Notebookcheck

Microsoft Surface Book (Core i7, 940M) Convertible Review

Sebastian Jentsch (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 03/04/2016

Without competition. It is certainly powerful and does not make any compromises in terms of performance, and now even with a surprisingly good runtime of 10 hours. The Book easily beats the competition. But: Surface Pro 4 Core i7 and the i5 sibling are in the same ballpark – except for the runtime, which is a surprise.

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For the original German review, see here.

We had a chance to review the Microsoft Surface Book (Core i5, 940M) in the beginning of November 2015. The author was impressed by the unusual design, but there were some points of criticism. This included the rather mediocre runtime and the high heat development – also at the keyboard with the GeForce GPU. Can the super-expensive i7 version with a 512 GB SSD change that? 

The other issues can hardly be improved since the ports are obviously identical and the 13.5-inch device is also thick as well as heavy. The positive aspects apply as well, like the sophisticated chassis made of a magnesium alloy, the high display resolution and the comfortable input devices.

This update will only cover the performance sections: Is the Wi-Fi runtime shorter or longer with the Core i7? Can the latter utilize its full performance without throttling on battery like the i5 model? Does it consume more power and is there even more heat? You will find the answers in the following article. All the other information is available in the review of the Surface Book (Core i5940M).

Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
Processor
Graphics adapter
NVIDIA Maxwell GPU Surface Book (940M, GDDR5) - 1024 MB, Core: 953 MHz, Memory: 1252 MHz, GDDR5, 10.18.13.5415, HD Graphics 520
Memory
16384 MB 
, DDR4 1066.7 MHz, 10-10-10-28, Dual-Channel
Display
13.5 inch 3:2, 3000x2000 pixel, 5-point capacitive, native pen support, IPS, Model: Panasonic MEI96A2, Monitor name: VVX14P048M00 100 percent sRGB color, individually calibrated, glossy: yes, detachable screen
Mainboard
Intel Skylake-U Premium PCH
Storage
Samsung MZFLV512 NVMe, 512 GB 
, PCIe 3.0
Soundcard
Intel Skylake-U/Y PCH - High Definition Audio
Connections
2 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: 3.5-mm-Combo, Card Reader: SD UHS-II, Brightness Sensor, Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer, TPM
Networking
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 23 x 312 x 232 ( = 0.91 x 12.28 x 9.13 in)
Battery
18 Wh Lithium-Polymer, secondary battery: 51 Wh, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 12 h
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 8 MP at the rear with 1080p video, 5MP at the front
Primary Camera: 8 MPix auto-focus camera, with 1080p HD camera
Secondary Camera: 5 MPix 1080p HD camera Windows Hello5 face-authentication
Additional features
Speakers: Stereo, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, Quick-start guide, Manual, Stylus, OneDrive, 12 Months Warranty
Weight
1.51 kg ( = 53.26 oz / 3.33 pounds), Power Supply: 230 g ( = 8.11 oz / 0.51 pounds)
Price
2920 Euro

 

The brightness fluctuates on mains.
The brightness fluctuates on mains.

We once again measured the 3000x2000 pixels and could not find any significant differences. The deviations are within measuring tolerances. The big advantage of the panel is once again the extremely high luminance, which is not reduced on battery power. A high contrast and the DeltaE below 3.0 (without calibration) support the impression of a high-end display.

The unnoticeable brightness fluctuations determined by our oscilloscope do not affect that. We therefore performed our PWM and reaction times measurements without the attached power adaptor.

