Microsoft Surface 3 Review: Capability And Compromises

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3DMark and Far Cry 2

Next up, we have 3D graphics testing with 3DMark Ice Storm. Ice Storm Extreme raises the rendering resolution from 720p to 1080p over the standard preset, and uses higher quality textures and post-processing effects in the Graphics tests to create a more demanding workload. In Unlimited mode frames are rendered in 720p off-screen while the display is updated with thumbnails every 100 frames to show progress.

3DMark Ice Storm And Cloud Gate
Synthetic DirectX Gaming And Graphics Testing

ice storm unlimited surface 3

The Surface 3 did well against rivals that were cutting-edge just a year ago, but didn't stand up so well against 2015's latest and greatest. Of course, you could argue that it's impressive that the Surface 3 can even churn through these kinds of graphically-intense benchmarks. True though that may be, let these scores serve as fair warning that hardcore gamers can easily overburden the Surface 3. Light-duty gamers, however, should find enough oomph to satisfy. 

The Cloud Gate test is aimed at entry-level PCs and laptops, and has two subtests: a processor-intensive physics test and two graphics tests. We run the test suite at its default 1280 x 720 resolution and at default rendering quality settings. Keep in mind that 3DMark Cloud Gate scores aren’t comparable to scores from 3DMark Fire Strike (gaming PCs) or Ice Storm (smartphones and tablets).

cloud gate surface 3

The Cloud Gate score leaves a lot to be desired. The Surface 3 managed to put up one of the lowest scores we've seen in recent months, but it wasn't entirely surprising considering the low-power CPU and graphics core in the device.

To get a feel for gaming performance, we also fired up Far Cry 2:

Ubisoft Far Cry 2
DX10 Gaming Performance
  far cry 2 surface 32

Far Cry 2's benchmark is still amongst the most grueling in the industry, and it failed to run on occasion with the Surface 3. When it did activate, we didn't find smooth frame rates. If you crank the resolution down, you may find a playable setting, but you should probably consider this title off-limits on the Surface 3.


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