Notebookcheck

Microsoft Surface Pro 2017 (i5-7300U, 256 GB) Convertible Review

Sebastian Jentsch (translated by Martin Jungowski), 06/30/2017

Olden but golden. Without a USB Type-C or Thunderbolt 3, the 2017 model of Microsoft's Surface Pro seems kind of dowdy. The fanless operation we have already seen in Acer's Alpha 12, and unfortunately the device throttles noticeably. Is the only benefit left really its decent battery life?

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No USB Type-C? No Thunderbolt? Is the Surface Pro 2017 already outdated?
No USB Type-C? No Thunderbolt? Is the Surface Pro 2017 already outdated?

For the original German review, see here.

Haste makes waste. It took Microsoft almost two years to update its 2015 Surface Pro 4. And while its competitors have released a variety of Kaby Lake based devices in the meantime, Microsoft has remained suspiciously quiet.

And now it is finally here: the new Surface Pro 2017. For $1299, you will get the mid-range model equipped with a Core i5-7300U, 8 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD. The Surface Pen or the Signature Type Cover is not included, and will cost you $100 and $130 extra, respectively. The additional USB 3.0 Dock is another $200.

Given that you can get an FHD Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 720-12IKB, including its backlit keyboard dock and stylus, for less than $1200, the Surface Pro seems overly expensive.

Competitors are widely available from various manufacturers, including:

The Dell Latitude 12 5285 will be the Surface Pro’s main competitor – it is similarly equipped and scored pretty high in our review. Acer's Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HMHP's Spectre x2 12-a001ng, and Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S W700N are other rivals to look out for. For the sake of clarity, we have not included these last three in all comparisons and benchmark tables.

Also see our reviews of the Core m3 entry level version and the Core i7 model.

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5 (Surface Pro Series)
Graphics adapter
Memory
8192 MB 
, dual-channel, onboard
Display
12.3 inch 3:2, 2736x1824 pixel 267 PPI, 10-finger multitouch, native pen support, LG Display LP123WQ112604, IPS, glossy: yes, detachable screen
Mainboard
Intel Kaby Lake-U Premium PCH
Storage
Samsung PM971 KUS030202M, 256 GB 
, 191 GB free
Soundcard
Intel Kaby Lake-U/Y PCH - High Definition Audio
Connections
1 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm combo, Card Reader: microSDXC, Brightness Sensor, Sensors: acceleration sensor, gyroscope, TPM 2.0
Networking
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.1
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 8.5 x 292.1 x 201.4 ( = 0.33 x 11.5 x 7.93 in)
Battery
45 Wh Lithium-Ion, SMP M1009169, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 13.5 h
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit
Camera
Primary Camera: 5 MPix front, Windows Hello
Secondary Camera: 8 MPix autofocus, rear
Additional features
Speakers: stereo, Office 365 Trial, One Drive, Xing, Candy Crush, March of Empires, 12 Months Warranty, fanless
Weight
1.078 kg ( = 38.03 oz / 2.38 pounds), Power Supply: 216 g ( = 7.62 oz / 0.48 pounds)
Price
1449 Euro

 

Case

Very bendy: the kickstand opens to almost 180 degrees.
Very bendy: the kickstand opens to almost 180 degrees.

The Surface’s build quality is outstanding. It is still made out of a single block of aluminum (aka a tray) that the display is installed into from the top. Rigidity is amongst the best that we have seen, and the tablet does not creak or warp at all.

Not much has been changed on the outside. The corners are rounded now, and the Surface Pro is less chiselled than before. It is also still framed by a fan vent.

Its kickstand can now be opened up to 170 degrees, which makes it perfect for being placed (almost) flat on a table. Gaps are consistent and small, and the manufacturer does not offer different color options. However, the type cover and pencil are available in a variety of different colors.

We've tested the Surface Pro - Core i5-7300U, 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB SSD

Its thickness of 8.5 mm (~0.335 in) means that compared to its predecessor, the Surface Pro 4 (Core i5, 8.4 mm/~0.331 in) it is now ever so slightly thicker. At 786 g (~1.7 lb) without, and 1092 g (~2.4 lb) with the keyboard dock, it is also slightly heavier than the Surface Pro 4 (1078 g/~2.37 lb). The difference is insignificant though. At 9.76 mm (~0.38 mm), its main competitor, the Dell Latitude 12 5285, is noticeably thicker.

Size Comparison

Connectivity

Card reader - microSDXC
Card reader - microSDXC

Connectivity has remained unchanged: MiniDisplayPort, USB 3.0, Surface Connect, and microSD card slot – that is it. Pretty poor for 2017, and we ran into trouble right away trying to connect a USB mouse, a Bluetooth keyboard, and an external USB hard drive to the Surface Pro. The lack of Type Cover meant that we had to rifle through our peripherals looking for a USB 3.0 hub that we know had to be somewhere, but had not used and seen for a long time. We did find a USB Type-C hub, but that did not do us any good.

Obviously, this could be alleviated with the optional Surface Dock or a standard USB 3.0 hub. Nevertheless, it is quite disturbing when a device that the manufacturer wants to see at the very forefront of technological development lacks the basic port that more and more of its competitors are equipped with these days. Size certainly does not matter in this case.

bottom: SurfaceConnect docking port
bottom: SurfaceConnect docking port
top: volume rocker, power button
top: volume rocker, power button
3.5 mm combo jack (headset)
3.5 mm combo jack (headset)
power, USB 3.0, MiniDisplayPort
power, USB 3.0, MiniDisplayPort

Communication

As usual, the Wi-Fi chip is supplied by Marvell (Avastar Wireless-AC) and lacks support for Wireless Display. On the plus side, it is equipped with Bluetooth 4.1. A transfer speed of 577 MB/s when connected to our Linksys EA8500 reference router means it is one of the fastest devices in our test group.

Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
586 MBit/s ∼100% +2%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller
577 MBit/s ∼98%
Asus Transformer 3 Pro T303UA-GN050T
Intel Wireless-AC 7265
560 MBit/s ∼96% -3%
Lenovo Ideapad Miix 720-12IKB
Tri-Band Wireless-AC 18260
513 MBit/s ∼88% -11%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller (Klaus I211)
459 MBit/s ∼78% -20%
Dell Latitude 12 5285 2-in-1
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
312 MBit/s ∼53% -46%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Asus Transformer 3 Pro T303UA-GN050T
Intel Wireless-AC 7265
685 MBit/s ∼100% +11%
Lenovo Ideapad Miix 720-12IKB
Tri-Band Wireless-AC 18260
662 MBit/s ∼97% +7%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller
618 MBit/s ∼90%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller (Klaus I211)
593 MBit/s ∼87% -4%
Dell Latitude 12 5285 2-in-1
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
446 MBit/s ∼65% -28%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
440 MBit/s ∼64% -29%

Security

The Surface Pro is equipped with a TPM 2.0 module, which means that it can be both tracked and securely identified in business environments.

Accessories

No further accessories besides the charger and a quick start guide are included. Instead, Microsoft offers all of its Surface-specific accessories separately: Type Cover, Surface Pen, USB dock, and Dial. Bundles are available, and can help you save some money.

The Surface Pen has been updated by Microsoft, and in addition to the 4096 different pressure points it is now also capable of detecting inclination. Its buttons (one on the side, one at the top) are freely configurable, and can be used as an eraser, to launch OneNote, or to open Cortana. The pen’s tip is replaceable.

The charger is equipped with a separate USB charging port
The charger is equipped with a separate USB charging port
Surface Dial
Surface Dial
USB Type-A Surface Dock
USB Type-A Surface Dock
Surface Pen in four different colors
Surface Pen in four different colors

Cameras and Windows Hello

The Surface Pro’s 8 MP main rear-racing camera with autofocus takes decent yet far from perfect photos. Large uniform colored surfaces are noticeably washed-out, and there is some noise in all photos. While much better than a notebook’s webcam, it is definitely not state-of-the-art technology. Unsurprisingly, the secondary front-facing 5 MP camera is even worse, yet still sufficient for Skype calls.

main camera: 8 MP, autofocus, rear
main camera: 8 MP, autofocus, rear
secondary camera: 5 MP, front, supports Windows Hello
secondary camera: 5 MP, front, supports Windows Hello
Canon EOS 1100D reference - playground
Canon EOS 1100D reference - playground
Canon EOS 1100D reference - nasturtium
Canon EOS 1100D reference - nasturtium
Canon EOS 1100D reference - shrubs
Canon EOS 1100D reference - shrubs
5 MP: almost no noise
5 MP: almost no noise
5 MP: washed-out surfaces
5 MP: washed-out surfaces
8 MP: decent focus but some noise
8 MP: decent focus but some noise
8 MP: overexposure on outdoor photos
8 MP: overexposure on outdoor photos
8 MP: colors well saturated, but washed-out surfaces
8 MP: colors well saturated, but washed-out surfaces
8 MP camera panorama: colors are accurate, noticeable noise, details imperceptible
8 MP camera panorama: colors are accurate, noticeable noise, details imperceptible

Maintenance

There is no way to perform any sort of maintenance on the device whatsoever, and given its unibody design, you will not find a single screw on the entire tablet. The  Latitude 12 5285 2-in-1 is much more maintenance-friendly – its PCIe NVMe-SSD, the Wi-Fi modem, and the fans are user-replaceable and serviceable.

Warranty

Microsoft’s standard limited hardware warranty has you covered for a year. An additional warranty extension for up to two years is available for $149.

Input Devices

Keyboard

Even though our review unit lacked Microsoft’s Type Cover, we had the opportunity to give the Signature Keyboard a try at the Surface Family Event in Berlin.

Its Alcantara surface looks like felt, but does not feel that way. And while it is soft, it can be wiped clean quite easily, which is very important for a keyboard, and thus understandable as to why Microsoft has chosen to forego the real Alcantara touch and feel.

The Signature Type Cover costs $30 more than the regular Type Cover, and can also be used with the older Surface Pro 3 and 4 tablets.

Its keys have medium travel and a very nice actuation point. Overall, touch and feel have remained unchanged. It is still one of the best type cover keyboards on the market. Its keys are still not concave but completely flat.

The keyboard connects to the Surface Pro’s docking port at the bottom of the tablet, and can be attached at two different angles: either flat or at an angle of 10 degrees. The latter position does result in slight flexing and teetering. The keyboard has an adjustable backlight.

According to Microsoft, the keys are spaced further apart now. We were unable to compare the new keyboard directly to its predecessor, but had no problems even with our large man hands. The sounds it makes while typing are rather dull and unobtrusive.

Touchpad

The Alcantara Type Cover’s touchpad is the same size as the regular Type Cover’s touchpad. It can be used just as comfortably as the predecessor’s. Its integrated buttons have rather shallow travel, a well-defined actuation point, and very pronounced feedback. Drag & drop worked without any problems.

Surface Pro Signature Type Cover
Surface Pro Signature Type Cover
Available in Cobalt Blue, Burgundy, Platinum
Available in Cobalt Blue, Burgundy, Platinum
Surface Pen in four colors: Platinum, Black, Burgundy, Cobalt Blue
Surface Pen in four colors: Platinum, Black, Burgundy, Cobalt Blue

Display

Decent IPS viewing angles.
Decent IPS viewing angles.

The 12.3-inch PixelSense display has a resolution of 2736x1824 (267 PPI). Its aspect ratio is 3:2. Touch input is 10-point multitouch. Up to ten input points can be detected simultaneously.

External displays can be connected via MiniDisplayPort. The Surface Pro supports up to two external displays via daisy-chaining. Maximum external resolution per display is 3840x2160 (4k).

The contrast ratio of 1438:1 is the best of its class. It was measured at a high 401 nits. At 500 nits, the Dell Latitude 12 5285 is brighter.

We found PWM flickering at a very high and thus unnoticeable frequency of 21000 Hz.

