The first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Apple's tablets probably isn't gaming, but the best iPads for gaming will prove you wrong. These versatile tools are not only spectacular devices for creatives, but also great entertainment hubs for when it's time to kick back and play some PUBG.
By and large, iPads can run all the same games that iPhones can, granting iPad owners access to a vast library of games. Plus, an Apple Arcade membership will grant you access to even more high-quality and well-optimised titles, many of which are on a par with console games. In our listing below, we've included a variety of iPads at different price points to ensure we've considered every gamers needs.
While you're at it, why not check out the best iPad gaming controllers to make the most out of your new gaming slate? Or, if instead you want an iPad for more productive reasons, make sure to check out our guides to the best iPads for graphic design, or the best iPads for drawing.
The best iPad for gaming
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If you're looking for the best all-round iPad for gaming, then we recommend the iPad (2022), as it offers a fantastic balance between affordability, performance and features.
It's the cheapest iPad in Apple's current lineup, and thanks to its recent upgrade, it offers excellent overall performance. While it's not as powerful as the M1 and M2-toting iPad Pros (also featured in this guide), the A14 chip is plenty powerful enough to play mobile games on. Remember, these games are designed to primarily run on iPhones, so much more power is overkill.
It also has a large and vibrant 10.9-inch Liquid Retina (2360x1640) display, which makes games look fantastic, and the larger screen size means many games, especially text-heavy ones, are much more comfortable to play on. Read more in our iPad 2022 review.
However, if you're looking for something that's more portable, consider the iPad mini, below.
Unlike most of the other models of iPad, the iPad mini didn't get an update last year, so the 2021 model is still the most recent one you can get. The good news is that it remains a brilliant tablet, and can still play modern iPad games with relative ease.
What we love about the iPad mini for gaming is that with an 8.3-inch screen (which is an increase on the 7.9-inches of previous models), it's extremely easy to take around with you. If you're after a gaming device that's almost as portable as the iconic GameBoy, then this is the iPad for you.
Despite the smaller screen, games still look fantastic thanks to the Liquid Retina display with 2266x1488 resolution at 326 pixels per inch, which is impressively crisp and vibrant.
It also packs plenty of power thanks to the A15 Bionic chip, USB-C support, and 5G connectivity, so if you have the appropriate mobile contract, you can download games and play online multiplayer while out and about. It also supports the Apple Pencil 2, so you can again make use of this excellent stylus and its advanced features, which may not help you in games, but means you can also use it for creative work as well. Read more in our full iPad mini (6th gen) review.
If you want the absolute ultimate gaming experience on an iPad, and money's no object, then the all-new 12.9-inch M2 iPad Pro is by far the one to get. Powered by the hugely powerful M2 chip, which is also found in the likes of the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022), even the most graphically-intensive games will run with ease on this thing which is why we consider this the best iPad for gamers looking for more serious play time.
In fact, there's an argument that the M2 chip is overkill, and while there is truth to that, it also means this is an incredibly future-proof iPad for gaming - it'll be years before any game gives the iPad Pro a hard time. If you're a game designer, then the power on offer here means you can code and test out your games as well.
Perhaps even more importantly, the iPad Pro comes with a huge 12.9-inch mini-LED XDR display. Not only is this the largest screen you can get on an iPad, but the mini-LED technology makes games look phenomenal as well. However, bear in mind that this means the overall size of the iPad Pro is very large compared to other iPads and tablets, so you may find it less portable.
Paired with the Apple Pencil 2 and you have one heck of a tablet for creative work as well, which means because this is a very expensive iPad, you may be able to better justify this purchase if you're also going to be using it for other things. If you're just going to be gaming on it, there are more affordable iPads in this guide that will be better value for money. See our iPad Pro (M2, 2022) review for more information.
Released in April 2022, the newest iPad of all is the 5th generation iPad Air. Apple's made its midrange tablet a whole lot more pro-like, giving it the same M1 processor as the 2021 iPad Pros. This means it's an incredible performer when it comes to even the most advanced iPad games, making it a great alternative to the more expensive iPad Pro.
When combined with the stunning 10.9-inch 1640 x 2360 Liquid Retina IPS LCD screen, games look and play fantastically well. The smaller screen and thin design (this is an 'Air' product, after all), means the iPad Air is a great middle ground, offering excellent performance but in a more portable body. It also comes in various colour options, which gives this iPad a bit more personality compared to some of the others.
While it does a lot of things right, it's not perfect. The new iPad Air also gets a new, higher, price tag, which puts it worryingly close to the iPad Pro. If you're a gamer that wants the largest screen to play games on, you may be better off saving up a bit more for the iPad Pro.
It also means that people on a budget may want to look elsewhere as well - such as the new iPad, which is at the top of this list. The 64GB storage offered in the base device is rather small, so you'll probably want to go for the 256GB version if you're installing a lot of games. See our complete iPad Air (5th Gen, 2022) review for more details.
The 2021 model of the basic iPad may now be two years old, but it's still a fantastic iPad for gaming. It offers a choice of 64GB and 256GB storage, which at the time of its launch was the largest capacities you could get on an iPad.
In 2023, most modern iPads offer those storage amounts as well, and while that means the iPad (2021) loses one of its unique selling points, it also means that if you go for this older model, you're not sacrificing storage space.
There's plenty of other reasons to go for this model. Its 10.2-inch 1620 x 2160 LCD screen it large and looks good, and it can run any iPad game with ease.
The most compelling reason for going with this model is the new low price. Apple has stopped selling this model, but other retailers are still stocking it, and because the newer model is out, you can get this one for an impressively low price, so if you want to game on iPad but can't spend a huge amount, this is the one to get. For more information, read our more detailed iPad 10.2 (2021) review.
How to choose the best iPad for gaming
The first and easiest thing to consider when you're thinking about buying an iPad for gaming is what else you might like to use the device for. If you're a creative, without shadow of a doubt, you'll want to go for the iPad Pro and make use of its powerful M2 chip for everything from digital art to video editing.
Otherwise, you'll want to think about your budget; iPads are pretty pricey devices, and if you want one just for gaming, you might be better off getting a more affordable option like the Mini or the Air. Alternatively, you might rather future proof your investment, going for a pricier model featuring the M2 for years of gaming fun.
How we test iPads for gaming
When we test iPads in general, we're looking to see how well it performs, how it handles and what specs and features are going to elevate your user experience. That means aspects like the screen, processing power, battery life and compatibility all come into play.
For gaming specifically, we're looking at how well the slate can handle power-intensive games, especially online titles like PUBG, League of Legends or Genshin Impact. We want to see rapid response, easy handling and a bright and beautiful display before we recommend an Apple tablet for gaming; and thankfully, many of the devices offer this and more.