Best Gaming Tablet 2018 – Ultimate Tablet Buying Guide

best gaming tablet 2017

Have you ever bought a tablet and found that it wasn’t as good a deal as it seemed? Maybe it was prone to freezing or just wouldn’t run certain apps at all.

When it comes to browsing Facebook, you’ll usually be okay, but what if you want to use the tablet for games? Whilst no tablet is going to run Grand Theft Auto, there are a lot of high-quality games that are optimized for mobile phones and tablets which won’t cause any problems.

In fact, mobile gaming has exploded in the last few years with the rise of games like Candy Crush Saga or Hearthstone, so there’s never been a better time to upgrade your old tablet.

So which is the best gaming tablet? We’ve done our research and wrote up a list of high-quality gaming tablets so that you can make an informed decision and pick the tablet that best suits your needs.

5 Best Gaming Tablets For 2018

TabletResolutionCPUCameraRAMPrice
Amazon Fire HD 101920x12001.8 GHz 4-Core2 MP2 GB
Nvidia Shield K11920x12002.2 GHz 4-core5 MP2 GB
Samsung Galaxy Tab S22048x15361.9 GHz 8-core8 MP3 GB
Apple iPad 20172048x15361.84 GHz 2-core8 MP2 GB

As you can see, our top recommendations are very varied, which means we’re positive there’s one here which is perfect for you. Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at each of our choices and see what makes them worth your money.

Amazon Fire HD 10 – Best Budget Android Tablet For Gaming

best gaming tablet

If you’re looking for a reliable and cost-effective tablet for gaming, then the Amazon Fire HD 10 might be the best choice for you. First of all, it features the Full HD resolution of 1920×1200 pixels while many more expensive tablets still offer the mediocre 1280×800 screen resolution. This results in a higher pixel density and a more immersive and vibrant image quality.

Furthermore, the Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet is based on the powerful MediaTek MT8173 quad-core processor with 1.8 GHz frequency, the exceptional PowerVR GX6250 GPU, and offers 2 GB of RAM memory. Such specifications can be found on considerably more expensive tablets beyond 250 USD price tags which makes the Amazon Fire HD the best gaming tablet for the money in 2018.

Alas, the tablet also has certain downsides which, if you plan on using your tablet mainly for gaming, aren’t deal-breaking at all. The Fire HD 10 tablet has only 2MP rear camera and VGA (640×480 or 0.3 MP) front camera. Moreover, it offers Amazon’s Fire OS 5.6 which is based on Android’s Lollipop 5.1 operating system.

This means that you won’t be able to access the Google Play Store but rather rely on Amazon’s app store instead. Although the Android 5.1 is obviously outdated, Amazon releases new updates regularly and offers plenty of content and applications. Note that you can always download any .apk file and manually install it using the File Manager.

Other exclusive features of the Amazon Fire HD 10 include the Alexa hands-free, 4.2 Bluetooth connection for wireless audio, and dual-band WiFi. The battery life is great as well with 16 hours durability while idle or more than 6 hours under heavy load including max brightness, WiFi, and playback. Speakers are solid and provide decent sound quality while the built-in storage amounts to either 32 GB or 64 GB depending on the model though you can also insert a microSD card up to 256 GB.

Overall, it’s the best tablet for the money as it offers the same gaming experience as the more expensive tablets such as the Huawei MediaPad T3, the Lenovo Tab 4, and the ASUS ZenPad S3. It may not have the 2048×1536 resolution nor a high-quality camera, but it’s also $100 cheaper yet it ensures fluid gameplay.

Pros
  • Cost-effective
  • Great gaming performance
Cons
  • Bad camera quality
  • No Google Play Store

NVIDIA Shield K1 – Awesome Gaming Tablet With Controller

best gaming tablet 2017

When a company that primarily makes PC graphics cards comes out with a gaming tablet, people pay attention. The NVIDIA Shield K1 is an 8” tablet with a 1920×1200 display, which means it has very crisp visuals, which is what you’re looking for in a gaming tablet.

