Notebookcheck

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (2018) (i5, 128 GB, 8 GB) Convertible Review

Sebastian Jentsch, 👁 Sebastian Jentsch, Andrea Grüblinger (translated by Finn D. Boerne), 10/30/2018

Whisper quiet. The i5 model without a fan is slower than the i7 model, and its battery life is not much better. In return, it is completely silent and significantly cheaper. Is this the mainstream tablet for everyone? Update 11/7/2018: 256 GB SSD is faster

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Surface Pro 6 (2018) - the i5 model is cheaper and fanless
Surface Pro 6 (2018) - the i5 model is cheaper and fanless

The i5 model of Microsoft’s Surface Pro 6 (2018) is the affordable entry-level model of the series starting at $900. It is less powerful, features just 8 GB of RAM, and a 128 GB SSD, 53 GB of which was available out of the box on our review unit.

How high is the performance delta when compared to the i7 model? Is it relevant to everyday office and web application use?

The Surface Pro 6 i7 and i5 are absolutely identical regarding case, connectivity, and display. The only difference lies in the cooling system: The i5 model is fanless while the i7 model requires active cooling. This is the primary reason for the i7’s much higher performance. For details, see our Surface Pro 6 (2018) i7 review.

Given their similarity, we are not going to discuss build quality, connectivity, cameras, input devices, and speakers as part of this review but will include our display measurements. Our review of last year’s i5/256 2017 model can be found here.

Update 11/7/2018: 256 GB SSD is faster

We were able to also take a look at the i5 model with a 256 GB SSD that is also made by Toshiba (KBG30ZPZ256G). On average, this SSD turned out to be roughly 30 % faster than the 128 GB SKU. Accordingly, PCMark 8 and 10 scores were around 10 % higher.

2017 i5 2018 entry level 2018 mid-range 2018 mid-range 2018 mid-range 2018 high-end 2018 high-end
i5-7300U Core m3-7Y30 (fanless) i5-8250U (fanless) i5-8250U (fanless) i7-8650U i7-8650U i7-8650U
8 GB RAM 4 GB RAM 8 GB RAM 8 GB RAM 8 GB RAM 16 GB RAM 16 GB RAM
256 GB 128 GB 128 GB 256 GB 256 GB 512 GB 1 TB
1200 Euros 900 Euros 1049 Euros 1349 Euros 1649 Euros 2049 Euros 2449 Euros
i5/256 2017 review soon this test awaiting SSD measurements - i7/512 2018 review -
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB (Surface Pro Series)
Graphics adapter
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Core: 1100 MHz, Memory: 933 MHz, DDR3
Memory
8192 MB 
, LPDDR3 Dual Channel, onboard
Display
12.3 inch 3:2, 2736 x 1834 pixel 268 PPI, 10-point multitouch, native pen support, LGPhilips LP123WQ112604, IPS, PixelSense, glossy: yes, detachable screen
Mainboard
Intel Kaby Lake-U iHDCP 2.2 Premium PCH
Storage
Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G, 128 GB 
, 53 GB free
Soundcard
Intel Kaby Lake-U/Y PCH - High Definition Audio
Connections
1 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 DisplayPort, Audio Connections: audio combo, Card Reader: microSDXC, Brightness Sensor, Sensors: accelerometer, gyroscope, Surface Connect, Type Cover port
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 x 201 ( = 0.33 x 11.5 x 7.91 in)
Battery
45 Wh Lithium-Ion, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 13.5 h
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
Camera
Primary Camera: 5 MPix front, Windows Hello
Secondary Camera: 8 MPix autofocus, rear
Additional features
Speakers: 1.6 W stereo Dolby Audio Premium, Office 365 Trial, 12 Months Warranty, fanless
Weight
781 g ( = 27.55 oz / 1.72 pounds), Power Supply: 218 g ( = 7.69 oz / 0.48 pounds)
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 i5 in silver (right)
Microsoft Surface Pro 6 i5 in silver (right)
Microsoft Surface Pro 6 i5 in silver (right)
Microsoft Surface Pro 6 i5 in silver (right)
Microsoft Surface Pro 6 i5 in silver (bottom)
Top: volume rocker, power button
Top: volume rocker, power button
Bottom: docking port SurfaceConnect
Bottom: docking port SurfaceConnect
Power, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort
Power, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort
Audio combo (headset)
Audio combo (headset)

SD Card Reader

The card reader is located underneath the fold-out stand
The card reader is located underneath the fold-out stand

As always we ran the card reader benchmarks with our 64 GB Toshiba Exceria SDXC UHS-II reference card. Today’s review unit peaked at 86 MB/s copying large blocks of data (AS SSD) and at 75 MB/s transferring JPEG files of around 5 MB each. This may sound decent, but it is in fact only mediocre - Microsoft’s own Surface Book 2 and Dell’s Latitude were much faster. The i7 model’s performance was identical.

SDCardreader Transfer Speed
average JPG Copy Test (av. of 3 runs)
Microsoft Surface Book 2
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
159.2 MB/s ∼100% +113%
Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501 UHS-II)
142.2 MB/s ∼89% +90%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501 microSDXC 64GB)
74.7 MB/s ∼47%
Average of class Convertible
  (7.5 - 197, n=103)
59 MB/s ∼37% -21%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i7
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro M401 64 GB)
53.8 MB/s ∼34% -28%
maximum AS SSD Seq Read Test (1GB)
Microsoft Surface Book 2
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
234.4 MB/s ∼100% +173%
Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501 UHS-II)
211.8 MB/s ∼90% +146%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i7
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro M401 64 GB)
86.5 MB/s ∼37% +1%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501 microSDXC 64GB)
86 MB/s ∼37%
Average of class Convertible
  (24 - 246, n=101)
74.7 MB/s ∼32% -13%

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Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
653 MBit/s ∼100% +13%
Samsung Galaxy Book 12 SM-W728
Atheros/Qualcomm QCA6174
606 MBit/s ∼93% +5%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller
593 (min: 560, max: 611) MBit/s ∼91% +3%
Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003
Qualcomm Atheros QCA61x4
581 MBit/s ∼89% +1%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller
577 MBit/s ∼88% 0%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller
577 (min: 517, max: 605) MBit/s ∼88%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet G3-20KJ001NGE
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
534 MBit/s ∼82% -7%
Microsoft Surface Book 2
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller
515 MBit/s ∼79% -11%
Average of class Convertible
  (38.3 - 678, n=113)
477 MBit/s ∼73% -17%
Huawei Matebook E
Intel 8265 Tri-Band WiFi (Oak Peak) Network Adapter
437 MBit/s ∼67% -24%
HP Elite x2 1013 G3-2TT14EA
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
314 MBit/s ∼48% -46%
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE
Atheros/Qualcomm QCA6174
286 MBit/s ∼44% -50%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Samsung Galaxy Book 12 SM-W728
Atheros/Qualcomm QCA6174
668 MBit/s ∼100% +29%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet G3-20KJ001NGE
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
634 MBit/s ∼95% +23%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller
618 MBit/s ∼93% +20%
HP Elite x2 1013 G3-2TT14EA
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
598 MBit/s ∼90% +16%
Huawei Matebook E
Intel 8265 Tri-Band WiFi (Oak Peak) Network Adapter
592 MBit/s ∼89% +15%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller
559 (min: 519, max: 577) MBit/s ∼84% +8%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller
517 (min: 437, max: 572) MBit/s ∼77%
Microsoft Surface Book 2
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller
498 MBit/s ∼75% -4%
Average of class Convertible
  (39.2 - 685, n=113)
486 MBit/s ∼73% -6%
Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003
Qualcomm Atheros QCA61x4
476 MBit/s ∼71% -8%
Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
305 MBit/s ∼46% -41%
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE
Atheros/Qualcomm QCA6174
247 MBit/s ∼37% -52%
0102030405060708090100110120130140150160170180190200210220230240250260270280290300310320330340350360370380390400410420430440450460470480490500510520530540550560570580590600610Tooltip
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G; iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10; iperf 3.1.3: Ø577 (517-605)
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G; iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10; iperf 3.1.3: Ø517 (437-572)

