Surface Pro 4 i7 vs New Surface Pro i7 ?

Discussion in 'Microsoft' started by Lazer, Mar 6, 2018.

  1. Lazer

    Lazer Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I can't seem to find any real-world comparisons between these two particular models. Most relate to the i5 model, etc.

    I've been using the SP4 since it came out, but it's starting to feel laggy for my work and I'm thinking it's time to replace it with a nSP of same spec (16gb, 512). Is there a noticeable difference between the speed of the two overall? Any drawbacks for the nSP?

    I use Photoshop and Illustrator heavily among other things, so anyone with combined experience with Adobe AND both i7 models who could chime in would be amazing. That said, any info/opinions would be super helpful.

    I can look at charts and graphs all day and try to extrapolate, but real user experience trumps all of that IMO.

    I would really appreciate the help :)
     
  2. Azzart

    Azzart Late night illustrator Senior Member

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    The i5 SpPro is already faster than the i7 Sp4.
    The i7 SpPro, in my experience, was slightly faster than the fanless i5. But with better cooling.
     
  3. Lazer

    Lazer Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I definitely need the 16gb, so I'd have to go i7 anyway - besides battery life, are there any downsides to going i7 nSP?
     
  4. Azzart

    Azzart Late night illustrator Senior Member

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    I'd say the usual you can have with the new Surface Pro: bad backlight bleeding on the screen and a pen that you never know if it's going to work properly.
     
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  5. DRTigerlilly

    DRTigerlilly Tablet Lead Mod (Retired) Super Moderator

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    I understand the pen concerns can be mitigated with the Wacom Bamboo Ink.
     
  6. lovelaptops

    lovelaptops My friends call me Jeff Senior Member

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    I have concerns about how much useful performance benefits you'd get going from the SP4 to the SP5 i7 cpu. You're only looking at a one-generation change and it is relatively minor going from Skylake i7U to Kaby Lake i7U processors and a corresponding bump to the iGPUs. I agree you should look at benchmarks for the two (notebookcheck.net has a great database of processors and benchmarks) but I'm pretty certain you would incur pretty significant cost for very little noticeable performance change, if any. I don't know when folks think MS will update the Surface Pros with 8th gen Intel hdwe but since that it a huge bump, to a quad core from dual core cpu architecture, that would be worth doing and judging from the huge number of models that have had that refresh, the pricing is pretty much the same. The problem with MS "refreshes" is that they don't occur the way they do with most other OEM's. In fact, I'm not sure I can remember a time since the SP3 when there has been a spec bump without a full model change, so this could be a long wait.

    If you could be a bit more specific about when you experience the lags you refer to that might help to ascertain if the Skylake to Kaby Lake changes would give you material benefits. I'm wondering if the culprit might in part be your SSD since you seem to be experiencing a sluggishness without mentioning that you are using more taxing software. SSDs do deteriorate with usage - every I/O causes incremental deterioration (unmeasurable in each instance, but cumulatively quite noticeable) in the NAND memory response time and as you fill up an SSD it gets slower, especially once you hit 60% - 70% of capacity. Since you can't replace the SSD - or anything else :mad: - in an SP device, upgrading to a new one, taking the opportunity to pare down how much you have stored, considering upgrading to 1TB (though that's got to be inordinately expensive) and also getting some benefit from the newer cpu/gpy might just do the trick. Still, color me skeptical subject to hearing: what you are running that is laggy, what % of your SSD is in use, how many R/W cycles you've run your SSD through.

    Last thought, you really might want to consider updating to a machine that uses Intel 8th gen cpus and, depending upon your use cases, a d-gpu. Since the SP4 loaded as yours is gets quite pricey, and retains its resale value farily well, you may be able to make these changes for less net new investment than you might think, certainly no more than the cost to buy the latest SP model. I realize there are many other considerations if you are going to be looking at changing out of an SP form factor. I don't know if it's entirely out of your budget, but the Surface Book 2 is available with 8 gen cpus. That won't be the least costly way to access that hardware, but it will come closest to duplicating the versatility of your SP4.

    Don't know if I just talked in circles, but hope there was some food for thought in there.

