2017 iPad Pro Review
Well it happened again, that power surge that took out my iPhone and iMac claimed it's next victim. My iPad Pro. I had no intentions of upgrading my iPad Pro this year because 2015's was so good but as fate takith, Apple sellith.


DESIGN

In 2015 I purchased the 12.9" model and I absolutely loved it. While iOS 9 didn't utilize iPad Pro to it's full potential, each iOS release slowly transformed it into the machine I started using more than my Mac. Now with iOS 11 I can honestly say I don't use my Mac that much. It's really sad because it's a phenomenal machine, iPad Pro just more convenient and intuitive. This time around I went with the 12.9" again as the form factor is perfect for me. That being said if Apple did a 15" iPad Pro I'd probably buy it (of course I am kidding, I don't want a serving tray sized iPad or do I..). The 2017 12.9" iPad Pro has remained mostly unchanged except Apple did move the volume buttons to a slightly different location as well as the speaker/microphones. As well as the new camera system so of course my old back case didn't fit (all covers including the smart keyboard still fit). Apple movith and Apple sellith. I did purchase Apple's leather sleeve for iPad Pro and will be posting a review of that as well.


POWER

I usually wait towards the end of a review to talk about the nerdy power specs of a new computer, this iPad Pro's power is so incredible it deserved to be a major talking point. The 2017 iPad Pro uses A10X "Fusion" Central Processing Unit (CPU). Let's just put it this way, if there was a nerdy magazine with a cover fold in the middle it would be of this processor. I'm in love with this chip, it seriously is an incredible power house. I'll talk about the nerdy specs in a moment but I want to share the Geekbench benchmarks and compare them to Apple's current Macintosh lineup (larger numbers are better):


2017 12.9" iPad Pro
Single-Core: 3891
Multi-Core: 9235


2017 13" MacBook Pro
Single-Core: 4314
Multi-Core: 9153


2017 15" MacBook Pro
Single-Core: 4356
Multi-Core: 14421


MacBook
Single-Core: 3545
Multi-Core: 6711


2015 MacBook Air
Single-Core: 3565
Multi-Core: 6844


2017 21.5" iMac
Single-Core: 4743
Multi-Core: 13740


2017 27" iMac
Single-Core: 4753
Mult-Core: 13867


2014 Mac mini
Single-Core: 3558
Multi-Core: 6725


2013 Mac Pro
Single-Core: 3751
Mult-Core: 12906


2012 27" iMac
Single-Core: 3890
Multi-Core: 12567


iPhone 8 Plus
Single-Core: 4214
Multi-Core: 10120

Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Single-Core: 2771
Multi-Core: 5866


Okay, this is a bunch of nerdy-random numbers and they really don't mean a whole lot to the average person. Like I mentioned, larger numbers are better and it's worth mentioning that these are the base configurations. This really shows the 2017 iPad Pro's performance. I included the 2012 iMac as that's my main Mac and iPhone 8 Plus is almost too powerful. I have this secret persona of iPhone 8 Plus as this smug person that knows they are the best and likes to remind others of it. I also looked up the Geekbench results for Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 and it turns out that in terms of CPU performance, the 2017 iPad Pro significantly outperforms it. The 2017 iPad Pro's multi-core performance is almost double than the "real" processor in the Surface Pro 4. As it stands right now, the 12.9" iPad Pro out performs the 13" MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini, and rivals the performance of the other Macs. As a little back story, when my father passed away in 2012 I took a chunk of my "inheritance" and purchased the absolute top of the line iMac. Without getting into the details I dropped around $4000 and it's still an absolute powerhouse. Today I mainly just use it for intense video edits and software development. It absolutely baffles me that an iPad is rivaling the computational performance of a $4000 desktop (then again so is iPhone 8 Plus) especially considering how thin iPad Pro. For the nerdy bunch in the crowd, A10X is a hexacore (6) CPU at 2.3GHz. iPad Pro also now packs 4GB of RAM which is a life savor when it comes to iOS 11's new multitasking capabilities.

For those that are not aware, Mac's don't encode footage with the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). Most (if not all) PCs encode footage with the GPU as the software is not optimized to encode with the CPU. Do a little digging online about how Final Cut Pro outperforms Adobe Premier. Even on a Windows based PC that has better specs than a Mac. Apple has this incredible partnership with Intel and Intel has a technology called Quick Sync which is a media encoder sub-processor. When encoding using a GPU you are also sharing that GPU with the computers video out (displaying on a monitor) and rendering all the different graphics elements in the operating system. It turns out that those are some really large tasks and don't leave a lot of room for a video editor to encode video. Don't get me wrong, premier isn't a slouch it just could be a whole lot better. Encoding with Quick Sync gives applications like Final Cut Pro a dedicated platform that is not bogged down with any other instruction sets. iPad Pro has a very similar Apple designed product like Intel's Quick Sync that is apart of the A10X CPU. This is what really attracted me to the 2017 iPad Pro because it allows you to encode 4K footage. Even though my 2012 iMac is very powerful, it hangs and stutters a little when encoding 4K footage and because of the new encoding chip in iPad Pro I am able to do more with 4K@60 footage.

With all that being said about how the A10X can encode video better than most mid range PCs, Apple didn't hold back on iPad Pro's graphics. The 2017 iPad Pro has a 12-Core GPU. I'll let you sit back and take that information in as I had to when iPad Pro was being introduced. Now this is not Apple's newly released GPU that was introduced with the 2017 iPhones. It's really hard to compare graphics performance on iPad Pro and a Mac but what I can tell you is that iPad Pro is no slouch. It packs 30% faster graphics and I can't wait to see what games take advantage of it.

