While I wouldn’t ever try to recommend Surface 3 before personally testing it, anyone interested in Microsoft’s upcoming low-cost tablet should pay attention to some new information we just learned. As you might expect of a device that is essentially a cost-reduced Surface Pro 3, Surface 3 appears to come with some compromises that may make or break your purchase decision.
This information comes from a Microsoft AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) chat today on Reddit. Skipping the details we already know—please read Here Comes Surface 3 for more information—this new information includes:
System performance. With an Atom x7 processor, Surface 3 can’t work as fast as even the base version of Surface Pro 3, which comes outfitted with a Core i3 processor. However, benchmarks suggest the performance isn’t that far off, with Surface 3 hitting 83 percent of the score of Surface Pro 3 on the PC Mark 8 performance benchmark. “We did test Civ5 and with 4G SKU at 25+ FPS, 3D Mark Cloud Gate shows S3 at ~70% performance of SP3 i3,” they wrote.
Storage performance. Surface 3 uses lower-cost eMMC solid state storage, and it’s not as fast as the SSD storage in Surface Pro 3. No surprise there, but the difference may disappoint you: Surface 3’s eMMC storage is only half as fast as the SSD in Surface Pro 3. Yikes.
Power management. Here, Surface 3 works just like Surface Pro 3: It uses InstantGo (formerly Connected Standby) for four hours and then switches into Hibernation.
Display. Unlike Surface Pro 3, Surface 3 does not support miniDisplayPort display chaining. So you can only add one external display over this port. However, you can drive a single 4K display at 30 Hz.
Why 3:2. This isn’t new, but the reason Surface 3 (like Pro3) uses a 3:2 display is that it’s the only aspect ratio that works well in both portrait (Pen/writing, reading) and landscape (productivity, media consumption) modes. In particular, it feels very natural when used with the Pen. “3:2 is the future,” they said.
Type Covers. Yes, all previous Type Covers work. They just don’t cover the screen properly.
Docking Station. The Surface 3 Docking Station apparently has storage for the Surface Pen, which is different from the Docking Station for Surface Pro 3.
GPS. The GPS hardware is only in the LTE versions of Surface 3.
Unlocked LTE versions. Yes, this is happening. Not sure when yet, sorry.
Trade-ins. There is no plan for Surface trade-ins at the moment. The team will think about that.
So my key take-away is the storage speed, which is disappointing. I never tested an i3-based Surface Pro 3, so I can’t really say anything about that comparison. But this much hasn’t changed: Still very interested in seeing how this works in the real world.
Tagged with Surface 3