423
cd/m²
436
cd/m²
423
cd/m²
404
cd/m²
438
cd/m²
412
cd/m²
385
cd/m²
387
cd/m²
419
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 438 cd/m² Average: 414.1 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 88 %
Center on Battery: 438 cd/m²
Contrast: 1752:1 (Black: 0.25 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 2.06 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 2.87 | - Ø
96% sRGB (Argyll) 64% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 2.44
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
13.5, 3000x2000
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03
13.3, 2560x1600
Toshiba KIRA-10D
13.3, 1920x1080
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
12.3, 2736x1824
Dell XPS 13 9343 Core i7
13.3, 3200x1800
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
13.3, 2560x1440
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
12, 1920x1080
Screen
-8%
-9%
-22%
-25%
-36%
-64%
Brightness414342
-17%
316
-24%
396
-4%
231
-44%
324
-22%
347
-16%
Brightness Distribution8881
-8%
92
5%
87
-1%
82
-7%
90
2%
91
3%
Black Level *0.250.361
-44%
0.29
-16%
0.36
-44%
0.25
-0%
0.34
-36%
0.44
-76%
Contrast17521000
-43%
1152
-34%
1147
-35%
928
-47%
953
-46%
802
-54%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *2.061.82
12%
2.27
-10%
3.09
-50%
3.63
-76%
4.36
-112%
6.09
-196%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *2.871.8
37%
2.47
14%
3.92
-37%
2.57
10%
4.62
-61%
6.24
-117%
Gamma *2.442.492.362.32.172.182.41
CCT6820 95%6417 101%6872 95%7333 89%6422 101%6857 95%7238 90%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)6461.9
-3%
64
0%
61
-5%
58
-9%
60
-6%
46
-28%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)9696.9
1%
97
1%
93
-3%
71
-26%

* ... smaller is better

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
34 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 10 ms rise
↘ 24 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 84 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (28.3 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
39 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 24 ms rise
↘ 15 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 172 (maximum) ms. » 35 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (43 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM not detected

In comparison: 56 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 517 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 10420) Hz was measured.

Performance

Intel Core i7-6600U besides 512 GB SSD and 16 GB RAM (DDR4) – Microsoft charges a pretty hefty 2,900 Euros (~$3189) for that. Users can therefore expect high performance without compromises, but is this really the case?

Processor

The Core i7-6600U (2.6 GHz, Turbo 3.4 GHz) performs well in our benchmarks. The Surface Pro 4 Core i7 (6650U 2.2 GHz, Turbo 3.4 GHz) is coincidentally 2% faster in the Single and Multi-Core tests of CB R11.5 & 15. The Surface Book i5 falls behind, even though we are only talking about a disadvantage of 6 up to 12%, and the single performance, which is more relevant in practice, falls behind by 6/7%. You should therefore definitely get the i7 version if you want the highest possible performance in this form factor, but it is questionable whether the additional charge is worth it.

We can confirm one thing though: The i7-6600U can utilize its full Turbo Boost without any restrictions. This was also the case for the i5 version. This also applies for battery operation, where the R11.5 benchmark actually determined slightly higher scores (Single: 1.62 points, Multi: 3.73 points).