Display

Subpixel array
Subpixel array

The 12.3-inch 3:2 PixelSense display is identical as well, and features a resolution of 2736x1824 with a resulting pixel density of 267 dpi. Its contrast ratio is an astonishingly high 1,447:1 measured at a high resolution of 463 nits.

As in 2017, we were able to detect PWM flickering at a very high and imperceptible frequency of 20,800 Hz at brightness levels of 50% and below. This is also identical to the i7 model; differences are within margin of error and due to manufacturing tolerance.

462
cd/m²
452
cd/m²
496
cd/m²
412
cd/m²
463
cd/m²
448
cd/m²
413
cd/m²
430
cd/m²
477
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 496 cd/m² Average: 450.3 cd/m² Minimum: 5.3 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 83 %
Center on Battery: 463 cd/m²
Contrast: 1447:1 (Black: 0.32 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 3.76 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.3, calibrated: 2.68
ΔE Greyscale 3.18 | 0.64-98 Ø6.5
90% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 59% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.53
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
LGPhilips LP123WQ112604, , 2736x1834, 12.3
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
LG Display LP123WQ112604, , 2736x1824, 12.3
Microsoft Surface Book 2
Panasonic MEI96A2 , , 3000x2000, 13.5
Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003
Sharp SHP14A6, , 1800x1200, 10
Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1
SHP1479, , 1920x1280, 12.3
HP Elite x2 1013 G3-2TT14EA
AU Optronics AUO101A, , 3000x2000, 13
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet G3-20KJ001NGE
3000x2000, 13.3
Samsung Galaxy Book 12 SM-W728
Samsung SDCA029, , 2160x1440, 12
Huawei Matebook E
Chi Mei CMN7801, , 2160x1440, 12
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE
Unbekannt, , 1920x1200, 12.2
Response Times
-5%
-23%
-34%
-57%
-8%
-41%
4%
25%
-26%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
42 (22, 20)
42 (20, 22)
-0%
52.8 (25.2, 27.6)
-26%
44 (22, 22)
-5%
56.8 (26.8, 30)
-35%
47 (23, 24)
-12%
47.2 (21.2, 26)
-12%
4 (2, 2)
90%
26 (10, 16)
38%
36 (18, 18)
14%
Response Time Black / White *
25 (14, 11)
29 (18, 11)
-16%
30 (16.4, 13.6)
-20%
25.6 (11.6, 14)
-2%
36 (19.6, 16.4)
-44%
26 (14, 12)
-4%
42.4 (19.6, 22.8)
-70%
20 (18, 2)
20%
22 (12, 10)
12%
23 (12, 11)
8%
PWM Frequency
20800 (50)
21000
1%
1020 (99)
-95%
1852 (98)
-91%
250 (100)
-99%
200 (90)
-99%
Screen
5%
20%
23%
-5%
-8%
85%
-11%
-32%
Brightness middle
463
417
-10%
385
-17%
456
-2%
548
18%
452
-2%
376
-19%
439
-5%
384
-17%
Brightness
450
401
-11%
372
-17%
426
-5%
545
21%
412
-8%
378
-16%
428
-5%
355
-21%
Brightness Distribution
83
88
6%
89
7%
88
6%
86
4%
85
2%
91
10%
92
11%
80
-4%
Black Level *
0.32
0.29
9%
0.21
34%
0.31
3%
0.51
-59%
0.48
-50%
0.03
91%
0.35
-9%
0.56
-75%
Contrast
1447
1438
-1%
1833
27%
1471
2%
1075
-26%
942
-35%
12533
766%
1254
-13%
686
-53%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
3.76
3.63
3%
1.6
57%
1.3
65%
3.65
3%
4.05
-8%
4.1
-9%
5.17
-38%
4.58
-22%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
7.35
6.74
8%
4.5
39%
3
59%
7.15
3%
6.64
10%
6.45
12%
7.68
-4%
11.63
-58%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 calibrated *
2.68
1.1
59%
1.81
32%
1.56
42%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
3.18
2.18
31%
1.5
53%
1.4
56%
5.5
-73%
4.87
-53%
3.64
-14%
5.69
-79%
5.63
-77%
Gamma
2.53 87%
3.09 71%
2.22 99%
2.24 98%
2.154 102%
2.71 81%
2.58 85%
2.42 91%
2.45 90%
CCT
6994 93%
6767 96%
6502 100%
6687 97%
7052 92%
7160 91%
7113 91%
7999 81%
7571 86%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
59
63
7%
64
8%
62.3
6%
65.2
11%
62
5%
74
25%
71
20%
60
2%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
90
99
10%
95.9
7%
96.8
8%
99.1
10%
97
8%
93
3%
100
11%
92
2%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
0% / 3%
-2% / 13%
-6% / 11%
-31% / -16%
-8% / -8%
-41% / -41%
45% / 66%
7% / -5%
-29% / -31%

* ... smaller is better

AdobeRGB: 59%
AdobeRGB: 59%
sRGB: 90%
sRGB: 90%

Color-space coverage, on the other hand, was somewhat lower than before, and the Surface Pro went from 99% sRGB in 2017 to just 90% sRGB today. Given that the panel was identical this too is most likely due to manufacturing tolerance.

Out of the box DeltaE deviation was determined to be just 3.2, which should look nigh perfect to the untrained eye and render the minor blue tint all but unnoticeable. We were able to lower DeltaE for grayscale to 1.15 and DeltaE for colors from 3.8 to 2.7 through calibration. Ideally, you want these to be less than 3.

CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN ColorChecker calibrated
CalMAN ColorChecker calibrated
CalMAN grayscale
CalMAN grayscale
CalMAN grayscale calibrated
CalMAN grayscale calibrated
CalMAN saturation
CalMAN saturation
CalMAN saturation calibrated
CalMAN saturation calibrated

Outdoor usability was pretty decent thanks to the display’s very high maximum brightness. Unfortunately, it was foiled by its highly reflective cover, and it suffered the most in direct sunlight.

