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Face Off: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 vs. Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 vs. HP Elite x2 1012 G1 vs. HP Spectre x2 12 vs. Huawei MateBook

Sebastian Jentsch, Tanja Hinum (translated by Martina Osztovits), 08/27/2016

The Who's Who of the Windows world. Which is the most productive Windows tablet? Is it the Surface Pro 4, which occupies the first place of our Top 10? Learn about the details and differences of the most portable Windows companions.

Handy Windows to Go: Switch Alpha 12, Surface Pro 4, Elite x2 1012, Spectre x2 12, Huawei MateBook (top to bottom)
Handy Windows to Go: Switch Alpha 12, Surface Pro 4, Elite x2 1012, Spectre x2 12, Huawei MateBook (top to bottom)

For the original German article, see here.

Which one is the best Windows tablet on the market? It is the one that delivers almost as good a Windows experience as a laptop. Much has changed in the past two years in this respect. While the first Windows tablets used to come with Intel Atom SoCs, today they feature powerful Core i and Core m models. The plethora of Windows tablets from 2014 have all disappeared. They could only convince in web surfing from the sofa. Complex work under Windows was unthinkable.

Processing performance is one important aspect, input devices and infrastructure are others - both are necessary for a good Windows companion. All models in our comparison are devices which can be used productively with a keyboard, possibly a touchpad, and an input pen. In addition, they feature a fold-out stand or support from the Sleeve Cover. Furthermore, the devices do not lack in terms of connectivity; either via Type-C dock as in the MateBook or with integrated Type-A USB as in the Switch 12 Alpha and the HP Elite x2 12.

We encourage users to check out our dedicated review pages below for more data and detailed analyses of each of the five models. This comparison is by no means a replacement, but a condensed aid for those sitting on the fence.

Please check our Top 10 Convertibles for further models. Apart from the MateBook, all other tablets in this comparison are among the top places in our top 10 list.

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Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 HP Elite x2 1012 G1 HP Spectre x2 12 Huawei MateBook
Product-ID SA5-271-56HM x2 12-a001ng
SoC Core m3-6Y30 0.9 GHz Core i5-6200U 2.3 GHz Core m5-6Y54 1.1 GHz Core m3-6Y30 0.9 GHz Core m5-6Y54 1.1 GHz
RAM 8 GB 4 GB 8 GB 4 GB 8 GB
Display 12.3" 2736x1824 12" 2160x1440 12.1" 1920x1280 12" 1920x1280 12" 2160x1440
Storage Device 128 GB 128 GB 256 GB 256 GB 256 GB
Weight 1.06 kg 1.29 kg 1.2 kg 1.23 kg 1.16 kg
Height x Width x Depth 8.5 x 292 x 202 16 x 291 x 201 13.45 x 300 x 213.5 13.1 x 303 x 209 6.9 x 278.8 x 194.1
Included Accessories pen keyboard without light keyboard with light keyboard with light
Optional Accessories Type Cover with/without fingerprint pen, keyboard with light pen, Thunderbolt 3 dock, travel keyboard, advanced keyboard pen pen, keyboard, USB dock
Price in Euro 900 800 1500 850-1100 1170
Five strong competitors; which one is best? Switch Alpha 12, Elite x2 1012, Spectre x2 12, Surface Pro 4, Huawei MateBook (right to left)
Five strong competitors; which one is best? Switch Alpha 12, Elite x2 1012, Spectre x2 12, Surface Pro 4, Huawei MateBook (right to left)

Case

Microsoft's tablet is the most robust thanks to a massive magnesium case, which hardly twists. HP's Spectre x2 uses an aluminum construction, which appears just as robust, but the upper length of the rear side is made of weaker plastic, which is a strong contrast to the otherwise excellent build quality of the rest of the case. It is very annoying that the stand folds out accidentally when the case twists. Despite a similar plastic "window", HP has done a better job in the Elite x2. The tablet's upper part warps only slightly.