Cinebench R10
Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
13.5, 3000x2000
6065 Points ∼67%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
12.3, 2736x1824
4297 Points ∼47%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
12.3, 2736x1824
6050 Points ∼67%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
12.3, 2736x1824
6787 Points ∼75%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03
13.3, 2560x1600
6379 Points ∼70%
Toshiba KIRA-10D
13.3, 1920x1080
6200 Points ∼69%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
12, 1920x1080
5022 Points ∼55%
Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
13.5, 3000x2000
13656 Points ∼37%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
12.3, 2736x1824
8886 Points ∼24%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
12.3, 2736x1824
13382 Points ∼37%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
12.3, 2736x1824
14833 Points ∼41%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03
13.3, 2560x1600
13932 Points ∼38%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
12, 1920x1080
8461 Points ∼23%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
13.5, 3000x2000
1.49 Points ∼0%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
13.5, 3000x2000
1.41 Points ∼0% -5%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
12.3, 2736x1824
0.98 Points ∼0% -34%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
12.3, 2736x1824
1.4 Points ∼0% -6%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
12.3, 2736x1824
1.51 Points ∼0% +1%
HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G2
14.0, 1920x1080
1.46 Points ∼0% -2%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03
13.3, 2560x1600 (Windows 8.1)
1.49 Points ∼0% 0%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03
13.3, 2560x1600 (OS X)
1.37 Points ∼0% -8%
Dell XPS 13 9343 Core i7
13.3, 3200x1800
1.41 Points ∼0% -5%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
13.3, 2560x1440
1.3 Points ∼0% -13%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
12, 1920x1080
0.94 Points ∼0% -37%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
13.5, 3000x2000
3.73 Points ∼0%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
13.5, 3000x2000
3.42 Points ∼0% -8%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
12.3, 2736x1824
2.27 Points ∼0% -39%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
12.3, 2736x1824
3.4 Points ∼0% -9%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
12.3, 2736x1824
3.8 Points ∼0% +2%
HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G2
14.0, 1920x1080
3.14 Points ∼0% -16%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03
13.3, 2560x1600 (Windows 8.1)
3.53 Points ∼0% -5%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03
13.3, 2560x1600 (OS X)
3.34 Points ∼0% -10%
Toshiba KIRA-10D
13.3, 1920x1080
3.15 Points ∼0% -16%
Dell XPS 13 9343 Core i7
13.3, 3200x1800
3.12 Points ∼0% -16%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
13.3, 2560x1440
2.7 Points ∼0% -28%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
12, 1920x1080
2.15 Points ∼0% -42%
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
13.5, 3000x2000
129 Points ∼71%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
13.5, 3000x2000
122 Points ∼67% -5%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
12.3, 2736x1824
88 Points ∼48% -32%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
12.3, 2736x1824
122 Points ∼67% -5%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
12.3, 2736x1824
132 Points ∼73% +2%
HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G2
14.0, 1920x1080
121 Points ∼66% -6%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03
13.3, 2560x1600
126 Points ∼69% -2%
Toshiba KIRA-10D
13.3, 1920x1080
121 Points ∼66% -6%
Dell XPS 13 9343 Core i7
13.3, 3200x1800
123 Points ∼68% -5%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
13.3, 2560x1440
113 Points ∼62% -12%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
12, 1920x1080
80 Points ∼44% -38%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
13.5, 3000x2000
335 Points ∼22%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
13.5, 3000x2000
305 Points ∼20% -9%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
12.3, 2736x1824
206 Points ∼13% -39%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
12.3, 2736x1824
306 Points ∼20% -9%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
12.3, 2736x1824
342 Points ∼22% +2%
HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G2
14.0, 1920x1080
277 Points ∼18% -17%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03
13.3, 2560x1600
321 Points ∼21% -4%
Toshiba KIRA-10D
13.3, 1920x1080
289 Points ∼19% -14%
Dell XPS 13 9343 Core i7
13.3, 3200x1800
287 Points ∼19% -14%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
13.3, 2560x1440
284 Points ∼18% -15%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
12, 1920x1080
177 Points ∼11% -47%
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
5247
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
14948
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
7045
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
31.49 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
3.73 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.49 Points
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
99.6 %
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
37.6 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
335 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
129 Points
Help

System Performance

The PCMarks do not rank the Book at the top in terms of application performance, but the sibling Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7 with 11 and 15% more points, respectively. It seems the Surface Book cannot benefit from the 940M GPU at all in this case; the Accelerated scores do not seem to benefit from the hardware support of the GeForce, which was already the case for the i5 model. Our i7 model is only 2-5% ahead in PCMark 8. This is somewhat disappointing when you consider that there is twice the amount of RAM.

However, potential buyers should not overestimate the relevance of the PCMarks and have a look at some usage scenarios instead: Virtual machines will love the 16 GB model, video rendering via Quick Sync will hardly differ between i5/i7. The biggest difference will probably be the iGPU-only version. You can waive the docking GPU if you don't need the GeForce support and just get the entry-level model for 1,600 Euros (~$1759).

The Surface Book i7 is 30% faster than the rivals Lenovo Miix 700 (Core m3), HP Spectre X2 (Core m7) and Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (Haswell Core i5) in the Power Director Render test with Quick Sync. The performance advantage should be even bigger with tools like Adobe Creative Cloud, AutoCAD or Visual Studio that use the shaders of the GeForce GPU for complex calculations.

