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Microsoft Handhelds Hardware

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book Reviews 152

An anonymous reader writes: Anandtech posted reviews of the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and the Microsoft Surface Book today. They write: "After launching Surface Pro 3 with Haswell in 2014, Microsoft — like so many manufacturers — opted to skip the short-lived Broadwell generation of Intel CPUs in favor of making the larger jump to Skylake. Skylake brings with it notable increases in both CPU and GPU performance, particularly in the mobile space thanks to a series of optimizations and the use of Intel's leading 14nm manufacturing node," about the Pro 4 and with regards to the Book, "The basis of the Surface Book is that it is designed to be used as a laptop most of the time, but the display can be removed as a Clipboard for use with the pen. The Surface Book is certainly not the first device to do this, but it does some things in new ways that are pretty interesting."
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Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book Reviews

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  • by Assmasher ( 456699 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @06:31PM (#50777615) Journal

    Looking to do so...

    • interested in this too...

      'but does it run linux?'

      • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @06:51PM (#50777769)

        The better question is "Can I rip out Windows 10 and slap on Windows 7?".

    • Looking to do so...

      Putting Ubuntu, or anything else on a Surface makes as much sense as trying to put Windows on a MacBook Air. The question it begs is - WHY? Just like the only reason to buy a MacBook Air is if one wants an OS-X laptop, the only reason to get a Surface is if one wants a tablet that can transform into a laptop, and have proper interfaces for each. Ubuntu might have been preferable to Windows 8, where both OSs had a one size fits all approach. But Windows 10 is a lot better suited for a Surface, and vice v

      • The question it begs is - WHY?

        The surface pro 3 is nice hardware and there's not much comparable. If you want one of the lightest laptops currently made, it's one to go for. Plus it has a proper build in pen based digitiser.

      • It makes a lot of sense if you're working in multiple operating systems. BTW, I have a triple boot Macbook AIR with Windows 10, El Capitan, and Mint which I am replacing with this - I use OSX so rarely now for anything other than building that I'm pushing that responsibility onto a Mac Mini that's laying about.

      • by Aaden42 ( 198257 )

        You’ve missed the point of Apple hardware. Yes, running Mac OS and its JustWorks OS/hardware combo is a main point for most people. But they also make really well designed hardware that LASTS a long time. Solid metal cases where most other manufacturers are still cheaping out on plastic. I’ve got a 10 year old PowerBook and a 5 year old MacBook Pro that both still run fine after being bounced around in a laptop bag traveling all over the earth for years. The MBP is still my primary laptop.

  • Skylake is awesome (Score:5, Informative)

    by TomGreenhaw ( 929233 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @06:42PM (#50777701)
    We're testing Skylake processors and Z170 chipset motherboards for moderately priced POS systems. The Core i5-6500 based system is 3X the performance across the board of an i7 based system from 2.5 years ago at 1/4th the cost. The relatively low cost, low power (read quiet operation), and performance are amazing. Putting these into a surface pro has got to be really awesome.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JoeyRox ( 2711699 )
      There hasn't been a 3x general CPU performance improvement over the the past 10 years cumulatively let alone from just a few generations ago.
      • Nonsense...

        10 years ago the Pentium 4 was the top of the line Intel...

        The current chips are well north of 3x faster than the Pentium 4 was, even the dual core versions of that chip.

        • Pentium 4 came out in 2000. Core architecture came out 10 years ago. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
          • You can link, good for you...

            "Introduced July 27, 2006"

            It isn't yet July 27, 2016... when it is, then 10 years becomes true...

            But that would be beside the point, a 6700K is at least 3x faster than a E6600

            Oct 2005, you couldn't buy a E6600, your only option was a NetBurst based system, which is the P4 line.

      • I agree. I was comparing overall system performance, not raw cpu capacity. Sorry if I was misleading - it wasn't intentional. See my post below for the details from my quick tests.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It seems you are mistaken: http://www.cpubenchmark.net/co... [cpubenchmark.net]

      My ancient Core i7 2700 from the end of 2011 is still considerably quicker.

