The best iPad for gaming in 2023

Girl playing games on an iPad
(Image credit: Antlii / Shutterstock)

The best iPads for gaming show just how versatile Apple's tablets are. Not only are they fantastic tools for digital artists or even interior designers, they can also be great gaming devices for when you want to kick back and relax.

Because iPads can run the same iOS games that iPhones can, it means they have access to a huge library of games. Mobile games have evolved rapidly over the years, and these days many of them offer the complexity and graphics you'd have once only found on games consoles.

There's a huge range of iPads at the moment, so which iPad model is best for gaming on? Read on, and if you want an iPad for more productive reasons, check out our guides to the best iPads for graphic design, or the best iPads for drawing.

photo of an iPad 2022 in split mode

(Image credit: Future)
The best all-round iPad for gaming

Specifications

Display: 10.9in, Liquid Retina (2360x1640)
Processor: A14 Bionic
Storage options : 64GB, 256GB
Apple Pencil: 1st generation
Camera: Ultra Wide 12MP front, 12MP back

Reasons to buy

+
Bigger, brighter screen
+
Enough power for demanding games

Reasons to avoid

-
May be a bit large for some

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.

Apple iPad mini 6th generation with Apple Pencil 2 on a desk

(Image credit: Future)
The best iPad for mobile gaming

Specifications

Display size: 8.3in
Processor: A15 Bionic
Storage options : 64GB, 256GB
Apple Pencil compatibility: 2nd generation

Reasons to buy

+
Super portable 
+
Good price for tech 

Reasons to avoid

-
Still no Smart Keyboard support
-
No 3.5mm jack

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.

iPad Pro on a desk with a drawing of an eye on the screen

(Image credit: Future)
The ultimate iPad for gaming

Specifications

Display size: 12.9-inch
Resolution: 2,732 x 2,048
Stylus support: Apple Pencil 2
Storage: Thunderbolt 4, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
OS: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB

Reasons to buy

+
Unbeatable processing power
+
New ultra-powerful display

Reasons to avoid

-
Overkill for some

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. 

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 (opens in new tab) for more information.

iPad Air 5th Gen on white table

(Image credit: Future)
Thin, light, and perfect for gaming

Specifications

Display size: 10.9in
Processor: M1
Storage options : 64GB, 256GB
Apple Pencil compatibility: 2nd generation

Reasons to buy

+
Now with the same processor as the iPad Pro
+
Stunning display

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite close in price to the iPad Pro

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 iPad 10.2-inch (2021, 9th generation) on a desk

(Image credit: Future)
The best value iPad for gaming

Specifications

Display size: 10.2in
Processor: A13 Bionic
Storage options : 64GB, 256GB
Apple Pencil compatibility: 1st generation

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent value for money
+
Compatible with Apple Pencil 1

Reasons to avoid

-
Old design

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.

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Matt Hanson

Matt has been a technology journalist for well over a decade, writing for publications such as T3, MacFormat and Creative Bloq. He's a senior editor of TechRadar, Creative Bloq's sister site, where he can be found writing about and reviewing laptops, computers, monitors and more. He often writes for Creative Bloq, helping creatives find their perfect laptop or PC.