New iPad Pro Harder, Better, Faster, Cheaper Than Surface Pro 4

When Apple introduced its latest iPad Pro tablets, it promised improved performance.

Here’s what Apple had to say when they introduced the updated iPad Pro tablets:

The powerful new 64-bit A10X Fusion chip provides performance that is faster than most PC laptops shipping today, so tackling complex tasks like editing photos and 4K video, rendering 3D images or playing games feels effortless.

A six-core CPU and 12-core GPU deliver up to 30 percent faster CPU performance and 40 percent faster graphics performance than the industry-leading A9X chip, while delivering all-day battery life.

Now that independent benchmarks are starting appear, they show that the updated iPad Pro tablets are not just faster than their predecessors, but that their CPU performance is solidly in laptop territory. In fact, Geekbench processor benchmarking shows that the entry level iPad Pro ($649) bests the Microsoft’s mid-range Surface Pro ($1,199) by more than 35%

Here are the 64-bit Geekbench results for the Surface Pro 4 i5:

Single-core performance is about 3250, and multi-core performance about 6775.

Geekbench scores for the new iPad Pro tablets show it besting both the Surface Pro’s single-core and multi-core processor scores:

Some readers may question whether this is a valid comparison, since the Surface Pro 4 is aging and because CPU benchmarks don’t tell the whole story.

If you want a slim laptop that can double as a tablet, the Surface Pro 4 or other Windows 10 hybrids can run traditional laptop applications and support traditional laptop workflows. End of story.

If you want a tablet that offers laptop-level performance, though, this year’s iPad Pro tablets do just that.

They offer better multi-touch performance, better pencil control, better processor performance, better battery life and a better developer ecosystem – which means that the iPad platform offers an impressive selection of mobile music making apps that’s only going to get better. If you want great tablet music apps, the iPad platform delivers.

The iPad Pro is also getting closer to being a full laptop alternative, especially with the improved file management and multi-tasking that is coming in iOS 11.

Many companies are making music software introductions iPad-first (like Korg with Gadget) and then porting them to laptop/desktop. And, reading between the lines, the rise of iOS music making was one of the drivers behind Ableton’s recent acquisition of Cycling ’74. “The landscape of the computing devices people use for music and media is changing radically,” noted Cycling ’74 CEO David Zicarelli at the time of the acquisition. “We can’t just count on the entire world having a laptop.”

What do you think of the state of the iPad Pro vs the Surface Pro and other hybrid options? Share your thoughts in the comments!

57 thoughts on “New iPad Pro Harder, Better, Faster, Cheaper Than Surface Pro 4

  1. New? I got mine like a year ago. They are pretty good and I noticed how much faster all of the music apps run like the Moog Model 15. I went from an ipad air to the ipad pro, big difference in speed.

  2. wow the arrogance in that post is astounding.
    If you start talking about traditional applications vs ipad echosystem etc you better be delivering on the first front as well. Because last time i checked Apple was dominant in the “traditional” music making but if they feel that way we should probably know it and not invest in their laptops and desktops.

    Seriously thought you can’t really compare the ipad with the surface if it’s not running proper full featured apps like the surface does. You are getting to greedy. It is ok if you do not want to compete in that field, but just say so..

    and btw if you want me to take you seriously don’t make me use the “camera kit” in my music making.

    1. Seriously, though, what’s a Windows music app that’s designed for multitouch operation? Maybe you could say Bitwig, but literally no DAWs are really designed for it, so educate me if I’m wrong.

      What you’ve got is lowest common denominator support fit the surface, low adoption rate for hybrids, and zero economic reason for companies to rework their apps to make sense in a surface pro interface.

    2. In fairness the article is talking about the hardware. Want to buy one or not, the hardware is impressive. Not sure where the astounding arrogance is there. I bought one, and yes I will still finish and mix my projects on my Mac. The full fledged software isn’t there yet (though the apps and app community are inspiring) . Hopefully Logic and others on the way soon.

      1. You can’t really make a case about hardware when you have no real connectivity options with the ipad. The one can be the hub of your studio, the other a nice addition.

        And how can you compare something that is a laptop and a tablet NOW with something that perhaps might come closer to a laptop in the future with a new ios.

        And of course you cannot take compare the flagship on the one hand and take the middle models in the other. Where is the comparison with the i7 surface’s???? Even there you can see that this is not an honest debate.

  3. It´s a shame that even the most capable iPad music making apps still feel like toys compared to professional music making software like Ableton, Reaper, Logic or other proper DAWs. I use an iPad all the time (with a lot of music making apps) and it´s great for creating loops that can be used in proper tracks or getting an idea down fairly quickly, that´s where it stops though, for me at least. Improvement would me most welcome.