Outdoors in sunlight
Outdoors in sunlight
Outdoors in the shade
Outdoors in the shade
High usability thanks to its high brightness
High usability thanks to its high brightness

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
25 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 14 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. » 40 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (25.6 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
42 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 22 ms rise
↘ 20 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. » 54 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (41 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 20800 Hz ≤ 50 % brightness setting

The display backlight flickers at 20800 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) Flickering detected at a brightness setting of 50 % and below. There should be no flickering or PWM above this brightness setting.

The frequency of 20800 Hz is quite high, so most users sensitive to PWM should not notice any flickering.

In comparison: 52 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 8781 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

The viewing angles remained very wide, and the display was readable from all sides without any color distortions or decrease in brightness, regardless of angle.

Viewing angles Surface Pro 6 (2018)
Viewing angles Surface Pro 6 (2018)

Performance

Microsoft’s mid-range Surface is equipped with an Intel Core i5-8250U. Like the i7 SoC (Core i7-8550U) it is part of the Kaby Lake Refresh generation of processors and features four physical cores. An entry-level m3-7Y30 is also available, and both it and the i5 model are fanless. The m3-7Y30 model was already introduced last year, and we expect just a name change and updated preloaded software for this year’s model.

The SoC has access to 8 GB of RAM, which is soldered onto the motherboard, and a 128 GB Toshiba SSD (KBG30ZPZ128G). Optionally, the Surface Pro 6 can also be equipped with a 256, 512, or 1,024 GB SSD.

CPU-Z CPU
CPU-Z CPU
CPU-Z Cache
CPU-Z Cache
CPU-Z Mainboard
CPU-Z Mainboard
CPU-Z Memory
CPU-Z Memory
GPU-Z
GPU-Z
HWinfo
HWinfo
Latencies
Latencies
 

Processor

The Core i7 model surprised us with outstanding laptop CPU performance, and the air-cooled i7 quad-core managed to draw level with much thicker 20 mm 14-inch laptops. For details, see our Surface Pro (2018) i7 review.

How did the fanless i5 model do in comparison? Let’s look at the Cinebench R15 loop first. In the first run, the i5 scored 584 points, which quickly decreased to around 553 points during iterations two to four. The fifth iteration yielded just 437 points, a level at which the scores remained for the next 20 runs. Accordingly, total performance decrease was 25%.

Compare that to the 11% decrease of the i7 model. Under sustained load, the i5 model was around 23% slower than the i7 model.

For the first few seconds of our Cinebench R15 loop the i5 runs at 3.4 GHz, which is then subsequently reduced to 2.8 GHz, and then just 2.6 GHz for iterations 2 to 4. Afterwards, clock speeds were reduced even further to just 2 GHz.

Power consumption dropped from its initial 22 W to 16.5 W, and then to around 10 W around the sixth iteration. Due to temperatures above and beyond 70 °C (too much for a fanless design) the CPU was forced to throttle, and temperatures eventually settled at around 62-64 °C. The i7 model was allowed to run at a higher 71-74 °C and accordingly also able to run faster (2.5-2.6 GHz).

On battery, the device ran at just 2.2-2.3 GHz and never reached that 70 °C threshold. In other words: Performance on battery was slower than on mains, with a loss of 18 and 27% for multi and single-core benchmarks, respectively.

Cinebench R15 Loop on mains
Cinebench R15 Loop on mains
Cinebench R15 Loop on battery
Cinebench R15 Loop on battery
0102030405060708090100110120130140150160170180190200210220230240250260270280290300310320330340350360370380390400410420430440450460470480490500510520530540550560570580590600610620630640650660670680690700710Tooltip
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel Core i5-8250U: Ø452 (434.07-584.91)
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5 Intel Core i5-7300U, Intel Core i5-7300U: Ø240 (211.49-337.24)
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB Intel Core i7-8650U, Intel Core i7-8650U: Ø571 (559.56-638.59)
Microsoft Surface Book 2 Intel Core i7-8650U, Intel Core i7-8650U: Ø526 (489.6-675.96)
Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003 Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y, Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y: Ø163 (162.13-163.67)
Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1 Intel Core i5-8350U, Intel Core i5-8350U: Ø488 (465.07-568.99)
HP Elite x2 1013 G3-2TT14EA Intel Core i5-8350U, Intel Core i5-8350U: Ø486 (481.08-516.94)
Samsung Galaxy Book 12 SM-W728 Intel Core i5-7200U, Intel Core i5-7200U: Ø298 (278.79-321.75)
Huawei Matebook E Intel Core i5-7Y54, Intel Core i5-7Y54: Ø250 (246.95-261.8)
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE Intel Core i7-8550U, Intel Core i7-8550U; Cool Mode Off: Ø496 (487.22-531.67)
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE Intel Core i7-8550U, Intel Core i7-8550U; Cool Mode On: Ø456 (434.78-525.48)
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L7002AUS Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel Core i5-8250U: Ø672 (635.4-707.09)
Lenovo ThinkPad X280-20KES01S00 Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel Core i5-8250U: Ø538 (523.46-671.14)

Despite the fact that the observed throttling behavior may be noteworthy, it is also important to remember that even under sustained load the i5 (2018) was around 47% faster in Cinebench than its Kaby Lake 7300U 2017 predecessor. This is a phenomenon we have already observed with the i7 model as well.

The competition throttled a lot less (Dell Latitude 5290) or even not at all (HP Elite x2 1013 G3). Both also feature a nominally faster CPU (Core i5-8350U), and 3-6% higher initial Cinebench scores in return. Sustained performance was 9% (Dell) and 10% (HP) higher.

Given that this particular Core i5-8250U SoC is a favorite among manufacturers, it can be found in many laptops, from the very low-end to the business high-end. Lenovo’s T480s (slim 14-inch laptop) was 35% faster under sustained load, and even the much smaller ThinkPad X280 (12-inch) throttled 22% at first but ended up being 17% faster in the end. Both notebooks feature a fan.

In other words: Subnotebooks with fans are not immune to throttling but are still around 15-20% faster under sustained load thanks to their active cooling solutions. A laptop with ideal cooling is way out of the Surface Pro 6 (2018) i5’s league as the latter was only around 65% as fast.

The following Cinebench scores (single and multi) were taken immediately after a cold boot. The processor was able to fully utilize its turbo boost potential as thermal limits were not yet prohibitive thereto. In the single-thread test the 2017 and 2018 models performed almost identically. However, the 2018 model was 75% faster in the multi-core test, which was expected given the increase in CPU cores from two to four. Overall, the 2018 i5’s score was slightly above average for a Core i5-8250U. The 2018 i7 was 9% faster in the multithread test.

The competition (Lenovo Miix 520-12IKBHP Elite x2 1013 G3, and Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1) were around 10-12% slower in the multithread test. However, as stated above this was only the case for the first few runs of Cinebench, and their sustained performance was higher than our review unit’s.

Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Microsoft Surface Book 2
Intel Core i7-8650U
177 Points ∼100% +24%
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE
Intel Core i7-8550U
164 Points ∼93% +15%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
Intel Core i7-8650U
163 Points ∼92% +14%
Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1
Intel Core i5-8350U
151 Points ∼85% +6%
HP Elite x2 1013 G3-2TT14EA
Intel Core i5-8350U
147 Points ∼83% +3%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
Intel Core i5-8250U
143 Points ∼81%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
Intel Core i5-7300U
141 Points ∼80% -1%
Average Intel Core i5-8250U
  (81 - 147, n=84)
141 Points ∼80% -1%
Samsung Galaxy Book 12 SM-W728
Intel Core i5-7200U
127 Points ∼72% -11%
Huawei Matebook E
Intel Core i5-7Y54
124 Points ∼70% -13%
Average of class Convertible
  (19 - 177, n=269)
101 Points ∼57% -29%
Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003
Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y
65 Points ∼37% -55%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Microsoft Surface Book 2
Intel Core i7-8650U
673 Points ∼100% +15%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
Intel Core i7-8650U
639 Points ∼95% +9%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
Intel Core i5-8250U
585 Points ∼87%
Average Intel Core i5-8250U
  (320 - 730, n=87)
569 Points ∼85% -3%
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE
Intel Core i7-8550U
532 Points ∼79% -9%
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE
Intel Core i7-8550U
525 Points ∼78% -10%
HP Elite x2 1013 G3-2TT14EA
Intel Core i5-8350U
517 Points ∼77% -12%
Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1
Intel Core i5-8350U
514 Points ∼76% -12%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
Intel Core i5-7300U
334 Points ∼50% -43%
Samsung Galaxy Book 12 SM-W728
Intel Core i5-7200U
321 Points ∼48% -45%
Average of class Convertible
  (33 - 761, n=275)
276 Points ∼41% -53%
Huawei Matebook E
Intel Core i5-7Y54
254 Points ∼38% -57%
Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003
Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y
164 Points ∼24% -72%
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
143 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
585 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
43.6 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
97.8 %
Help

System Performance

Overall application performance is determined by running FutureMark’s PCMark. The i7 model disappointed with its slow Toshiba SSD and was unable to perform as fast as we would have expected of an i7 system. Unfortunately, the same must be said about the i5 model, and Microsoft’s choice pro Toshiba and against Samsung (PM971 2017) backfired once more. Accordingly, the 2018 i5 model sometimes performed worse than the 2017 i5 model.

PCMark 10 productivity scores were lower for the 2018 model than the 2017 model. In the Essential and Digital Content category as well as in overall performance the 2018 model was 4-18% faster. Similar results can be observed in PCMark 8: The 2017 and 2018 models performed almost identically in the Work tests and the 2018 model outperformed the 2017 model by around 5% in the Home test.

Long story short: The i7 2018 was just 5-18% (PCMark 10) and 7-8% (PCMark 8) faster.

PCMark 8 Creative
PCMark 8 Creative
PCMark 8 Work
PCMark 8 Work
PCMark 8 Home
PCMark 8 Home
PCMark 10
PCMark 10

Update 11/7/2018: higher system performance thanks to 256 GB SSD

The 256 GB SSD performed 8 % faster in PCMark 10 and was thus just 12 % slower than the top model (i7, 512 GB). However, it was just 2-8 % faster in the respective sub categories of PCMark 10.

PCMark 8 Creative, i5 256 GB
PCMark 8 Creative, i5 256 GB
PCMark 8 Home, i5 256 GB
PCMark 8 Home, i5 256 GB
PCMark 8 Storage, i5 256 GB
PCMark 8 Storage, i5 256 GB
PCMark 8 Work, i5 256 GB
PCMark 8 Work, i5 256 GB
PCMark 10 Score, i5 256 GB
PCMark 10 Score, i5 256 GB
PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM961 1TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVLW1T0)
4772 Points ∼100% +20%
Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV256G
4764 Points ∼100% +20%
Average Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (2699 - 5106, n=49)
4644 Points ∼97% +17%
Microsoft Surface Book 2
GeForce GTX 1050 (Notebook), 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
4522 (min: 4500, max: 4528) Points ∼95% +14%
Samsung Galaxy Book 12 SM-W728
HD Graphics 620, 7200U, Samsung SSD PM871a MZNLN256HMHQ
4291 Points ∼90% +8%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
4262 Points ∼89% +7%
HP Elite x2 1013 G3-2TT14EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
4200 Points ∼88% +6%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Samsung PM971 KUS030202M
3983 Points ∼83% 0%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G
3970 Points ∼83%
Average of class Convertible
  (1007 - 5281, n=199)
3645 Points ∼76% -8%
Home Score Accelerated v2
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM961 1TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVLW1T0)
3860 Points ∼100% +25%
Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV256G
3776 Points ∼98% +22%
Microsoft Surface Book 2
GeForce GTX 1050 (Notebook), 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
3694 (min: 3691, max: 3696) Points ∼96% +20%
Average Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (2986 - 4458, n=59)
3600 Points ∼93% +17%
Samsung Galaxy Book 12 SM-W728
HD Graphics 620, 7200U, Samsung SSD PM871a MZNLN256HMHQ
3538 Points ∼92% +15%
HP Elite x2 1013 G3-2TT14EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
3413 Points ∼88% +11%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
3281 Points ∼85% +6%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G
3088 Points ∼80%
Huawei Matebook E
HD Graphics 615, 7Y54, SanDisk SD8SN8U256G1027
2979 Points ∼77% -4%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Samsung PM971 KUS030202M
2936 Points ∼76% -5%
Average of class Convertible
  (741 - 4741, n=245)
2739 Points ∼71% -11%
Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003
UHD Graphics 615, 4415Y, 64 GB eMMC Flash
741 Points ∼19% -76%
PCMark 10
Digital Content Creation
Microsoft Surface Book 2
GeForce GTX 1050 (Notebook), 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
4342 (min: 4211, max: 4356) Points ∼100% +67%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
2952 Points ∼68% +13%
Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV256G
2840 Points ∼65% +9%
Average Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (0 - 3082, n=56)
2721 Points ∼63% +4%
HP Elite x2 1013 G3-2TT14EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
2714 Points ∼63% +4%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G
2604 Points ∼60%
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM961 1TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVLW1T0)
2437 Points ∼56% -6%
Average of class Convertible
  (727 - 4342, n=67)
2400 Points ∼55% -8%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Samsung PM971 KUS030202M
2202 Points ∼51% -15%
Productivity
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM961 1TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVLW1T0)
6860 Points ∼100% +52%
Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV256G
6238 Points ∼91% +38%
Microsoft Surface Book 2
GeForce GTX 1050 (Notebook), 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
5819 (min: 5653, max: 5995) Points ∼85% +29%
Average Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (3851 - 6653, n=56)
5718 Points ∼83% +27%
HP Elite x2 1013 G3-2TT14EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
5698 Points ∼83% +26%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
5353 Points ∼78% +18%
Average of class Convertible
  (1162 - 6860, n=68)
5044 Points ∼74% +12%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Samsung PM971 KUS030202M
5009 Points ∼73% +11%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G
4520 Points ∼66%
Essentials
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM961 1TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVLW1T0)
8199 Points ∼100% +22%
Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV256G
7995 Points ∼98% +19%
HP Elite x2 1013 G3-2TT14EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
7919 Points ∼97% +18%
Microsoft Surface Book 2
GeForce GTX 1050 (Notebook), 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
7659 (min: 7643, max: 7746) Points ∼93% +14%
Average Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (5855 - 9289, n=56)
7382 Points ∼90% +10%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
7039 Points ∼86% +5%
Average of class Convertible
  (2489 - 9291, n=68)
6724 Points ∼82% 0%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G
6714 Points ∼82%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Samsung PM971 KUS030202M
6367 Points ∼78% -5%
Score
Microsoft Surface Book 2
GeForce GTX 1050 (Notebook), 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
4119 (min: 4106, max: 4190) Points ∼100% +34%
Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV256G
3737 Points ∼91% +21%
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM961 1TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVLW1T0)
3696 Points ∼90% +20%
HP Elite x2 1013 G3-2TT14EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
3559 Points ∼86% +16%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
3448 Points ∼84% +12%
Average Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (0 - 4081, n=56)
3248 Points ∼79% +6%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G
3076 Points ∼75%
Average of class Convertible
  (1006 - 4347, n=69)
3050 Points ∼74% -1%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Samsung PM971 KUS030202M
2957 Points ∼72% -4%
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
3088 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
4227 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
3970 points
Help

