is on sale for $2,064 at HP right now. This super attractive machine normally retails for $2,414, making for a nice saving of $350.

HP Omen Transcend 14 Gaming Laptop with RTX 4070 GPU: was $2,414 now $2,064 @ HP

HP Omen Transcend 14 Gaming Laptop with RTX 4070 GPU: was $2,414 now $2,064 @ HP
The highest-end configuration of this gorgeous gaming laptop is currently $350 off. For that you get a powerful Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 Laptop GPU, an Intel Core Ultra 9 185H CPU and 1TB of NVMe SSD storage. The Omen Transcend also stands out from the pack thanks to its 14-inch 2.8K (2,800 x 1,800) OLED screen. 

Obviously the best gaming laptops are going to provide you with a more responsive experience than streaming services like Steam Link and GeForce Now are capable of. And while I’ve been having a whale of a time testing out the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2024) these past few weeks, I’ve got enough history with Apple tablets I was never going to be able to resist an OLED iPad. At least I held out a week longer than I thought.

Steam Link has given me a newfound appreciation for streaming the best PC games, mainly thanks to one of the most sensational screens I’ve ever seen. The unexpected pairing of Cyberpunk 2077 and my new iPad Pro is just the tonic my soul needed after my ghastly time with PlayStation Portal.

More from Tom's Guide

Dave Meikleham
UK Computing Editor

Dave is a computing editor at Tom’s Guide and covers everything from cutting edge laptops to ultrawide monitors. When he’s not worrying about dead pixels, Dave enjoys regularly rebuilding his PC for absolutely no reason at all. In a previous life, he worked as a video game journalist for 15 years, with bylines across GamesRadar+, PC Gamer and TechRadar. Despite owning a graphics card that costs roughly the same as your average used car, he still enjoys gaming on the go and is regularly glued to his Switch. Away from tech, most of Dave’s time is taken up by walking his husky, buying new TVs at an embarrassing rate and obsessing over his beloved Arsenal.