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Product Listing

Microsoft Surface 3: A smaller and more refined chip off the old block

By Koh Wanzi - 19 May 2015
Launch SRP: S$898

Performance Benchmarking

Performance Benchmarking

We have on hand the higher specced Surface 3 and we'll be putting it through our usual suite of synthetic and real-world gaming benchmarks. For comparison, we’ll of course be including the Surface Pro 3 and other highly-portable 2-in-1 hybrids like the ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi and Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro. The full list of benchmarks used is as follows:-

  • PCMark 8
  • 3DMark 2013
  • Tomb Raider
  • Far Cry 2

Before diving into the results, we’ve compiled tables to show how the Surface 3 stacks up against the competition. 

Microsoft Surface 3 Specifications
  Microsoft Surface 3
  Microsoft Surface 3
Launch SRP
  • From S$898
Processor and Chipset
  • Intel Atom x7-Z8700(1.6GHz, 2MB L3 cache)
Operating System
  • Window 8.1
System Memory
  • 4GB
Video & Display
  • 10.8-inch ClearType display
  • 1920 x 1280 pixels resolution
Storage
  • 128GB eMMC flash storage
  • MicroSD expansion (Up to 64GB)
Connectivity
  • 802.11 ac/a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
Audio
  • Stereo speakers with Dolby Audio-enhanced sound
I/O Ports
  • 1 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x MicroSD
  • 1 x Mini-DisplayPort
  • 1 x Headphone jack
Battery Type
  • Integrated 28Wh
Dimensions
  • 267 x 187 x 8.7mm
Weight
  • 622g

Test Notebooks Compared
  Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Apple MacBook (Early 2015) Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (Early 2015) Dell XPS 13 (2015) ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro
  Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Apple MacBook (Early 2015) Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (Early 2015) Dell XPS 13 (2015) ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro
Launch SRP
  • From S$1788
  • From S$1618
  • From S$
  • From S$1498
Processor and Chipset
  • Intel Core i5-4300U (1.9GHz, 3MB L3 cache)
  • Intel Core M-5Y31 (1.1GHz, 4MB L3 cache)
  • Intel Core i5-5250U (1.6GHz, 3MB L3 cache)
  • Intel Core i7-5500U (2.4GHz, 4MB L3 cache)
  • Intel Core M-5Y71 Processor (1.2GHz, 4MB L3 cache)
  • Intel Core M-5Y70 (1.1GHz, 4MB L3 cache)
Operating System
  • Window 8.1
  • Mac OS X Yosemite
  • Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 8.1
System Memory
  • 4GB
  • 8GB 1600MHz LPDDR3
  • 4GB 1600MHz LPDDR3
  • 8GB
  • 8GB
  • 8GB
Video & Display
  • 12-inch ClearType display
  • 2160 x 1440 pixels resolution
  • 12-inch Retina display (2304 x 1440 pixels)
  • Intel HD Graphics 5300
  • 13.3-inch (1440 x 900 pixels)
  • Intel HD Graphics 6000
  • 13.3-inch (3200 x 1800 pixels) touchscreen
  • Intel HD Graphics 5500
  • 12.5-inch WQHD display (2560 x 1440 pixels)
  • Intel HD Graphics 5300
  • 13.3-inch 3200 x 1800 pixels resolution
  • Intel HD Graphics 5300
Storage
  • 128GB SSD
  • MicroSD expansion (Up to 64GB)
  • 256GB SSD
  • 256GB PCIe SSD
  • 256GB SSD
  • 128GB SSD
  • 256GB / 512GB
Connectivity
  • 802.11 ac/a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 802.11 ac/b/g/n/a
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 802.11ac/b/g/n (2x2)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 802.11ac/b/g/n/ (2x2)
  • Bluetooth
  • 802.11b/g/n/a
  • Bluetooth
  • Wireless-AC
  • Bluetooth 4.0
Audio
  • Stereo speakers with Dolby Audio-enhanced sound
  • Built-in speakers
  • Stereo speakers
  • Dual microphones
  • Built-in speakers
  • Built-in speakers
  • Integrated JBL speakers
I/O Ports
  • 1 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x MicroSD
  • 1 x Mini-DisplayPort
  • 1 x Headphones jack
  • 1 x USB-C port
  • 1 x 3.5mm audio jack
  • 2 x USB 3.0 port
  • 1 x Thunderbolt 2.0 port
  • 1 x SDXC card slot
  • 1 x audio jack
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x Mini-DisplayPort
  • SD card reader
  • 1 x micro-USB 3.0
  • 1 x SD card reader
  • 1 x micro-HDMI
  • 1 x Bluetooth On/Off Switch
  • 1 x COMBO audio jack
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 4-in-1 card reader
  • Headphones jack
  • Micro-HDMI out
Miscellaneous
  • Includes pen input
  • Force Touch trackpad
Battery Type
  • Integrated 42.2wH
  • 39.7Wh lithium-ion battery
  • 54wH lithium-ion battery
  • 52Whr lithium-ion
  • 32Wh battery
  • 44wH non-removable
Dimensions
  • 292 x 201 x 9.1mm
  • 280.4 x 196.6 x 13.2 mm
  • 325 x 227 x 3 ~ 17mm
  • 304 x 200 x 9~15mm
  • 317.8 x 191.6 x 7.6 ~ 16.5 mm
  • 330 mm x 228 mm x 12.8 mm
Weight
  • 800g
  • 920g
  • 1.35kg
  • 1.26kg
  • 1.43kg (with keyboard dock)
  • 700g (tablet alone)
  • 1.19kg
Optical Drive
  • None
  • None
  • None
  • None
  • None

