Notebookcheck

Notebookcheck's Top 10 Tablets

Patrick Afschar (translated by Martina Osztovits), 06/03/2015

July 2015 update. Here you will find the current best tablets reviewed by Notebookcheck in the last few months. Our list of top models is regularly updated, maintained and commented on and should assist in purchasing decisions.

For the original German article, see here.

Almost every manufacturer of notebooks or smartphones now offers at least one or more tablets. This development is not really surprising, as the mobile browsing, mail, and gaming companions have taken a good chunk out of overall notebook sales. It is not only the premium manufacturers that are trying to take advantage of this trend, but also the cheaper brands. Most of these use inexpensive components manufactured in China, tend to emulate successful designs, and they compete predominantly on price. So far, none of the bargain-basement tablets has managed to earn a spot in our exclusive Top 10 list, which is dominated by the stalwarts and led by the big players of the industry.

The following table shows an overview of the Top 10 tablets reviewed by Notebookcheck in the previous 12 months and of relevant devices which are still available. If ratings are equal, the latest review is listed first. The table can be sorted by clicking its headers and filtered by entering text in the text field above it (e.g. "Android").

Notebookcheck Tablet Charts as of July 2015

Pos.DateRatingModelHeightWeightSizeResolutionOS
111/1390%Apple iPad AirApple iPad Air
Apple A7
PowerVR G6430
1 GB Memory, 16 GB eMMC
7.5 mm464 g9.7"2048x1536Apple iOS 7
211/1489%Apple iPad Air 2Apple iPad Air 2
Apple A8X
PowerVR GXA6850
2 GB Memory, 128 GB eMMC
6.1 mm444 g9.7"2048x1536Apple iOS 8
310/1489%NVIDIA Shield Tablet LTE P1761NVIDIA Shield Tablet LTE P1761
Nvidia Tegra K1
NVIDIA Tegra K1 Kepler GPU
2 GB Memory, 32 GB eMMC
9.2 mm371 g8.0"1920x1200Android 4.4 KitKat
409/1489%Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Samsung Exynos 5420 Octa
ARM Mali-T628 MP6
3 GB Memory, 16 GB eMMC
6.6 mm301 g8.4"2560x1600Android 4.4 KitKat
504/1489%Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974
Qualcomm Adreno 330
2 GB Memory, 16 GB eMMC
7.2 mm331 g8.4"2560x1600Android 4.4 KitKat
612/1389%Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 EditionSamsung Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 Edition
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974
Qualcomm Adreno 330
3 GB Memory, 16 GB eMMC
7.9 mm535 g10.1"2560x1600Android 4.3
712/1389%Apple iPad mini RetinaApple iPad mini Retina
Apple A7
PowerVR G6430
1 GB Memory, 16 GB eMMC
7.5 mm328 g7.9"2048x1536Apple iOS 7
801/1588%Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet CompactSony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC
Qualcomm Adreno 330
3 GB Memory, 16 GB eMMC
6.4 mm271 g8.0"1920x1200Android 4.4 KitKat
902/1588%Dell Venue 8 7000Dell Venue 8 7000
Intel Atom Z3580
PowerVR G6430
0 GB Memory, 16 GB eMMC
6 mm308 g8.4"2560x1600Android 4.4 KitKat
1011/1488%Apple iPad Mini 3Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple A7
PowerVR G6430
1 GB Memory, 16 GB eMMC
7.5 mm331 g7.9"2048x1536Apple iOS 8

 

Top 10 during the last 12 months at the time of writing; most recent reviews are listed first

 

 

Editors' Comments

We just reviewed four tablets in the previous months, and this number already includes a Windows tablet with the Asus Transformer Book T100 Chi. The most ambitious among them was the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, which failed to jump into our Top 10 because of its weak software. However, the tablet from the consumer giant is excellent from a technical point of view. You'll only sorely miss a storage expansion.

However, this month we have a tablet highlight in our lab. The Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is just as promising as its predecessors and comes with a Snapdragon 810 and Android 5 Lollipop. We are excited to see, how well the device can cope with the waste heat of the processor, which causes problems in many other devices.

Apple iPad Air
Apple iPad Air

1st

Even though the Retina display is not a unique feature anymore, and even though it was taken from the predecessor in the case of the iPad Air, Apple once again manages to offer an almost perfectly balanced package of hardware, software and operating system. The iPad Air is still the reference in terms of build quality. However, this does not apply if you are looking for a good maintainability or comprehensive connectivity (no SD-card reader). The dimensions and the weight, however, are still among the best you can currently buy. But, some competitors are now on the same level. The first Air can indeed contain its successor, the Apple iPad 2. Our test revealed that this is primarily due to weaknesses in iOS 8, which should be largely resolved in the meanwhile. In this regard, we reviewed the iPad Air 2 again, in January.

