Details of Microsoft’s $400 Surface Tablet Emerge

Posted on July 5, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Hardware, Microsoft, Microsoft Surface, Mobile with 35 Comments

Microsoft is expected to reveal a new, $400 Surface tablet later this year. The company’s next Surface device — possibly codenamed Libra — was revealed earlier this year. It is expected to have a 10-inch display with rounded corners, provide up to 9.5 hours of battery life, come in 64GB and 128GB variants, and use USB Type-C, possibly for power. That’s already a lot of information — but some new information about the device appeared recently.

First off, the tablet has recently passed FCC. The FCC listing of the device doesn’t really reveal a lot about the device, apart from some minor details like the 24W power supply and the model number: 1824. Of course, FCC filings don’t usually reveal any details about a product, though it does suggest an imminent release of the device.

What’s more interesting is the recently revealed details about the tablet’s processor. WinFuture reports that the device will come with less powerful Intel processors. Microsoft isn’t making an ARM device powered by Qualcomm processors here — instead, it’s sticking with Intel for the time being, which is quite fascinating knowing that Microsoft is most certainly pushing OEM partners to build Always Connected PCs powered by Qualcomm SoCs.

According to the latest leak, the device will use Intel’s Pentium Gold and Pentium Silver processors. The cheaper models of the device will use the Gemini Lake quad-core Intel Pentium Silver N5000 processors, clocked at 1.1GHz. The more expensive variants will be powered by Kaby Lake Intel Premium Gold 4410Y processor, operating at 1.5GHz. Both the processors can be clocked up, which will be necessary on a less-powerful device like this, but it all really depends on how Microsoft markets this thing.

Remond has yet to publicly announce its new Surface tablet, though the release could be imminent, based on the FCC leaks. While the leaks do give us a good idea of what Microsoft is planning to do with the cheap new Surface, there’s likely some more to know about the device. It’s not clear whether Microsoft will brand it as the Surface 4 (upgrade to Surface 3), or launch a completely new line of tablets to take on the cheaper iPads. The latter seems more plausible–and Microsoft could be launching a completely new line–calling it the Surface Go, according to a recent leak. It also remains unknown whether it will run the full-blown version of Windows 10, or come with Windows 10 in S Mode out of the box.

Tagged with , ,

Join the discussion!

BECOME A THURROTT MEMBER:

Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Register
Comments (35)

35 responses to “Details of Microsoft’s $400 Surface Tablet Emerge”

  1. Avatar

    rmlounsbury

    This device is a little interesting in that it does have Intel chips so you can run Win32 apps on it which is a plus. But, most the apps aren't really going to be the lightweight tablet apps folks would be looking for ala iPad. I suppose Microsoft can try and compete with the iPad but they lack the most important part and that is a large catalog of touch first apps.

  2. Avatar

    quikah

    This leak doesn't make much sense. The Pentium silver and Pentium gold use 2 different sockets. The silver uses DDR4 while the gold uses DDR3 memory. Are they making 2 separate motherboards for one product? that would be incredibly dumb, then again, MS has done some dumb stuff in the past.

    • Avatar

      MikeCerm

      In reply to quikah:

      Yeah, something's not right. The N5000 rumored to be in the cheaper model is actually substantially more powerful than the 4410Y. Single-core performance is roughly identical, but the multi-core performance of the N5000 is literally 50% better (Geekbench 4 scores of around 6000 vs. just under 4000 in the 4410Y). The GPU of the 4410Y is better on paper, but neither of these is going to be capable of running AAA games, and both will have no trouble driving 4K displays. 4410Y has a faster PCI-E bus, so you could theoretically connect an external GPU with USB-C Thunderbolt ports, but the CPU is too still too weak to play the sort of games that might benefit from an eGPU, and Microsoft is unlikely to add Thunderbolt USB-C to the entry-level tablets while all their other products are still using the Surface Dock connector.

    • Avatar

      HellcatM

      In reply to quikah: Gold uses DDR3 and Silver DDR4? Shouldn't it be the other way around since Gold is greater than Silver and DDR4 is better than DDR3?


  3. Avatar

    innitrichie

    I certainly wish Microsoft every success with this.

    I'm not sure why I would choose a $400 Windows tablet over an iPad that starts at $329, if it's a tablet I want.

    Connect an expensive keyboard accessory and you have an underpowered RAM-constrained Windows laptop potentially capable of running some desktop apps quite slowly.

    Others in these comments say they have found use cases for these devices, such as watching Netflix, but I'm still sure the iPad would offer a better overall netflix experience.

    I guess if you have light laptop requirements and just want to consume some content in tablet mode then this new Surface device could be a good choice.

  4. Avatar

    Samr

    Further to all the other excellent points on it being DOA.


    If it comes only with Windows S mode it is DEAD. It must have full Windows to even have a chance.


    No-one is going to buy a Windows S mode tablet for media consumption instead of an iPad, no-one. You can't do any serious work on S mode.

  5. Avatar

    HellcatM

    They should make one with Qualcomm 950 chip and the higher 1000 when it comes out. This would make the tablet cheaper and with good enough performance and better battery life than Intel.

  6. Avatar

    DocPaul

    I'm interested in this, but again, Microsoft needs to fix the major problem of the Surface 3. This will be tempting at $400, but you'll want to bump the specs a bit off the base model, add a keyboard, and possibly a pen. Suddenly it's $800 and not so tempting.

  7. Avatar

    Alastair Cooper

    This sounds interesting, but only so long as I could switch it out of S mode.