    1. Just because you impose severe restrictions on your ios music making doesn’t mean everyone else does. It’s a start to finish music tool for some people and without the super inflated costs of windows synth software.

    2. Yeah the iPad can never replace a laptop, and as yet, the laptop, still can’t match the iPad for convenience and immediacy… I’m hoping surface pro 5 will be the game changer. But the game changer will never be Apple, so long as they use apps instead of programs and leave out essential day to day functions like USB ports.

    3. Have you tried Cubasis or AUM already? Cheap alternatives to desktop DAWs. And no, not only suitable for looping purposes.

  4. Well, ok, good job Apple, though this is “apples and oranges.” The Surface Pro 4 is years old, the i7 is even better, and it has greater storage. It also runs the full OS and can do anything a laptop or even desktop can do, and this is still iOS.

    Mostly this proves to me that Apple STILL doesn’t seem to get it. The appeal of the Surface is that it erased the distinction between tablet and PC. It’s got multitouch, a detachable keyboard… where is the Apple tablet-laptop? This ain’t it.

    1. I agree that the comparison is super-dumb. It’s pointless to compare CPU’s running entirely different apps on entirely different systems.

      But! Musicians are buying iPads precisely because it has iOS and all of the cool, well-designed and easy to use apps. (which are things that you can hardly say about even half of the popular VST’s, especially considering UI design). And these apps, they also cost much, so much less than sometimes even their direct VST counterparts.
      Also: iPad has a better screen, better battery life and better portabilty, which are things that aren’t that important for studio-only use but they’re very important if you’re doing something on the go.
      And yeah, for 650$ you’re getting the Surface with 4 gigs of RAM. Dual-core i7 with 8 gigs, which is I think what I’d want to reasonably work with full-fledged DAWs is more expensive.

    2. You have some valid points, and the surface, though I would never buy one, is gaining traction and overall is a decent device. However, one thing that Apple STILL DOES get, is that there are a lot of people that want:
      -A true tablet experience, that is the master of what it does, not decent and both, master of none like the surface. Every surface user I have ever seen uses it like a laptop. I have yet to see anyone use it like a tablet. I think that is both because it is more bulky and awkward to hold like one, and because the software (though there have been some strides), still is not truly written ground up as a multi touch tablet software.
      -Is instant on, virtually no load time.
      -Is crazy portable. The surface isnt NOT portable, but its not the BEST portable device either. For me, who takes public transportation, that does make a huge difference. The ipad weighs nothing.

      I could go on and on. At least I agree that they are apples to oranges. One decent and a couple things and one amazing at it.

      1. the big thing about ipad though is that it is still a walled OS – you are still working in app land and not in an environment where you can more freely plug things in and really customize your experience. Until this happens the ipad will always be a tool and not a centerpiece lace an actual computer. Some users like to not think about it I am sure but at the same time if I were to have a dedicated device that essentially does a single function, or a couple of functions I would rather have a dedicated music device that is built for that use and compatibility with external hardware and software..

      2. I use it like a tablet daily. And as a laptop. It provides me the flexibility to use it the way I want to when I want to. You are simply mistaken.

    3. The reality is that no one wants the tablet-laptops that Microsoft has been pushing – because the Surface Pros are lousy as tablets, and expensive and under-powered as laptops.

      The Surface Pros are on their fourth generation and, in spite of all the money that Microsoft has used to pimp them, they still aren’t selling.

      You mention the i7, which is telling, because it points out that you have to spend 2K to get a decent Microsoft tablet. And then there are still no real multitouch apps for it, because developers have no reason to make multitouch Windows apps when nobody has Surface Pros,and few even have touch PCs.

      I’m still waiting for someone to point out the ‘real’ multitouch music apps on Windows.

      PS: There aren’t any.

      1. The sad thing is that these same Windows users that think their tablets are so great whine every time another awesome app gets released for iPad.

  5. I still have a big gripe about the lack of easy hardware connectivity to the iOS range.
    Sure they have WiFi & Bluetooth, but you have to always be online to access ‘cloud’ storage etc.
    They still have no built-in USB ports for connecting third-party peripherals – eg. MIDI controllers, USB audio/DAC, flash drives, hard drives and no HDMI video out.

    If new iOS tablets with all their power could win Windows apps like you can in OSX, then we could have the best of both worlds. Imagine – a windows emulator for iOS that could win VST host and DAW apps!