Surface Pro 4 vs. Switch Alpha 12
Surface Pro 4 vs. Switch Alpha 12
Surface Pro 4 vs. Elite x2 1012 G1
Surface Pro 4 vs. Elite x2 1012 G1
Surface Pro 4 vs. Spectre x2 12
Surface Pro 4 vs. Spectre x2 12
Surface Pro 4 vs. MateBook
Surface Pro 4 vs. MateBook
It is easier to carry them in bundle
It is easier to carry them in bundle
The MateBook is the smallest tablet
The MateBook is the smallest tablet

Acer has elected to use a plastic frame and an aluminum back. The stand is - as in all devices – made of aluminum. Robustness and haptics are good, but not as good as in the Surface Pro and Elite x2. The MateBook is the slimmest tablet in this comparison. It consists of an aluminum part, which serves as a kind of tray, into which the hardware is inserted from above. In view of the fact that it is 1.6 mm (~0.06 in) smaller than its rival from Microsoft, stability and quality are remarkable.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Surface Pro 4 - pen
Surface Pro 4 - pen
Surface Pro 4 - air holes
Surface Pro 4 - air holes
Switch Alpha 12
Switch Alpha 12
Switch Alpha 12
Switch Alpha 12
Switch Alpha 12
Switch Alpha 12
Elite x2 1012 G1
Elite x2 1012 G1
Elite x2 1012 G1
Elite x2 1012 G1
Elite x2 1012 G1
Elite x2 1012 G1
Spectre x2 12
Spectre x2 12
Spectre x2 12
Spectre x2 12
Spectre x2 12
Spectre x2 12
MateBook
MateBook
MateBook
MateBook
MateBook
MateBook

The Spectre x2 features the most stable stand. It is made from solid, chromed metal. Hence, it is not hollow and cannot be twisted by applying simple force. The kickstand of the Surface and the "supports" of the Elite x2 and Switch Alpha 12 consist of thin aluminum. They bend easily and might even break. All stands are adjustable and the Alpha 12 and Spectre x2 can even open up to 160 degrees. The MateBook is quite different with its magnetic cover support, which allows only two fixed positions; 112 and 122 degrees. The advantage of this solution is that nothing can break and the tablet is lighter.

Surface Pro 4 - 160 degrees
Surface Pro 4 - 160 degrees
Switch Alpha 12 - 160 degrees
Switch Alpha 12 - 160 degrees
Elite x2 1012 G1 - 135 degrees
Elite x2 1012 G1 - 135 degrees
Spectre x2 12 - 160 degrees
Spectre x2 12 - 160 degrees
MateBook - 122 degrees
MateBook - 122 degrees

The devices are quite different in terms of maintenance: The Surface Pro 4 (see ifixit.com/Teardown) and the MateBook cannot be opened, e.g. for replacing a worn-out battery. The two HP systems shine with relatively easy maintenance. Their back can be removed. For example, this PDF guide describes how to do this for the Spectre x2. The same is true for the Switch Alpha 12 and the Microsoft: Opening is not desirable.

Winner Case: Surface Pro

The MateBook is the most stable and the lightest, but the inflexible cover support is disappointing in everyday use. Hence, the Surface Pro with its limited fold out angle, yet best chassis stability might be the best choice, right? No, since the Surface Pro 4 can only be opened by experts and with special tools. Thus, the two HP tablets win in the maintenance category.

Winner Maintenance: Elite x2 1012 G1, Spectre x2 12

303 mm / 11.9 inch 209 mm / 8.23 inch 13.1 mm / 0.516 inch 1.2 kg2.71 lbs300 mm / 11.8 inch 213.5 mm / 8.41 inch 8.05 mm / 0.3169 inch 1.2 kg2.66 lbs291 mm / 11.5 inch 201 mm / 7.91 inch 11 mm / 0.4331 inch 1.3 kg2.84 lbs292 mm / 11.5 inch 202 mm / 7.95 inch 8.5 mm / 0.3346 inch 1.1 kg2.35 lbs278.8 mm / 11 inch 194.1 mm / 7.64 inch 6.9 mm / 0.2717 inch 1.2 kg2.57 lbs

Connectivity in Comparison

Huawei MateBook, Surface Pro 4, Switch Alpha 12, Elite x2 1012, Spectre x2 12 (top to bottom)
Huawei MateBook, Surface Pro 4, Switch Alpha 12, Elite x2 1012, Spectre x2 12 (top to bottom)
Huawei MateBook, Surface Pro 4, Switch Alpha 12, Elite x2 1012, Spectre x2 12 (top to bottom)
Huawei MateBook, Surface Pro 4, Switch Alpha 12, Elite x2 1012, Spectre x2 12 (top to bottom)

Connectivity

In terms of connectivity, the five Windows tablets differ in an essential way. First of all, the Spectre x2 lacks a full-size USB port in favor of two USB Type-C Gen.1 ports for charging, data transfer and docks. The Surface Pro 4, the Switch Alpha 12, and the Elite x2 feature a full-size USB port. Even though the MateBook  has only a single Type C port, the optional dock delivers HDMI and VGA. The Surface Pro comes with a mini DisplayPort. Apart from the MateBook, all devices feature a micro SD slot.