      • I was trying to compare overall system performance, not raw cpu capacity. Also, I'm trying to compare moderately priced components. I'm lumping all the contemporary parts of a typical Skylake system to what was contemporary several years ago in the same ballpark price range. The benefits of the new high end Skylake stuff is dubious. In any case IMHO, compared to what I've been using, Skylake is awesome. FWIW, see my post below for details of what I was trying to talk about.
    • Sorry if I implied that the CPU itself is 3X faster - by across the board I meant I meant the whole computer PassMark rating as reported by PerformanceTest 8.0 from CPUComparison.com for an i5 system (3210) and an i7 system (994).

      I'm comparing three computers, the HP RP3000 POS system we used to sell, the Desktop I use daily and a new i5 computer we are considering to use instead of the RP3000.

      The RP3000 uses an Atom Processor and its associated Intel chipset video and 4GB PC2-6400 ram and WD 500GB Cavi
  • I am not trolling, I do not understand the target market for this costly laptop.
    1. Developers would rather have lots of RAM and disk space, they can have those systems with better CPU for far less than what this thing costs
    2. Obviously not for gamers, the system does not have powerful GPU
    3. Regular users now are moving away from laptop.
    MS had to write off on Surface inventory recently as well. What does MS achieve from this Surface book and Surface Pro when it is not making profit?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      the ms write off surface inventory was the old arm based stuff which didn't sell well. these things are selling extremely well. It is for corporate users that want full functionality but in a lightweight format. No it isn't for dev or gamers or regular users, you seem to be oblivious to a whole range of other users out in the world.
      • This is the teacher/professor's laptop of choice. Most of the things they need to access are web based anyway; the most graphic intensive thing they'll run is using it for a video presentation. My husband is still lugging around his original Surface Pro and has decided to ask for one of these Surface Books as a replacement when it's time for a refresh rather than a Surface 4 or 5 or whatever number they'll be at then.
    • Re:Too costly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ranton ( 36917 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @09:32PM (#50777937)

      1. Developers would rather have lots of RAM and disk space, they can have those systems with better CPU for far less than what this thing costs

      Very few developers need more than 16 GB RAM or a 1 TB SSD. Also very few need a processor faster than an i5-6300U. I currently develop on an i5-4300U with 8 GB RAM and a 256 GB SSD, and never feel it is insufficient.

      The extra cost is trivial for any professional use. If there is even a slight need for a touch screen for things like notes taking or drawing diagrams / UI mock-ups, then a few hundred dollars amortized over 2-3 years of use is virtually nothing. $500 of extra up-front cost comes to $20 per month even if you replace your machine every two years, or approximately 0.2% of the labor cost of a decent developer.

      2. Obviously not for gamers, the system does not have powerful GPU

      This is mostly true, as you aren't going to play Witcher 3 on either of these machines. But you could play plenty of casual games or even many non-cutting edge games. I assume playing Civ 5, for instance, would be fine on the Surface Book with a discrete video card.

      3. Regular users now are moving away from laptop

      ... to devices like this. I am finally making the move from a laptop & tablet to a 2-1 when my Surface arrives next week. I will still have a desktop at home for gaming purposes, but everything but the video card is from 2011 since there is rarely a need to upgrade anything else now a days.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As someone with a maxxed-out ThinkPad W530 they've payed ~$2.2k for overall (originally $1.7k then upgraded to a 512GB mSATA ($200) + 2 * 2TB SATA ($100 each) and 32GB of RAM ($200) aftermarket during sales) honestly the Surface Pro 4 is quite tempting.

      The Core i7 version with the Iris 540 has equal/better performance to the Quadro K2000M my current laptop has as a secondary Optimus video card. So it has MASSIVE power honestly, "Integrated" doesn't mean it's any slouch for gaming anymore, this is a giant my

      • It's still expensive, and the upgrades are premium prices.

        That said, it's the only game out there if you want a sub-2lb machine (okay, 2.25 with the keyboard) and a digitzer pen. Everyone has a device that is cheaper than a surface, but none of them are tablet-able, have a pen, and weight less than 2.25 lbs with the keyboard.

