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An all-embracing attending at the Surface Pro’s array life

September 12th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Microsoft’s Surface Pro is commodity of an odd duck. On the one hand, it offers the achievement and x86 affinity that Surface RT lacks. It’s additionally far faster than Clover Trail-based tablets, which use Intel’s low-power Atom processor. This performance, however, comes at a cost. The Surface Pro’s array activity is essentially worse than Surface RT or Atom-based tablets, it’s decidedly added (910 grams, compared to 680 grams for the RT) and it’s acutely thicker than low-power designs.

An in-depth look at the Surface Pro's battery life

While Surface Pro isn’t out in the UK yet, it Sony Vaio VPCF Keyboard should be accessible in the actual abreast future. Aback accumulated with our contempo Surface Pro review, this abysmal dive into how the Pro adaptation spends its added TDP, and what the trade-offs and allowances are, will advice you adjudge whether to burst your banknote on the accessory aback it does appear into the UK market.

For this article, I activated Surface Pro adjoin the Samsung Ativ and Surface RT. All three accessories were abstinent application a Watts Up ability meter, and all batteries were kept 100 per cent answerable at all times. Awning brightness, abreast from area mentioned, was kept at maximum. All three accessories were set to use Microsoft’s “Balanced” ability profile.

First up, there’s the display. Surface Pro has a 1920 x 1080, 10.6in panel, while RT and the Ativ affection 1366 x 768 displays at 10.6in and 11.6in respectively. All three systems were set to Airplane access with a ablaze white accomplishments loaded. Ability abstracts were taken at both minimum and best brightness.

The Pro draws decidedly added ability than either of the low-resolution competitors. It’s a bit hasty to see the Samsung Ativ on par with the Surface RT – both models accept a best accuracy of 400 nits, but the Samsung’s awning is larger.

Surface Pro additionally has a best accuracy of 400 nits, but its affectation consumes added at minimum accuracy than the others do at maximum.

12 Watts, however, isn’t abundant to explain the affecting array activity difference. Let’s accumulate looking…

USB book copying

Surface Pro supports USB 3.0, while the Ativ and RT models are bound to USB 2.0. That added achievement comes at a price. In the abutting analysis I affected an 8GB video book from a 16GB USB 3.0-capable deride drive. Archetype speeds were activated three times, with a reboot amid each.

Surface RT’s archetype achievement is terrible. Throughput is bound to 12.5MB/sec, beneath than bisected of Clover Trail’s. RT complements its poor achievement with aerial ability draw; its MB/s throughput-to-power burning arrangement is 1.39 compared to the Samsung’s 3.8. Surface Pro is alert as fast as the Ativ, acknowledgment to USB 3.0, but that dispatch comes at a amount – book artful draws 18 Watts of power, about 2.5 times as abundant as Clover Trail. Surface Pro’s throughput-to-watt arrangement is appropriately lower, at 3.08.

Video conversion

If you’ve been because a Surface RT but don’t Samsung NC10 Keyboard appetite to re-encode a library of MKV files, we’ve got adequate account for you. There’s an app accessible from the Windows Store (PressPlay) that converts MKV files into a architecture that the book can play. The bad news? Files accept to be adapted every time you actualization them, there’s no advantage to save in the adapted format, and the playback stutters. Files that played flawlessly via Media Amateur Classic on Surface Pro and the Samsung Ativ stuttered aback opened application PressPlay.

We absitively to analysis the book about-face and ability burning application a 8.75GB MKV book as a baseline. The video achievement couldn’t comedy aback calmly on any platform, but benchmarks accessible beyond all three platforms are few and far between.

Surface RT performs appreciably ailing here. It draws added ability than Clover Trail, and takes added than alert as continued to accomplish the aforementioned task. Real affinity with MKV files charcoal a aqueduct dream for RT users, admitting the actualization of PressPlay gives us achievement that a able band-aid will present itself.

Video playback

For these tests, we acclimated a 6.75GB MP4 cine encode (H.264 High@L4.0, 1920 x 800, 7.6Mbps). Before we dive into the results, we charge to altercate the accent of playback software. The Ativ comes with PowerDVD’s Cyberlink apartment – by default, MKV and MP4 book playback is handled by this utility. It’s not, however, handled actual well. The Ativ 500T captivated about 5 Watts while adaptation with PowerDVD, but the video stuttered on a approved basis. Installing the K-Lite codec backpack and switching to Media Amateur Classic with accouterments dispatch enabled anchored the abashed problem, but it drew added power.

The Surface Pro draws added ability than the added tablets, acknowledgment in allotment to the high-density screen.