However, there are different kinds of Type-C ports. Only the docking, charging, and USB 3.1 port of the Elite x2 supports Thunderbolt 3. All the other reversible Type-C ports are USB 3.0, yet with a modern connector. Hence, displays can only be driven via universal USB dock. Acer offers a wireless WiGig docking station for the Switch Alpha 12. However, the dock will only work at full speed with future Wi-Fi variants of the Alpha 12 (11ad! and not only 11ac).

The Surface Pro 4, the MateBook, and the Alpha 12 lack an LTE modem (SIM option). The manufacturers do not offer such models. There is only an LTE edition of the Surface 3 with Atom x7 available. In contrast, HP offers Spectre x2 as well as Elite x2 editions with SIM card slot.

Winner: HP Elite x2 1012

With a Type-C USB with Thunderbolt, big Type-A USB, and LTE modem, no wishes are left unfulfilled.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 HP Elite x2 1012 G1 HP Spectre x2 12 Huawei MateBook
USB 1x USB 3.0 1x USB 3.0, 1x 3.1 Gen1 1x USB 3.0 1x USB 3.1 Gen2 with Thunderbolt, 1x Kensington Lock 2x USB 3.1 Type-C Gen. 1 1x USB 3.1 Gen1
Video-outs 1x mDP via Type-C USB via Thunderbolt none none
Other MicroSD-Kartenleser, 1x 3.5 mm Audio MicroSD-Kartenleser, 1x 3.5 mm Audio MicroSD-Kartenleser, 1x 3.5 mm Audio MicroSD-Kartenleser, 1x 3.5 mm Audio, SIM slot (optional) Fingerprint Reader, 1x 3.5 mm Audio
Network Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Atheros/Qualcomm QCA6174 Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 Intel Wireless-AC 7265 Broadcom BCM4356 802.11ac 2x2, Realtek PCIe GBE im Dock

Input Devices

Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y57
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y57
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 (unlit edition)
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 (unlit edition)
HP Elite x2 1012 G1 Keyboard Dock
HP Elite x2 1012 G1 Keyboard Dock
HP Spectre x2 12
HP Spectre x2 12

Keyboard

All keyboards are magnetically attached to the tablets. The keyboards of the Surface Pro 4, the Elite x2Spectre x2 and the MateBook feature a backlight. Only the expensive i7 edition of the Alpha 12 comes with a keyboard light.

The Type Cover of the Surface features a sturdy case (plastic, low weight of 306 g/~11 oz), which hardly springs when typing. The key surfaces are smooth, comfortable and feel very high-end to the touch. The Type Cover supports two different positions - flat on a surface and slightly angled (via magnetic connection on the front side of the tablet) for better typing ergonomics. Both positions are comfortable and have specific advantages. The central part of the keyboard can be slightly depressed when it is used at an angle.

Acer's keyboard (370 g/13 oz, two positions) features a typing experience similar to that of the HP Spectre x2. However, the keys are not that slick. The stroke is firm with medium key travel. However, once again, this is only true when the keyboard is supported. The nonslip textile base for the hands, which is very similar to the Type Dock, is well-made. However, Microsoft's Cover is slightly more velvety.

The keys of the HP Spectre x2's aluminum dock (385 g/~13.6 oz) clatter loudly during typing. An angled typing position is also supported, but the stroke is spongy in this position. The surface is smooth, yet not slick. Overall, the keyboard appears very high-end and stable thanks to the aluminum palm rests.

The Elite x2's travel keyboard is very similar to that of the Spectre x2 in terms of typing experience. The surface is made of metal while the underside is made of a kind of felt. Differences: The keys are black and the touchpad is not that wide. The slim, slightly roughened keys feature a short travel and a crisp pressure point. HP offers two different sizes of the keyboard dock; with or without a Smartcard reader.