PCMark 7
Productivity (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
13.5, 3000x2000
2494 Points ∼23%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
13.5, 3000x2000
2394 Points ∼22% -4%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
12.3, 2736x1824
2468 Points ∼23% -1%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
12.3, 2736x1824
4290 Points ∼39% +72%
HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G2
14.0, 1920x1080
2681 Points ∼25% +7%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03
13.3, 2560x1600
5016 Points ∼46% +101%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
13.3, 2560x1440
2316 Points ∼21% -7%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
13.3, 2560x1440
2316 Points ∼21% -7%
Score (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
13.5, 3000x2000
5178 Points ∼65%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
13.5, 3000x2000
5135 Points ∼65% -1%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
12.3, 2736x1824
4274 Points ∼54% -17%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
12.3, 2736x1824
5229 Points ∼66% +1%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
12.3, 2736x1824
5799 Points ∼73% +12%
HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G2
14.0, 1920x1080
5295 Points ∼67% +2%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03
13.3, 2560x1600
5620 Points ∼71% +9%
Toshiba KIRA-10D
13.3, 1920x1080
5055 Points ∼64% -2%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
13.3, 2560x1440
4939 Points ∼62% -5%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
13.3, 2560x1440
4939 Points ∼62% -5%
PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
13.5, 3000x2000
3782 Points ∼62%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
13.5, 3000x2000
3644 Points ∼60% -4%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
12.3, 2736x1824
3186 Points ∼52% -16%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
12.3, 2736x1824
3697 Points ∼60% -2%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
12.3, 2736x1824
4052 Points ∼66% +7%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03
13.3, 2560x1600
4105 Points ∼67% +9%
Toshiba KIRA-10D
13.3, 1920x1080
4100 Points ∼67% +8%
Dell XPS 13 9343 Core i7
13.3, 3200x1800
3412 Points ∼56% -10%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
12, 1920x1080
4078 Points ∼67% +8%
Creative Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
13.5, 3000x2000
3755 Points ∼46%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
13.5, 3000x2000
3694 Points ∼45% -2%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
12.3, 2736x1824
2968 Points ∼36% -21%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
12.3, 2736x1824
3736 Points ∼46% -1%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
12.3, 2736x1824
4431 Points ∼54% +18%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03
13.3, 2560x1600
4593 Points ∼56% +22%
Dell XPS 13 9343 Core i7
13.3, 3200x1800
3537 Points ∼43% -6%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
12, 1920x1080
3362 Points ∼41% -10%
Home Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
13.5, 3000x2000
2947 Points ∼52%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
13.5, 3000x2000
2814 Points ∼50% -5%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
12.3, 2736x1824
2426 Points ∼43% -18%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
12.3, 2736x1824
2770 Points ∼49% -6%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
12.3, 2736x1824
3394 Points ∼60% +15%
HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G2
14.0, 1920x1080
3100 Points ∼55% +5%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03
13.3, 2560x1600
3363 Points ∼59% +14%
Toshiba KIRA-10D
13.3, 1920x1080
3105 Points ∼55% +5%
Dell XPS 13 9343 Core i7
13.3, 3200x1800
2719 Points ∼48% -8%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
12, 1920x1080
2675 Points ∼47% -9%
PCMark 7 Score
5178 points
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
2947 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
3755 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
3782 points
Help

Storage Devices

The PCIe-3.0 Samsung SSD (MZFLV512 V5MOQ) performs slightly better than the 256 GB model (MZFLV256) inside the Surface Book i5. However, we only have the AS SSD score for a comparison, where the 512 GB model is 12% ahead. This does not say much though; much more striking is the sequential write and the 4K-64 write result, where the review unit is almost 50% faster. We can therefore say that the write performance of the 512 GB model MZFLV512 is better.

More important than this detail is a look at the comparison: All the rivals including Apple, HP and Toshiba, get much lower scores with their SSDs. All Microsoft devices use the new NVMe interface, which is attached via PCI Express.

Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
13.5, 3000x2000
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
13.5, 3000x2000
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
12.3, 2736x1824
HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G2
14.0, 1920x1080
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03
13.3, 2560x1600
Toshiba KIRA-10D
13.3, 1920x1080
Dell XPS 13 9343 Core i7
13.3, 3200x1800
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
12, 1920x1080
AS SSD
-14%
-15%
-50%
-29%
-47%
-48%
-60%
4K-64 Write519.93281.41
-46%
268.69
-48%
182.67
-65%
221.16
-57%
149.68
-71%
180.99
-65%
151.78
-71%
4K-64 Read918.91409.22
53%
1280.48
39%
356.07
-61%
890.62
-3%
352.64
-62%
358.95
-61%
265.6
-71%
4K Write108.9884.96
-22%
89.23
-18%
84.42
-23%
30.2
-72%
78.83
-28%
91.68
-16%
49.2
-55%
4K Read37.2534.31
-8%
33.47
-10%
25.98
-30%
20.6
-45%
21.74
-42%
26.28
-29%
23.12
-38%
Seq Write544.81275.22
-49%
274.8
-50%
250.07
-54%
616.35
13%
467.59
-14%
233.35
-57%
216.91
-60%
Seq Read1341.581223
-9%
1312.22
-2%
480.7
-64%
1233.21
-8%
515.08
-62%
515.01
-62%
439.12
-67%
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
-27%
-39%
-1%
-31%
-40%
-52%
Write 4k136.3106.3
-22%
101.2
-26%
32.43
-76%
90.07
-34%
103.7
-24%
53.52
-61%
Read 4k42.6640.75
-4%
28.4
-33%
20.95
-51%
23.27
-45%
28.29
-34%
27.4
-36%
Write 512590.8304.3
-48%
264.6
-55%
647.5
10%
445.8
-25%
241.6
-59%
241.6
-59%
Read 512519.8396.7
-24%
418.9
-19%
809.9
56%
426.1
-18%
420.5
-19%
260.8
-50%
Write Seq591.5304
-49%
264.3
-55%
656.8
11%
474.3
-20%
237.2
-60%
316
-47%
Read Seq952.8833.7
-12%
499.9
-48%
1403
47%
530.4
-44%
527
-45%
410.1
-57%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-14% / -14%
-21% / -21%
-45% / -44%
-15% / -15%
-39% / -39%
-44% / -44%
-56% / -56%
Samsung MZFLV512 NVMe
Sequential Read: 952.8 MB/s
Sequential Write: 591.5 MB/s
512K Read: 519.8 MB/s
512K Write: 590.8 MB/s
4K Read: 42.66 MB/s
4K Write: 136.3 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 615.2 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 516.5 MB/s

GPU Performance

The Nvidia Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5) in the keyboard dock manages similar results compared to the Core i5 model with the same dedicated GPU. We also tested the iGPU HD Graphics 520 and the results are listed in the second column. The performance with the iGPU falls behind by around 50% in all sub-scores. The only exception is the Physics score, which uses the CPU cores. The i7 is usually ahead in this case. The graphics benchmarks of the i5 and i7 models are similar when you consider all relevant sub-scores. The iGPU is 37% slower in the synthetic benchmarks. The difference will be even bigger in games, which is confirmed by the review of the i5 model. The GeForce drivers are better optimized for games compared to their Intel counterparts.

The competitors with the integrated GPU do not really stand a chance; HD Graphics 5500HD 520 or Iris Graphics 6100 fall behind by 30-45%. The slowest device is the Surface Pro 4 (Core m3) with HD Graphics 515.

More information about the GeForce 940m inside the Surface Book is available in our in-depth review of the i5 model, where we also evaluate the gaming performance.

Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
13.5, 3000x2000
Microsoft Surface Book i7 Heat Keyboard iGPU
13.5, 3000x2000
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
13.5, 3000x2000
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
12.3, 2736x1824
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
12.3, 2736x1824
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
12.3, 2736x1824
HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G2
14.0, 1920x1080
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03
13.3, 2560x1600
Dell XPS 13 9343 Core i7
13.3, 3200x1800
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
12, 1920x1080
3DMark 11
-32%
-5%
-47%
-35%
-3%
-47%
-28%
-44%
-56%
1280x720 Performance Physics47604765
0%
4199
-12%
3067
-36%
3984
-16%
4919
3%
3692
-22%
4084
-14%
3845
-19%
2604
-45%
1280x720 Performance GPU26061319
-49%
2548
-2%
1206
-54%
1402
-46%
2450
-6%
1011
-61%
1706
-35%
1115
-57%
996
-62%
1280x720 Performance27611480
-46%
2711
-2%
1344
-51%
1565
-43%
2624
-5%
1133
-59%
1828
-34%
1252
-55%
1098
-60%
3DMark (2013)
-34%
-2%
-36%
-19%
12%
-11%
-14%
-21%
-36%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Graphics21201010
-52%
2031
-4%
810
-62%
905
-57%
1477
-30%
1020
-52%
834
-61%
725
-66%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Physics37453701
-1%
3362
-10%
2238
-40%
3342
-11%
3639
-3%
3185
-15%
3527
-6%
3362
-10%
2304
-38%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics114206274
-45%
11340
-1%
6597
-42%
7455
-35%
11650
2%
6585
-42%
7894
-31%
6475
-43%
6298
-45%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Physics3636031340
-14%
38206
5%
25720
-29%
38764
7%
44259
22%
37081
2%
38688
6%
38854
7%
27821
-23%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Graphics5470622709
-58%
54088
-1%
51362
-6%
56071
2%
91565
67%
60003
10%
60636
11%
54695
0%
50126
-8%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-33% / -33%
-4% / -3%
-42% / -40%
-27% / -25%
5% / 6%
-29% / -27%
-21% / -19%
-33% / -30%
-46% / -43%
3DMark 11 Performance
2761 points
3DMark (2013) Ice Storm Standard Score
50418 points
3DMark (2013) Cloud Gate Standard Score
7505 points
3DMark (2013) Fire Strike Standard Score
1952 points
Help

