Microsoft Surface Pro 4
There's a new reigning king of Windows tablets and its name is the Surface Pro 4. Building on everything the last iteration got right, this new slate introduces a larger screen more sensitive touchscreen perfected for everything from penning documents to painting images. Thanks to a newly redesigned island keyboard, tapping away on the Type Cover feels almost as good as a real laptop and the glass trackpad feels simply superb. Internally the Microsoft's latest also features a faster processor and storage, all in a shell that's actually lighter and thinner than the Surface Pro 3. Overall, these improvements make the Surface Pro 4 an affordable Windows tablet that really can replace your laptop.The Surface Pro 4 fits a larger screen with a higher resolution into a slightly slimmer body than last year's model. The pen and keyboard cover are also improved, and this is one of the first mobile systems shipping with Intel's latest processors. Design The Surface tablet line set out its basic design rules with the very first generation of products and has largely stuck to its guns since. What we've seen, instead of wholesale reimagining, is a steady march of improvements to the display and chassis, helping the product feel just a bit more premium with every generation.
The earliest Surface Pro models were 13mm thick, while last year's Surface Pro 3 shaved that down to 9.1mm. This year, we're down to 8.4mm, despite increasing the size of the screen. Both the Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 4 are 1.7 pounds (771 grams) by themselves, or 2.5 pounds (1.13 kg) with their keyboard cover and stylus pens attached. One of the biggest improvements to last year's Surface Pro carries over here: the highly adjustable kickstand, which can be adjusted to nearly any angle between 22 and 150 degrees. The kickstand, which runs the entire width of the system, is stiff enough that it will stay where you put it, and hardly moves at all, even when using your fingers or the pen on the touchscreen.
Missing from the black bezel surrounding the screen this time around is the capacitive Windows logo touch button. In previous Surface models, this moved around from the long edge to the short edge of the system, but always served the same purpose: to take you back to the Windows 8 tile interface. As we're now operating in the Windows 10 world, having a physical home button isn't necessary, although the Windows 10 "tablet mode" is still very similar to what Window 8 looked like.
Performance Microsoft is offering the Surface Pro 4 in sixth-generation Intel Core M, Core i5 and Core i7 options. The M version comes with Intel HD graphics 515, while the i5 comes with slightly more powerful Intel HD graphics 520. The top i7 variant comes with Intel HD graphics 540. Adding further complexity to the mix, you can also load the Pro 4 with 4GB, 8GB or 16GB of RAM. I tested the Core i5 model with 8GB of RAM.
The model benchmarked fairly well. The Surface Pro 4 ran in with a 6,727 multi-core Geekbench score. On the graphics intensive 3DMark: Cloud Gate, it scored a solid 6,019. Neither scores are groundbreaking, but they put the Pro 4 on a par with most top-end 2015 convertible tablets and well above its 2014 predecessor. By comparison, the Surface Pro 3 scored 3,491 in Geekbench.
The benchmarks proved accurate with real-world use, and the Surface Pro 4 delivers solidly impressive performance. Using the unit as my primary tablet and laptop, I didn’t notice any serious performance jitters. The Surface loaded web pages instantly, ran applications smoothly, and proved capable of playing Steam games, such as Deathwatch: Tyranid Invasion and Divinity Original Sin, chug free – if the graphics settings weren't maxed.
Battery life Microsoft touts a battery life
of up to nine hours of video playback – that's the same figure given for the Pro
3 so there's no official benefit on this front. We're still testing batter life
and will add our results very soon. But,Microsoft still
refuses to include the Type Cover keyboard by default, forcing a separate
purchase. Battery life still isn't enough for
a full day. The
Bottom Line A host of small refinements cements the Surface Pro 4's position as
the best-in-class Windows tablet -- so long as you're prepared to pay extra for
the required keyboard cover accessory. Spec sheet
- CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 3GHz with Turbo Boost)
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520
- RAM: 8GB LPDDR3
- Screen: 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense display (Contrast ratio: 1,300:1, 100% sRGB color, 10-point multi-touch, 3:2 aspect ratio)
- Storage: 256GB SSD (PCIe 3.0)
- Ports: 1x USB 3.0, mini DisplayPort, microSD card reader (UHS-I), headphone/mic jack
- Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2 x 2 MIMO), Bluetooth 4.0 (Low Energy)
- Cameras: 8MP rear-facing, auto-focus camera (1080p HD); 5MP front-facing, 1080p HD camera
- Weight: 1.73 pounds
- Size: 11.5 x 7.93 x 0.36 inches (W x D x H)
· Price;$889.99 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Microsoft might not be the first company to break into 2-in-1 laptop, but it's one of the few to get it right. The first Surface was a suave new device that worked both as a laptop and tablet. Thanks to an ergonomic kickstand and excellent magnetic keyboard, it easy to use whether you're at a desk or even laying down. The Surface Pro 3 is thinner and lighter than the previous two versions, despite having a larger 12-inch display and higher screen resolution. A new kickstand makes it easier to set up and use, and the keyboard cover remains a best-in-class example. The Surface Pro 3 is now optimized for a digital pen, which is included. Performance Despite its remarkably slim and light frame, the Surface Pro 3 is a powerful machine. In benchmarks it's a match for pricey ultrabooks like the Toshiba Kira. Its 1.9GHz Core i5 processor scores 5,532, more than Toshiba (5,424) and the 2014 MacBook Air (5,401).
The MacBook and Surface Pro make an interesting comparison here. Apple favours a slower processor, but a faster PCI-e SSD and Intel's faster HD 5000 graphics. It's a trade-off that makes the MacBook very snappy, but the Surface Pro 3 is no slouch either.
That faster processor gives it an edge in processor intensive tasks, too. This is no workstation class processor, of course, but anything you can throw at an ultrabook works fine on the Surface Pro 3. That means any task or application you use in everyday work and life. It's an efficient and effective replacement for a work laptop or ageing desktop.
It isn't noisy, either. If you're just watching video or doing some other simple task, it's rare to even hear the fan spin up. Even when it does it's an unobtrusive whir. You'll notice it in quiet surroundings, but it's barely discernible over the hubbub of an office. It's another reminder of the incredible industrial design in the Surface Pro 3.
But That excellent keyboard cover is not included in the base price, and its improved touchpad still doesn't measure up. The chassis lacks pen storage, and even with tweaked kickstand and keyboard hinges, the Surface Pro 3 still doesn't fit perfectly on the lap. The Bottom Line While the new Surface Pro 3 is Microsoft's best PC to date, it's more successful as a tablet than a laptop replacement. CPU: 1.9GHz Intel Core i5-4300U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4400 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12-inch, 2160 x 1440 multi-touch display| Storage: 256GB SSD $649.99