Apple iPad Air 2
Apple iPad Air 2

2nd

Performance, size, and weight are even better in the Apple iPad Air 2 compared to its predecessor. In particular, the performance of the Apple A8X-SoC is impressive. In the meanwhile, the problems of iOS 8 are largely resolved, and we refrained from decreasing the rating. Nevertheless, the Air 2 does not perform well enough for the first place in our top list. Its stability suffers from the even lower height. In addition, Apple missed a chance to further improve the display. As a result, it cannot gain the throne.

Discussion

3rd

With the Nvidia Shield, Nvidia achieved a place on the podium. Nvidia is not known for many devices. Quite the contrary, they just release reference models to adequately present their semi-conductor products occasionally. For example, the Shield is the first tablet with their Tegra K1 chip - and convinces with it. Especially the gaming performance is impressive. Apart from that, the Shield is one of the best tablets. In any case, it is first choice for gamers. Together with the Nvidia Shield Tablet LTE, the graphics-card giant even has two tablets on the podium of our top list.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4

4th

A Samsung tablet once again manages to secure a spot on the podium of our Top 10. This is completely justified considering the great build quality, the high performance and the exceptional display of the Galaxy Tab S 8.4. If you are looking for a thin, light and perfectly constructed tablet, then it is hard to ignore the latest device from the South Korean manufacturer – especially with its unique WQHD panel in this size. The performance of Samsung's SoC is not without compromises, but it is more than decent in any case. The features with LTE, SD-card slot and good cameras are convenient. A successful tablet without real drawbacks.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4

5th

Amongst a huge number of tablets from Samsung, the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 manages to stand out with a convenient balance between the case and display quality, performance as well as battery runtimes. High-resolution display meets compact 8.4-inch form factor, equipped with high-end components.

 

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

6th

The designation "Note" indicates Samsung devices that are focused on the operation with a digitizer pen, which is supposed to extend the usage scenarios with organizational and creative tasks in particular. The Note 10.1 wants to attract creative customers with its high-resolution display, powerful components and USB 3.0 port (besides micro-SD slot). Another advantage is the battery runtime of more than 18 hours during web browsing. Gamers will like the powerful tablet with its great display as well.

Apple iPad Mini Retina
Apple iPad Mini Retina

7th

After the launch of the smaller sibling of the familiar iPad, we got the first update last year, which, amongst others, equipped the iPad Mini with the known high-resolution Retina display and a 64-bit CPU. Good things were improved even further. The 4:3 aspect ratio, which is still being used for the bigger iPad as well, still creates discussions. While movie enthusiasts prefer 16:10 or 16:9 screens, web browsing and productivity tasks benefit from the additional height – and the high Internet performance. The low weight is another advantage of the Apple iPad Mini Retina.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

8th

After a long time missing from our Tablet Top 10, Sony celebrates a comeback. With the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, the Japanese company delivers one of the best tablets, especially with a size from seven to eight-inches. Sony sticks to its virtues: The 8-inch tablet is once again very slim and light. In addition, the case is protected against water and dust. Although the hardware is not brand new, it is still sufficient for high-end performance. In addition, the tablet comes with a more than decent high-res display and an acceptable camera. MHL 3.0 and LTE complete the very good bundle. However, the build quality could be a bit better.

Dell Venue 8 7000
Dell Venue 8 7000

9th

Dell finally creates some diversity in our tablet ranking after quite a while. You could only read the names of the same companies over the last couple of months, but Dell has now arrived in the first tablet league with the Venue 8 7000. The 8.4-inch tablet comes with many virtues of a top tablet, including the very sophisticated aluminum chassis, which is also very thin and light. The performance of the Venue 8 is impressive as well. Other positive aspects are the colorful OLED display with wide viewing angles and a very high resolution. Innovative are the camera modules, but the picture quality is unfortunately not really convincing. Otherwise, the rating would have been even better.

Apple iPad Mini Retina
Apple iPad Mini Retina

10th

Apple now has the third generation of its small iPad in its portfolio and the Californians changed the designation again. Instead of Apple iPad Mini Retina 2 the new device is called Apple iPad Mini 3. The new designation cannot conceal the fact that almost nothing changed compared to the predecessor. The new Mini features the fingerprint sensor Touch ID now, and it is available with up to 128 GB storage and also in the colors gold/white. In addition, it got slightly more expensive. The innovations end here. Since the performance of the already old SoC is still high and the build quality excellent, the rating is still sufficient for a lower spot in our top list. For a better spot, Apple would have needed to improve more aspects. If you can do without 128 GB and Touch ID, the predecessor is currently even the better choice since its price fell.