  8. Avatar

    Monte Constable

    Tech is so weird. If these processors were in Chromebooks everyone would think them reasonably powerful. The processor should be fine

    • Avatar

      Lauren Glenn

      In reply to Monte_Constable:

      The best thing they could do is to disable all those search indexings and Cortana searches which slow down the PC to where you need more speed. I have an x7 PC (GPD Pocket mainly for portability when I'm on call).... it was running decently but when I turned off Cortana and indexing in the OS, CPU time went down, heat went down, etc. Windows wants to spend so much idle time searching for things where I honestly never use these search options. I know where my stuff is and if I don't, I don't mind waiting 5 seconds for it to come up.


      Since Windows 7 (or probably XP, etc), they want to do all this indexing all the time. It's not a desktop PC. Idle time on a notebook or tablet is time to do nothing so the processor can save some power.

  9. Avatar

    marshalltm

    I am excited for the article written by Brad and Paul as a result of their trip a week ago. No offense Mehedi, I like your writing, but the embargoed stuff will make it better.

  10. Avatar

    rupertholmes

    Without the option of a onboard GPS, it is dead to me.

  11. Avatar

    Lauren Glenn

    Wasn't the Surface 3 running faster than both of these processors? I recall it was running at 1.6GHz or something. This seems like a step backwards considering the X7 processor in the Surface 3 costs about $40 according to Intel. That had adequate performance but these are slower so why would anyone want these?

  12. Avatar

    F4IL

    It will be interesting to see if eMMC is featured in both storage variants.

  13. Avatar

    chrisrut

    Interesting little device. For classrooms? Or ubiquitous handouts at business meetings as interaction devices for those not standing at the Surface Hub?

  14. Avatar

    Tony Barrett

    So one way of getting the price down is to exclude the keyboard. Nice one MS, but that will add another $100 to the cost. Considering Windows tablets were hardly a thing first time round I'm not holding my breath on this one. It sounds pretty under powered for Win10 too, so performance is likely to be middling to poor. If it uses eMMC rather than SSD, then that's another nail. Windows 10 tablet mode is pretty lame too by all accounts - actually not as good as Windows 8.1. Not sounding too hot really is it.

  15. Avatar

    wolters

    I recently came across a new Surface 3 (128GB) for my daughter and I am surprised how versatile it has been. It is no powerhouse but she has gamed a little and did some light video editing on it. I would hope these Surfaces would be just as "good enough" as the Surface 3 was.

    • Avatar

      Chris_Kez

      In reply to wolters:

      I happily used a Surface 3 with 4GB of RAM for a while, and it seems like this updated Surface should be more powerful-- no reason to think it shouldn't still be "good enough". That said, I expect most reviewers and most folks here will call this Pentium-based Surface some version of "pointless" because it doesn't use an i5 or i7, which is what most reviewers tend to get these days.

      • Avatar

        Rick Foux

        In reply to Chris_Kez:


        This. I could post about how nice it would be to have one of these to bring with me while I travel to use for answering my work e-mails and watch a little Netflix during my hotel stays, and I'd have at least 13 comments in response saying "Not powerful enough - needs a 4K screen with 16 GB RAM minimum and a 1 TB SSD." Sigh.

  16. Avatar

    RobertJasiek

    From the rumours, the Surface "Mini" is good enough to have been bought without thinking 3 years ago. Whether it is interesting or DOA nowadays remains to be seen.

    It would be interesting with

    • SSD
    • >12h battery life (thus >6h outdoors)
    • very low reflectance (thus useful outdoors)
    • LTE option (thus useful outdoors for those needing LTE)
    • Windows 10 Pro 64b
    • fluent stylus
    • handholdable edges


    It would be DOA with

    • eMMC
    • 9.5h battery life (thus <5h outdoors)
    • mirroring display (useless outdoors)
    • latency of stylus
    • sharp edges
    • Avatar

      MikeCerm

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      Modern eMMC isn't all that bad. On a tablet, where the only way to get data on or off is either wirelessly or over USB, it's really not that big a problem as long as they use the latest spec.


      Mark my words: there's no way they're hitting 10 hours of battery life. They'll claim 12, and it'll get 5 or 6. Intel's chipsets just can't do it unless you throw in a massive battery, which you can't do with a tablet.

    • Avatar

      Waethorn

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      eMMC is faster than any current hard drive. eMMC is close to SATA 3Gbps speeds, which no hard drive is able to come close to yet.


      Also, low-end mobile SoC's don't have enough PCIe lanes to run an M.2 interface, nor could they have a discrete SATA controller for the same reason. They use all the PCIe lanes for other connectivity.

  17. Avatar

    melinau

    Sadly it will be dog-slow, even if it does run "proper" Windows Applications, especially if MS outfit these Tablets with paltry amounts of RAM....

    • Avatar

      jimchamplin

      In reply to melinau:

      It’s running Core architecture CPUs, not Atom-based SOCs, so we aren’t talking about the laggy performance of the older machines.


      The real question is whether Microsoft will use quality storage with m.2 or at least SATA SSDs or If they’ll saddle it with garbage eMMC storage.

    • Avatar

      SvenJ

      In reply to melinau: What makes you assume that? I am currently on a Surface 3 which is slow, but not dog slow. I would have to believe this thing would be better, or else, why build it. I would be grateful for a refreshed Surface 3, but I really expected it to be an always connected QUALCOMM thing. My current Surface 3 does have LTE and that has come in handy. So far I haven't seen this new thing even suggest LTE. That would drive up the price, of course, which may be undesirable.


  18. Avatar

    cybersaurusrex

    Seems like an under-powered device like this will tarnish the Surface brand.

Leave a Reply