    1. “They still have no built-in USB ports for connecting third-party peripherals – eg. MIDI controllers, USB audio/DAC, flash drives, hard drives and no HDMI video out.”

      Been a while, eh?
      There’s an Apple made USB ‘camera connect’ dongle recently updated to USB 3 (year ago) for the iPad Pro 12.9″ original, but the USB 2 functionality works with external DACs! I use em every weekend! USB audio and MIDI, No problem! It works great, and I’ve mapped two major programs/apps on both iPad and MacBook Pros. Flash drives? Yep, they’ve got em, with Lightning on one end and USB on the other (SanDisk) and HDMI out? Yep – an Apple made 6″ dongle w/HDMI & power or lightning for powering while using the HDMI out
      Hard drives, yep. You’re right. They don’t work with em, but they now come with up to 512GB of onboard storage and parity in price for a TB of online, cloud storage with Dropbox and OneDrive, Google, etc

      I’ve paid my mortgages on the backs of iPads for almost three years now

      All in response to Mick,
      As your comment below on having to use a Mac for backing up or for ANYthing anymore at all on iOS is a ridiculous misnomer and ‘fake news’
      PS. You don’t need PC or a Mac;)

      Wow. Some of the misinformation is just over the top

    2. @Mick
      “They still have no built-in USB ports for connecting third-party peripherals – eg. MIDI controllers, USB audio/DAC, flash drives, hard drives and no HDMI video out.”

      Been a while, eh?
      There’s an Apple made USB ‘camera connect’ dongle recently updated to USB 3 (year ago) for the iPad Pro 12.9″ original, but the USB 2 functionality works with external DACs! I use em every weekend! USB audio and MIDI, No problem! It works great, and I’ve mapped two major programs/apps on both iPad and MacBook Pros. Flash drives? Yep, they’ve got em, with Lightning on one end and USB on the other (SanDisk) and HDMI out? Yep – an Apple made 6″ dongle w/HDMI & power or lightning for powering while using the HDMI out
      Hard drives, yep. You’re right. They don’t work with em, but they now come with up to 512GB of onboard storage and parity in price for a TB of online, cloud storage with Dropbox and OneDrive, Google, etc

      I’ve paid my mortgages on the backs of iPads for almost three years now

      All in response to Mick,
      As your comment below on having to use a Mac for backing up or for ANYthing anymore at all on iOS is a ridiculous misnomer and ‘fake news’
      PS. You don’t need PC or a Mac;)

      Wow. Some of the misinformation is just over the top

  6. … and iOS still has the stupid “walled garden” system of file transfer. You have to wither use iTunes (bloatware) to transfer files or frig around with iFunBox (which often has trouble with iTunes / iOS access :-/

    1. this – it is the thing that bugs me the most about ios devices, would it have been so hard for them to either put a slot in for an sd card or to have a common space for general storage so that you can transfer to and from the device without crappy itunes? Having owned an ipod touch and shuffle in the past, I got so annoyed with the file transfer aspect of it, I would never want to deal with it with any kind of regularity. Eventually I may get an ipad just for some of the apps that don’t exist on anything else and/or to use as a sequencer or controller but I really can’t see it replacing the overall use of a laptop unless they change it up which isn’t apple’s way.

      1. this concern about file management is being addressed with iOS 11. and if you see Jaxx’s comments, you can then understand how to maximize the use of an iPad.

  7. I just bought a Lightning to USB connector to plug my little Akai portable keyboard in to my iPad Pro. I fired up a synth app and started playing it with the LPK25. Success!

    After about a minute, my iPad flashed a box that said, “This device not supported” and the keyboard stopped working. So I am thinking that iPads will be “Pro” when you can plug things in to them and have them work. Also hate having to drag everything in and out through iTunes. But I suppose that is how Apple figures out what we are using them for and how to target us for ads.

    Look for the new, up gunned, lower priced, Surface XYZ 9000 Pro+ in 3,2,1…

    1. What cable were you using? Mine has never said that unless it’s an unsupported cable. If I got another portable keyboard though I don’t think I would be plugging it in.

    2. Akai’s LPK25 has been extremely buggy for me no matter what device I tried – and finally its USB-micro connector just broke… I’d recommend to check yours and what type of cable and adaptor you use to connect to iPad.

      1. really? I use it all the time on PC and android and have never had an issue with it – both the lpk25 and the mpk mini

  8. An iPad isn’t competition to laptops or desktops. It is a device unto itself. Apps like Animooog are perfectly suited to the iPad. The way you interact with it couldn’t be done on a desktop, just as it would be impractical to use a full featured DAW on a 10″ touch screen.