There are no gaps between the keys in the MateBook. However, thanks to a relatively long travel and a very crisp pressure point, fast typing is possible. Unfortunately, the keyboard area springs slightly due to a small cavity.

Winner: tie

Some users might not like the dense keys of the MateBook. Otherwise, the keyboards of the rivals are very similar in terms of feedback and typing speed.

Touchpad

The Surface Pro 4 and MateBook feature smooth surfaces, while these are slightly rougher in the HP and Switch Alpha. The Surface and HP generate the loudest click, while the Acer and Huawei produce a discreet, muffled clicking sound. The travel is very similar among the competitors. In terms of pressure point, the Alpha 12 does not trigger inputs as fast as the other touchpads. As a result, subjectively, it appears slower than its rivals.

Winner: MateBook and Type Cover

Pen

While the HP pens feature hard plastic tips, the Huawei's and Microsoft's come with soft rubber tips. Both variants are silent, but, the rubber tips glide slightly more sluggishly, which might be closer to writing on paper.

Every pen requires a battery (AAA), which can be removed. The MatePen features a fixed battery and a laser pointer, which can be charged via micro USB on the dock.

The pens differ from each other in terms of pressure levels. The Active Stylus features 256, the MatePen 2048 and the Surface Pen 1024. The HP models use 2048 pressure levels. We have not selected a winner, since we did not test each individual pen extensively.

Camera Modules

The Surface Pro 4 comes with a 3.6 MP primary camera (rear), which can be considered standard in high-priced tablets. As a result, the images show many details and looking at details does not produce picture noise. However, the primary camera does not perform too well in low-light scenarios. The front camera of the Surface delivers paler colors and considerable noise. Acer cannot keep up with the Surface's main camera. Images look pixelated. We would prefer not to say anything about Acer's front camera, but colors look absolutely washed out. The HP Elite x2 does not only feature the highest resolution (3264x1836 pixels; rear), but also the highest sharpness. The Surface can give up now. Pictures taken by the Elite’s front camera are on par with those taken by the Surface. The Spectre x2 delivers as high-quality photos as the HP Elite x2 (rear), however, the front camera  is slightly too noisy. The Huawei's front camera performs the worst. The images are very noisy and Huawei falls far behind the HP devices and the Surface.

Winner: HP Elite x2

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 HP Elite x2 1012 G1 HP Spectre x2 12 Huawei MateBook
Front 1920x1080 with Windows Hello 1280x720 2560x1440 2560x1440 2560x1440
Rear 2560x1440 2560x1440 3264x1836 Intel RealSense 3D R200 3200x1800 none
Original images open in the same window upon clicking
Reference Canon EOS 1100D
Reference Canon EOS 1100D
Reference Canon EOS 1100D
Reference Canon EOS 1100D
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 rear
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 rear
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 rear
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 rear
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 front
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 front
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 front
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 front
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5 rear
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5 rear
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5 rear
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5 rear
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5 front
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5 front
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5 front
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5 front
HP Elite x2 1012 G1 rear
HP Elite x2 1012 G1 rear
HP Elite x2 1012 G1 rear
HP Elite x2 1012 G1 rear
HP Elite x2 1012 G1 front
HP Elite x2 1012 G1 front
HP Elite x2 1012 G1 front
HP Elite x2 1012 G1 front
HP Spectre x2 12 rear
HP Spectre x2 12 rear
HP Spectre x2 12 rear
HP Spectre x2 12 rear
HP Spectre x2 12 front
HP Spectre x2 12 front
HP Spectre x2 12 front
HP Spectre x2 12 front
Huawei MateBook front only
Huawei MateBook front only
Huawei MateBook front only
Huawei MateBook front only

Display

The touchscreens feature different resolutions. It depends on personal preferences whether a 4K or a Full HD is sufficient. All devices use IPS panels with excellent viewing angles. In terms of brightness, the MateBook performs best, followed by the Surface Pro 4. Nevertheless, all tablets are legible in the outdoors since they all exceed 300 cd/m². However, due to the glossy surfaces, this becomes impossible in bright sunlight.

The Surface Pro features the highest contrast, followed by the Huawei. However, the latter performs poorly in terms of color precision out-of-the-box. But this issue can be fixed by calibration. Only the Surface and the MateBook fully cover the sRGB color space. This is important for professional image editing.