Recent Tablet Awards

Editor's Choice in October 2014: Nvidia Shield Tablet
Editor's Choice in October 2014: Nvidia Shield Tablet
Editor's Choice in October 2014: Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Editor's Choice in October 2014: Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Best Value in September 2014: Huawei MediaPad X1 7.0
Best Value in September 2014: Huawei MediaPad X1 7.0
Editor's Choice in September 2014: Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5
Editor's Choice in September 2014: Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5
Editor's Choice in June 2014: Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet
Editor's Choice in June 2014: Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet
Editor's Choice in April 2014: Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
Editor's Choice in April 2014: Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
 
 

Size Comparison

Measurement Results

Apple iPad Air
Apple iPad Air 2
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 Edition
Apple iPad mini Retina
Apple iPad Mini 3
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5
Screen
Brightness Center473423455258406414411357290
Black Level *0.410.610.680.470.840.540.61
Contrast1154693669864493761585
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *2.822.863.883.663.434.113.323.352.37
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *1.452.373.382.511.512.531.112.092.03
Gamma *2.472.432.742.222.512.42.472.42.45
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)8810055100
Heat
Maximum Upper Side *39.436.23636.238.535.63736.739.6
Maximum Bottom *42.142.83839.139.334.138.436.736.4
Idle Upper Side *31.4313229.830.833.333.134.930.1
Idle Bottom *30323130.830.532.330.933.529.5
Battery Runtime
Reader / Idle14251364856117212501458117912151094
Load257212128250201279221210333
WiFi5536303475447021105543533600
H.264644562442601612395
Power Consumption
Idle Minimum *1.81.21.11.30.71.71.10.82.1
Idle Average *5.95.12.61.62.65.73.93.93.4
Idle Maximum *7.15.42.72.63.46.54.143.9
Load Average *7.57.94.27.18.77.967.27.4
Load Maximum *10.411.15.59.510.410.78.37.810.4

* ... smaller is better

Benchmarks

GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Apple iPad Air
27 fps ∼3%
Apple iPad Air 2
70.4 fps ∼8%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
66 fps ∼7%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
22.8 fps ∼3%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
25.9 fps ∼3%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
25.9 fps ∼3%
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 Edition
24 fps ∼3%
Apple iPad mini Retina
27 fps ∼3%
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
27.4 fps ∼3%
Apple iPad Mini 3
22.7 fps ∼3%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Apple iPad Air
21 fps ∼25%
Apple iPad Air 2
52.1 fps ∼63%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
57 fps ∼69%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
14.1 fps ∼17%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
17.1 fps ∼21%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
17.1 fps ∼21%
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 Edition
15 fps ∼18%
Apple iPad mini Retina
21 fps ∼25%
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
27.6 fps ∼33%
Apple iPad Mini 3
28.6 fps ∼34%
AnTuTu Benchmark v4 - Total Score (sort by value)
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
42997 Points ∼100%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
35262 Points ∼82%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
34160 Points ∼79%
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 Edition
35455 Points ∼82%
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
35007 Points ∼81%
Linpack Android / IOS
Single Thread (sort by value)
Apple iPad Air
557.99 MFLOPS ∼55%
Apple iPad Air 2
1021.11 MFLOPS ∼100%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
673 MFLOPS ∼66%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
384.557 MFLOPS ∼38%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
379.336 MFLOPS ∼37%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
379.336 MFLOPS ∼37%
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 Edition
455.616 MFLOPS ∼45%
Apple iPad mini Retina
536.03 MFLOPS ∼52%
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
403.045 MFLOPS ∼39%
Apple iPad Mini 3
887 MFLOPS ∼87%
Multi Thread (sort by value)
Apple iPad Air
977.31 MFLOPS ∼40%
Apple iPad Air 2
2428.68 MFLOPS ∼100%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
726 MFLOPS ∼30%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
770.167 MFLOPS ∼32%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
664.042 MFLOPS ∼27%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
664.042 MFLOPS ∼27%
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 Edition
916.667 MFLOPS ∼38%
Apple iPad mini Retina
998.18 MFLOPS ∼41%
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
799.368 MFLOPS ∼33%
Apple iPad Mini 3
1480 MFLOPS ∼61%
Geekbench 3
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad Air
1479 Points ∼32%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
1127 Points ∼24%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
935 Points ∼20%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
915 Points ∼20%
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 Edition
956 Points ∼21%
Apple iPad mini Retina
1393 Points ∼30%
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
993 Points ∼21%
Apple iPad Mini 3
1373 Points ∼29%
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad Air
2687 Points ∼17%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
3495 Points ∼22%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
2797 Points ∼17%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
2782 Points ∼17%
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 Edition
2995 Points ∼19%
Apple iPad mini Retina
2512 Points ∼16%
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
2710 Points ∼17%
Apple iPad Mini 3
2479 Points ∼15%
Peacekeeper - --- (sort by value)
Apple iPad Air
1855 Points ∼30%
Apple iPad Air 2 (Safari 8.0 Mobile)
2750 Points ∼44%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
859 Points ∼14%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
876 Points ∼14%
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 Edition
909 Points ∼15%
Apple iPad mini Retina
1724 Points ∼28%
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact (Chrome 39)
922 Points ∼15%
Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad Air
5113 Points ∼13%
Apple iPad Air 2 (Safari 8.0 Mobile)
8449 Points ∼21%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
6777 Points ∼17%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
4376 Points ∼11%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
4065 Points ∼10%
Apple iPad mini Retina
5180 Points ∼13%
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact (Chrome 39)
4754 Points ∼12%
Apple iPad Mini 3
5722 Points ∼14%
Sunspider - 1.0 Total Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad Air
385.5 ms * ∼10%
Apple iPad Air 2 (Safari 8.0 Mobile)
291.1 ms * ∼7%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W (Android 4.4)
458 ms * ∼11%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W (Chrome 36)
525 ms * ∼13%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
1067.1 ms * ∼27%
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 Edition
632.6 ms * ∼16%
Apple iPad mini Retina
271.8 ms * ∼7%
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact (Chrome 39)
1054.8 ms * ∼26%
Apple iPad Mini 3
440 ms * ∼11%
WebXPRT 2013 - Overall Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad Air
563 Points ∼25%
Apple iPad Air 2 (Safari 8.0 Mobile)
659 Points ∼29%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
530 Points ∼23%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
309 Points ∼14%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
360 Points ∼16%
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 Edition
233 Points ∼10%
Apple iPad mini Retina
519 Points ∼23%
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact (Chrome 39)
334 Points ∼15%
Apple iPad Mini 3
533 Points ∼23%