Storage Devices

The main culprit for this poor PCMark performance is the 128 GB Toshiba SSD. It was significantly slower than the 2017’s PM971. The model of Microsoft’s choosing is an NVMe BG3 SSD, BG standing for ball grid array (BGA). In other words: The M.2 1620-S2 single package TLC chip is soldered onto the motherboard, and it is connected via PCIe 3.1a (NVMe Rev. 1.2.1). Toshiba promises up to 1,200 MB/s sequential read and up to 550 MB/s sequential write speeds, however we were only able to confirm 748 MB/s read and 127 MB/s write in CrystalDiskMark.

The 2017 model featured Samsung’s PM971, which was faster in every single category. Even the 512 GB Toshiba SSD from the i7 model was a whopping 240% faster. Microsoft made a poor decision with this particular 128 GB SSD.

Update 11/7/2018: the 256 GB SSD performed much faster

The 256 GB SKU achieved higher read and write speeds than the 128 GB model. On average, it performed around 30 % better. That said the 512 GB SSD still plays in its own league and was 130 % faster than the 128 GB SSD.

Compared to the 128 GB model, the 256 GB SSD was faster in almost every category, from 4K write to sequential read and write. The sole exception was reading medium-sized files (Read 512), where the 128 GB SSD actually outperformed its counterpart. AS SSD reported a significantly smaller performance advantage, and the 256 GB SSD was just 6 % faster.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
Samsung PM971 KUS030202M
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
Microsoft Surface Book 2
Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003
64 GB eMMC Flash
HP Elite x2 1013 G3-2TT14EA
Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
Samsung Galaxy Book 12 SM-W728
Samsung SSD PM871a MZNLN256HMHQ
Huawei Matebook E
SanDisk SD8SN8U256G1027
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE
Samsung SSD PM961 1TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVLW1T0)
Average Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G
 
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
240%
212%
202%
-39%
312%
148%
106%
336%
0%
Write 4k QD32
45.38
373
722%
304.9
572%
337.08
643%
33.64
-26%
298.4
558%
260.7
474%
184.4
306%
498.5
999%
45.4
0%
Read 4k QD32
192.7
423
120%
241.2
25%
465.5
142%
34.45
-82%
286
48%
289.1
50%
381.8
98%
606.5
215%
193
0%
Write 4k
39.77
125
214%
97.24
145%
148.47
273%
24.27
-39%
104.2
162%
91.93
131%
65.3
64%
139.3
250%
39.8
0%
Read 4k
29.93
46
54%
43.75
46%
43.64
46%
19.06
-36%
49.66
66%
40.46
35%
32.46
8%
54.83
83%
29.9
0%
Write 512
115.8
445
284%
574.9
396%
337.86
192%
107.1
-8%
798.3
589%
395.4
241%
294.7
154%
627.1
442%
116
0%
Read 512
385.3
225
-42%
388.2
1%
654.05
70%
190.6
-51%
716.7
86%
443.7
15%
341.9
-11%
586.3
52%
385
0%
Write Seq
127.6
853
568%
791.5
520%
341.2
167%
122.4
-4%
1209
847%
473.7
271%
461
261%
931.9
630%
128
0%
Read Seq
748.1
723
-3%
651.1
-13%
1370.2
83%
259.6
-65%
1786
139%
511.1
-32%
506.1
-32%
882.5
18%
748
0%
Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G
Sequential Read: 748.1 MB/s
Sequential Write: 127.6 MB/s
512K Read: 385.3 MB/s
512K Write: 115.8 MB/s
4K Read: 29.93 MB/s
4K Write: 39.77 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 192.7 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 45.38 MB/s

GPU Performance

Intel’s UHD Graphics 620 is solely responsible for all things graphics. This Kaby Lake-R generation GPU is an update of the 2016 Intel HD Graphics 620, and just like its predecessor it features 24 execution units (EUs).

RAM configuration has a noticeable influence on GPU performance, and fortunately Microsoft opted for dual-channel mode even in the 128 GB i5 model. Dual-channel mode increases GPU performance significantly, and accordingly the Surface Pro 6 i5 performed above average for its UHD Graphics 620 GPU.

In the 3DMark benchmarks the i5 model was just 5% slower than the i7 model. However, our review unit was up to 17% faster than the HP Elite x2 1013 G3 even though the latter was also running in dual-channel mode.