        I had a Sony Flip 15 because I wanted a pen, a dGPU, and I didn't think a 12" screen would be big enough and thought that . What I found was that I rarely used the GPU, a 16x9 screen is

    • In the consultancy I work within, two platforms are most common: Macbook Pros and Surface Pros. There are a smattering of relative dinosaurs hauling around 2.8kg Dells or Thinkpads, but the lighter form factors are absolutely relevant in this space, which does require good grunt running a development platform. I'm still using my Thinkpad because even at 2.5 years of age it has plenty of dev grunt, but I refreshed into a Surface Pro which in most ways is faster, and when docked it's a delight to work with. I

      • Also it works with the full version of Photoshop, something you can't do with Apple tablets.

        • Also it works with the full version of Photoshop, something you can't do with Apple tablets.

          He was comparing it to a MacBook Pro, which is a full-blown Laptop. Your comment is irrelevant.

          • It's relevant to a discussion of the relative value of the Surface PRO. And the macbook pro can't be used with a pressure sensitive stylus.

            • It's relevant to a discussion of the relative value of the Surface PRO. And the macbook pro can't be used with a pressure sensitive stylus.

              And yet another irrelevant comment.

    • I am not trolling, I do not understand the target market for this costly laptop. 1. Developers would rather have lots of RAM and disk space, they can have those systems with better CPU for far less than what this thing costs 2. Obviously not for gamers, the system does not have powerful GPU 3. Regular users now are moving away from laptop. MS had to write off on Surface inventory recently as well. What does MS achieve from this Surface book and Surface Pro when it is not making profit?

      I'm considering one at some point, for something that I can interchangably use as a laptop or tablet, whichever I desire. #3 is ideal. If I need something I can take around, w/o needing the keyboard at all times, but which has everything that I'd normally have in my laptop. Also, the pen that comes w/ it makes handwritten note taking easier than typing all the time. But you have a keyboard cover that fills in that need whenever it comes up.

    • I am not trolling, I do not understand the target market for this costly laptop.

      Emphasis mine. If you're comparing this to a laptop you've missed the point. If you want a laptop buy one. They are cheaper and far more powerful than the Surface.

      If however you want something you can use standing up, with a pen digitizer, that is light enough that makes you question if someone stole it from your bag, then you should start looking at a Surface and when you compare it to similar devices it is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.

  • by labnet ( 457441 )

    We bought two Surface 3's for our sales guys. The hardware is good but not great. We seem to often have networking problems with them.
    The keyboards are flimsy, and when you dock them, the keyboard interferes with the sliding dock. There is no power LED that I can find on the dock to verify i the plug pack is working. Plus Win8 is a dog, even on a tablet.
    What surprises me, is whenever a surface is discussed, it is like an Angel of God descended. Is the hardware really that good, or is MS upping their shill b

    • by ranton ( 36917 )

      We bought two Surface 3's for our sales guys. The hardware is good but not great. [...] What surprises me, is whenever a surface is discussed, it is like an Angel of God descended. Is the hardware really that good, or is MS upping their shill budget?

      Well I for one am a user who skipped the Surface Pro 3 because I didn't think the hardware such as keyboard as dock was quite up to snuff, but am finally convinced with the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. I pre-ordered both and will return one (or both) within the 30 day window. I think the Surface Pro 3 was really close, but really close isn't nearly good enough for continued professional use. After using the Surface Pro 4 and Book briefly in the Microsoft store, I am very impressed with the new keyboards

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        I pre-ordered both and will return one (or both) within the 30 day window.

        I don't want to pick on you in particular, but is this normal behaviour in the US? Buy stuff to try it out with the intention of most likely returning it. Does that mean that when you buy stuff there is a fair chance it has already been sold to someone else, maybe a few times, and returned?

        I'm just interested in what the norm is, compared to Europe. Is the 30 day window a legal requirement or just something they offer? In the EU it's a mandatory 14 days for online purchases. Do you ever find that they have

        • by ranton ( 36917 )

          A 30 day return policy is not required, but it is the norm for companies in the US to have a lax return policy. The existence of these policies help entice consumers to consume more, because they don't have to be 100% sure of their purchase before making it. It is similar to having a bankruptcy system, where people are more willing to take on debt as long as it won't result in a lifetime of debt if they fall on tough times.

