CPU Performance

While multitasking on Surface 2 can struggle, the same really can’t be said for Surface Pro 2. The tablet is effectively a Haswell Ultrabook, capable of delivering the exact same performance as a 2013 MacBook Air – but in the form factor of a thick tablet. The performance of Intel’s Core i5-4200U is a fairly known quantity at this point, but to put Surface Pro 2’s tablet performance in perspective here are some comparisons to the best of the best in the ARM tablet space.

I ran tests using both Chrome and IE11, the latter is really only optimized for SunSpider and horribly unoptimized for everything else. In general you're multiple times better performance than what you can get from a quad-core Cortex A15 based device. If we look at Kraken, Surface Pro 2 running IE11 completes the test in 1/4 the time as Surface 2 running the same browser.

SunSpider 0.9.1 Benchmark

SunSpider 1.0 Benchmark

Mozilla Kraken Benchmark (Stock Browser)

Google Octane v1

Browsermark 2.0

WebXPRT - Overall Score

GPU Performance

Intel’s HD 4400 is good enough for light gaming and is a huge step above what you can find in a traditional ARM based tablet. Microsoft only gave us a few days to review both devices so I didn’t have a ton of time to re-characterize the performance of Intel’s HD 4400, but I’ve done that elsewhere already.

GLBenchmark 2.7 - T-Rex HD (Onscreen)

GLBenchmark 2.7 - T-Rex HD (Offscreen)

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Egypt HD (Onscreen)

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Egypt HD (Offscreen)

3DMark Unlimited - Ice Storm

Storage Performance

My review sample appears to have a SK Hynix based SSD. I ran it through the same modified IO tests I did on the ASUS T100:

Our Android IO tests rely on Androbench with a relatively limited LBA span. I increased the difficulty of the test a bit under Windows 8.1 but still kept it reasonable since we are dealing with eMMC solutions. I’m testing across a 1GB LBA span and testing for a period of 1 minute, which is an ok balance between difficulty of workload and sensitivity to the fact that we’re evaluating low-class SSDs here.

Surface Pro 2 is a completely different league of IO performance. The number to pay attention here is the tremendous increase in random write performance compared to the eMMC solutions we’ve tested. I suspect the gap increases if we were to look at worst case sustained random write performance. Killer sequential performance definitely helps Surface Pro 2 feel quick.

Storage Performance - 256KB Sequential Reads

Storage Performance - 256KB Sequential Writes

Storage Performance - 4KB Random Reads

Storage Performance - 4KB Random Writes

Display Battery Life
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  • 074geodude - Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - link

    Yeah, have fun trying to type up a Word document on the Surface 2 Pro without a keyboard... Reply
  • Imaginer - Saturday, November 02, 2013 - link

    To be honest, just using the handwriting input for light document mockups is very very nice. It even has substituted some input methods because I already have a pen in hand and not wanting to deploy back the keyboard cover from its folded back position - with a nice method of switching between touch screen keyboards and handwriting input. Reply
  • Imaginer - Saturday, November 02, 2013 - link

    Of course, handwriting maybe a lost art amongst younger generations, with all of these new fangled devices and all. Reply
  • nikon133 - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    Higher resolution, and stylus. For those who need one. Not everyone do, but then, not everyone need Thunderbold either.

    It is hard to argue that laptop is better laptop than tablet, but MBA cannot be used as tablet at all, while SP2 can be used as laptop - with occasional compromises, but it can.

    In addition, I believe SP2 has docking station available, which I'm personally finding quite interesting. I can think of number of people for whom this could replace desktop, laptop and tablet - if dock is executed right. I guess you can plug external monitor, keyboard and mouse to MBA (or any other ultrabook), but I'm finding dock much more convenient solution.

    Re OS storage requirements, last time I took part in this argument - it was in one of Appleinsider forum treads - it turned out that Windows 8 takes pretty much the same space as OSX. Has this changed..? Recovery partition can be removed (with recovery media created), so personally I wouldn't consider that.
    Reply
  • althaz - Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - link

    This isn't meant to (and doesn't) compete with notebooks for using on your laptop. It provides a tablet while you are mobile or consuming media/data/whatever and it is comparable to a laptop/desktop when you are at a desk.

    If you have no use for the tablet side of things and want to type in your lap, the Surface Pro (2) is not for you.

    If you want something to consume, be portable and also be productive at a desk, then the Surface Pro (2) remains unmatched by any other device on the market. It's still not perfect yet (thickness is fine, but battery life needs to improve a bit more and weight desperately needs to go down). Better graphics performance would also be welcome, but as is it plays Starcraft 2, Football Manager and Civ5 pretty damn well, so i guess I shouldn't complain.
    Reply
  • Friendly0Fire - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    If you want to compare the Surface to an ultrabook, you need to include the keyboard, otherwise it just cannot compete. Ultrabooks don't have to have touch screens, but they do need keyboards. Reply
  • xdrol - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    Except those that do. (Reference Intel SDPs ftw, but there are a few that follow.) Reply
  • fokka - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    as far as i know the updated ultrabook-spec from intel do require a touchscreen. but when just speaking of form-factors, you're right of course. Reply
  • theduckofdeath - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    And doesn't the MBA use a Low budget, fairly low-resolution TN display? That's a huge trade-off just to gain a bit extra battery-life. Reply
  • ESC2000 - Thursday, October 24, 2013 - link

    The use of acrappy TN panel wasn't to gain battery life. ... it was straightforward profit mongering on apple's part Reply

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