Touch matrix
Touch matrix
Subpixel matrix
Subpixel matrix
Some Clouding at the bottom
Some Clouding at the bottom
Long exposure photo of the display
Long exposure photo of the display
395
cd/m²
420
cd/m²
409
cd/m²
384
cd/m²
417
cd/m²
402
cd/m²
368
cd/m²
404
cd/m²
406
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 420 cd/m² Average: 400.6 cd/m² Minimum: 4 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 88 %
Center on Battery: 417 cd/m²
Contrast: 1438:1 (Black: 0.29 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 3.63 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 2.18 | - Ø
99% sRGB (Argyll) 63% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 3.09
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
LG Display LP123WQ112604, , 2736x1824, 12.3
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
Samsung 123YL01-001 ID: SDC3853, , 2736x1824, 12.3
Lenovo Ideapad Miix 720-12IKB
AUO B120YAN01 / AUO106F, , 2880x1920, 12
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2
LSN120QL01L01, , 2160 x 1440, 12
Asus Transformer 3 Pro T303UA-GN050T
BOE BOE06AC (NV126A1M-N51), , 2880x1920, 12.6
Toshiba Portege Z20t-C-121
Toshiba TOS508F, , 1920x1080, 12.5
Dell Latitude 12 5285 2-in-1
BOE06DC, , 1920x1280, 12.3
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
LG Philips, , 1920x1280, 12.1
Response Times
-39%
5%
-15%
-23%
-35%
-35%
21%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
42 (20, 22)
46 (17.2, 28.8, plateau, spikes in between)
-10%
45 (22, 23)
-7%
28.4 (15.2, 13.2)
32%
30 (14, 16)
29%
61 (28, 33)
-45%
42.4 (20.4, 22)
-1%
33.2 (15.2, 18)
21%
Response Time Black / White *
29 (18, 11)
31.2 (6, 25.2, Spikes in between)
-8%
24 (14, 10)
17%
22.8 (13.6, 9.2)
21%
29 (8, 21)
-0%
36 (7, 29)
-24%
30.8 (18, 12.8)
-6%
22.8 (10.4, 12.4)
21%
PWM Frequency
21000
50 (50)
-100%
221.2 (49)
-99%
200 (90)
-99%
210.1
-99%
Screen
-15%
-35%
-39%
-23%
-90%
-24%
-51%
Brightness
401
396
-1%
396
-1%
344
-14%
307
-23%
330
-18%
522
30%
319
-20%
Brightness Distribution
88
87
-1%
88
0%
78
-11%
91
3%
86
-2%
88
0%
97
10%
Black Level *
0.29
0.36
-24%
0.3
-3%
0.39
-34%
0.29
-0%
0.63
-117%
0.42
-45%
0.42
-45%
Contrast
1438
1147
-20%
1353
-6%
995
-31%
1090
-24%
562
-61%
1246
-13%
767
-47%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
3.63
3.09
15%
5.28
-45%
4.6
-27%
3.91
-8%
8.28
-128%
4
-10%
6.02
-66%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
2.18
3.92
-80%
6.71
-208%
6.1
-180%
5.37
-146%
9.15
-320%
5.5
-152%
6.29
-189%
Gamma
3.09 78%
2.3 104%
2.29 105%
2.07 116%
2.36 102%
2.73 88%
2.16 111%
2.4 100%
CCT
6767 96%
7333 89%
6532 100%
7104 91%
7812 83%
5953 109%
7546 86%
7712 84%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
63
61
-3%
59
-6%
59
-6%
72
14%
40
-37%
64.86
3%
47.8
-24%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
99
97
-2%
91
-8%
91
-8%
98
-1%
63
-36%
93.97
-5%
73.2
-26%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-27% / -21%
-15% / -27%
-27% / -32%
-23% / -23%
-63% / -79%
-30% / -27%
-15% / -37%

* ... smaller is better

sRGB coverage: 99%
sRGB coverage: 99%
AdobeRGB coverage: 63%
AdobeRGB coverage: 63%

At 99% sRGB coverage, the Surface Pro is doing very well. Only the Asus Transformer 3 Pro T303UA and its own predecessor are even better. Combined with its high resolution, the display is suitable for semi-professional photo editing. The Dell Latitude 12 only offers a Full HD display, which, depending on the intended use, does not necessarily have to be disadvantageous.

The display is pre-calibrated and we advise you to leave the pre-configured color profile unchanged. With this profile, we have found sRGB DeltaE deviations of only 2. Calibrated with our own spectrophotometer, we made it much worse, and measured DeltaE deviations of 3.5 afterwards.

Gray scales had a noticeable blue tint after calibration, which is uncommon, since calibration usually improves color accuracy instead of making it worse. The ColorChecker results remained largely unaffected by calibration.

CalMAN gray scales
CalMAN gray scales
CalMAN saturation
CalMAN saturation
CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN gray scales (calibrated)
CalMAN gray scales (calibrated)
CalMAN saturation (calibrated)
CalMAN saturation (calibrated)
CalMAN ColorChecker (calibrated)
CalMAN ColorChecker (calibrated)

Outdoor usability is quite good, thanks to the display's high levels of brightness. Unfortunately, the panel is very glossy.

Despite its high levels of brightness on battery ...
Despite its high levels of brightness on battery ...
... the panel is too glossy for direct sunlight.
... the panel is too glossy for direct sunlight.
It works quite well in the shade.
It works quite well in the shade.

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
29 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 18 ms rise
↘ 11 ms fall
The screen shows relatively slow response rates in our tests and may be too slow for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 66 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (26.6 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
42 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 20 ms rise
↘ 22 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 636 (maximum) ms. » 52 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (42.5 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 detected 21000 Hz

The display backlight flickers at 21000 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) .

The frequency of 21000 Hz is quite high, so most users sensitive to PWM should not notice any flickering.

In comparison: 55 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 8506 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

The very good viewing angles are typical for an IPS panel, and it can be viewed without distortions or decreasing the brightness from every side and any angle. This is not uncommon for premium devices. These days, even low-end devices come equipped with IPS panels more and more often.

