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Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (Core m3) First Impressions

J. Simon Leitner, Tanja Hinum (translated by Martina Osztovits), 11/02/2015

Tablet meets notebook. Finally, we have Microsoft's latest model, the Surface Pro 4, under review. In response to many readers' requests, we will share our first impressions and compare it to its Surface Pro 3 predecessor as well as the brand new Surface Book, which we also have under review now.

With the Surface Pro 3 predecessor (see review), Microsoft set a new standard for 2in1 devices and convertibles. Notebook performance in tablet shape was announced, but it could not fully keep the promise. A bit more than a year later, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, the 7th generation of the Surface series (Surface RT, Surface Pro, Surface 2, Surface Pro 2, Surface Pro 3, Surface 3) tries to combine tablet and notebook even better.

Currently, our test model is going through our intensive tests. First measurements of display and emissions are already available, which we will share in this article. The complete review of the new Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is available here.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB (Surface Series)
Graphics adapter
Memory
4096 MB 
, Dual-channel 1066 MHz
Display
12.3 inch 3:2, 2736 x 1824 pixel, 10-point multitouch, native pen support, Samsung 123YL01-001 ID: SDC3853, IPS, glossy: yes, detachable screen
Mainboard
Intel Skylake-U Premium PCH
Storage
Samsung MZFLV128 NVMe, 128 GB 
, 87 GB free
Soundcard
Intel Skylake-U/Y PCH - High Definition Audio
Connections
1 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 DisplayPort, Audio Connections: headset port, Card Reader: microSD, Brightness Sensor, Sensors: abient light, gyroscope, Surface Connector
Networking
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0 Marvel Avastar
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 8.4 x 292.1 x 201.4 ( = 0.33 x 11.5 x 7.93 in)
Battery
38 Wh Lithium-Ion, integrated, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 9 h
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: front camera 5 MP, rear camera 8 MP
Primary Camera: 8 MPix
Secondary Camera: 5 MPix
Additional features
Speakers: stereo, Keyboard: chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, Power adaptor 31 Watts, Surface Pen, Type Cover, Office 365, 24 Months Warranty
Weight
1.092 kg ( = 38.52 oz / 2.41 pounds), Power Supply: 204 g ( = 7.2 oz / 0.45 pounds)
Price
1099 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Display

Subpixel structure
Subpixel structure

Not only the display diagonal grew from 12.0 to 12.3-inch, but the pixel density was also significantly increased. While the Surface Pro 3 predecessor still used a resolution of 2160x1440 (216.3 ppi), you can appreciate a gorgeous 2736x1824 pixels (267.3 ppi) now. Even if this does not bring a direct advantage for the user, the new display features an even finer resolution as the often mentioned Retina display of the latest Apple MacBook Pro 13.

According to our first measurements, the other characteristics of the used display got better, too. The average brightness increased to just under 400 cd/m2, while the brightness distribution of 93% remained very good. Together with a low black value of 0.27 cd/m2, the maximum contrast increased to an excellent 1441:1. Alike the predecessor, the new Microsoft Surface Pro 4 can keep its maximum brightness on battery.

The Surface family: Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4, and Surface Book
The Surface family: Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4, and Surface Book

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

397
cd/m²
406
cd/m²
401
cd/m²
385
cd/m²
413
cd/m²
403
cd/m²
358
cd/m²
398
cd/m²
403
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 413 cd/m² Average: 396 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 87 %
Center on Battery: 413 cd/m²
Contrast: 1147:1 (Black: 0.36 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 3.09 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6.1
ΔE Greyscale 3.92 | 0.64-98 Ø6.3
97% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 61% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.3

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

338.6
cd/m²
336.5
cd/m²
323.5
cd/m²
335.4
cd/m²
355.3
cd/m²
331.2
cd/m²
338.6
cd/m²
341.8
cd/m²
340.8
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Basic Pro 2
Maximum: 355.3 cd/m² Average: 338 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 91 %
Center on Battery: 355.3 cd/m²
Contrast: 1077:1 (Black: 0.33 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 4.72 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6.1
ΔE Greyscale 6.53 | 0.64-98 Ø6.3
59.37% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.17

Microsoft Surface Book

403.5
cd/m²
417.2
cd/m²
400
cd/m²
416.6
cd/m²
430.9
cd/m²
411.1
cd/m²
404.4
cd/m²
408.9
cd/m²
399.5
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro Basic 2
Maximum: 430.9 cd/m² Average: 410.2 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 93 %
Center on Battery: 430.9 cd/m²
Contrast: 1696:1 (Black: 0.254 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 2.06 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6.1
ΔE Greyscale 2.22 | 0.64-98 Ø6.3
96% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 64% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.13

