While there's a huge gulf between benchmarks and real-world usage, synthetic tests do give us a good metric by which to compare different hardware platforms, and results for the new iPad Air suggest that Apple's flagship tablet is significantly faster than previous models.
Thanks to the new 64-bit A7 processor running at 1.4GHz (100MHz faster than it runs on the iPhone 5s), the new iPad Air is achieving benchmark scores that are 80 percent better than the iPad 4 could hit on the Geekbench platform.
During the unveiling of the iPad, Apple claimed that both the CPU and GPU in the iPad Air was twice as fast as that found in the iPad 4.
While the performance improvements compared to the iPad 4 are impressive, it's when you compare the iPad Air to the iPad 2 – which is still sold by Apple, and costs $100 less than the entry-level 16GB iPad Air – that see just how much progress Apple has made. The iPad Air is a whopping seven times faster than the iPad 2. This means that the question that people buying an iPad 2 have to ask themselves is this; is the $100 saving worth the performance hit?
Bear in mind that these are synthetic benchmark scores and are only loosely tied in with real-world performance. Despite an iPad 4 being almost three times faster than the iPad 4 in the Geekbench test, when they're in my hand I have a hard time seeing the difference unless I'm pushing the system with a high-end game (or running a benchmark).