Microsoft Surface Pro: Performance

March 7, 2013 by Louie Tran Reads (63,732)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Usability
    • 9
    • Design
    • 9
    • Performance
    • 9
    • Features
    • 9
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 7
    • Total Score:
    • 8.60
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10


The Microsoft Surface Pro comes with some fairly good hardware. It’s no surprise the Microsoft shopped for the best components it could find to run its own operating system. Powered by a 1.7Ghz Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, Intel HD 4000 video, and either a 64GB or 128GB SSD drive, this tablet will run just about any application without any issues. In fact, it out-performs other ultraportables in its class, and is capable of running some games as well.

Microsoft Surface ProThe device takes about 8 seconds to cold boot, and 1 or 2 seconds to resume from sleep.

I was very impressed on how well it ran Windows apps such as Photoshop and Light Room, with Microsoft Office running in the background with Internet Explorer. As far as gaming goes, it’s not going to replace your desktop PC or even your iMac, but I had no issues running Torchlight 2, Counterstrike Source, and any game you find in the Windows Store. I wouldn’t, however, expect spectacular performance on graphic- and CPU-intensive games on the Surface Pro.

Movies off of Netlfix or anime off of Crunchy Roll running in 1080 HD mode performed beautifully. I’ve also played HD MKV files using VLC and had no choppiness whatsoever.

I even hooked it up to a Dell Ultrasharp 27-inch monitor with 2560 x 1140 resolution, and the Surface Pro handled it very well. The built-in speakers were loud and clear but as with any tablet or portable device, it’s always better to have headphones or connect to an external speaker when its convenient.

Microsoft Surface Pro -- Side ViewThere are two versions of the Surface Pro you can purchase: either the 64GB or the 128GB. The 64GB comes with 29GB useable out of the box and the 128GB comes with 89GB. For $100 extra, you are much better off with the 128GB. You can, however, free up some space by moving the recovery partition onto a USB drive.

In addition, the Surface Pro has a microSD slot in which supports up to an additional 64GB (highest available so far). to my mind, at the price of the Surface Pro, it would have been better if the lower-end model had 128GB of storage and have a 256GB model as a more-expensive option.

The Surface Pro has Wi-Fi connectivity as well as Bluetooth. There are no options built-in for 4G wireless data capabilities, but if you are going to carry something as big as this tablet, you won’t really have an issue carrying a separate hotspot device anyway.

There are two cameras on the device, one on the front for video conferencing and one on the back, both of which are capable of recording 720p video.

Microsoft Surface Pro -- Camera Image Sample Microsoft Surface Pro -- Camera Image Sample

As expected, taking still photos on either camera is unimpressive and the video recording quality is mediocre at best. The quaility is decent enough for Skype, however, and if you want to take videos for any other purpose you are better off using your camera phone or a real camera.

Also, using the Windows 8 built-in camera app, I was not able to flip the camera around while it was recording. There are also no focusing capabilities while taking still photos either, so it is definitely a step back from the competition.

Battery Life
The battery is the Achilles Heel of the Surface Pro, which many critics including myself agree on. That said, in my tests it wasn’t as bad as most people have claimed. On average, the tablet lasted about 4 to 4.5 hours of what I would consider normal usage.

To me, normal is whan I have Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and the default brightness and power settings on when I was writing this article, had multiple windows of Internet Explorer/Chrome open, Slacker playing in the background, Microsoft Outlook, and Adobe Lightroom all running while I was doing my normal work routine.

Comparing its battery life to a Windows notebook of this size, it’s not bad at all. Now if I wanted to use the Surface Pro as an e-reader or grab-and-go tablet like I would with the Google Nexus 7 or the iPad, 4.5 hours is terrible — it wouldn’t even last the flight from Los Angeles to New York.

Hey! You’ve made it this far — Be sure to read the Conclusion on Page 3.



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