Microsoft Surface 3 Review: Capability And Compromises

LameMT and Cinebench

In our custom LAME MT MP3 encoding test, we convert a large WAV file to the MP3 format, which mimics a scenario that many end users work with on a day-to-day basis to provide portability and storage of their digital audio content. LAME is an open-source MP3 audio encoder that is used widely in a multitude of third party applications.

Lame MT Benchmark
Audio Transcoding on the CPU

For this test, we created our own 223MB WAV file (a mile-long Grateful Dead jam) and converted it to the MP3 format using the multi-thread capable LAME MT application, in both single and multi-thread modes. Processing times are recorded below, listed in seconds. Shorter times equate to better performance.

lame mt surface 3

When compared a number of other 2-in-1 to hit the market this year, the Surface 3 falls short. Granted, we're comparing an Atom chip to a selection of Core chips, but still -- the price premium on the Surface would suggest that it'd be a bit more powerful than the tests show.

Cinebench R11.5
3D Rending On The CPU And Integrated GPU

Cinebench R15 is a 3D rendering performance test based on Cinema 4D from Maxon. Cinema 4D is a 3D rendering and animation suite used by animation houses and producers like Sony Animation and many others. It's very demanding of processor resources and is an excellent gauge of computational throughput. This is a multi-threaded, multi-processor aware benchmark that renders a photorealistic 3D scene (from the viral "No Keyframes" animation by AixSponza). This scene makes use of various algorithms to stress all available processor cores. The rate at which each test system was able to render the entire scene is represented in the graph below.

cinebench surface 3

The Surface 3 fared a little better here, but not by much. To its credit, the unit's GPU performance is a bit better than we'd expect, but you wouldn't want to tackle any serious A/V work or hardcore gaming on it.

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