Microsoft Surface 3 Review: Capability And Compromises

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Performance and Benchmarks

We began our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA 2014 -- the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. We ran four of the built-in subsystem tests that partially comprise the SANDRA 2014 suite (CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Physical Disks and Memory Bandwidth).

SiSoft SANDRA 2014
System Level Synthetic Benchmark Testing

 cpu arith  cpu multi

SANDRA CPU, Multimedia and Arithmetic

physc discs   mem band

Memory and Physical Disk Tests

Intel’s Atom x7 Z8700 fared surprisingly well here, stacking up nicely against a few Core-based options. This benchmark is critical for proving that it's not the CPU that slows things down, but the eMMC Flash drive and memory. You'll notice poor marks on the lower two scores, with the storage subsystem putting up acores that some conventional HDDs have bested.

JavaScript Processing Test (CPU)

The Webkit Open Source Project suggests the following about the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark:

Unlike many widely available JavaScript benchmarks, this test is:

Real World - This test mostly avoids microbenchmarks, and tries to focus on the kinds of actual problems developers solve with JavaScript today, and the problems they may want to tackle in the future as the language gets faster. This includes tests to generate a tagcloud from JSON input, a 3D raytracer, cryptography tests, code decompression, and many more examples.

Balanced - This test is balanced between different areas of the language and different types of code. It's not all math, all string processing, or all timing simple loops. In addition to having tests in many categories, the individual tests were balanced to take similar amounts of time on currently shipping versions of popular browsers.

Statistically Sound - One of the challenges of benchmarking is knowing how much noise you have in your measurements. This benchmark runs each test multiple times and determines an error range (technically, a 95% confidence interval).

sunspider surface 3

The gap between the Surface Pro 3 and the standard Surface 3 is a large one. This test generally is an indicator of the snappiness of the overall system when browsing, and indeed, we did notice some stutters in typical Web browsing use cases. For what it's worth, the Surface 3 does improve considerably compared to the Surface 2, though it doesn't fare very well compared to laptops costing just $50 to $100 more.

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