Winner: Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Surface 4 High
Surface 4 High
Switch Alpha 12 High
Switch Alpha 12 High
Elite x2 1012 G1 High
Elite x2 1012 G1 High
Spectre x2 12 High
Spectre x2 12 High
Huawei MateBook High
Huawei MateBook High
Surface 4 Low
Surface 4 Low
Switch Alpha 12 Low
Switch Alpha 12 Low
Elite x2 1012 G1 Low
Elite x2 1012 G1 Low
Spectre x2 12 Low
Spectre x2 12 Low
Huawei MateBook Low
Huawei MateBook Low
Display Specifications

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 HP Elite x2 1012 G1 HP Spectre x2 12 Huawei MateBook
Format / Resolution 12.3" 2736x1824 12" 2160x1440 12.1" 1920x1280 12" 1920x1280 12" 2160x1440
Type IPS IPS IPS IPS IPS
Panel Samsung SDC3853 Panasonic VVX12T041N00 LG Philips LGD04A5 TMA 1200 Unknown Vendor
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HMHP Elite x2 1012 G1HP Spectre x2 12-a001ngHuawei MateBook m5-6Y54
Response Times
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
46 (17.2, 28.8)
20 (5, 15, detail 5 schraffiert)
33.2 (15.2, 18)
51 (19, 32)
25 (9, 16)
Response Time Black / White *
31 (6, 25.2)
34 (15, 19, [email protected]% mit/ohne PSU)
22.8 (10.4, 12.4)
25 (4, 21)
17 (4, 13)
PWM Frequency
50 (50)
1000 (100)
Screen
Brightness middle
389.2
345
322
353
451
Brightness
392
328
319
347
425
Brightness Distribution
92
91
97
91
80
Black Level *
0.27
0.38
0.42
0.44
0.37
Contrast
1441
908
767
802
1219
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
3.61
8.4
6.02
6.09
11.04
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
3.8
4.3
6.29
6.24
10.45
Gamma
2.16 102%
2.63 84%
2.4 92%
2.41 91%
2 110%
CCT
5969 109%
7368 88%
7712 84%
7238 90%
8849 73%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
63
62
47.8
46
74
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
97
73.2
71
100
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
11.9
10.06
14.92
Total Average (Program / Settings)

* ... smaller is better

Surface Pro 4 gray scale
Surface Pro 4 gray scale
Surface Pro 4 saturation
Surface Pro 4 saturation
Surface Pro 4 ColorChecker
Surface Pro 4 ColorChecker
Switch Alpha 12 gray scale
Switch Alpha 12 gray scale
Switch Alpha 12 saturation
Switch Alpha 12 saturation
Switch Alpha 12 ColorChecker
Switch Alpha 12 ColorChecker
Elite x2 1012 G1 gray scale
Elite x2 1012 G1 gray scale
Elite x2 1012 G1 saturation
Elite x2 1012 G1 saturation
Elite x2 1012 G1 ColorChecker
Elite x2 1012 G1 ColorChecker
HP Spectre x2 12 gray scale
HP Spectre x2 12 gray scale
HP Spectre x2 12 saturation
HP Spectre x2 12 saturation
HP Spectre x2 12 ColorChecker
HP Spectre x2 12 ColorChecker
MateBook gray scale
MateBook gray scale
MateBook saturation
MateBook saturation
MateBook ColorChecker
MateBook ColorChecker

Performance

Hardware at a Glance

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 HP Elite x2 1012 G1 HP Spectre x2 12 Huawei MateBook
RAM 4 GB LPDDR3 1866 MHz, dual-channel, soldered 4 GB LPDDR3 8 GB LPDDR3 1866 MHz, dual-channel, soldered 4 GB LPDDR3 8 GB LPDDR3 1866 MHz, dual-channel, soldered
CPU 0.9 GHz Core m3 6Y30 2.3 GHz Core i5 6200U 1.1 GHz Core m5 6Y54 0.9 GHz Core m3 6Y30 1.1 GHz Core m5 6Y54
Cooling passive Liquid Loop, no fan passive passive passive
TDP 4.5 W 15 W 4.5 W 4.5 W 4.5 W
GPU Intel HD Graphics 515 Intel HD Graphics 520 Intel HD Graphics 515 Intel HD Graphics 515 Intel HD Graphics 515

CPU Performance

The devices feature different hardware and it appears that the Surface Pro 4 and the Spectre x2 come with the weakest components. These tablets are also available with Core i5/i7 and Core m7, respectively. The Switch Alpha 12  is also available with a Core i7 (see review) and the MateBook is offered with a Core m3. However, we have selected the tablets that achieved the highest total score in our reviews.