Microsoft also introduced the Surface Book, which comes with a slightly bigger 13.5-inch display with a resolution of 3000x2000 pixels and also an aspect ratio of 3:2. According to our first measurements, the Surface Book performs even better than the Surface Pro 4 in brightness and contrast.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
HD Graphics 520, 6300U, Samsung MZFLV128 NVMe
Microsoft Surface Pro 3
HD Graphics 4400, 4300U, Hynix HFS128G3MNM
Microsoft Surface 3
HD Graphics (Cherry Trail), Z8700, 128 GB eMMC Flash
Microsoft Surface Book Core i5
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6300U, Samsung MZFLV256 NVMe
Response Times
-5%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
46 (17.2, 28.8, plateau, spikes in between)
48.4 (19.6, 28.8)
-5%
Response Time Black / White *
31.2 (6, 25.2, Spikes in between)
32.8 (7.6, 25.2)
-5%
PWM Frequency
50 (50)
Screen
-18%
2%
19%
Brightness middle
413
355.3
-14%
399
-3%
430.9
4%
Brightness
396
338
-15%
380
-4%
410
4%
Brightness Distribution
87
91
5%
90
3%
93
7%
Black Level *
0.36
0.33
8%
0.49
-36%
0.254
29%
Contrast
1147
1077
-6%
814
-29%
1696
48%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
3.09
4.72
-53%
1.66
46%
2.06
33%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
3.92
6.53
-67%
2.75
30%
2.22
43%
Gamma
2.3 96%
2.17 101%
2.22 99%
2.13 103%
CCT
7333 89%
6707 97%
6358 102%
6520 100%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
61
59.37
-3%
64.4
6%
64
5%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
97
98.8
2%
96
-1%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
3.24
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-18% / -18%
2% / 2%
7% / 15%

* ... smaller is better

Our color analysis shows relatively accurate, yet not perfect colors compared to the sRGB reference. Calibration only insignificantly improved the color precision.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 out-of-the-box
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 out-of-the-box
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 after calibration
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 after calibration

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
31.2 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 6 ms rise
↘ 25.2 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. » 79 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (25.2 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
46 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 17.2 ms rise
↘ 28.8 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. » 72 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (40.3 ms).

Emissions

In addition, we already have measurements of the surface temperatures available. The new Surface Pro 4 tends to be cooler than our Surface Pro 3 test model with i5-4300U processor while idle and when the core components are permanently stressed. However, you should take these results with a grain of salt, since the ambient temperature was significantly higher when we measured the temperature of the predecessor.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Max. Load
 47.2 °C
117 F
50.8 °C
123 F
49.7 °C
121 F
 
 41.6 °C
107 F
48.4 °C
119 F
42.8 °C
109 F
 
 46.6 °C
116 F
52.3 °C
126 F
47 °C
117 F
 
Maximum: 52.3 °C = 126 F
Average: 47.4 °C = 117 F
47.4 °C
117 F
51.4 °C
125 F
46.4 °C
116 F
46.6 °C
116 F
50.2 °C
122 F
45.9 °C
115 F
44 °C
111 F
46.5 °C
116 F
43.9 °C
111 F
Maximum: 51.4 °C = 125 F
Average: 46.9 °C = 116 F
Power Supply (max.)  43.2 °C = 110 F | Room Temperature 20.4 °C = 69 F | FIRT 550-Pocket
(-) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 47.4 °C / 117 F, compared to the average of 30.3 °C / 87 F for the devices in the class Convertible.
(-) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 52.3 °C / 126 F, compared to the average of 35.4 °C / 96 F, ranging from 21.8 to 55.7 °C for the class Convertible.
(-) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 51.4 °C / 125 F, compared to the average of 36.5 °C / 98 F
(±) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 36 °C / 97 F, compared to the device average of 30.3 °C / 87 F.
(-) The palmrests and touchpad can get very hot to the touch with a maximum of 52.3 °C / 126.1 F.
(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 29 °C / 84.2 F (-23.3 °C / -41.9 F).

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Max. Load
 36.6 °C
98 F
42.4 °C
108 F
45.2 °C
113 F
 
 36.2 °C
97 F
39.2 °C
103 F
43.4 °C
110 F
 
 37.6 °C
100 F
39.2 °C
103 F
42.4 °C
108 F
 
Maximum: 45.2 °C = 113 F
Average: 40.2 °C = 104 F
46.4 °C
116 F
42.2 °C
108 F
38.4 °C
101 F
45.8 °C
114 F
41.8 °C
107 F
37.2 °C
99 F
42.8 °C
109 F
40.8 °C
105 F
37.4 °C
99 F
Maximum: 46.4 °C = 116 F
Average: 41.4 °C = 107 F
Power Supply (max.)  50 °C = 122 F | Room Temperature 27 °C = 81 F | Raytek Raynger ST
(-) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 40.2 °C / 104 F, compared to the average of 30.3 °C / 87 F for the devices in the class Convertible.
(-) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 45.2 °C / 113 F, compared to the average of 35.4 °C / 96 F, ranging from 21.8 to 55.7 °C for the class Convertible.
(-) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 46.4 °C / 116 F, compared to the average of 36.5 °C / 98 F
(±) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 33.8 °C / 93 F, compared to the device average of 30.3 °C / 87 F.
(-) The palmrests and touchpad can get very hot to the touch with a maximum of 42.4 °C / 108.3 F.
(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 29 °C / 84.2 F (-13.4 °C / -24.1 F).

Verdict

Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Microsoft Surface Pro 4

We only have a few measurements of the Surface Pro 4 available, but display and emissions are slightly better than the predecessor's. It remains interesting to see how the device will perform in our performance tests and how long its realistic battery life is. The complete review will be available in about 1-2 weeks. Stay tuned!

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (Core m3) First Impressions
J. Simon Leitner, 2015-11- 2 (Update: 2015-11-16)