3DMark - 1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics
Microsoft Surface Book 2
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (Notebook), Intel Core i7-8650U
29376 Points ∼100% +201%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i7-8650U
10213 Points ∼35% +5%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8250U
9769 Points ∼33%
Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8350U
9307 Points ∼32% -5%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (6910 - 11294, n=88)
8841 Points ∼30% -9%
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i7-8550U
8833 Points ∼30% -10%
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i7-8550U
7559 Points ∼26% -23%
HP Elite x2 1013 G3-2TT14EA
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8350U
8330 Points ∼28% -15%
Samsung Galaxy Book 12 SM-W728
Intel HD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-7200U
7776 Points ∼26% -20%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
Intel HD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-7300U
7265 Points ∼25% -26%
Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003
Intel UHD Graphics 615, Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y
6602 Points ∼22% -32%
Average of class Convertible
  (1023 - 37388, n=258)
6396 Points ∼22% -35%
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU
Microsoft Surface Book 2
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (Notebook), Intel Core i7-8650U
7483 (min: 7472, max: 7485) Points ∼100% +298%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i7-8650U
1977 Points ∼26% +5%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8250U
1881 Points ∼25%
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i7-8550U
1717 Points ∼23% -9%
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i7-8550U
1606 Points ∼21% -15%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (1235 - 1979, n=100)
1675 Points ∼22% -11%
Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8350U
1660 Points ∼22% -12%
HP Elite x2 1013 G3-2TT14EA
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8350U
1660 Points ∼22% -12%
Samsung Galaxy Book 12 SM-W728
Intel HD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-7200U
1533 Points ∼20% -19%
Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003
Intel UHD Graphics 615, Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y
1257 Points ∼17% -33%
Huawei Matebook E
Intel HD Graphics 615, Intel Core i5-7Y54
1256 Points ∼17% -33%
Average of class Convertible
  (173 - 7483, n=298)
1178 Points ∼16% -37%
3DMark 11 Performance
2048 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
8748 points
Help

Gaming Performance

Farming Simulator 17
Farming Simulator 17

Gaming performance was a bit lower than for the i7 model, albeit the difference was small. In reality it does not really make a difference whether a game is running at 18 or 23 FPS (Middle Earth: Shadow of War, low 1280). The game is still unplayable or barely playable with reduced details and resolution. In some games, the difference can be up to 50% (Rise of the Tomb Raider - low preset).

BioShock Infinite - 1366x768 High Preset
Microsoft Surface Book 2
GeForce GTX 1050 (Notebook), 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
149.1 fps ∼100% +367%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
33.7 fps ∼23% +6%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G
31.9 fps ∼21%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Samsung PM971 KUS030202M
28.3 fps ∼19% -11%
Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV256G
28 fps ∼19% -12%
HP Elite x2 1013 G3-2TT14EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
26.8 fps ∼18% -16%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (15.6 - 34.3, n=88)
26 fps ∼17% -18%
Average of class Convertible
  (2.1 - 149, n=166)
24.4 fps ∼16% -24%
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM961 1TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVLW1T0)
24.2 fps ∼16% -24%
Huawei Matebook E
HD Graphics 615, 7Y54, SanDisk SD8SN8U256G1027
20.46 fps ∼14% -36%
Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003
UHD Graphics 615, 4415Y, 64 GB eMMC Flash
17.5 fps ∼12% -45%
Thief - 1024x768 Very Low Preset
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
26.5 fps ∼100% +12%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G
23.7 fps ∼89%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (16.3 - 26.5, n=6)
21.7 fps ∼82% -8%
Average of class Convertible
  (3.1 - 70, n=40)
21.6 fps ∼82% -9%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Samsung PM971 KUS030202M
21.3 fps ∼80% -10%
Rise of the Tomb Raider - 1024x768 Lowest Preset
Microsoft Surface Book 2
GeForce GTX 1050 (Notebook), 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
95.3 fps ∼100% +576%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
21.7 fps ∼23% +54%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (10.4 - 111, n=49)
21.5 fps ∼23% +52%
Average of class Convertible
  (5.3 - 99.4, n=73)
21.5 fps ∼23% +52%
Samsung Galaxy Book 12 SM-W728
HD Graphics 620, 7200U, Samsung SSD PM871a MZNLN256HMHQ
19.8 fps ∼21% +40%
HP Elite x2 1013 G3-2TT14EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
17.2 fps ∼18% +22%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Samsung PM971 KUS030202M
14.7 fps ∼15% +4%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G
14.1 fps ∼15%
Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003
UHD Graphics 615, 4415Y, 64 GB eMMC Flash
10.5 fps ∼11% -26%
Civilization VI - 1024x768 Minimum Preset
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
45.3 fps ∼100% +17%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G
38.8 fps ∼86%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (27.8 - 45.3, n=9)
36.5 fps ∼81% -6%
Average of class Convertible
  (9.7 - 45.3, n=14)
28.1 fps ∼62% -28%
Farming Simulator 17 - 1366x768 Medium Preset
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
56.9 fps ∼100% +19%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (8 - 67.9, n=11)
50.9 fps ∼89% +6%
Average of class Convertible
  (24.1 - 91, n=12)
49.8 fps ∼88% +4%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G
47.8 fps ∼84%
Samsung Galaxy Book 12 SM-W728
HD Graphics 620, 7200U, Samsung SSD PM871a MZNLN256HMHQ
24.1 fps ∼42% -50%
Middle-earth: Shadow of War - 1280x720 Lowest Preset
Average of class Convertible
  (10 - 77, n=6)
29.7 fps ∼100% +65%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
23 fps ∼77% +28%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (18 - 23, n=3)
20.3 fps ∼68% +13%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G
18 fps ∼61%
F1 2018 - 1280x720 Ultra Low Preset
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G
35.8 fps ∼100%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (31 - 35.8, n=3)
32.9 fps ∼92% -8%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
32 fps ∼89% -11%
Average of class Convertible
  (12 - 35.8, n=4)
23 fps ∼64% -36%
Shadow of the Tomb Raider - 1280x720 Lowest Preset
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G
21.7 fps ∼100%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (13 - 21.7, n=3)
16.9 fps ∼78% -22%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
16 fps ∼74% -26%
Average of class Convertible
  (3 - 21.7, n=4)
11.2 fps ∼52% -48%
low med. high ultra
BioShock Infinite (2013) 70.23831.98.6fps
Thief (2014) 23.710.48.5fps
Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) 14.18.9fps
Civilization VI (2016) 38.814.15.9fps
Farming Simulator 17 (2016) 58.1447.819fps
Middle-earth: Shadow of War (2017) 1810fps
F1 2018 (2018) 35.81194fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018) 21.75.4fps

Emissions

System Noise

Since our review unit did not have a fan it did not emit any noise whatsoever.