          I for one would never buy the first version of the Surface Book if I couldn't try it

    • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @10:23PM (#50778149) Journal

      I suspect it's because it's sort of niche hardware. There are a very small number of active digitizer tablets, and even fewer that can be considered convertable to laptop-like usage. It leads to Apple-like devotion, if not because of the actual benefits but because - for them - there simply isn't anything else out there that's comparable. Pen, regular ULV processors (vs m series or Atom), integratable keyboard, all day(-ish) battery, and under 2 lbs. It's a pretty small product space so I think people tend to get defensive.

      I'm surprised they stayed with Marvell for wifi, given the complaints and mediocre speeds (though the ac, tbh, is as fast as my server can push data). The dock has changed (no more kbd interference), the keyboards have been vastly improved if the reviews are to be believed, and W10 works a lot like W7 (that may or may not be an improvement depending on your opinion of W7).

      • by edremy ( 36408 )
        This. I've given out more than a dozen to faculty members using them to flip their classes. Active digitizer + full OS capable of running everything + OneNote + Camtasia makes for an amazing all-in-one device to generate educational video. Write like you're at a whiteboard while recording voice, annotate on top of images or complex math, run Matlab or Mathematica live, include anything from video to physics simulations. When done hit a couple of buttons and you're finished. I barely need to train peopl
      • Not defensive.

        I don't own one though I rather want one.

        under 2 lbs.

        That's a huge thing there. I have a bad back. For some reason manual labour doesn't hurt me, but carrying moderate weight on my back all day destroys it. Laptops under 1Kg are like hen's teeth. I have one right here in front of me (eee 900), and I didn't see another until the surface one (I think there might have been some insane sony carbon fiber jobby in the mean time).

        Weight to me matters almost more than anything.

        And then it has a digiti

        • Yeah, the SP is one of those things that's hard to compare to anything "one for one". It's expensive enough in power configurations everyone wants to put it up against 4.5-5lb desktop replacement machines with quad core processors and discrete graphics cards. It's too powerful - and runs a full OS - to make a fair comparison to even the iPad Pro that comes out next month...and yet the surface + type cover weighs four ounces *less* than the iPad Pro and its cover.

          Nobody really knows what to make of it. But

    • No everyone who likes something is a shill. The thing is people who have no use case for such a device simply don't understand.

      Is the hardware incredible? No. The processor may be faster on paper than devices it's often compared to but it thermally throttles at the first sight of stress. Great for short bursts of activity but utterly useless for sustained processor intensive tasks. The keyboard flexes when you type on it and sometimes doesn't detect properly. The hardware is expensive. The display has backl

    • by tacroy ( 813477 )
      Heya! So I have a Surface Pro 3 (typing on it currently) and I use the dock everyday. I've not had many networking issues, but my bluetooth gets weird sometimes. It looks like it's the same chip so it could make sense how you might see those problems. I type constantly and have never had an issue with the keyboard (I have the hard one, not the touch cover) and I have never had any issues with the keyboard and the dock. I keep the keyboard plugged in and dock and un-dock maybe 20 times a day. Never once h
  • Microsoft's highest achievement was stealing the late Steve Jobs' distortion field when they announced the Surface. It kinda went like this: "Holy shit, it's an iPad for Windows! And it has a kickstand we stole from Archos! Running a tiled window manager we lied about market-testing! And some people have to do real work on it, so we made up this floppy disaster of a keyboard, because hinges are so yesterday!"

    Yeah, we see how that went. Sad missionaries from Redmond trying to balance a flipped-back key

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @04:24AM (#50779435)

      Yeah, we see how that went. Sad missionaries from Redmond trying to balance a flipped-back keyboard on their knees, or seeking a flat table when they have to type... Truly, the specs of the tablet were good, but a limp, flaccid keyboard was just unfathomably stupid on a device intended to run Office.

      Sounds like someone who should have bought a laptop. The keyboard is for convenience and nothing more. It's quite a crappy thing, perfectly usable for typing and office type work, but as you rightly say you need a table. This thing is not a LAPtop.

      Still suits for an incredibly large number of use cases.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It falls short in both respects, while costing more than most decent laptops.

Of course there's no reason for it, it's just our policy.

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