The original Surface RT was Microsoft’s first ARM-powered Windows product, and it showed. There was some lag in places, such as when typing in Word, and some apps didn’t open as snappily as we’d like. Software updates dealt with some of the issues, but clearly work was required.
The Surface 2 steps up to Nvidia’s latest Tegra 4 processor, a quad-core 1.7GHz CPU with an Nvidia designed GPU. It’s not quite as fast as Snapdragon 800 powered phones and tablets in benchmark tests, but it’s not too far off. This, combined with a modest but sufficient 2GB of RAM, ensures the Surface 2 banishes any lagginess suffered on the Surface RT.
In the 3D Mark benchmark it scored 13,557, which is just a little behind the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (14,276) and Asus Transformer Pad TF701. In reality, however, it’s more than fast enough to run any game currently available on the Windows Store.
The cover folds back to make a useful platform
Of course, the reason the Surface 2 uses Tegra 4 and not, say, an Intel processor, is to improve battery life -- though as the new Atom in the Asus Transformer Book T100 proved, the latest Atoms are very frugal, too.
Here the Surface 2 doesn’t disappoint. Microsoft claims 10 hours on a full charge, and we can’t fault its estimate. We spent a whole day using the Surface 2 on and off, using it to write, browse the internet and stream videos, and still had a comfortable 20-30% spare by the end of the day.
Our only real complaint here is that the auto-brightness system typically sets the screen a little dimmer than is comfortable, which means you’re constantly fiddling with it manually.