    Jeff
     
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  7. Steve S

    Steve S Pen Pro - Senior Member Super Moderator

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    A couple of quick comments since I happen to have both of these tablets (nSP: i7, 16GB / 512GB and SP4: i7, 16GB / 512GB)
    • I haven't done any serious head-to-head performance comparisons between these two tablets, so for the moment I only have subjective impressions to share.
    • The SP4 has gotten a lot of criticisms over time, but I found it to be fast and trouble free. I am not an artist but rather a technical pen user, so the idiosyncrasies of the Surface pen have never bothered me. I agree that users like @Azzart have valid criticisms to share. The one possible (subjective) observation that I might make about the SP4 is that I observed some CPU throttling (although less than the SP3).
    • My nSP experience has also been that it is fast and trouble free, so it is hard to think of any striking differences between the two. I think I have seen less throttling than the SP4, but in terms of practical runtime speed differences, I haven't noticed any significant differences. The fan will run up and down, but I don't find it irritating like some on these forums. (Seriously, if you find the SP's cooling fan that objectionable, how do you even stand the average building's HVAC system? Most of the time, I can't even hear the SP's fan over the HVAC in our conference rooms and offices...) Regarding the nSP pen, I have noticed the anomalies that have been cited by other users. However, from a technical user standpoint, I don't find them troublesome.
    • Is it worth upgrading to an nSP? If you can find a good deal on a lightly used nSP, maybe. I think the nSP exhibits incrementally better performance than the SP4. However, if you are looking for mobile computing power, you might be better off biting the bullet and looking at an HP Z Book X2 with its 8th Gen quad core i7-8650 / 8660. Having used a VAIO Z Canvas (quad core i7-4770HQ) for years, I can tell you that head to head, the Z Canvas out-performed the SP4 and it still out-performs the nSP. And the runtime differences are noticeable. I expect that the HP Z Book X2 will exhibit similar strengths and also have almost twice the graphics processing power of the Z Canvas... for a price, of course...
     
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  8. Azzart

    Azzart Late night illustrator Senior Member

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    Guys I want to stress out again the fact that using a quad core cpu doesn't make much difference when using Photoshop compared to using a dual core cpu with higher frequencies. ;)
     
  9. Steve S

    Steve S Pen Pro - Senior Member Super Moderator

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    OK. Took me a while, but here is a performance comparison of sorts.

    Benchmark - Mar18.JPG

    The SP4, nSP and Z Canvas (ZC) are all i7 tablets with 16GB of RAM and 512 GB SSDs. If I recall correctly, all use PCIe channels to the SSDs. All of the tablets have a fully updated (as of this evening) Windows 10 load. In order to get the maximum performance, all three were connected to their respective chargers during this single trial.

    I routinely install Intel's Extreme Tuning Utility on my tablets, so I simply ran the benchmark test that is native to that tool. The time histories are shown above. Green shows the CPU temperature, Blue the CPU utilization, and Red the clock frequency. Although I tried to ensure that each of the graphs is identically sized, I'm not sure if I was successful because it appears that the nSP actually beat the Z Canvas by a tiny margin whereas the benchmark scores tell a different story:

    SP4: Overall score: 580 Marks 3.26 Max Processor Frequency 85 Deg C Max Processor Temp

    nSP: Overall score: 653 Marks 3.81 Max Processor Frequency 94 Deg C Max Processor Temp

    ZC : Overall score: 729 Marks 3.21 Max Processor Frequency 79 Deg C Max Processor Temp

    During the period of the benchmark test, none of the processors throttled (however, this was one short test and my office is on the cool side today). Although the ZC appears to have finished a second or two after the nSP, its score is as much higher over the nSP as the nSP's score is over the SP4. An interesting result! Note also that the ZC ran significantly cooler than both SPs.

    As I mentioned earlier, in terms of day-to-day use and working on similar or the same tasks, the ZC routinely finishes faster than the nSP, usually by at least several seconds (but it depends upon the task). However, for the purposes here, there is a clear incremental performance advantage of the nSP over the SP4...
     
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  10. Azzart

    Azzart Late night illustrator Senior Member

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    @Steve S do you by chance have a way to do a single threaded test of the cpu?
     
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