The Aspire Switch Alpha 12 outperforms its competitors with its Liquid Loop cooling. However, the i5 and i7 edition of the Surface Pro follows close behind. The Surface with a fan and i5 or i7 even takes the lead in the multi tests. However, the differences between the Switch Alpha 12 and the Surface i5/i7 are quite small with 10 to 15%.

However, the Surface with passively cooled m3 is 40% slower than the Acer. The Spectre x2 12 with identical SoC achieved even less points. The Spectre x2 with i7 did not perform much better than its m3 sibling under normal load due to heavy throttling.

Meanwhile, the Elite x2 demonstrated what the Core m5 is capable of. It is only 25% slower than the leader. The MateBook with an identical SoC achieves almost the same performance despite its ultra-slim chassis, which is remarkable.

The results are almost the same in system performance (see PCMark 8). The Switch Alpha 12 and Surface Pro i5/i7 perform best. This time, the HP Elite x2 1012 is very close behind; in all sub scores of PCMark 8. The Surface with m3 falls behind by 20 to 30%.

Winner: Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12

While on average a Surface Pro 4 with Core i calculates as fast as the Acer, a cheap i5 entry-level model is sufficient in the Acer for outclassing all rivals. Hence, Acer delivers the highest CPU and system performance per Euro.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (source: iFixit)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (source: iFixit)
HP Spectre x2 12 (source: HP)
HP Spectre x2 12 (source: HP)
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
88 Points ∼40%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
114 Points ∼52%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
111 Points ∼51%
HP Spectre x2 12-a001ng
62 Points ∼28%
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
107 Points ∼49%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
122 Points ∼56%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
132 Points ∼61%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
206 Points ∼5%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
289 Points ∼7%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
255 Points ∼6%
HP Spectre x2 12-a001ng
172 Points ∼4%
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
232 Points ∼5%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
306 Points ∼7%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
342 Points ∼8%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
0.98 Points ∼40%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
1.26 Points ∼52%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
1.4 Points ∼57%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
1.51 Points ∼62%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
2.27 Points ∼5%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
2.7 Points ∼6%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
3.4 Points ∼8%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
3.8 Points ∼9%
Cinebench R10
Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
4297 Points ∼42%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
6050 Points ∼58%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
6787 Points ∼66%
Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
8886 Points ∼12%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
13382 Points ∼18%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
14833 Points ∼20%
wPrime 2.0x
1024m (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
787.585 s * ∼9%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
445.593 s * ∼5%
32m (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
25.109 s * ∼5%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
14.865 s * ∼3%
Super Pi Mod 1.5 XS 32M - --- (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
898 Seconds * ∼4%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
612.745 Seconds * ∼3%
3DMark
Fire Strike Extreme Physics (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
5265 Points ∼18%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Physics (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
3140 Points ∼10%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
3990 Points ∼12%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
4750 Points ∼15%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
5372 Points ∼17%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Physics (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
2238 Points ∼6%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
3092 Points ∼8%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
2813 Points ∼7%
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
1411 Points ∼4%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
3342 Points ∼8%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
3639 Points ∼9%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
44857 Points ∼52%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Physics (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
43694 Points ∼52%
PCMark 7
System Storage (sort by value)
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
5243 Points ∼73%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
5148 Points ∼72%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
4255 Points ∼60%
Computation (sort by value)
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
12650 Points ∼45%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
14469 Points ∼51%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
17870 Points ∼63%
Creativity (sort by value)
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
8876 Points ∼62%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
9134 Points ∼63%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
9374 Points ∼65%
Entertainment (sort by value)
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
3491 Points ∼33%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
3917 Points ∼37%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
4368 Points ∼41%
Productivity (sort by value)
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
2361 Points ∼22%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
2468 Points ∼23%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
4290 Points ∼39%
Lightweight (sort by value)
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
3209 Points ∼44%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
3144 Points ∼43%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
4634 Points ∼63%
Score (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
4274 Points ∼47%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
4808 Points ∼53%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
5229 Points ∼57%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
5799 Points ∼63%
PCMark 8
Storage Score (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
4616 Points ∼91%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
4662 Points ∼92%
Work Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
3186 Points ∼49%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
3996 Points ∼61%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
3932 Points ∼60%
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
2721 Points ∼42%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
3697 Points ∼57%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
4052 Points ∼62%
Creative Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
2968 Points ∼28%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
3423 Points ∼32%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
3736 Points ∼35%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
4431 Points ∼42%
Home Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
2426 Points ∼40%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
3281 Points ∼54%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
2983 Points ∼49%
HP Spectre x2 12-a001ng
2116 Points ∼35%
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
2717 Points ∼45%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
2770 Points ∼45%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
3394 Points ∼56%
X264 HD Benchmark 4.0
Pass 2 (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
14.15 fps ∼0%
Pass 1 (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
76.82 fps ∼28%