Emissions

System Noise

The noise development does not differ between the i5/i7 versions. The maximum noise during the stress test is almost 41 dB(A). The active cooling is completely deactivated while idling. The different measurement is only a result of the different base level, 31.3 dB(A) represents the ambient noise in this case.

Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
13.5, 3000x2000
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
13.5, 3000x2000
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
12.3, 2736x1824
HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G2
14.0, 1920x1080
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03
13.3, 2560x1600
Toshiba KIRA-10D
13.3, 1920x1080
Dell XPS 13 9343 Core i7
13.3, 3200x1800
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
13.3, 2560x1440
Noise
3%
3%
4%
-1%
-2%
-3%
3%
Idle Minimum *31.329.5
6%
28.4
9%
29.6
5%
29
7%
29.6
5%
29.6
5%
29.6
5%
Idle Average *31.329.6
5%
28.6
9%
29.6
5%
29
7%
29.6
5%
29.6
5%
29.6
5%
Idle Maximum *31.329.7
5%
28.7
8%
32.2
-3%
29
7%
30.7
2%
33.2
-6%
34.6
-11%
Load Average *3837.5
1%
40.8
-7%
36.4
4%
42.5
-12%
43.9
-16%
43.2
-14%
34.7
9%
Load Maximum *40.540.9
-1%
41.4
-2%
36.4
10%
45.6
-13%
43.9
-8%
43.2
-7%
37.9
6%

* ... smaller is better

Noise Level

Idle
31.3 / 31.3 / 31.3 dB(A)
Load
38 / 40.5 dB(A)
 
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Audix TM1 Arta (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 31.3 dB(A)

Temperature

The i5 model of the Surface Book is a bit cooler than the i7 model in respect of the surface temperatures. This could be caused by the different processors, but also the ambient temperatures when we performed the measurements. One noticeable aspect is the significantly higher temperature of 50 °C under load at the back of the tablet.

We use our stress test to create the highest possible heat. The Turbo cannot be fully utilized in this case (3.6 @ Single), but it does not drop below the nominal clock of 2.6 GHz.

The second picture shows that the palm rest warms up to around 40 °C (top) and 41 °C (bottom), respectively. Underneath the keyboard are the battery and the Maxwell GeForce GPU. This means the palm rest stays comfortably cool and the keyboard does not get very warm, either.

Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
13.5, 3000x2000
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
13.5, 3000x2000
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
12.3, 2736x1824
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
12.3, 2736x1824
HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G2
14.0, 1920x1080
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03
13.3, 2560x1600
Toshiba KIRA-10D
13.3, 1920x1080
Dell XPS 13 9343 Core i7
13.3, 3200x1800
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
12, 1920x1080
Heat
13%
-21%
12%
10%
7%
13%
14%
2%
Maximum Upper Side *47.3544.2
7%
52.3
-10%
45.4
4%
35.9
24%
45.1
5%
42.2
11%
43.4
8%
43.5
8%
Maximum Bottom *50.241.2
18%
51.4
-2%
43.2
14%
42.4
16%
39.6
21%
34.4
31%
37
26%
42
16%
Idle Upper Side *30.426
14%
43.2
-42%
25.2
17%
28.5
6%
28.5
6%
26.2
14%
25.9
15%
33
-9%
Idle Bottom *27.423.8
13%
36
-31%
24
12%
29
-6%
28.3
-3%
28.5
-4%
25.1
8%
29.3
-7%