 

PCMark 8

As expected, the Surface 3 doesn’t fare at all well in PCMark 8, clearly lagging behind the other ultrabooks and 2-in-1 hybrids in most of the benchmarks. This is no doubt due to the weaker capabilities of the Intel Atom x7-Z8700, which fails to stand up to the other Core M- and Core i-series processors. Its 4GB of RAM also penalizes it against the others, which - other than the 13-inch MacBook Air - are all fitted with 8GB.

It managed to narrow the difference in the storage tests, although it still fell behind the pack due to its eMMC flash memory, which failed to stand up against the full-fledged SSD solutions used in the other devices. 

 

3DMark 2013

Results were similar in 3DMark 2013, where the Surface 3 scored the lowest among all the devices. This isn’t something that we can hold against it though because the onboard graphics on the Intel Atom x7-Z8700 is something of a lightweight compared to the other devices in the comparison line-up. It is a good 40% slower than the Surface Pro 3, which wasn’t much of a heavy hitter in the graphics department anyway. Clearly, you won’t be running any games on the new Surface 3, but why would you even want to anyway?

 

Far Cry 2

The 13-inch MacBook Air (Intel HD Graphics 6000) and Dell XPS 13 (Intel HD Graphics 5500) were the only ultrabooks to eek out somewhat playable frame rates (>30fps) in Far Cry 2 at Medium settings. The Surface 3 is once again heavily penalized because of its Intel Atom processor, posting a hardly-playable 6.81fps on High settings. It was on average about 40% slower than the Intel Core M-equipped ultrabooks like this year’s MacBook and the ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi.

 

Tomb Raider

All our compared devices fared quite poorly across the board in Tomb Raider, regardless of whether they were equipped with Intel Core i, Core M or Atom processors. It might seem difficult to derive any significant insights with all the devices performing so poorly, but this benchmark still serves as a useful gauge of the Surface 3’s performance relative to other devices. At 7.1fps and 5.4fps for Normal and High settings respectively, it’s safe to say that Lara Croft won’t be going anywhere. The Surface 3 also once again fell behind the Surface Pro 3 - it was almost 36% slower.

 

Battery Life & Power Consumption

Battery life is where the Surface 3’s power-sipping Atom processor really helps it to shine. It had the second-best performing battery, behind only the 13-inch MacBook Air. But when you consider that the latter notebook has a fairly large 54Wh battery, the performance we saw on the Surface 3's 28Wh power pack appears all the more impressive. It lasted a good 5 hours and 9 minutes through our battery tests, which included video editing, gaming and productivity tasks. This put it ahead of the Intel Core M-equipped MacBook, ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi and the Lenovo Yoga Pro 3. It also lasted a whole 2 hours (and then some) longer than the Surface Pro 3, which should mean that you’ll be able to get a whole lot of more work out of it when away from a charger.

A look at the power consumption figures reveals just why the Surface 3 has such good battery life. It came up to just 5.44W, almost half that of the MacBook Air which had the longest battery life. In comparison, the Surface Pro 3’s power consumption was among the highest at 14W and seems almost power-hungry beside the Surface 3. The Atom x7-Z8700 is seriously a stellar performer in the power savings and battery department.

 

Portability Index

Our Portability Index translates factors like battery life, weight and volume into a ratio to help you better judge which device is more convenient to port around. Here, the Surface 3 absolutely runs away with the crown with a ratio of 19.061. With the added bulk of the Type Cover keyboard, this falls to 8.473, which is still ahead of the pack - the 2015 MacBook has a ratio of 7.452. The Surface 3's slim dimensions and excellent battery life combine for a winning combination here.

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8.0
  • Design 9.5
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7
  • Value 7.5
  • Mobility 9
The Good
Surprisingly usable despite low-power processor
Outstanding battery life
Excellent build quality
Highly portable
Much improved Type Cover
The Bad
Lacks processing power for more demanding tasks
Poor graphics performance
Only one USB port available
Surface Pen not included
Expensive
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