Surface 3 Review units are out. Performance data is coming in.

Posted on 07 April 2015, Last updated on 14 April 2015 by

I’ve read a number of first impressions posts today that show the Microsoft Surface 3 (Intel Atom X7, Windows 8.1) has gone out to reviewers in the USA. A few more pieces of the puzzle have been slotted into place and there’s now a huge race to get the first full review out. Don’t expect the first reviews to be too in-depth (battery life tests might have to be added later!) but do expect some performance results and thoughts on-screen and keyboard. We’re also looking out for the Surface 3 eMMC SSD speed test results but in the meantime, at least we have the first performance test results and the battery capacity.

Surface 3 is being reviewed.

Surface 3 is being reviewed.

Surface 3 battery capacity (screengrab)

Surface 3 battery capacity (screengrab)

The Surface 3 battery capacity was spotted by @falconerita in a CNN video.  27.5 Wh is much less than I was hoping for. If this is correct (and you can see it in a few of the frames of the video that plays 2nd in the playlist at the top of this article) then I doubt many of us are going to be overly impressed. I was hoping for a 35Wh battery for 7-9 hours of online time but 27.5 Wh is going to be 5-6 hours. 5 hours or less of constant browsing. Microsoft quote up to 10 hours for video playback but as on Core M and Broadwell, the new audio hardware, WiFi-off scenario and ability to lower the backlight to get a good marketing figure means that this is one of the most efficient operations a modern Windows tablet can do. At 200 nits brightness with WiFi on and Chrome running you’ll be using around 5 watts of energy when browsing which is vastly different. Battery life could even be lower than 5 hours in some cases. Of-course this depends on the battery capacity in the video being correct but I don’t see why not.

The other information to come out of the early reports today is benchmark figures. We should be expecting 20-50% GPU improvement over Baytrail T in my opinion and given some better Turbo algorithms and heat dissipation from the 14 nm CPU, 10-20% CPU performance improvements.

PCWorld ran 3DMark Ice Storm on the Surface 3 and scored 25429.

Update: Thurrot reports 25590

Remember that the Intel Atom x7-Z8700 CPU is the high-end version and clocks up to 2.4Ghz

Here are my test results (just completed) with the same benchmark:

  • Surface Pro 3 (Windows 8.1, 4th Gen Core i5) – 43709.  (171%)
  • HP Stream 8 (Windows 8.1, Atom Z3735G max 1.8Ghz) – 11573 (45%)
  • Dell Venue 8 7000 (Android,  Atom Z3580, PowerVR G6430 – 20180 (79%)
  • Lenovo Miix 2 10 (Windows 8.1, Atom Z3740D max 1.8Ghz) – 14688 (57%)

Clearly there’s a big improvement in GPU scores for the Intel Atom X7 over the Baytrail-M which I believe will be enough for some Minecraft fun.

On a Google Octane V2 performance test the Surface 3 scored 8098.

In my test here the Surface Pro 3 scored 22401 (276%) , the HP Stream 8 scored 5361 (66%) , the Lenovo Miix 2 10 scored 6423 (79%)  and the Dell Venue 8 7000 scored 7597 (93%), all on the Google Chrome browser.

In this, brief and unscientific test of the GPU and CPU the Surface Pro 3 is on average around twice as powerful as the Surface 3 but the Surface 3 shows great GPU improvements over some earlier generation mid-range Atom CPUs. Note that the high-end X7 in the Surface 3 is clocking up to 2.4Ghz. The Baytrail-T CPUs I tested are mid-range (about equal to Atom X5) and some Baytrail-T CPUs can clock higher so the per-clock CPU performance increases may be less.

The big question hanging over the Surface 3 now is the SSD performance. The eMMC SSD is not going to perform anywhere near as well as the SATA SSD on the Surface Pro 3 and that will affect general speed of operation of Windows including background scanning, updating and app loading. As soon as performance tests are found we’ll add them here. Also important are charge-time and WiFi quality. LTE versions of the Surface 3 aren’t available yet.

Surface 3 Type Cover (via

Surface 3 Type Cover (via

In the meantime I suggest a read of Paul Thurrot’s first impressions of the Surface 3 which shows some interesting images of the keyboard which, although smaller in dimensions, has about the same key size.

Keep an eye on the Microsoft Surface 3 information page where specifications are being updated and new videos and links are being added.


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