* ... smaller is better

Heat Tablet

Max. Load
 36 °C38.3 °C35.8 °C 
 40.7 °C44.2 °C39 °C 
 42.3 °C47.35 °C42.2 °C 
Maximum: 47.35 °C
Average: 40.7 °C
37 °C40.4 °C38.1 °C
41.5 °C50.2 °C41 °C
41.3 °C45.2 °C41.8 °C
Maximum: 50.2 °C
Average: 41.8 °C
Power Supply (max.)  58.2 °C | Room Temperature 23.4 °C | FIRT 550-Pocket

Heat Keyboard with Maxwell Geforce

Max. Load
 35.9 °C39.6 °C34.6 °C 
 29.5 °C35.2 °C30.8 °C 
 27.3 °C27.1 °C28.6 °C 
Maximum: 39.6 °C
Average: 32.1 °C
35.3 °C40.7 °C37 °C
32.8 °C33.4 °C30.4 °C
29.7 °C29.1 °C28.5 °C
Maximum: 40.7 °C
Average: 33 °C
Power Supply (max.)  58.2 °C | Room Temperature 23.1 °C | FIRT 550-Pocket
Discussion

Energy Management

Power Consumption

We did not measure the power consumption of the i5 model, so the measurements of the i7 version are the first results for the Surface Book. We can see similarities to the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, at least while idling. The 12 Watts are probably a result of the very high luminance as well as the keyboard illumination. It is brighter than the Surface Pro 4 and the screen is bigger at 13.5-inches as well. 

All the rivals are more frugal, but this is only a sign of their integrated GPUs. Those devices consume significantly less power due to the missing dedicated graphics card, and some models also tend to throttle. The high consumption under load is actually a good sign if you want high performance figures. The Surface Book does not suffer from throttling, not even in the impractical stress test.

Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
13.5, 3000x2000
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
12.3, 2736x1824
HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G2
14.0, 1920x1080
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03
13.3, 2560x1600
Toshiba KIRA-10D
13.3, 1920x1080
Dell XPS 13 9343 Core i7
13.3, 3200x1800
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
13.3, 2560x1440
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
12, 1920x1080
Power Consumption
29%
40%
13%
41%
8%
30%
35%
Idle Minimum *4.54.4
2%
3.2
29%
2.8
38%
2.6
42%
6.6
-47%
3.9
13%
4.5
-0%
Idle Average *9.89
8%
6.5
34%
7.8
20%
6.3
36%
9.3
5%
7.4
24%
7.7
21%
Idle Maximum *12.210.7
12%
7.4
39%
8.1
34%
6.5
47%
11
10%
9.2
25%
8.3
32%
Load Average *4619.6
57%
25.6
44%
52.4
-14%
30.9
33%
32.2
30%
28.1
39%
19.8
57%
Load Maximum *5619.9
64%
26.1
53%
62.8
-12%
30.9
45%
33.2
41%
27.6
51%
20.6
63%

* ... smaller is better

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.5 / 2.8 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 4.5 / 9.8 / 12.2 Watt
Load midlight 46 / 56 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy

Battery Runtime

We did not expect this. Despite the same battery capacity, our Wi-Fi test (display @150cd/m², power profile Balanced, browser script) determines 10:46 hours (648 minutes). This is 61% longer compared to the sibling with the i5. We only had a very limited time with the test model due to the video review, so we could only perform the Wi-Fi test once. However, the runtime of 10 hours corresponds with the idle consumption between 4.5-12 Watts. In theory, the device will last 10:30 hours at a consumption of 6.5 Watts (18 Wh + 51 Wh = 69 Wh / 6.5 h).

Our i5 version from the initial review falls clearly behind with 6:42 hours, even though it ran for up to 17:50 hours in our idle test. Microsoft advertises "up to 12 hours video playback" with the i5 Book. The measurement of our i5 version was either not perfect or the device suffered from outdated drivers/BIOS revision. The measurements of other editorial offices were also in the range between 6 and 7.5 all the way up to 13 and 14:30 hours (Computerbild, PC Welt, Chip). Our result of 10 hours is therefore realistic.