* ... smaller is better

GPU Performance

The tablets are all equipped with an HD Graphics 515, apart from the Switch Alpha that is equipped with an HD 520. The latter is about 15% faster in the benchmarks. While a high gaming performance is not to be expected, those who consider GPU performance important are best off with the HD 520 in the Surface Core i and Switch Alpha 12. The Surface Pro 4 i7 edition performed even better with its dual channel RAM.

Winner: Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
1206 Points ∼2%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
1428 Points ∼3%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
1200 Points ∼2%
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
781 Points ∼2%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
1402 Points ∼3%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
2450 Points ∼5%
3DMark
Fire Strike Extreme Graphics (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
610 Points ∼3%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
810 Points ∼2%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
797 Points ∼2%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
905 Points ∼2%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
1477 Points ∼4%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
6597 Points ∼4%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
7307 Points ∼4%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
6308 Points ∼3%
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
5638 Points ∼3%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
7455 Points ∼4%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
11650 Points ∼6%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
116490 Points ∼22%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Graphics (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
68398 Points ∼9%
Cinebench R11.5 - OpenGL 64Bit (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
26.43 fps ∼15%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
31.86 fps ∼19%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
27.43 fps ∼16%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
47.51 fps ∼28%
Cinebench R15 - OpenGL 64Bit (sort by value)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
33.48 fps ∼13%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
41.06 fps ∼16%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
35.63 fps ∼14%
HP Spectre x2 12-a001ng
28.92 fps ∼12%
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
35.18 fps ∼14%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
36.87 fps ∼15%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Core i7
60.14 fps ∼24%

Emissions

Temperature

System noise does not matter in fanless tablets. Thus, we have a close look at the surface temperatures. The Switch Alpha 12 is the warmest while idling. On the other hand, the Spectre x2 remains coolest at 27 °C (~81 °F). The other Core m models are very similar in terms of temperature when running idle. None of the tablets become too warm under load. The Alpha 12 reaches a maximum of 41 °C (~106 °F). The Spectre and Elite x2 remain cooler.

Durchschnittliche Oberflächentemperaturen

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 HP Elite x2 1012 G1 HP Spectre x2 12 Huawei MateBook
Idle 29.5 °C 34.1 °C 28.7 °C 26.8 °C 28.5 °C
High load 37.5 °C 41.4 °C 33.9 °C 36.3 °C 35.7 °C
Ambient temperature 21 °C 22 °C 21 °C 22 °C 22 °C

Stress Test

It is interesting to see which tablet is able to maintain its performance under load. This is required for a reliable work PC, which is supposed to run computationally intensive tasks, without getting too slow.

The Surface Pro 4 m3 and Aspire Switch Alpha 12 work at full speed; at least as long as they are not exposed to an unrealistic stress test scenario. Even after 5 minutes of CPU stress, both SoCs work at least at their rated clock. This is also true of the Core m editions of the MateBook, the Elite x2 and the Spectre x2. Apart from the Surface Pro 4 m3, all tablets throttle heavily in the stress test.

Winner: Surface Pro 4 & Switch Alpha 12

All tablets perform as well as their SoC allows in view of used technology and specification. The Alpha 12 performs like a Core i5 system with active cooling. The Core m systems run at a high clock for a short time, and reduce the clock in order to prevent overheating. Nevertheless, the Surface Pro 4 gets more out of the Core m3 (Prime95) than the Spectre x2.