LG Display LP123WQ112604 viewing angles
LG Display LP123WQ112604 viewing angles

Performance

Six different models of the Surface Pro are available, with three different SoCs (m3, i5, i7), three different SSD sizes (128/256/512 GB), and three different RAM sizes (4/8/16 GB). Prices start at $799 and go all the way up to $2,699, always without Stylus and Type Cover. An LTE version has been announced by Microsoft, and will be released in the second half of 2017.

Microsoft refers to its Surface Pro as “laptop”, and praises its high performance: “Surface Pro boasts 50% longer battery life than Surface Pro 4, 2.5x more performance than Surface Pro 3, and the fastest startup and resume of any Surface Pro yet.” Can the Surface Pro really replace a full-size notebook?

CPU-Z CPU
CPU-Z Cache
CPU-Z Mainboard
CPU-Z Memory
GPU-Z HD Graphics 620
Latency Monitor

Processor

Clock speed/temperature during the Cinebench loop
Clock speed/temperature during the Cinebench loop

The Intel Core i5-7300U CPU (2.6 GHz) is based on Intel’s current Kaby Lake architecture, which brings the Surface line up to date again. The 15-W SoC includes an Intel HD Graphics 620 GPU, and it is used in various notebooks thanks to its excellent price-performance ratio.

Does the new Surface Pro still do its credo, notebook performance in a tablet, justice? The old Surface Pro 4 did, thanks to its fan, but how does the fanless model stack up against its own predecessor?

In our Cinebench R15 multicore-loop, we noticed a drop after the second iteration already. First, it dropped to 304 points, and then subsequently all the way down to a low of 219 points.

By and large, it remained around 225 for the remainder of the benchmark loop, which means that its performance fell by 33% compared to the first two results.

A cold start of Cinebench did not show this behavior, and the Surface Pro’s i5-7300U even managed to beat the Dell Latitude 12 5285 (i7-7600U) and the Miix 720 (i7-7500U).

Clock frequency fell from 3.5 GHz (first two iterations) to 1.5 GHz, and eventually settled at around 2.3 GHz. At this speed, the SoC reached between 57 and 60 °C (~135 and 140 °F).

0102030405060708090100110120130140150160170180190200210220230240250260270280290300310320330340Tooltip
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64 Bit

Peak performance is thus available for short bursts of up to 115 seconds (which is how long two reruns of Cinebench R15 took). Compared to many other tablets from the past, this is a significant improvement. However, we cannot confirm the 50% performance improvement over the Surface Pro 4 that Microsoft is promising.

Rendering videos or extensive photo editing can be bothersome as well. Performance drops by 10% around the second minute, and by roughly 35% after 10 minutes. Overall system performance fell by 33% after 20 repeats.

The Surface Pro is in good company though, and its competitors exhibit similar, although less pronounced throttling. The Latitude 12 5285's performance drops by 10% after 15 reruns (335 to 303). The Dell thus throttles less than the fanless Surface Pro i5, and so do the Transformer 3 and Miix 720.

Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Dell Latitude 12 5285 2-in-1
Intel Core i7-7600U
152 Points ∼100% +8%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
Intel Core i5-7300U
141 Points ∼93%
Lenovo Ideapad Miix 720-12IKB
Intel Core i7-7500U
130 Points ∼86% -8%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
Intel Core i5-6300U
122 Points ∼80% -13%
Asus Transformer 3 Pro T303UA-GN050T
Intel Core i7-6500U
117 Points ∼77% -17%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2
Intel Core i5-7Y54
115 Points ∼76% -18%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
Intel Core i5-6200U
114 Points ∼75% -19%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
Intel Core m5-6Y54
111 Points ∼73% -21%
Toshiba Portege Z20t-C-121
Intel Core m7-6Y75
99 Points ∼65% -30%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S W700N
Intel Core m3-6Y30
86 Points ∼57% -39%
HP Spectre x2 12-a001ng
Intel Core m3-6Y30
62 Points ∼41% -56%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
Intel Core i5-7300U
334 Points ∼100%
Dell Latitude 12 5285 2-in-1
Intel Core i7-7600U
329 Points ∼99% -1%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
Intel Core i5-6300U
306 Points ∼92% -8%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
Intel Core i5-6200U
289 Points ∼87% -13%
Lenovo Ideapad Miix 720-12IKB
Intel Core i7-7500U
265 Points ∼79% -21%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
Intel Core m5-6Y54
255 Points ∼76% -24%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2
Intel Core i5-7Y54
234 Points ∼70% -30%
Asus Transformer 3 Pro T303UA-GN050T
Intel Core i7-6500U
221 Points ∼66% -34%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S W700N
Intel Core m3-6Y30
204 Points ∼61% -39%
Toshiba Portege Z20t-C-121
Intel Core m7-6Y75
180 Points ∼54% -46%
HP Spectre x2 12-a001ng
Intel Core m3-6Y30
172 Points ∼51% -49%
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
141 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
334 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
32.49 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
97.8 %
Help

System Performance

Brand new: PCMark 10. We don't have any reference value just yet.
Brand new: PCMark 10. We don't have any reference value just yet.

Real world performance, measured with PCMark 8, suffers accordingly. In PCMark’s Work Score benchmark, the Surface Pro performed even worse than m3-powered tablets (ThinkPad X1 Tablet, Portégé Z20t), albeit only between 2 and 8%, and thus not noticeable.

In PCMark’s Home Score benchmark, the Dell Latitude 12 5285 2-in-1 scored 61%, and the cheaper Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271 around 12% higher than the Surface Pro.

Given that the i5-powered Skylake-based Aspire Switch Alpha 12 is currently available for less than $700, the Surface Pro’s price is more than unreasonable, especially considering the fact that the Alpha 12 does not throttle below its base clock rate in CPU-only stress scenarios.

PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2
HD Graphics 615, 7Y54, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
4288 Points ∼100% +8%
Lenovo Ideapad Miix 720-12IKB
HD Graphics 620, 7500U, Samsung SSD PM961 1TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVLW1T0)
4216 Points ∼98% +6%
Toshiba Portege Z20t-C-121
HD Graphics 515, 6Y75, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
4060 Points ∼95% +2%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
3996 Points ∼93% 0%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Samsung PM971 KUS030202M
3983 Points ∼93%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
HD Graphics 515, 6Y54, Liteon L8H-256V2G
3932 Points ∼92% -1%
Asus Transformer 3 Pro T303UA-GN050T
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, SK Hynix Canvas SC300 512GB M.2 (HFS512G39MND)
3830 Points ∼89% -4%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
HD Graphics 520, 6300U, Samsung MZFLV128 NVMe
3697 Points ∼86% -7%
Dell Latitude 12 5285 2-in-1
HD Graphics 620, 7600U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
3510 Points ∼82% -12%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S W700N
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Lite-On CV1-8B128
3311 Points ∼77% -17%
Home Score Accelerated v2
Dell Latitude 12 5285 2-in-1
HD Graphics 620, 7600U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
4741 Points ∼100% +61%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
3281 Points ∼69% +12%
Lenovo Ideapad Miix 720-12IKB
HD Graphics 620, 7500U, Samsung SSD PM961 1TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVLW1T0)
3186 Points ∼67% +9%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2
HD Graphics 615, 7Y54, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
3092 Points ∼65% +5%
Toshiba Portege Z20t-C-121
HD Graphics 515, 6Y75, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
3068 Points ∼65% +4%
Asus Transformer 3 Pro T303UA-GN050T
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, SK Hynix Canvas SC300 512GB M.2 (HFS512G39MND)
2985 Points ∼63% +2%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
HD Graphics 515, 6Y54, Liteon L8H-256V2G
2983 Points ∼63% +2%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Samsung PM971 KUS030202M
2936 Points ∼62%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
HD Graphics 520, 6300U, Samsung MZFLV128 NVMe
2770 Points ∼58% -6%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S W700N
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Lite-On CV1-8B128
2217 Points ∼47% -24%
HP Spectre x2 12-a001ng
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Liteon L8H-256V2G
2116 Points ∼45% -28%
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
2936 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
3983 points
Help

Storage Devices

Samsung’s PM971 KUS030202M is a brand-new SSD. It is soldered to the motherboard, and for the first time all components of an NVMe-SSD are stored on a single BGA chip. It is equipped with Samsung 3D-NAND with 48 3-bit cell layers (TLC). Similar NAND is used in Samsung’s 850 Evo v3 or the portable SSD T3. It is available in three tiers: 128, 256, and 512 GB.

Do users benefit at all? Not really. Its 4k write/read speeds are impressive, and much faster than on other SSDs. However, it performed pretty poorly in the QD32 test. Sequential read speeds are high, and it reached 846 and 1036 MB/s in AS-SSD and Crystal Disk Mark, respectively.

Even though benchmark results seem inconsistent, the PM971 left a rather good overall impression. Real life performance was excellent – application start times or file copy transfer speeds were very fast. The PM971 certainly is not going to thwart the system.

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
Samsung PM971 KUS030202M
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
Samsung MZFLV128 NVMe
Lenovo Ideapad Miix 720-12IKB
Samsung SSD PM961 1TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVLW1T0)
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2
Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
Asus Transformer 3 Pro T303UA-GN050T
SK Hynix Canvas SC300 512GB M.2 (HFS512G39MND)
Toshiba Portege Z20t-C-121
Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
Dell Latitude 12 5285 2-in-1
Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
Liteon L8H-256V2G
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
-33%
135%
54%
-33%
-10%
19%
-25%
Write 4k QD32
373
153.6
-59%
420.8
13%
259
-31%
253.8
-32%
316.9
-15%
434.5
16%
268.4
-28%
Read 4k QD32
423
368.3
-13%
504.1
19%
247.9
-41%
245.8
-42%
352.4
-17%
493.3
17%
285
-33%
Write 4k
125
101.5
-19%
162.2
30%
120
-4%
57.65
-54%
89.7
-28%
72.22
-42%
90.27
-28%
Read 4k
46
28.51
-38%
53.62
17%
52.34
14%
26.11
-43%
32.87
-29%
31.75
-31%
28.31
-38%
Write 512
445
154.2
-65%
1288
189%
869
95%
320.3
-28%
422.4
-5%
589.3
32%
295.7
-34%
Read 512
225
266.3
18%
1301
478%
697.5
210%
303.1
35%
412.6
83%
406
80%
351.7
56%
Write Seq
853
154.2
-82%
1702
100%
1259
48%
402
-53%
500.9
-41%
865.2
1%
297.2
-65%
Read Seq
723
666
-8%
2408
233%
1739
141%
398.9
-45%
505
-30%
1294
79%
500.5
-31%
Samsung PM971 KUS030202M
Sequential Read: 723 MB/s
Sequential Write: 853 MB/s
512K Read: 225 MB/s
512K Write: 445 MB/s
4K Read: 46 MB/s
4K Write: 125 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 423 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 373 MB/s

Graphics Card

Despite the dual-channel memory being soldered onto the motherboard, the Intel HD Graphics 620  performed only so-so. In both 3DMark benchmarks it lagged 22% behind.

Further information on the HD Graphics 620 can be found here.

3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
Dell Latitude 12 5285 2-in-1
Intel HD Graphics 620, Intel Core i7-7600U
1084 Points ∼100% +22%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
Intel HD Graphics 520, Intel Core i5-6300U
905 Points ∼83% +2%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
Intel HD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-7300U
889 Points ∼82%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
Intel HD Graphics 515, Intel Core m5-6Y54
797 Points ∼74% -10%
Asus Transformer 3 Pro T303UA-GN050T
Intel HD Graphics 520, Intel Core i7-6500U
753 Points ∼69% -15%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2
Intel HD Graphics 615, Intel Core i5-7Y54
728 Points ∼67% -18%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics
Dell Latitude 12 5285 2-in-1
Intel HD Graphics 620, Intel Core i7-7600U
8850 Points ∼100% +22%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
Intel HD Graphics 520, Intel Core i5-6300U
7455 Points ∼84% +3%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
Intel HD Graphics 520, Intel Core i5-6200U
7307 Points ∼83% +1%
Lenovo Ideapad Miix 720-12IKB
Intel HD Graphics 620, Intel Core i7-7500U
7270 Points ∼82% 0%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
Intel HD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-7300U
7265 Points ∼82%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
Intel HD Graphics 515, Intel Core m5-6Y54
6308 Points ∼71% -13%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2
Intel HD Graphics 615, Intel Core i5-7Y54
6164 Points ∼70% -15%
Asus Transformer 3 Pro T303UA-GN050T
Intel HD Graphics 520, Intel Core i7-6500U
6137 Points ∼69% -16%
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
5420 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
805 points
Help

