Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Performance

May 30, 2014 by Jamison Cush Reads (110,792)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 8
    • Usability
    • 7
    • Design
    • 9
    • Performance
    • 9
    • Features
    • 9
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 7
    • Total Score:
    • 8.17
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Performance

The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 sports a fourth-generation Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 chip. RAM varies, with the 64GB and 128GB variants having 4GB, while the 256GB and 512GB have 8GB, and each processor pairing with a different integrated graphics chipset. All told, there are five different configurations.

TPCR tested the Core i5 unit (4300U CPU running at 1.9GHz to 2.5 GHz) with 8GB of RAM.

There is little to complain about in terms of raw processing power here. Even with the i3 and 4GB of RAM, the Surface Pro 3 will handle just about anything average users throw at it, including relatively heavy office and some imaging work. However, heavier graphics users will want to invest in a Core i5 or i7 model. Boot up and shutdown times are swift and impressive. Integrated graphics limits the cutting-edge of gaming, but users should find plenty of Steam titles to pass the time.

Benchmarks

wPrime processor comparisons (lower score means better performance):

PCMark 7 is a newer benchmark and measures overall systems performance (higher scores mean better performance):

3DMark 11 is a benchmark that measures overall graphic card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):

Our Microsoft Surface Pro 3 review unit was sent with the following specifications:

  • 12-inch ClearType display, 2160 x 1440 resolution with 3:2 aspect ratio, 10-point multi-touch and N-trig pen support
  • Windows 8.1 Pro
  • 4th generation Intel Core i5 4300U CPU (1.9GHz – 2.5 GHz), TPM Chip for enterprise security
  • Intel HD Graphics 4400
  • 8GB RAM, dual-channel LPDDR3
  • 256GB sold-stage storage, 212GB available
  • 802.11ac, /b/g/n compatible, Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • 5-megapixel rear-facing, and 5-megapixel front-facing camera
  • 9-hour battery
  • 1-year limited warranty
  • Dimensions: 11.5 x 7.93 x 0.3 inches
  • Weight: 1.76 pounds (without keyboard cover)
  • Starting price: $799
  • Price as configured (with Surface Pro Type Cover): $1,428.99

Battery

The Surface Pro 3 lasted 5 hours continuously streaming Netflix over Wi-Fi with Bluetooth on and with the display set at max brightness. This is about the bare minimum users can expect to get out of the Core i5 Surface Pro 3 out of the box, and it’s pretty good. Users should easily be able to get a full work day out of the Surface Pro 3 in between charges. For the record, the latest 11-inch Apple MacBook Air lasted just four hours and thirty minutes in the same test.

It edges out the Surface Pro 2 in the PowerMark “balanced” benchmark, but falls short of the mark set by some comparable Ultrabooks.

Heat and Noise

The Surface Pro 3 is thin, but it isn’t fanless. Users might think it is, given how hard it is to get it to kick on. Testers at TPCR never once heard it during day-to-day usage, and only managed it heat things up enough when resetting the system and installing some larger software files.

The fan sounds less like a whirl and more like a steam valve letting off pressure. It’s louder than the Apple MacBook Air NotebookReview recently tested, and the Surface Pro 3 gets hotter than the MacBook around the edges as well. Neither is outrageous however, and the Surface Pro 3 remained quiet and cool the vast majority of the time during testing.

Price and Availability

The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is available, as of this writing, from Microsoft starting at $799.99 and Amazon starting at $769.


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4 Comments

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  1. ProgrammingVB6

    The Surface Pro 3 is excellent. It has just one fault – it is made by Microsoft.
    Never buy a Microsoft product, they will abandon them without regard for your investment.
    Just like Microsoft’s Paul Yuknewicz has done with the VB6 programming language.

  2. JasonWard

    @ProgrammingVB6: Oh, give me a break. Hyperbole much? VB6 was supported for YEARS, and MS has a long history of supporting things, in many cases, much longer than is warranted. Nobody would have criticized them for abandoning Vista pretty much out of the gate, but it’s still supported. They supported XP for 13 YEARS. They still support Xbox 360 almost a decade after launch.

    Last night, I took my Surface Pro 2 in for repair because part of the touchscreen stopped working. Today, they gave me a brand new Surface Pro 3, including the keyboard to match. Microsoft, whether you like it or not, does a great job of supporting both their products and their customers.

  3. ir8d8r

    I purchased a Surface Pro for my own use over a year ago. They very quickly introduced a new model. The Pro2. Based on my experience with the original I purchased 6 Pro2’s for my company and 8 docking stations deciding to make that our standard PC. Now they replace the Pro2 with the Pro3… One thing I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere is the fact that the Surface Pro and Pro2 used the same dock, something I appreciated because it enhances the usability as a business device… I purchased a Pro3 and the docks I have for the others will not work! Surface Pro and Pro2 are discontinued apparently. Now I will need to spend nearly $400 more to buy new docking stations for my office and home office and my Pro3 is incompatible with the docks for the others in the office. If I had realized this… It didn’t occur to me when I looked at the Pro3 in the store that they would make it incompatible with their accessories since the Pro2 was with the Pro. The i7 256 GB Pro3 was already $1500 plus keyboard… Why didn’t they pull an Apple and change the display port too? Then I would have to buy new display adapters as well. Guess they missed that opportunity to fleece me further!
    IR8D8R

  4. jetpowercom

    Does it require the dock for a wired LAN connection?