Battery Runtime
WiFi v1.3 (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
13.5, 3000x2000
648 min ∼24%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
13.5, 3000x2000
402 min ∼15%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
12.3, 2736x1824
488 min ∼18%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
12.3, 2736x1824
427 min ∼16%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
12.3, 2736x1824
293 min ∼11%
HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G2
14.0, 1920x1080
452 min ∼17%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2015-03
13.3, 2560x1600
539 min ∼20%
Toshiba KIRA-10D
13.3, 1920x1080
518 min ∼19%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
13.3, 2560x1440
500 min ∼19%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
12, 1920x1080
361 min ∼13%
WiFi (sort by value)
Dell XPS 13 9343 Core i7
13.3, 3200x1800
421 min ∼16%
Battery Runtime
WiFi Surfing v1.3
10h 48min

Pro

+ high-quality case made of magnesium alloy
+ CPU and GPU performance of a notebook in a convertible
+ no serious CPU or GPU throttling
+ good runtime of 10 hours
+ high resolution, bright display also for outdoor use
+ native 3:2 aspect ratio for picture editing
+ accurate colors and high contrast; 96 % sRGB
+ comfortable input devices
+ full GPU performance on battery power
+ fast NVMe-SSD by default

Cons

- thicker and heavier than 13- and 14-inch Ultrabooks
- no USB-C or HDMI
- no WWAN or RJ-45
- no SmartCard reader or fingerprint scanner
- no secondary storage device
- no TrackPoint or dedicated mouse buttons
- software-undocking still prone to errors
- bad upgradeability
- tablet warm under load
- high price

Verdict

In review: Microsoft Surface Book. Test model courtesy of Microsoft Germany.
In review: Microsoft Surface Book. Test model courtesy of Microsoft Germany.

It tries really hard and can score one point more than its Core i5 sibling from our first review of the Surface Book. The decisive factor was the longer runtime, because we could only find very small – if at all – advantages of the i7/512 GB version in respect of processor and application performance. The large SSD manages higher write speeds, which is at least one aspect. The heat development is higher compared to the i5 model, but the palm rest stays comfortably cool. Our consumption measurements were performed for the Surface Book for the first time in this review.  

Chippy from our video editorial staff showed in his Power Director Renders Test (Intel Quick Sync) that the Surface Book i7 is almost 30% faster than the rivals Lenovo Miix 700 (core m3), HP Spectre X2 (Core m7) and Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (Haswell Core i5). The reason: The active cooling ensures a high Turbo utilization even during the stress test, while the fanless systems have to reduce their clocks. The powerful Surface Book – it does not matter if Core i5 or i7 – is therefore suited for special and processor-focused applications that also have to be performed on the road from time to time (full performance on battery power).

If you want to save every minute during rendering, then the Surface Book is certainly the best choice. It provides the CPU performance of a small multimedia laptop and can beat similarly sized competitors like the MacBook Pro 13 or Dell’s XPS 13. You will have to decide for yourself if this is worth 2,000 up to almost 3,000 Euros (~$2198 to $3298). But the Surface Book is definitely a good choice for technology enthusiasts.

All details of the Surface Book are available in the review of the Core i5 versionMicrosoft Surface Book Core i5.

Note: We adjusted the rating of the Surface Book i5 due to a new rating version. Thanks to the higher connectivity sub-rating, the final rating is increased from 85 to 86%.

Microsoft Surface Book Core i7 - 04/27/2016 v5.1
Sebastian Jentsch

Chassis
90 / 98 → 92%
Keyboard
88%
Pointing Device
86%
Connectivity
53 / 81 → 65%
Weight
69 / 78 → 79%
Battery
93%
Display
89%
Games Performance
67 / 68 → 99%
Application Performance
80 / 87 → 92%
Temperature
86%
Noise
89%
Audio
70 / 91 → 77%
Average
80%
87%
Convertible - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Microsoft Surface Book (Core i7, 940M) Convertible Review
Sebastian Jentsch, 2016-03- 4 (Update: 2016-03- 4)