    1. well I think the argument gets started all the time by apple and fanboys because the marketing of the ipad evolved from jobs saying “it is the most comfortable way to consume media” to the current apple commercials that say that it is a replacement for your laptop.

  9. iPad iOS music making is what got me into music making and was my gateway drug. Everything just works in iOS. When I bought a surface pro from Best Buy, the second day after installing ableton on it, it blue screened on me. I played it safe and switched to a Mac mini and haven’t looked back since. So unless you’re a geek hacker or someone with mad PC skills, I’d recommend Mac and iOS. Everything is so easy. I even DJ now using the Traktor z1 controller and my iPad Pro. So I’ve even said g’bye to the laptop.

  10. If you read again carefully you might see that they say if you want a laptop to get a surface. So why are you saying bs?

  11. For pro audio I’d really like to see more I/O on the iPad. Trying to simultaneously connect audio, MIDI and power is a pain. Wireless connectivity is cute but I’d never trust it on stage.

    I do hope iOS addresses multitasking and file handling for pro users, while remaining easy for casual users. Multitasking is particularly frustrating, because background apps just stop when the OS feels it needs the resources.

    I don’t believe Microsoft’s vision of one OS to run on everything is the right answer either. Windows seems clunky on a tablet, and because of all its new tablet features it now feels clunky on the desktop too.

  12. Here’s the thing. If I record a track on an iOS device using an app like Auxy, and then want to edit some video to that track (shot on the same iOS device) using an app like Premiere clip. I can’t load the track into Premiere clip without first exporting the track from Auxy somewhere, like a cloud site, load it into iTunes on a computer, and then sync the iOS device to iTunes on the computer to put the track back on the iOS device, but in the iTunes library. Which doesn’t always work. And only after doing all that will I be able to load the track into Premiere Clip.

    It’s ridiculous. Hopefully the file system app makes it possible.

  13. If Apple eventually makes a general finder like app for iOS which would finally let us access files among apps freely, can do zip, interfacing to external devices, and works also like dropbox, then iOS would finally be really pro level for music apps. The file system under the hood is quite different from the full OS but they could develop a pseudo file sytem over the current system..well in iOS12…

  14. I will never replace a computer with my iPad, there’s too much stuff an iPad can’t do. Like plug in a USB stick, or use multiple browsers to ensure you can access all of the web.

    I love my iPad, I literally live with it by my side at all times. but I’ll be buying the surface pro 5 when it comes out. I expect it to be the tablet/laptop I do everything in. One device that does it all.

  15. “New iPad Pro Harder, Better, Faster, Cheaper Than Surface Pro 4” just like any high-end product ought to be better than the previous year’s mid-range product. Please compare iPad Pro (2017) with Surface Pro (2017). And chose one with the i7-chip.

    1. Dude – the iPad Pro already smokes the i7:

      http://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench3/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=surface+pro+4+i7

      Apple latest CPUs blow away the Surface Pro’s, and the iPad Pros are about a third the price of the Surface Pro i7.

      People seriously have no clue how stagnant Intel has been with its chips. Sure, you can get a super server-class chip for desktop computers, but they do it by making bloated multi-core CPUs that can heat your house. Apple’s mobile chips are blowing away everybody else now.

  16. The hell with Ipads I got one wiped out and lost very precious data. An update forced me to add a password and then forgot it. This should have been optional. Too much security, many limitations.. everything is designed to make you spend more. No storage, no usb etc I’ll stop here.

      1. Microsft would not enforce bitlocker by default for the average home user. Microsoft has always been a more generous company and they let billions of users go unlicensed until recently. x86 and x64 will have the better software programs (not apps) imo..

        1. It doesn’t really matter who would do what. If you forget the password and all the answers to your secret questions – it’s your problem, not Apple or Microsoft’s.

  17. @Mick. Your comment about transferring files is three years out of date. You might want to search Googlers on the Intertubes for an amazing invention called “The Cloud”. It was invented by Steve Jobs hisself just so that you can transfer files without using iTunes! And try Googlering temsl like Dropbox, Box, iCloud and even (invented by Bilbo Gates hisself) Microsoft OneDrive. It’s amazin’ stuff.

  18. I tested the new iPad Pro 12.9″ with Geekbench 4 comparing the performance with the “old” Air1 and the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 i7-6650U. The A10X 3 cores exceed 25% the performance of the intel i7-6650U. The computing power of the single core is the same. Next is a small movie with … a little final music surprise

    1. Thanks for sharing!

      How long until the Microserfs crawl out of the woodwork to complain that this is an unfair comparison?

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