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2032.13329.531.432.12532.230.33130.932.23133.434.934.230.433.44028.930.129.928.628.95032.231.231.230.832.26327.4282727.127.48026.827.326.22826.810025.426.625.72625.412525.424.625.325.425.416023.924.423.723.623.920023.12322.622.423.125022.22322.221.522.231521.421.620.820.621.440021.922.12020.521.950021.32119.419.321.363021.521.11918.921.580022.722.518.418.322.7100021.822.217.918.121.812502121.217.717.721160022.522.217.617.422.5200021.220.917.417.321.225002322.917.517.623315023.623.617.817.823.6400020.420.517.91820.4500019.819.818.218.119.86300191918.218.419800018.518.518.618.318.51000018.418.418.418.318.41250018.418.418.218.218.41600018.318.418.218.218.3SPL33.533.531.830.430.433.5N1.81.81.51.31.31.8median 21.5median 21.6median 18.4median 18.3median 21.5Delta1.71.12.11.91.732.83331.131.932.831.83531.43431.829.541.233.133.529.531.136.530.232.731.129.342.929.13329.327.734.227.628.827.726.928.827.427.326.925.22725.725.725.224.726.625.424.624.724.3252423.724.323.523.323.122.423.522.222.822.221.722.221.721.921.620.921.721.121.620.920.921.120.221.421.119.320.22020.820.918.52019.821.321.818.419.81920.720.818.41918.920.620.917.618.919.722.622.717.519.71921.321.717.61919.221.72217.719.218.921.821.917.618.91818.919.118181818.418.518.11818.118.218.218.118.118.218.318.218.118.218.318.318.218.318.318.218.118.118.118.218.218.218.118.118.231.232.832.930.431.21.41.71.61.31.4median 19.2median 21.3median 21.1median 18.3median 19.21.71.81.71.91.730.731.533.130.731.73132.931.73534.632.63530.830.529.830.838.539.337.938.530.231.731.130.228.126.828.228.129.229.324.529.225.526.524.925.523.423.824.423.423.322.723.323.321.622.322.221.620.920.821.420.921.321.520.421.320.720.619.220.720.820.618.720.820.119.918.220.119.919.817.719.918.418.717.518.420.220.417.320.219.519.917.419.519.819.817.519.819.919.717.519.918.518.717.718.518.218.317.818.218.218.11818.218.318.418.218.318.418.318.218.418.318.318.318.318.518.418.418.531.631.730.331.61.61.61.41.6median 19.9median 19.9median 18.2median 19.92.31.72.22.339.740.940.941.339.739.739.137.137.839.730.829.530.130.730.832.73329.431.532.731.331.430.228.631.330.731.332.231.130.732.932.928.830.432.934.734.128.73234.725.925.225.725.825.92827.225.726.12826.226.424.724.926.225.92523.624.225.925.125.122.52325.12424.22221.82423.323.42121.223.322.322.820.120.322.322.823.519.119.522.8222318.718.62221.622.217.817.921.621.222.217.317.421.221.522.817.21721.522.123.41716.722.121.723.116.716.421.719.921.916.716.319.918.419.216.616.118.417.617.816.71617.617.317.216.715.917.317.216.916.61617.217.11716.61617.117.217.216.716.117.233.434.230.330.233.422.11.41.42median 22median 23median 17.8median 17.9median 223.123.33.73.1hearing rangehide median Fan NoiseMicrosoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GBHP Elite x2 1013 G3-2TT14EASamsung Galaxy Book 12 SM-W728Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE

Temperature

When idle, the i5 and i7 models performed very similarly: Both sides heated up to 30 °C on average, and the i7’s fan was completely off. Under load the Core i5 model warmed up to 38 °C on average on both sides and had hot spots of up to 44 °C. The differences were thus pretty minor.

The i5 performed similarly to the i7 in our stress test, albeit at much lower frequencies. Running Prime95 and FurMark simultaneously resulted in just 900 MHz and a temperature of 59 °C.

The first minute we ran just Prime95 solo on our device. Once temperatures reached 70 °C, clock speeds were reduced from 2.9 to 2.5-2.6 GHz.

After a minute, we launched FurMark and added GPU stress to the system. Consequently, clock frequency was reduced to 2.2 GHz and subsequently just 900 MHz (three minutes). Power consumption peaked at 22 W (IA Cores Power) but decreased to first 16 and then 5.5 W.

During this test, the GPU ran at 750 MHz, and thus significantly slower than its maximum of 1,100 MHz. Keep in mind that our stress test is an extreme load scenario that is rarely ever encountered in the real world.

Stress test
Stress test
Core frequency is reduced to just 900 MHz under maximum load
Core frequency is reduced to just 900 MHz under maximum load
 29.2 °C
85 F
30.2 °C
86 F
30.3 °C
87 F
 
 29.2 °C
85 F
30.3 °C
87 F
29.9 °C
86 F
 
 33.1 °C
92 F
34.5 °C
94 F
34 °C
93 F
 
Maximum: 34.5 °C = 94 F
Average: 31.2 °C = 88 F
29.6 °C
85 F
30.7 °C
87 F
28.4 °C
83 F
29.4 °C
85 F
30.6 °C
87 F
30.2 °C
86 F
29.4 °C
85 F
29.9 °C
86 F
29.3 °C
85 F
Maximum: 30.7 °C = 87 F
Average: 29.7 °C = 85 F
Power Supply (max.)  31.5 °C = 89 F | Room Temperature 23.4 °C = 74 F | FIRT 550-Pocket
(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 37.6 °C / 100 F, compared to the average of 30.4 °C / 87 F for the devices in the class Convertible.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 39.7 °C / 103 F, compared to the average of 35.5 °C / 96 F, ranging from 21.8 to 55.7 °C for the class Convertible.
(±) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 41.1 °C / 106 F, compared to the average of 36.6 °C / 98 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 31.2 °C / 88 F, compared to the device average of 30.4 °C / 87 F.
(±) The palmrests and touchpad can get very hot to the touch with a maximum of 39.1 °C / 102.4 F.
(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 29.2 °C / 84.6 F (-9.9 °C / -17.8 F).
Heat map, stress test (front)
Heat map, stress test (front)
Heat map, stress test (rear)
Heat map, stress test (rear)
Heat map, idle (front)
Heat map, idle (front)
Heat map, idle (rear)
Heat map, idle (rear)

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The difference in power consumption between the i5 and the i7 model was around 4 W. The 2017 dual-core i5 was more efficient, although we have to remember that its 23.5 W was measured after throttling during our stress test. Idle power consumption was practically identical between the i5 and the i7 model, which resulted in nearly identical idle battery life.

Under average load, the HP Elite x2 1013 G3 consumed more energy but also offered a much higher sustained performance in our R15 loop in return.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.21 / 0.2 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 4.3 / 8.7 / 9.4 Watt
Load midlight 24.5 / 36 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
8250U, UHD Graphics 620, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ128G, IPS, 2736x1834, 12.3
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
7300U, HD Graphics 620, Samsung PM971 KUS030202M, IPS, 2736x1824, 12.3
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
8650U, UHD Graphics 620, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G, IPS, 2736x1824, 12.3
Microsoft Surface Book 2
8650U, GeForce GTX 1050 (Notebook), Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP, IPS, 3000x2000, 13.5
Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003
4415Y, UHD Graphics 615, 64 GB eMMC Flash, IPS, 1800x1200, 10
Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1
8350U, UHD Graphics 620, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV256G, IPS, 1920x1280, 12.3
HP Elite x2 1013 G3-2TT14EA
8350U, UHD Graphics 620, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP, IPS, 3000x2000, 13
Samsung Galaxy Book 12 SM-W728
7200U, HD Graphics 620, Samsung SSD PM871a MZNLN256HMHQ, Super AMOLED, 2160x1440, 12
Huawei Matebook E
7Y54, HD Graphics 615, SanDisk SD8SN8U256G1027, IPS, 2160x1440, 12
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE
8550U, UHD Graphics 620, Samsung SSD PM961 1TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVLW1T0), IPS, 1920x1200, 12.2
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
 
