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


View All Comments

  • backbydemand - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    Watching movies, playing real games, creating documents and editing photos are better on this than a phone, plus if it is WiFi only, the phone will act as a hotspot so I don't have to shell out for 2 data plans Reply
  • bountygiver - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    Article also mentioned 5000 doesn't improve much because of 15w CPU. Best it will reduce battery consumption when not running at 100% Reply
  • althaz - Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - link

    Except that some of us don't want anything to do with a laptop. I find the Surface Pro superior to my old Macbook Air for portability (smaller, lighter), usability on the go (where I'm only consuming content) and better when setup (better screen, superior for using with a real keyboard, etc).

    Ultrabooks are great from working in between point A and B. But the tablet is better for consumption in that time and also better for productivity at both point A and B.

    As a bonus you get a great screen and a really good drawing tablet.
  • InspectHerGadget - Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - link

    I am thinking of buying the Surface 2. No one mentions the obvious with RT machines which is that unlike Android, and Windows 8 they are pretty secure from bugs and bad software. It is attractive. I'm typing on a MBA 11 at the moment. I agree that the Surface is a compromise device, not quite as good as a laptop as an MBA and not as good a tablet as an iPad but it does both. Reply
  • Devjones2236 - Sunday, October 27, 2013 - link

    I disagree with your comment. I have to attend meetings where computers are not allowed; however, you can take notes on anything that doesn't require a keyboard. Using the stylus on the SP2 is perfect for this and hooking it up to a monitor allows you to be very productive at home or in the office. My clientele can sign docs on the SP2 as well. P.S. The ipad sucks for taking notes because you have to use those worthless bamboo stylus Reply
  • oranos - Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - link

    nailed it. Reply
  • hoboville - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    The Surface Pro is a good device, it's not bad to use regularly, but it's just not as good as a laptop in many respects. Folks at work hook them up to full monitors and keyboards though--they were given Pro's to replace their laptops. They often mention small text and keyboard as their main complaint.

    On a different note, most companies don't use tablets because they see them as media consumption/entertainment devices. Besides Surface, there haven't been any other realistically productivity-oriented tablets. Add in the high price which is either the same or more as a decent laptop and they will go for laptops every time.
  • Voldenuit - Saturday, October 26, 2013 - link

    Tablets are getting used more in industry, but they have very specific niches. I hear that on some factory floors in Boeing, the techs are being given iPads so they can pull up drawings and installation/finish instructions in tight places. From what I hear, the approval rating is very high, and the techs are able to use their tablets in wingboxes and other tight spaces and immediately get back to work instead of having to crawl out of the space, look for the same information on their workstation laptops (which they have to leave in designated workstation areas because of foreign object debris concerns), print out drawings, and then crawl back into the working space.

    Obviously these tablets aren't replacing multi-screen quad core workstations for the engineers to do CAD, FEM and CFD on, but for the technicians, they seem to be working a treat.
  • misfit410 - Friday, October 25, 2013 - link

    I would suggest anyone who think the Surface pro is expensive look up the Wacom Cintiq 13, for $999 I can get a nice stylus where I can draw directly to my computer screen,except I still need a computer to hook it to, for $899 I can a full stylus setup wit h the computer built in as the Surface Pro 2.. I'm sure the pressure and results are better in the Wacom Cintiq.. but as someone who uses a drawing tablet constantly, the Surface Pro appeals to me madly. Reply
  • Zoolookuk - Saturday, October 26, 2013 - link

    You do know that the MBA gets 15 hours battery life in real world tests? Reply

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