Surface Pro 4 Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Microsoft' started by spinedoc77, Oct 6, 2015.

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  1. Steve S

    Steve S Pen Pro - Senior Member Super Moderator

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    Over in the VAIO / Sony forum, anactoraaron mentioned Intel's XTU app, which reminded me of its benchmarking function. Since I currently have an SP3, an SP4 and a VAIO Z Canvas, I thought it would be interesting to run the benchmark on all three platforms. I'm posting the results here because they will likely be of interest to Surface owners, as well. Because I use these tablets as reference units for my comments here, I maintain each tablet in a more-or-less baseline condition. This means that I haven't tried to tweak or otherwise adjust the CPU settings; the only changes are those implemented by OEM updates (if any). So the differences seen below are representative of Microsoft's or VAIO's intended performance for their tablets. HOWEVER, note that these plots should be used only as general indicators of performance; there's a lot going on in each tablet, and differences in the hardware architecture obviously have significant effects on how each tablet behaved (for this reason, I'm not going to mention the "marks," or score, that each tablet achieved):

    [​IMG]

    I have cropped and aligned each performance window so that the start of the benchmark test is lined up (left-hand yellow line). To make it easier to compare, I placed a second yellow line at the time when the Surface Pro 4 completed its test; this makes it easy to see that the Surface Pro 3 took considerably longer to complete the test while the Z Canvas finished somewhat more quickly. The data lines are:
    • Blue Line: CPU Utilization, %. The very peak of the lines represents 100% CPU utilization.
    • Green Line: Package Temperature, Degrees C. The peak value appears to be 90° C (Note SP3 curve).
    • Red Line: Core Frequency, GHz.
    Some brief comments about each tablet:
    • SP3: At the start of the test, the Haswell CPU heated up rapidly to ~90° C and pretty much stayed there. The fan came on but it was not too loud. Thermal limited started almost immediately after and varied up to as much as 30% to 40% in spikes. Of course, this was no surprise, but it was still disconcerting to see how poorly the SP3 thermal design performed. With the CPU constantly throttling, the benchmark took a while to complete. The SP3 started with 1 core active and then started the other core as the test progressed.
    • SP4: By contrast, the CPU temperature was much better managed by the SP4's updated thermal design. The temperature only climbed to about 78° C (IIRC), and it held more or less steady there. Of course, if the test had lasted a lot longer, I suspect that the temperature would have climbed, and eventually started thermal limiting, but this test wasn't long enough to do that. Again, the fans were on, but not very loud at all. Like the SP3, the SP4 started with 1 core active and then energized both cores.
    • ZC: The ZC behaved a little differently. The temperature climbed into the low- to mid-80's and leveled off there. The fan were running quietly enough that I had listen for them. In the bottom plot, note that the Core Frequency of the ZC increased only slightly during the benchmark test. The ZC started with 1 core (IIRC) and then energized 2 cores. But during the rest of the benchmark test, the ZC started switching between 2 cores and 4 cores! This probably explains the wider variations in CPU Utilization for the ZC since its 4-core CPU has almost double the capability as the SP3's 2-core Haswell CPU and significantly more capability than the SP4's 2-core Skylake CPU.
     
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  2. dstrauss

    dstrauss Comic Relief Senior Member

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  3. Steve S

    Steve S Pen Pro - Senior Member Super Moderator

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    <<...the winner is?..>>

    ...It depends upon what you personally value, because the makings of a "good" (to you) tablet involve more than just computing performance. The benchmark time histories shown illustrate that the SP3 doesn't fair very well, from a computing capacity standpoint, with the SP4 or the Z Canvas. It's the loser here, if you want to put it that way. After that, however, things start to get more difficult and subjective. The SP4 is thinner and lighter, and it is "adequately fast" in terms of the current crop of competitors. The Z Canvas is demonstrably faster, but it's not quite a night-and-day difference. Its display has a noticeably wider color gamut. Also, the keyboard is detached, with the pros and cons that brings to the table. Note that both are Windows 10 and N-trig, so I'm going to call that a draw.

    Which wins? I submit that either one could be your personal pick, depending upon what you want to do with it. At the moment, I tend to use the Z Canvas more; it's faster, and because it uses the Intel WiFi radio, connectivity is both faster and more reliable. Once the firmware updates catch up on the SP4, I may rethink things, but only time will tell...
     
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  4. dstrauss

    dstrauss Comic Relief Senior Member

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    Thanks Steve - you touched on one REALLY SORE point for me with Surface (despite my love for the SP4) - the Marvell WiFi they use - surely it can't be that much cheaper...
     
  5. metalsiren

    metalsiren Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    yea never understood this one either. Intel has been the best wireless clients chips to date. and if something goes wrong with their stuff they are right on top if getting it figured out and fixed very quickly.
     
  6. Steve S

    Steve S Pen Pro - Senior Member Super Moderator

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    <<...the Marvell WiFi - surely it can't be that much cheaper...>>

    I doubt that it's an issue of cost; I'm pretty sure that Microsoft went with Marvell because the Marvell radio could be modulated over a wider range of power consumption than the Intel radio. (When it comes to battery operating life, every little bit helps!) HOWEVER, in doing so, Microsoft also inherited "touchy" connectivity. The fact that they've been working the firmware for years, and still have problems, shows that they may have over-reached in this part of their system design...

    I have no idea why they continue to stick with Marvell...
     
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  7. jnjroach

    jnjroach Technology Strategist Super Moderator

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    Apple did the same with Broadcom and it took them years to fix the issues.
     
  8. Kumabjorn

    Kumabjorn ***** is back Senior Member

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    So, two wrongs make one right? The fact that other makers had problems ought to be a red flag.

    Yes, I'm happy to see you and that is a Sony Xperia in my pocket
     
  9. dprice7

    dprice7 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I'm the next holdout to cave on the SP4.... The $100 off and the free "dongle dock" promo they have going on for prez day pushed me over the edge... (plus I had $106 in microsoft store credit from "earn by microsoft" rewards - my wife is addicted to starbucks). Ended up with an i5 8/256 to replace my SP2 i5 8/256.... Had to order online to use my MS store credits, so it'll be a week or so. I went to BestBuy to hold one again before I pulled the trigger.... It's bigger than I want, but it's nicer to hold as a tablet than my SP2... I will miss Windows 8 though; Win10 is a terrible tablet OS.
     
  10. davidwes

    davidwes Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I also couldn't resist the President's day bundle. Only hiccup was to decide which office 365 sub to buy. I have an existing Office 365 home premium sub expiring April 1, however when I log into my account I don't see a way to plug in a new serial to extend it. I bought my existing office sub at Best Buy and when I log in to Microsoft account I only see "best buy - geek squad" and a place to put credit card info for another year so wasn't sure if the special $79 office would add on to existing sub so got the $49 1pc in my SP4 bundle. If I am wrong and a ms store office 5pc sub can be added to extend a best buy purchased 5pc sub then I'll exchange.

    Here's my president's day bundle from Microsoft store in Austin, Texas:
    SP4 i7/16/256, free case, free dock, fingerprint keyboard, and the 1pc office sub.

    The deal maker was the free dock. That got me out of bed in a hurry. I don't really need it now, however I know I'm not going to be able to wait for SP5 so now is as good time as any.
     
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