Legend

 
Apple iPad Air Apple A7, PowerVR G6430, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Apple iPad Air 2 Apple A8X, PowerVR GXA6850, 128 GB eMMC Flash
 
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W Nvidia Tegra K1, NVIDIA Tegra K1 Kepler GPU, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 Samsung Exynos 5420 Octa, ARM Mali-T628 MP6, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 Edition Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Apple iPad mini Retina Apple A7, PowerVR G6430, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Apple iPad Mini 3 Apple A7, PowerVR G6430, 16 GB eMMC Flash

* ... smaller is better

Automated top 10 list updated daily


of the last 9 months
1
90% v4
Panasonic ToughPad FZ-E1 Handheld Review
Panasonic ToughPad FZ-E1
Panasonic ToughPad FZ-E1 Handheld Review
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AB, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 06/07/2015
2
89% v4
First Impressions: Apple iPad Air 2 Tablet in Review
Apple iPad Air 2
First Impressions: Apple iPad Air 2 Tablet in Review
Apple A8X, Imagination PowerVR GXA6850, 10/26/2014
3
89% v4
Nvidia Shield Tablet LTE
NVIDIA Shield Tablet LTE P1761
Nvidia Shield Tablet LTE Review Update
NVIDIA Tegra K1, NVIDIA GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), 10/11/2014
4
88% v4
Dell Venue 8 7000 Tablet Review
Dell Venue 8 7000
Dell Venue 8 7000 Tablet Review
Intel Atom Z3580, Imagination PowerVR G6430, 02/10/2015
5
88% v4
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact Review
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact Review
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 01/02/2015
6
88% v4
Apple iPad Mini 3 Tablet Review
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3 Tablet Review
Apple A7, Imagination PowerVR G6430, 11/06/2014
7
87% v4
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 (2014) Tablet Review
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 inch 2014
Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 (2014) Tablet Review
Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 APQ8084, Qualcomm Adreno 420, 06/14/2015
8
87% v4
Asus Memo Pad 7 (ME572CL) Tablet Review Update
Asus MeMO Pad 7 (ME572CL)
Asus Memo Pad 7 (ME572CL) Tablet Review Update
Intel Atom Z3560, Imagination PowerVR G6430, 10/18/2014
9
86% v4
Lenovo Tab S8 Tablet Review
Lenovo Tab S8
Lenovo Tab S8 Tablet Review
Intel Atom Z3745, Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail), 01/29/2015
10
86% v4
First Impressions: Google Nexus 9 in Review
Google Nexus 9
First Impressions: Google Nexus 9 in Review
NVIDIA Tegra K1 (Denver), NVIDIA GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), 11/13/2014
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Notebookcheck's Top 10 Tablets
Author: Patrick Afschar, 2015-06- 3 (Update: 2015-07- 6)