Gaming Performance

Games should definitely not be very high on your list, because the Surface Pro fails to deliver even now that it has been powered by a Kaby Lake SoC. It does not perform significantly worse than its competitors, but that does not really mean anything: all the systems in our test produced very low frame rates. Games from the Windows Store should work just fine, regular PC games are too demanding.

The Witcher 3 - 1024x768 Low Graphics & Postprocessing
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
HD Graphics 515, 6Y54, Liteon L8H-256V2G
11.2 fps ∼100% +18%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Samsung PM971 KUS030202M
9.5 fps ∼85%
Rise of the Tomb Raider - 1024x768 Lowest Preset
Asus Transformer 3 Pro T303UA-GN050T
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, SK Hynix Canvas SC300 512GB M.2 (HFS512G39MND)
20 fps ∼100% +36%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
17 fps ∼85% +16%
Lenovo Ideapad Miix 720-12IKB
HD Graphics 620, 7500U, Samsung SSD PM961 1TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVLW1T0)
16.7 fps ∼84% +14%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Samsung PM971 KUS030202M
14.7 fps ∼74%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S W700N
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Lite-On CV1-8B128
fps ∼0% -100%
BioShock Infinite - 1366x768 Medium Preset
Dell Latitude 12 5285 2-in-1
HD Graphics 620, 7600U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
32.8 fps ∼100% +2%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Samsung PM971 KUS030202M
32.15 fps ∼98%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
HD Graphics 520, 6300U, Samsung MZFLV128 NVMe
30 fps ∼91% -7%
Lenovo Ideapad Miix 720-12IKB
HD Graphics 620, 7500U, Samsung SSD PM961 1TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVLW1T0)
29 fps ∼88% -10%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
28.6 fps ∼87% -11%
Asus Transformer 3 Pro T303UA-GN050T
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, SK Hynix Canvas SC300 512GB M.2 (HFS512G39MND)
26.9 (min: 12.1) fps ∼82% -16%
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
HD Graphics 515, 6Y54, Liteon L8H-256V2G
24.6 fps ∼75% -23%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2
HD Graphics 615, 7Y54, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
21 fps ∼64% -35%
Toshiba Portege Z20t-C-121
HD Graphics 515, 6Y75, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
18.8 fps ∼57% -42%
Thief - 1024x768 Very Low Preset
Lenovo Ideapad Miix 720-12IKB
HD Graphics 620, 7500U, Samsung SSD PM961 1TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVLW1T0)
21.7 fps ∼100% +2%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Samsung PM971 KUS030202M
21.3 fps ∼98%
low med. high ultra
BioShock Infinite (2013) 42.932.1528.3fps
Thief (2014) 21.313.811.4fps
The Witcher 3 (2015) 9.57fps
Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) 14.79.7fps

Emissions

System Noise

Thanks to its passive fanless cooling, the Surface Pro i5 is completely silent. We also found no evidence of coil whining.

Temperature

Prime95 + FurMark: CPU throttles down to 1.4 GHz
Prime95 + FurMark: CPU throttles down to 1.4 GHz
CPU clock / temperature; FurMark started after 9 minutes
CPU clock / temperature; FurMark started after 9 minutes
CPU/GPU clock; FurMark started after 9 minutes
CPU/GPU clock; FurMark started after 9 minutes

Since it lacks a fan, the Surface Pro’s hybrid cooling solution and its case are used to dissipate the heat. Microsoft refers to this as vapor-chamber technology – a technology we are very familiar with, and that has been well known in the realm of high-performance graphics cards and microprocessors for many years.

A metal heat pipe is used to transfer heat away from its source as quickly as possible. Hollow on the inside, it is filled with a low boiling point liquid.

The SoC’s high temperatures bring the liquid to a boil, and as a gas it quickly moves to the coldest point within the heat pipe where it precipitates, cools down, and transfers its energy to its surroundings. Usually, this is where high-quality vapor-chamber coolers and fans dispense of the heat, but the Surface Pro obviously does not have any of those. Thus, the only advantage of the vapor-chamber cooling solution is the quick transport of heat away from its source. On the other side of the heatpipe, cooling effectively depends on ambient and surface temperatures.

This would explain the short lag in the Surface Pro’s throttling behavior in our Cinebench R15 loop. See this YouTube video  for an easily understandable explanation of vapor-chamber cooling.

To no one’s surprise, the Prime95 and FurMark stress test resulted in massive throttling (1.4 GHz). After first running only Prime95 for 9 minutes, clock speeds dropped immediately once we started FurMark too. No wonder, given that CPU and GPU have to share a TDP of 15 W.

Microsoft’s temperature settings and adjustments are on the conservative side. While CPU temperature did peak at 80 °C (~176 °F), it settled at around 63 °C and 57 °C (~145 and ~135 °F) during CPU and GPU stress, respectively. This means that case temperatures were more than tolerable, and at no point the surface heat exceeded 40 °C (~104 °F).

 30 °C31 °C31 °C 
 31 °C30 °C31 °C 
 35 °C37 °C34 °C 
Maximum: 37 °C
Average: 32.2 °C
30.7 °C31.7 °C31 °C
31 °C32 °C30.7 °C
32.1 °C32.3 °C31.8 °C
Maximum: 32.3 °C
Average: 31.5 °C
Power Supply (max.)  33.9 °C | Room Temperature 22.6 °C | FIRT 550-Pocket
Heatmap: top (load)
Heatmap: top (load)
Heatmap: bottom (load)
Heatmap: bottom (load)
Heatmap: top (idle)
Heatmap: top (idle)
Heatmap: bottom (idle)
Heatmap: bottom (idle)

Speakers

Pink noise
Pink noise

The speakers are located at the front next to the black display bezel on the left and right side. They are capable of decent playback of music and voices. However, they are far from powerful and lack lows and depth. Nevertheless, it is impressive how well mids and highs are represented by the tiny drivers. The speakers are able to keep up with decent notebook speakers, but are no match for external ones.

