Found by MacRumors (opens in new tab), tests conducted with the Geekbench 5 CPU benchmark have revealed Apple's not toned down the power of the M1 chip just because it's in a tablet. But it's still not clear exactly how Apple wants users to take advantage of all the M1's performance in tablet form.
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The average of the four Geekbench 5 results (opens in new tab) (plus one more (opens in new tab)) see the new M1-powered iPad Pro rake in a single core score of 1,718 and a multi-core score of 7,284. In our own tests of the 2020 iPad Pro, which uses an A12Z Bionic chip, it scored 1,126 and 4,720 on the same tests. The numbers make it clear that the 2021 iPad Pro is a far more powerful tablet than its predecessor.
Comparatively, the MacBook Air M1 scores 1,701 and 7,378 on the same test. Both this and the iPad beat the previous most powerful MacBook, the Core i9-powered MacBook Pro (16-inch), which scored 1,091 and 6,845.
Tablets like the iPad can't be as versatile as laptops since they often don't come bundled with keyboards and mice, plus they need a case or stand to be used without holding them. Even with that in mind, the power of the M1 iPad Pro 2021 is still impressive, and could be a better pick for certain users who prefer working with a stylus to a mouse and keyboard.
That said, all the power needs to be put to good use. Apple didn't show off any new M1-ready iPad apps at its Spring Loaded event, which does proffer the question of what you need all the extra performance for, given these apps work fine on existing iPad hardware. Tailored apps will likely come down the line in one form or another, particularly since M1 Macs can run iPhone and iPad apps alongside native macOS apps. Bigger benchmark scores alone don't make for a good reason to spend over a grand on a new tablet though.
The 2021 iPad Pro is set to launch later in May. Both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch models come equipped with the M1 chipset, as well as new Center Stage front cameras and optional 5G connectivity. However the larger model also gets a mini-LED display, which makes for sharper and more vivid colors. We've yet to try out the iPad Pro, but there's a good chance it'll become a new member of our best tablets list with these impressive specs.