This is a powerful Android tablet which is capable of decent framerates in recent games and comes with a few features which help make this a great purchase for any gamer. Firstly, the left and right edges are rubber coated to reduce the chance of you dropping it whilst playing. Secondly, the top and bottom edges contain speakers, meaning the tablet provides stereo audio as opposed to a more common mono output. Thirdly, this tablet features a mini HDMI slot so that you can plug it into a TV and have whatever is on its screen displayed on your far bigger TV.

The K1 has two features that, when combined, make it the ultimate gaming tablet, although they do come at an additional cost. This tablet supports the Shield controller, which is an Xbox style games controller you can connect and use to get superior control in the game. This is a huge advantage since games generally have touchscreen controls and some kind of games (like FPSs) work better with a controller.

Next, you can sign up for GeForce Now (although the first three months are free with your purchase), which is a subscription service NVIDIA offers that allows you to stream 1080p games directly from their servers to your tablet. This means that without installing the games, or waiting for them to download overnight, you can hook your tablet up to a big screen, connect a controller and play 1080p console games with little to no lag. Amazing.

The downside is that you need a pretty good WiFi connection, and you can’t go idle for too long, otherwise, they disconnect you, but you’d pay roughly the same amount of money for a console, and you can’t take that with you when you leave the house.

This is a fantastic solution to the limited gaming capabilities of a tablet, and although this tablet is powerful enough to compare to similarly priced alternatives, its main selling point is that for anyone looking to play console games or new releases, this is the best solution short of buying a console.

Pros
  • Designed for gaming
  • Stereo sound, mini HDMI port
  • GeForce Now and Shield controller basically turn this into a console
Cons
  • You need to pay more for the full experience, tablet, controller, and streaming service
  • You need a fast WiFi connection

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 – Best Mid-Range Android Gaming Tablet

best gaming tablet 2018

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is the best tablet for gaming if your budget is around 300 USD. In case you can’t afford it at the moment, we suggest you go for the Fire HD 10 and save some cash; or, save up and invest in the Galaxy S2 or the Nvidia Shield – if you intend to mainly play video games.

Thanks to its Super-AMOLED display, the Galaxy Tab S2 delivers bright and vibrant image quality with infinite contrast ratio resulting in true black colors. Furthermore, the 2048×1536 screen resolution and 4:3 aspect ratio make every detail crisp and sharp.

The tablet is based on an octa-core 64-bit CPU with a four-core 1.9 GHz and a four-core 1.3 GHz processors while the 3 GB of RAM and the Arm Mali-T760 MP6 GPU ensure smooth and responsive gaming performance at high settings even in demanding games such as Asphalt 8.

The front camera is excellent with 8 MP and offers the ability to shoot 2560×1440 Quad HD videos at 30 FPS while the front camera is limited to 2.1 MP. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is only ~6mm thin and an absolute delight to hold and use.

Additionally, you can select various pre-calibrated picture presets depending on what you’re watching; some of the pictures modes include Cinema, Photo, Reading, and Simple as well as AdobeRGB preset for color-critical purposes. Lastly, the battery life is perhaps the tablet’s weakest point, although with 15h durability while idle and ~6h under constant WiFi web surfing, it’s acceptable given its price and overall performance and image quality. All in all, it’s one of the best Android tablets and it’s a great and cost-efficient choice for gaming.

Pros
  • Great gaming performance
  • Excellent camera
  • Super-AMOLED display offers stunning image quality
Cons
  • Battery life could be better

Apple iPad 2017 – Best Premium Tablet For Gaming

best tablet for gaming

For a lot of people, the word “iPad” is synonymous with “tablet”, because in the past few years Apple has released consistently high performing (if a little expensive) tablets and phones. The iPad 2017 offers everything you could expect from a tablet as well as an engaging gaming experience. In fact, we don’t recommend buying a more expensive tablet than the iPad 2017 if your main activity involves gaming since you’d overpay for specifications and features that wouldn’t help with the gameplay performance.

The iPad also has one of Apple’s “Retina” displays, with a high resolution of 2048×1536. We found that the Retina display greatly reduced pixelation and made colors appear more vibrant when compared to other tablets, except for Samsung’s AMOLED displays.

