Surface Pro 3: Performance, Heat & Noise
Despite its remarkably slim and light frame, the Surface Pro 3 is a powerful machine. In benchmarks it’s a match for pricey ultrabooks like the Toshiba Kira. Its 1.9GHz Core i5 processor scores 5,532, more than Toshiba (5,424) and the 2014 MacBook Air (5,401).
The MacBook and Surface Pro make an interesting comparison here. Apple favours a slower processor, but a faster PCI-e SSD and Intel’s faster HD 5000 graphics. It’s a trade-off that makes the MacBook very snappy, but the Surface Pro 3 is no slouch either.
That faster processor gives it an edge in processor intensive tasks, too. This is no workstation class processor, of course, but anything you can throw at an ultrabook works fine on the Surface Pro 3. That means any task or application you use in everyday work and life. It’s an efficient and effective replacement for a work laptop or ageing desktop.
It isn’t noisy, either. If you’re just watching video or doing some other simple task, it’s rare to even hear the fan spin up. Even when it does it’s an unobtrusive whir. You’ll notice it in quiet surroundings, but it’s barely discernible over the hubbub of an office. It’s another reminder of the incredible industrial design in the Surface Pro 3.
Surface Pro 3: Battery Life
The first generation Surface Pro had disastrous battery life, but the Surface Pro 2 fixed that. The Surface Pro 3 is about the same as the second-gen version. Microsoft claims up to nine hours of web browsing and our tests show this is about right.
In the Powermark benchmark, which mixes web browsing, video playback and productivity, the Surface Pro lasted seven hours and 34 minutes (brightness at 40% with Wi-Fi enabled). We’ve seen more from other laptops and hybrids, such as the Dell Venue 11 Pro (11hrs 55mins) and Toshiba Kira (9hrs 10mins), but it’s more than the Lenovo Yoga Pro 2 (6hrs 30mins) and enough to get you through the majority of a day on battery power alone.
The outlier here, as ever, is the MacBook Air. It’s good for over 10 hours of mixed use and 12 hours of web browsing. But it’s hard to feel bad about the Surface Pro 3’s battery life. It’s more than ample for most scenarios, particularly if you’re in and out of the office all day. It’s a small miracle it lasts this long given how tightly packed it must be inside.
If you do take the charger out with you, it’s nice to find it’s so compact. The built-in USB port is helpful, too.
How we test tablets
We test every tablet we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the tablet as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.