Surface Pro 4 m3
Surface Pro 4 m3
Switch Alpha 12 i5
Switch Alpha 12 i5
Elite x2 1012 m5
Elite x2 1012 m5
Spectre x2 12 m3
Spectre x2 12 m3
MateBook m5
MateBook m5
CPU and GPU Clock Rates Under Stress (Mains Operation)

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 HP Elite x2 1012 G1 HP Spectre x2 12 Huawei MateBook
Rated CPU Core Clock (GHz) / Turbo in GHz 0.9 / 2.2 2.3 / 2.8 1.1 / 2.7 0.9 / 2.2 1.1 / 2.7
CPU Core Clock on Prime95 (GHz) Start 2.2 2.7 2.4 2.2 1.7 @ 55 °C
CPU Core Clock on Prime95 (GHz) after 5 min 2.0 @ 51 °C 2.4 1.1 @ 50 °C 1.2 @ 58 °C 1.2 @ 55 °C
CPU on Prime95 + FurMark 1.1 @ 59 °C 1.1 Throttle 0.8 @ 65 °C Throttle 1.0 @ 70 °C 0.5 @ 50 °C Throttle

Battery Life

The battery runtimes of the Surface Pro 4 and Elite x2 are very close with less than 500 minutes during constant Wi-Fi use. The Elite lasts about 50 minutes shorter, although it comes with almost the same battery capacity. With both models, it is realistic that they last a work day unless you run too many high-performance tasks, since their battery life also shrinks to just above 2 hours under load. The Huawei entirely blunders with 33 Wh. The thin tablet achieves just under 4:30 hours.

Winner: Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3

Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
38 Wh
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
37 Wh
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
37 Wh
HP Spectre x2 12-a001ng
43 Wh
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
33 Wh
Battery Runtime
Reader / Idle
791
640
732
681
478
WiFi v1.3
488
321
443
364
263
Load
138
112
130
161
106

Verdict

Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12, HP Elite x2 1012 G1, HP Spectre x2 12, Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Huawei MateBook
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12, HP Elite x2 1012 G1, HP Spectre x2 12, Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Huawei MateBook
... provided by the respective manufacturers.
... provided by the respective manufacturers.

Which one is the best Windows tablet? Basically, none of the five tablets performs poorly in the comparison. All of them offer a smooth Windows experience and are well-engineered. However, the differences are very big in detail; in particular in terms of performance, connectivity, and cameras.

We went through all aspects from build quality to battery life. The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 wins in five aspects and takes the lead. If we had used the Core i model in our evaluation of the performance, it would have won in a further category. Finally, it depends on the preferences of the buyer which tablet is the best choice: Those looking for performance for little money are still best off with the Switch Alpha, which wins in two performance categories. However, the Elite x2 is the right device for those who place importance on connectivity and accept slightly lower performance.

The table should not be interpreted in a sense that the Spectre x2 is worth nothing, because it only wins in a single category. The Spectre simply did not perform quite as good as the respective stage winner.

Our recommendations for …

… mobile office workers without power apps: Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Best display; longest battery life

… students and office workers: Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12
Highest performance for your money; The Core i5 entry-level model is quite sufficient.

… frequent travelling and flexibility: HP Elite x2 1012 G1
LTE modem, Type-A / Type-C USB with Thunderbolt and the best camera. Those on a tighter budget might choose the Spectre x2 12, which is currently on sale and might be particularly cheap (LTE model!)

… design enthusiasts without power apps: Huawei MateBook
None of the rivals is that slim, light, yet stable! The optional Type-C dock adds good office connectivity.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 HP Elite x2 1012 G1 HP Spectre x2 12 Huawei MateBook
Build Quality winner
Connectivity winner
Camera(s) winner
Keyboard tie tie tie tie tie
Touchpad winner Sieger
Display winner
Performance winner
Waste heat winner winner
Battery life winner
Maintenance winner winner

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 m3

Pricecompare

Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 i5

Pricecompare

HP Elite x2 1012 G1 m5

Pricecompare

HP Spectre x2 12 m3

Pricecompare

Huawei MateBook m5

Pricecompare

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Face Off: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 vs. Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 vs. HP Elite x2 1012 G1 vs. HP Spectre x2 12 vs. Huawei MateBook
Sebastian Jentsch, 2016-08-27 (Update: 2018-05-15)