Apple has always been big on variants. The iPad 2017 model comes with an option to pay more for a version that accepts a SIM card, so that you can connect to mobile networks in 3G or 4G (depending on location), however in our experience, the standard WiFi version is more than sufficient unless you plan to frequently use your tablet in places that don’t have WiFi. The WiFi-only version will also save you around $150.

Battery life can withstand almost 25 hours while idle or around 13 hours while surfing, which is exceptional especially given the high-quality screen and processor. The tablet uses Apple’s lightning cable to recharge via USB or an outlet if you have a USB adaptor.

The major disadvantage of this tablet is that the storage space it comes with is not upgradable. This means that if you buy the 32GB version, whenever you approach capacity, you’ll need to upload files to the cloud or a wireless hard drive to free up space. Additionally, in contrast to an Android tablet, Apple favors a closed garden approach to design. This means that you can only use Apple-approved apps and hardware. It’s possible to “jailbreak” your tablet, but this voids the warranty and isn’t for the faint of heart.

Overall, the Apple iPad is more than enough to handle anything released over the last few years and has a stunning high-resolution screen that really makes the colors pop while the mighty CPU and the PowerVR GT7600 GPU ensure spotless performance. If you’re set on an iPad and don’t mind the limited storage space and the price for premium quality, then this could be the perfect gaming tablet for you.

Pros
  • Long battery life
  • Powerful GPU
  • Premium build quality and features
Cons
  • LTE version is expensive
  • Can’t extend storage via micro-SD cards

Best Gaming Tablet – Buyer’s Guide

Before you buy a gaming tablet, there are a few important specifications to look out for and we’ll cover these below to help you make an informed decision.

Screen Size

Tablet screens come in various different shapes and sizes and are measured in terms of distance from the bottom left corner to the top right. Low-end tablets are usually around 8”, and high-end tablets are usually around 10 or 12 inches. Bigger doesn’t always mean better, though. Pay attention to the resolution of the screen. This is the term for how many pixels the screen can display and is measured by horizontal pixels x vertical pixels.

The higher the numbers, the clearer the display will be, meaning you could have a 40” 720p TV that doesn’t look as crisp as a 25” 1080p TV. If you’re interested in the more detailed visual aspects of your tablet, you can find specifications online.

Operating System

When it comes to tablets, there are two big operating systems: Android and iPhone OS (or iOS). iOS only comes with Apple products and Android comes with just about everything else.

So what’s the difference?

Well, since Android is open source, which means you can tinker around with it to improve the performance or feel of your device, whereas iOS is great for people who want their tech to “just work”. iOS tends to get the newest games first, although Android has a lower quality threshold for apps on the Play Store, meaning there might be more games but not all of them will be good.

Processor

If you’re familiar with a computer processor, great, a tablet one works the exact same way. If you aren’t, the processor is the “brain” of a computer. It handles all of the information and calculations that apps need in order to work. The speed of a processor is measured in Hz, that is, the number of calculations it can perform per second. Higher numbers mean more calculations can be done, so that’s what you should aim for. That said, it’s not worth paying a lot more money for a 2 GHz processor over a 1.9 GHz since your tablet’s other components also affect how fast it is.

Standard vs Hybrid

Nowadays it’s not uncommon to see “hybrid” tablets, which are tablets that come with a detachable keyboard. Generally speaking, these lack the power of a traditional laptop and are more comparable to netbooks. These can be great if you’re already buying a tablet and want to use it for word processing or playing PC games with a keyboard and mouse, although if you aren’t interested in this, you may as well save your money and opt for a standard tablet.

Conclusion

In the list above, we’ve outlined which are the best gaming tablets for a variety of purposes. We’re positive that there’s one in here which is perfect for your needs and gaming habits, but overall, our number one best gaming tablet has to be the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2. It’s an extremely powerful piece of hardware that won’t break the bank and can handle anything you can come up with.

We sincerely hope that this list has helped you come to a decision, so buy with confidence knowing that our research was thorough and in-depth, and thanks for reading.