Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) Review: Still Setting The Bar For 2-In-1s

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017): Graphics And Gaming Tests

Next, we tested the Surface Pro's graphics capabilities with not only gaming benchmarks but a pro graphics test that measures the machine's ability to render 3D workloads on the CPU and integrated GPU of the host processor. 

Cinebench R11.5
3D Rendering On The CPU And GPU

Cinebench is developed by Maxon, which is known for its Cinema 4D software. We use both of Cinebench’s integrated tests for CPU and GPU-driven workloads. The CPU test uses thousands of rendering objects to stress the processor, while the GPU test puts your system’s graphics chip to work with a short, 3D rendered scene involving a car chase. The CPU test is measured in points, while the GPU test is measured by the framerate. In both tests, higher numbers represent better performance.

Microsoft Surface Pro Cinebench

Cinebench is a take-no-prisoners type of benchmark that uses a professional workload to evaluate CPU and GPU performance. As it applies here, the Surface Pro is among the fastest to be equipped with a Core i5 processor. There is an especially big gap in performance between the Surface Pro and Dell's Latitude 13 7370, which is equipped with a Core m5-6Y57 CPU. This helps highlight the wisdom in Microsoft's decision to cram a full fledged dual-core processor into the Surface Pro.

When looking at OpenGL performance, the integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 puts on another strong showing. As we saw in PCMark 8, however, the Surface Pro scores a smidgen lower than Samsung's Galaxy Book 12, though in this case the scores are close enough to call it a virtual tie. And in the CPU portion, the small victory goes to the Surface Pro.

3DMark Cloud Gate
Synthetic DirectX Gaming And Graphics Testing

Futuremark’s well-known 3DMark benchmark suite features tests aimed at different types of devices. We opted for the Cloud Gate and Sky Driver tests, for which we have plenty of comparison data but also as light-duty 3D graphics and gaming benchmarks that are well-targeted for thin and light notebook devices. Sky Diver is a bit more strenuous but still well within the limits of our test group. 

Microsoft Surface Pro 3DMark Cloud Gate

Microsoft Surface Pro 3DMark Sky Diver

Switching out focus to 3DMark affords us opportunity to really see how well Intel's integrated graphics performs. The Surface Pro finds itself in good company in both the Cloud Gate and Sky Diver tests, though the HP Spectre x360 15 with its discrete NVIDIA GeForce 940MX GPU is a sobering reminder that a sizable gap still exists between integrated and discrete graphics solutions.

Far Cry 2 Game Test
DirectX 10 Game Testing
Sure, Far Cry 2 has been around the block a few times and is many years old, but it is still a good test for entry-level PCs and ultrabooks alike.  It features high quality textures, complex shaders, and dynamic lighting to create a rich and immersive environment powered with DX10-class effects. More importantly, it includes an exceptional benchmarking tool. We run the benchmark at 720p and 60Hz on the "High" detail preset with the DirectX 10.rendering path  It is actually still a great yardstick to see just how far integrated graphics solutions have come.

Microsoft Surface Pro Far Cry 2

The Surface Pro is not a system that is built for gaming, which is true of most 2-in-1 devices. Far Cry 2 shows why—while 50 frames per second is playable, this an older game with the benchmark utility set to run at just 1280x720 at modest visual quality settings. Casual gaming is possible on the Surface Pro, but there is likely not enough oomph here to support more demanding current-gen DX11 or DX12 titles.

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