Voice recording via the internal microphone is superb. While we did notice wind noise when recording video outdoors, indoor recordings are very clear. We found no noise, no electrical buzz, and an overall balanced sound volume at different distances to the microphone. We have tried various ranges, between 0.5 and 2 m (~1.6 to 6.5 ft) from the device, and had no trouble, even when not facing the Surface Pro directly.

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs203635362537.428.237.43135.825.435.8403729.8375037.928.537.96340.728.940.78040.429.140.410040.928.940.912543.528.443.516045274520048.723.848.72505022.75031556.721.956.740058.320.958.350058.120.558.163062.219.562.280064.918.464.9100060.818.260.8125060.917.860.9160061.21861.2200067.817.867.8250065.217.865.2315060.317.960.340005817.958500055.81855.8630056.71856.7800057.117.957.11000056.117.856.11250045.117.745.11600042.517.842.5SPL7430.774N32.31.532.3median 57.1Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5median 18median 57.1Delta5.92.15.933.335.233.333.538.433.536.738.536.731.432.131.430.829.330.826.926.626.928.725.728.733.726.433.740.726.140.745.323.745.346.722.746.739.921.639.948.320.848.363.82063.863.519.463.562.518.862.563.218.363.256.717.656.75417.85455.317.555.34717.54752.317.452.351.917.851.954.417.954.461.318.161.358.718.358.752.918.452.947.518.447.542.418.342.433.618.333.669.830.469.8261.426median 52.3Lenovo Ideapad Miix 720-12IKBmedian 18.3median 52.35.71.95.7hearing rangehide median Pink Noise
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5 audio analysis

(-) | not very loud speakers (68 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 9.7% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (7% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 4.6% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (6.3% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 2.1% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (5.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (15.2% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 9% of all tested devices in this class were better, 6% similar, 85% worse
» The best had a delta of 11%, average was 23%, worst was 53%
Compared to all devices tested
» 18% of all tested devices were better, 4% similar, 78% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Lenovo Ideapad Miix 720-12IKB audio analysis

(-) | not very loud speakers (64 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 9.9% lower than median
(-) | bass is not linear (16.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(±) | higher mids - on average 7.3% higher than median
(±) | linearity of mids is average (13.3% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 3.3% away from median
(±) | linearity of highs is average (12.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (21.7% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 51% of all tested devices in this class were better, 5% similar, 44% worse
» The best had a delta of 11%, average was 23%, worst was 53%
Compared to all devices tested
» 50% of all tested devices were better, 7% similar, 43% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Frequency diagram (checkboxes selectable/deselectable!)

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The charger (216 g) is thicker than the Surface Pro
The charger (216 g) is thicker than the Surface Pro
The 44 W charger is amply dimensioned
The 44 W charger is amply dimensioned
flexible plug, can be used both ways
flexible plug, can be used both ways

Overall power consumption is lower than on the Surface Pro 4, around 1 to 2 W less when idle. Obviously, this is going to have a positive effect on battery life.

Under load, it is quite easy to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to figure out what devices suffer from thermal throttling and which ones are powered by a 15 W or a 4.5 W SoC. Running Prime 95, the Surface Pro 2017 starts out at around 24 W and remains around that mark after a minute. Running the stress test, the devices reaches 26 W for two minutes, then settles at around 23.5 W. These fluctuations make it hard to specify the Surface Pro’s actual power consumption under load. Typically, we wait for a few minutes before we record and write down the results.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.19 / 0.6 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 3.6 / 8.1 / 8.7 Watt
Load midlight 25.5 / 23.5 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
7300U, HD Graphics 620, Samsung PM971 KUS030202M, IPS, 2736x1824, 12.3
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
6300U, HD Graphics 520, Samsung MZFLV128 NVMe, IPS, 2736x1824, 12.3
Lenovo Ideapad Miix 720-12IKB
7500U, HD Graphics 620, Samsung SSD PM961 1TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVLW1T0), IPS, 2880x1920, 12
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2
7Y54, HD Graphics 615, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP, IPS, 2160 x 1440, 12
Asus Transformer 3 Pro T303UA-GN050T
6500U, HD Graphics 520, SK Hynix Canvas SC300 512GB M.2 (HFS512G39MND), IPS, 2880x1920, 12.6
Toshiba Portege Z20t-C-121
6Y75, HD Graphics 515, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH, IPS, 1920x1080, 12.5
Dell Latitude 12 5285 2-in-1
7600U, HD Graphics 620, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP, IPS, 1920x1280, 12.3
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
6Y54, HD Graphics 515, Liteon L8H-256V2G, IPS, 1920x1280, 12.1
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
6200U, HD Graphics 520, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2, IPS, 2160x1440, 12
Power Consumption
-4%
-5%
7%
-39%
12%
-6%
-2%
-33%
Idle Minimum *
3.6
4.4
-22%
3.5
3%
5
-39%
6.7
-86%
4.3
-19%
2.85
21%
3.7
-3%
7.3
-103%
Idle Average *
8.1
9
-11%
7.2
11%
6.3
22%
10.3
-27%
6.1
25%
6.76
17%
6.8
16%
10
-23%
Idle Maximum *
8.7
10.7
-23%
7.9
9%
7.8
10%
13.5
-55%
8.9
-2%
6.91
21%
7.6
13%
10.15
-17%
Load Average *
25.5
19.6
23%
29.6
-16%
19.5
24%
26
-2%
16.3
36%
32.88
-29%
22.5
12%
25.2
1%
Load Maximum *
23.5
19.9
15%
30.8
-31%
19.6
17%
28.8
-23%
18.6
21%
37.41
-59%
34.5
-47%
29.3
-25%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Life

With 7 hours in our real-life Wi-Fi test, the Surface Pro 4 performed decently, but stood no chance against the 12:24 hours that the Surface Pro 2017 lasted. Only the Core-Y powered Toshiba Portégé Z20t-C-121 lasted even longer. Amongst its 15 W brethren, the Surface Pro is the uncontested champion.