Apple has a statement on their website "faster than most PC laptop" and I can honestly agree with that. I can genuinely say that the 2017 iPad Pro is a powerhouse and because of that I can use iPad Pro more and more as my main machine with the convenience of taking it anywhere. In fact, I was eating at a Kentucky Fried Chicken the other day editing a movie in LumaFusion and loving every minute. Okay that's enough nerdy spec talk, bottom line these are very powerful.


DISPLAY

With a more powerful GPU comes a more powerful display and Apple did not disappoint. For starters it now has a wider color gamut which means that it can display even more colors which is great for photographers. iPad Pro also supports True Tone which slightly tints the display the color of the ambient light where ever you may be. Have you noticed that with a sheet of white paper how the color of the lights changes it very slightly? Apple did too and iPad reacts in the same exact way. This is especially useful when reading and you don't have this intense white screen to stare at. The big thing to note about the new display system is that it has a refresh rate of 120Hz which Apple calls Pro Motion.

Let's say you roll a ball across a table and you constantly blink your eyes. Every time your eyes are open you see the ball move and when your eyes open again you see the ball in a slightly different position. To your brain it seems like ball is rolling, you are just missing some of the in-between movement. Imagine if you could blink faster, you could see more of the ball rolling making it seem more like a fluid motion. All screens work like this as they receive the information about what to show and then show the updated information and so on and so forth. This updating information (or refreshing) is measured in times per second. So the 2017 iPad Pro can refresh information on the screen 120 times a second. So why is this impressive as my other screens look just fine? The everyday person is not going to notice a difference, I didn't the first time I saw iPad Pro. As I used my 2017 iPad Pro I started to notice things here and there. Animations, scrolling, zooming, you name it were all a whole lot smoother. I personally have noticed a huge difference when using Apple Pencil as it appears the line I'm drawing is coming right out of the tip. Again don't get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with drawing on the 2015 iPad Pro it's just that the 2017 iPad Pro is just a tad more fluent.


CAMERA

Apple updated the camera system and the 12.9" iPad has a flash. For the most part I don't use my iPad to take photos or video that being said I am prepping a video review of the iPhone 8 Plus and I cannot record 4K video of a device with that device so iPad Pro will come in handy as it does now have 4K video recording. There isn't much else to say on the camera, they're better and if you use the iPad Pro as your camera then you'll be happy.


STORAGE

I was originally intending to purchase the 128GB iPad Pro as I lived comfortably with 128GB on my 2015 iPad Pro. I was then informed that iPad Pro now only comes in 64GB, 256GB, 512GB options. I couldn't justify needing 512GB as I store mostly everything on iCloud so I went with the 256GB option. This is double what I had before and like I mentioned, I lived comfortably with it.


VALUE

The biggest question I get from people is "should I buy it". I won't tell you should and should not buy but what I will do is lay down the facts and let you make your own decision. The 2017 iPad Pro starts at $649 for the 10.5" model and $799 for the 12.9" model. These prices were increased from last year's models (even from June when they were released). This is caused by the increasing prices in the storage technology Apple uses in iPad. Everything I mentioned about the 12.9" iPad Pro also can be applied to the 10.5" model as it's exactly the same just a little smaller. It's worth mentioning that the 10.5" model has a tad-very-slightly higher performance. If you look at the benchmarks for it you'll see that it's just a few numbers higher but still if you wish to get the absolute most powerful iPad Pro then the 10.5" model is the one you should look at. Honestly you won't even notice a difference.

I want to do a price per performance comparison of iPad Pro and Apple's Macintosh current Macintosh lineup. Like before, this is just solely based on the base configurations and multi-core CPU benchmarks. If you take the price of the model and divide it by the benchmark score and then I divided that number by 0.01 to generate a whole number.

I was very surprised when I saw these results, it turns out that iPad Pro has the lowest price per performance score meaning that you are getting the most performance for the lowest price. It also appears that (in a base configuration) iPad Pro is Apple's fifth most powerful computer. I also was surprised to see that Mac mini still had a great price per performance score. With no surprise, MacBook and Mac Pro are the lowest performing machines at their price. So while technically Mac mini is the most affordable computer Apple sells, iPad Pro is a better value. Now of course if you need desktop applications you're going to want to get a Macintosh. That being said there is a lot of incredible software available for iPad Pro and I can honestly say that it satisfies 95% of what I need in a computer. I am planning on doing a piece about using iPad Pro as a primary computer so be on the look out for that. It's worth mentioning that I write every one of my reviews on my iPad Pro as well as all my graphic designs and podcasts.

Something else to consider is that you'll want a keyboard. Apple sells the Smart Keyboard which just magnetically adheres to the iPad Pro and does not require an extra power source. Smart Keyboard costs $159 for the 10.5" and $169 for the 12.9". Any bluetooth keyboard will work as well as USB keyboards. It does truly frustrate me that you cannot access USB external storage in the iOS Files app but at the very least you can plug in USB device (like a microphone, speakers, keyboards, etc) with Apple's Lighting to USB adapter ($29). Once you factor in the cost of the Smart Keyboard then iPad Pro receives a value score of 8.7 which then makes the Mac mini and 21.5" iMac a better value.

Of course there are a bazillion different factors when choosing a computer like graphics, storage, screen size, form factor, etc.. Here's what I need and iPad Pro satisfies most of what I need. Your needs may be different. For those that know me know when I get a new iOS device, one of the first things I do is install Windows 95 on it. Unfortunately iOS 11 does not support 32bit memory addressing anymore (which is perfectly fine) so I need to devote some time to rewriting my emulator to support 64bit. I can genuinely say that for the average student (K - Higher Education) iPad Pro is a fantastic option. Portable, light, powerful, and compatible with most industry standard programs like Microsoft Office. Even most people will find that iPad Pro a great substitute as their main machine.
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