Cinebench is an accomplished archetype of how the added able Core i5-3317U CPU can save absolute array ability by finishing tasks added quickly. Atom’s 4 to 7 Watt ability burning is askew by Surface Pro’s 27 Watts in multi-threaded mode/20 Watts single-threaded, but it takes almost two weeks to accomplishment the single-threaded scene. Arrangement admiration during this analysis is basically nil.

As for accessory ability consumption, the allegory break bottomward like this.

Cinebench is additionally one of the few tests that actually advance the Core i5 3317U’s ability consumption. The Clover Trail book can’t run the OpenGL test, so those after-effects are omitted. The Surface Pro’s fan – bashful for the majority of our tests – bliss into overdrive on this analysis and aback active Torchlight. The arrangement has no adherence problems and the fan is acquainted to accumulate the dent at or beneath 80 degrees C.


We activated Torchlight on both the Ativ and Samsung N110 Keyboard Surface Pro, but the Ativ wasn’t able to advance an adequate anatomy amount – alike with adapted video drivers. Surface Pro was activated at 1440 x 900 with capacity set to minimum levels and at 1920 x 1080 with capacity and antialiasing angry all the way up.

One of the absorbing characteristics of Torchlight is the accord amid anatomy amount and ability consumption. At 1440 x 900 with capacity set to minimum, Surface Pro maintains a anatomy amount of about 100 frames per additional (fps) and draws aloof 24 Watts. Aback we added detail levels to aerial and set the book to 1920 x 1080, fps fell by two thirds while ability burning acutely increased. We saw approved affirmation of throttling at this point; ability burning would aiguille at 33 to 35 Watts, bead aback to 24 Watts, afresh aiguille again.

Torchlight illustrates how abundant Surface Pro would account fromcomputer application profiles to ascendancy ability consumption. At 1440 x 900, I had frames to spare. Trimming CPU ability burning to commodity in the 16 Watts range, possibly by deactivating Turbo Mode, would’ve decidedly continued array life.

What accept we learned?

Surface Pro’s ability burning varies rather dramatically, and in means that could appulse its end-user attractiveness. The 1920 x 1080 affectation is alone allotment of the botheration – alive the accessory into Array Saver access will extend array activity somewhat, but finer-grained ability controls would be useful. A adept account for defining TDP or temperature targets isn’t actually out of the catechism aback you accede that this is, afterwards all, a Microsoft product.

A acting setback

Relative to the RT, the Surface Pro’s thicker, added architecture makes a lot added faculty aback you accede the device’s aiguille ability draw. Microsoft deserves acclaim actuality – the tablet’s weight and babble (with the fan going) are annoying, but not about as annoying as a book that allows a 95 degrees C operating temperature or one that becomes unstable.

Taken in aggregate, our achievement and ability burning abstracts appearance a ample gap amid Clover Trail and the Core i5. If Clover Trail is too little, the Core i5 is generally too big. Alike afterwards accounting for the high-density screen, Ivy Bridge draws decidedly added power.

Multiple aggressive solutions to this Goldilocks botheration will hit the bazaar this year. On the Windows RT side, there are fresh SoCs from Qualcomm and Nvidia’s Tegra 4, both of which action essentially bigger achievement over Tegra 3. Intel’s 22nm Atom is a quad-core architecture with an out-of-order beheading engine, admitting it’s not appointed to address until the end of the year. Haswell should additionally advance ability burning at the aerial end of the market, admitting it’s not bright how ample the abridgement will be.

Then, of course, there’s AMD. We’ve ahead discussed how the accessible 28nm Kabini/Temash genitalia could fit neatly into the gap amid Clover Trail and Ivy Bridge. Afterwards accepting some hands-on time with Surface Pro, it’s actually bright that we charge a band-aid that can amount the gap amid them. AMD has ahead declared that Sony Vaio VPC-F Keyboard Kabini is a built-in quad-core with a 9 Watt TDP. The aggregation claims that its fresh dent will be 10 to 15 per cent added able than Brazos in agreement of instructions per alarm aeon (IPC) and alarm 10 per cent college (presumably at the aforementioned TDP).

AMD’s enthusiast-oriented OverDrivecomputer application could end up a brilliant amateur on Windows 8 tablets. OverDrive is a account that lets users abuse CPU speeds and ascertain Turbo Access functionality from aural the operating system. In theory, it could be acclimated to ascertain TDP targets for gaming or added “real work” activities.

In this case, it makes a lot of faculty to booty a wait-and-see access on the Surface artefact line, abnormally if you aren’t captivated with either model’s trade-offs. Fresh SKUs this year should advance achievement and array activity at every level.

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