This is also true under high load. With 168 minutes, it lasted longer in the Battery Eater Classic benchmark than any other contestant. And while the Dell Latitude 12 5285 gets close to the Surface Pro’s battery life when idle, it falls 40% behind in the Wi-Fi test.

Charging the 45 Wh lithium-ion battery (upgraded from 38 Wh on the previous model) from 0 to 100% takes around 2 hours. Bearing in mind its more than decent battery life, we do consider this to be acceptable overall. We charged the device while idle.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
17h 34min
WiFi Surfing v1.3
12h 24min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 48min
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
7300U, HD Graphics 620, 45 Wh
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
6300U, HD Graphics 520, 38 Wh
Lenovo Ideapad Miix 720-12IKB
7500U, HD Graphics 620, 41 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2
7Y54, HD Graphics 615, 37 Wh
Asus Transformer 3 Pro T303UA-GN050T
6500U, HD Graphics 520, 39 Wh
Toshiba Portege Z20t-C-121
6Y75, HD Graphics 515, 72 Wh
Dell Latitude 12 5285 2-in-1
7600U, HD Graphics 620, 42 Wh
HP Elite x2 1012 G1
6Y54, HD Graphics 515, 37 Wh
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
6200U, HD Graphics 520, 37 Wh
HP Spectre x2 12-a001ng
6Y30, HD Graphics 515, 43 Wh
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S W700N
6Y30, HD Graphics 515, 39.5 Wh
Battery Runtime
-31%
-40%
-33%
-56%
8%
-23%
-31%
-43%
-30%
-12%
Reader / Idle
1054
899
-15%
713
-32%
662
-37%
426
-60%
1075
2%
732
-31%
640
-39%
681
-35%
1110
5%
WiFi v1.3
744
427
-43%
345
-54%
441
-41%
223
-70%
804
8%
486
-35%
443
-40%
321
-57%
364
-51%
525
-29%
Load
168
111
-34%
111
-34%
134
-20%
102
-39%
105
-37%
130
-23%
112
-33%
161
-4%
H.264
206
432
468
515

Verdict

Pros

+ solid, classy design
+ noiseless
+ very good battery life (12 - 17 hours)
+ decent camera with support for Windows Hello
+ very good microphone
+ bright display with good sRGB coverage
+ charges in 2 hours
+ very good performance in short bursts < 2 minutes

Cons

- significant throttling in sustained load scenarios
- no USB Type-C
- Signature Type Cover (2017) optional
- Surface Pen (2017) optional
- high price
Microsoft Surface Pro (Core i5-7300U): without the Surface Dock, port availability is very limited.
Microsoft Surface Pro (Core i5-7300U): without the Surface Dock, port availability is very limited.

The most noticeable difference between the old Surface Pro 4 and the new Surface Pro 2017 is the latter’s improved battery life: more than 12 instead of 7 hours in our Wi-Fi test. No other contestant was able to get even close.

The fanless Core i5-7300U is capable of running at peak performance for short bursts thanks to vapor-chamber cooling. After a short while, the CPU starts to throttle. Power users are thus better off with the Dell Latitude 12 5285 (i7-7600U, 10% performance loss in our Cinebench loop) or the IdeaPad Miix 720 (i7-7500U, 9% performance loss). While they do suffer from throttling as well, it is not as bad as on the Surface Pro 2017 (33%)

This means that one of the Surface Pro 2017’s proclaimed main benefits – fanless laptop performance – vanished into thin air. Performance is not half bad, but it is not permanent. In addition, we failed to verify the 50% performance gain over its immediate predecessor that Microsoft promises. It also lacks USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3, which would have made the Surface Pro much more future-proof.

On the plus side, it has decent cameras that support Windows Hello, a very good microphone, and a bright display with decent sRGB coverage. All this can be had for $1299. We consider the tablet to be overpriced, especially since the price includes nothing but the tablet and a charger.

Alternatives

The following three tablets come to mind when looking for alternatives to the Surface Pro. All three are powered by 15 W SoCs, have been similarly rated by us (Dell), and do not throttle as massively as the Surface Pro does thanks to their fans. They are also cheaper.

The Latitude 12 has only an FHD display, but it is brighter. All three have USB Type-C ports, the Lenovo and Asus tablet even support Thunderbolt 3. Unfortunately, the latter only lasted 3:43 hours in our Wi-Fi test and the CPU is incapable of utilizing its full potential.

This leaves the IdeaPad Miix 720 as the only real alternative. Despite the meager 5:45 hours it lasted in our Wi-Fi test; it does have its strengths as well: it throttled by only 10%, has a good keyboard with decent feedback, and a very good 2880x1920 display.

In case you do not really need the Surface Pro’s long battery life, the Miix 720 and the Transformer 3 Pro have a better price-performance ratio. After all, we would have to add the keyboard dock, a pen, and a USB dock to get a fully equipped device with more than the bare minimum of ports.

Also see our reviews of the Core m3 entry level version and the Core i7 model.

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5 - 06/26/2017 v6
Sebastian Jentsch

Chassis
90 / 98 → 91%
Keyboard
89%
Pointing Device
92%
Connectivity
51 / 80 → 63%
Weight
74 / 78 → 91%
Battery
95%
Display
87%
Games Performance
54 / 68 → 79%
Application Performance
75 / 87 → 86%
Temperature
88%
Noise
100%
Audio
86 / 91 → 95%
Camera
71 / 85 → 83%
Average
81%
90%
Convertible - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Microsoft Surface Pro 2017 (i5-7300U, 256 GB) Convertible Review
Sebastian Jentsch, 2017-06-30 (Update: 2017-09-19)