Average of class Convertible
 
Power Consumption
12%
-3%
-94%
33%
-3%
-13%
-2%
14%
4%
-6%
1%
Idle Minimum *
4.3
3.6
16%
3.2
26%
4.7
-9%
2.88
33%
3
30%
4.9
-14%
3.9
9%
3.9
9%
3.9
9%
3.98 (2 - 9.7, n=102)
7%
4.77 (2.2 - 23, n=338)
-11%
Idle Average *
8.7
8.1
7%
8.7
-0%
10.6
-22%
4.8
45%
7.2
17%
8.9
-2%
9
-3%
8.8
-1%
8.2
6%
7.13 (4.3 - 12.5, n=102)
18%
7.93 (4 - 32.3, n=338)
9%
Idle Maximum *
9.4
8.7
7%
10.4
-11%
12.3
-31%
7.5
20%
10
-6%
11
-17%
11.9
-27%
8.9
5%
8.4
11%
8.83 (5.2 - 14.8, n=102)
6%
9.41 (4.1 - 61, n=338)
-0%
Load Average *
24.5
25.5
-4%
29.2
-19%
81
-231%
16.9
31%
37.1
-51%
32
-31%
27.3
-11%
20
18%
25.2
-3%
35.4 (15 - 51.6, n=102)
-44%
26.2 (1.4 - 94, n=336)
-7%
Load Maximum *
36
23.5
35%
40.8
-13%
100.3
-179%
23.8
34%
38.2
-6%
36
-0%
27.9
22%
21.8
39%
37
-3%
42.3 (22 - 79, n=102)
-18%
30.5 (10.4 - 117, n=337)
15%
Witcher 3 ultra *
97

* ... smaller is better

Battery Life

Microsoft opted for a 45 Wh battery once again, and the i5’s battery life turned out to be slightly better than the i7’s. For example, it ran for around 30 minutes longer in our Wi-Fi test and turned itself off after 9 hours. However, the 2017 dual-core i5 lasted for around 12 hours in the same test.

Under load (Battery Eater Classic) the system ran for around 118 minutes, which is 15 minutes less than the i7 model. The 2017 i5 model lasted 50 minutes longer. 

All things considered, battery life suffered compared to the 2017 model, and the new model lasted 37 % shorter in our Wi-Fi test than before. This is the price you pay for having four instead of two cores, and Microsoft failed to incorporate a larger battery to compensate for the higher power consumption.

The competition performed similarly, if not even worse. The Latitude 5290 2-in-1 lasted for just 5 hours, Lenovo’s Miix 520-12IKB around 5.5 hours, and HP’s Elite x2 1013 G3 ran out of power after 8 hours thanks to its larger 50 Wh battery.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
17h 46min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
9h 05min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 58min
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
8250U, UHD Graphics 620, 45 Wh
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
7300U, HD Graphics 620, 45 Wh
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
8650U, UHD Graphics 620, 45 Wh
Microsoft Surface Book 2
8650U, GeForce GTX 1050 (Notebook), 75 Wh
Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003
4415Y, UHD Graphics 615, 28 Wh
Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1
8350U, UHD Graphics 620, 42 Wh
HP Elite x2 1013 G3-2TT14EA
8350U, UHD Graphics 620, 50 Wh
Samsung Galaxy Book 12 SM-W728
7200U, HD Graphics 620, 39 Wh
Huawei Matebook E
7Y54, HD Graphics 615, 33.7 Wh
Lenovo Miix 520-12IKB 20M3000LGE
8550U, UHD Graphics 620, 38 Wh
Average of class Convertible
 
Battery Runtime
26%
2%
40%
2%
-37%
-9%
-3%
-26%
-39%
-7%
Reader / Idle
1066
1054
-1%
1083
2%
1469
38%
771
-28%
781
-27%
1031
-3%
761 (117 - 1985, n=275)
-29%
WiFi v1.3
545
744
37%
509
-7%
663
22%
448
-18%
300
-45%
459
-16%
405
-26%
334
-39%
446 (153 - 1010, n=215)
-18%
Load
118
168
42%
131
11%
190
61%
180
53%
84
-29%
137
16%
148 (49 - 677, n=264)
25%
H.264
933
384
389
409
449 (206 - 1070, n=100)
Witcher 3 ultra
230
173 (115 - 230, n=2)

Verdict

Pros

+ fanless design
+ all-day battery life (9 h)
+ very decent input devices for a convertible
+ sturdy and classy design
+ decent camera with face detection
+ very good microphone
+ bright display with full sRGB coverage
+ charges in two hours
+ high performance for short-term (< 2 min) load

Cons

- massive throttling under load (25%)
- slow 128 GB SSD
- no USB-C
- Signature Type Cover (2017) optional
- Surface Pen (2017) optional
- high price
Surface Pro 6 (2018). Despite throttling, the i5 model was significantly faster.
Surface Pro 6 (2018). Despite throttling, the i5 model was significantly faster.

Microsoft’s 2018 Surface Pro is still one of the best Windows tablets available: excellent quality, excellent display, good cameras, enjoyable input devices (even though Type Cover and Pen are optional and have to be purchased separately), and a very good microphone.

However, it is still not the best of its class in every single category. Connectivity remains rather limited, and USB-C should be available on any 2018 device - preferably Gen 2 with Thunderbolt 3. Yet Microsoft failed to implement Thunderbolt 3 even on its Surface Book 2 creative workstation.

With its identical case, display, input devices, and connectivity it is no surprise the Surface Pro i5 (2018)’s rating of 91% is identical to that of the i7 model. The differences between the two are quite obvious: While battery life is largely comparable raw performance is not. The i7 turned out to be up to 22% faster under sustained load and did not throttle as much as the i5. The latter reduced its clock speeds by 25% under load, the former by just 11%.

If it is performance you are looking for the i7 [click here for our review] is the better choice. Everyone else will be fine with the i5, which is more than fast enough for office and web applications.

Unfortunately, Microsoft opted for a comparatively slow Toshiba NVMe SSD (128 GB) - the 512 GB model that our i7 review unit was equipped with performed much faster. The slow SSD was the main culprit for the device’s poor PCMark performance.

The i5 and i7 model may differ quite significantly in terms of raw computing prowess, but their respective application performance (PCMark) only differed by 5-18% despite the 512 GB SSD’s much better performance.

The small difference in application performance raises the question whether or not the i7 model is really worth its high premium. Performance junkies will profit from the i7, which turned out to be 22% faster under sustained load.

In our opinion the i7 is overkill for users looking primarily for an office and web application device. The i5 is much better suited for these tasks.

Unfortunately, battery life decreased from 12 hours (i5 2017) to just 9 hours (i5 2018). That said it is still longer than what the competition is capable of squeezing out of the Kaby Lake R platform.

The HP Elite x2 1013 G3 is an excellent alternative to the Surface Pro with performance comparable to the i7 model and a slightly shorter battery life. To compensate, it features two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a 3:2 3K display.