My "Keep or Return" Debate - Another Guy's Thoughts

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface Pro 3' started by savaytse66, Aug 21, 2014.

  1. savaytse66

    savaytse66 Member

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    Well, I've had a chance to give my SP3 i7 a complete workout through my typical usage, and I can honestly say I'm torn. My typical usage is marking up PDFs several times a day, limited AutoCAD usage while travelling, general office and browsing, and notes during phone calls and meetings.

    So far, I've been on one day trip with a 1-hour plane ride each way, and one multi-day trip to our other office where I was working in a production environment and had 4-5 hours in the air each way. Here are some of my thoughts. Nothing I've observed is necessarily objective; I have not run benchmarks, or anything like that. I am simply sharing my observations. Also, this is before the 8/19 firmware update, so I cannot comment on that yet.

    Battery Life: It's been great for my needs. I watched a movie on the plane, did some light Word work, marked up a couple PDFs, and even fired up Revit for about 20 minutes and still had plenty of battery to take notes during a meeting. Basically, a day trip to NY with a 1-hour plane ride each way left me with battery to spare.

    Heat: It's definitely hot. And It can get hot quickly. Yesterday I turned it on after it slept for a couple hours, and a simple file transfer over wi-fi left it extremely hot to the touch with the fan (quite loud, IMO) at full blast. I get it that the form factor is small, and it has an i7, but there does not seem to be consistency with the heat and fan. It gets hot and loud even doing simple tasks.

    External Monitor & Scaling: This is painful. While the 150% scaling on the SP3 is great, it sucked when I connected a 22", 1080 monitor. Unless I missed something, my choice was to scale BOTH at 150%, which made the UI on the larger monitor TERRIBLE, or leave scaling at 100%, which made the SP3 virtually unusable. Neither was an acceptable option.

    Windows 8.1: I know I just need to get used to it (coming from Windows 7), but the dichotomy between the desktop and Modern UI is silly. I got used to the Start screen pretty quickly, but having two versions of settings, IE, etc. is just plain stupid, IMO. But I don't want to beat on that, as it is a separate conversation from the SP3, and it's been beat to death.

    Choppiness and Force Closures: I use Drawboard PDF for annotating PDFs, and it is fantastic when it works. But it gets really choppy and sometimes FCs. I've experienced this on other places as well. It might just be the software, and has nothing to do with the SP3 as a device. But even when doing rudimentary tasks like file management on the desktop, things just seem sluggish. And my last laptop was a Dell Inspiron circa 2006! When running smoothly, it runs AutoCAD and Revit without issue, but when it decides to slow down, it's frustrating. Maybe it's the throttling, maybe it's the wi-fi bug; I don't know. But I hope whatever it is gets fixed.

    Type Cover: Love it. Simple as that. I think it works great.

    Pen: Generally works great, but I do notice lag at times. Sometimes the lag is on the order of several seconds.

    All in all, I'm torn. The device is exactly what I need for my daily workflow. I feel like it's coming up a little short though, especially for a $2k device. If I had to make a decision right now, I'd keep it, but I plan to do some more heavy testing now that I've updated the firmware with the 8/19 update. I really want to love this device, but it's testing me!
     
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  2. kristalsoldier

    kristalsoldier Well-Known Member

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    Interesting experience. Thanks for posting. I am specifically interested in your experience with DrawBoard PDF. I use it all the time for marking up and reading etc. but have not noticed this. And, I use the i5 model - not the i7.

    As for the heat - don't know what to say, but have you installed the most recent updates that were released on the 18th or the 19th? There is a thread about it here somewhere where some folk think that it has improved not only the throttling issue, but also has some impact on cooling. Can't say it impacted my use and experience in any way as my device has not suffered from heat etc. - at least not yet!
     
  3. mitchellvii

    mitchellvii Well-Known Member

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    Given your use case I don't understand why you require an i7 model? Massive overkill to me. Seems like heat and throttling are causing most of your issues. An i7 gets hot inside a tower with water cooling and a hurricane of fans. IMHO it is just too much for this slim form factor.

    I'd exchange it for an i5 or even i3 if space is not an issue.
     
  4. savaytse66

    savaytse66 Member

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    My expectation was that the i7 would be better at running AutoCAD when I need it. While 90% of the time the i5 would be fine, having the i7/HD5000 when I need it for CAD and Revit would be worth it. I am starting to second guess that, given that I am experiencing lags and hang ups.
     
  5. mitchellvii

    mitchellvii Well-Known Member

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    Just my theory but i believe the cooling solution for this form factor simply is not sufficient to the task. You could return it and wait on the SP4 around the end of the year when the Broadwell 14nm refresh comes out. That should run cooler and require less throttling.

    Or just get an i5.
     
  6. malberttoo

    malberttoo Super Moderator Staff Member

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    If you DO love the SP3 in general, is there a way you can test out an i5 for a bit?
     
  7. Len J

    Len J Active Member

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    The scaling is the biggest issue I have.

    I end up at 100% when I'm in the dock and 150% when I'm not....but it's a pain. A setting that auto detected the monitor and adjusted accordingly would be awesome.

    One program I use frequently is adobe PDF reader...... It scales horribly requiring a page down just to print.

    I have an I7 and just copied 750gb from a backup drive hooked to the dock, to a portable drive hooked to the SP3 USB port, all.while working continually in word, outlook & excel........took 1 1/2 hour and my unit got warm but not hot. It's odd to me how different machines have different experiences.

    Len
     
  8. Bandito

    Bandito Active Member

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    Other than the Core i7 having a bit more cache memory and a slightly better GPU, it has the same thermal design specification as the Core i5 in our machines, which is 15W and I believe that's why it is clocked a bit slower than the i5 so that it will stay within that 15W power envelope, so, there really shouldn't be a great deal of difference in the two processors' heat signatures. At least not from an engineering perspective. I'm not sure what, if any, differences there are between the actual cores of the i7 and i5, though, but even if there are significantly more transistors, they have to do something like lowering the clock rate in order to stay within spec.

    With that being said, who knows how much, if any, of a safety factor Microsoft has built into their cooling solution and settings for the SP3s, but I would think that they'd spec the cooling system to handle a bit more heat than what they were expecting to see. Then, they would also set the fans to spin up a bit sooner than should be necessary and perhaps they've set the throttling parameters to be overly conservative. It's hard to say and who knows what they may do in the future to adjust the performance envelope of the various SP3 systems.

    My point with all of this is that you shouldn't see a lot of difference in the performance of these two processor types as far as heat goes. In my opinion, the issue is overblown and I haven't seen any real hard data to show that the i7 actually does throttle more than the i5 or even the i3 does.
     
  9. malberttoo

    malberttoo Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree with this. Anytime someone has unexplained or unreasonable heat issues, like in the case of the OP, I pretty much always think there's something out of whack, and is time for a refresh/restore.
     
  10. megatronium

    megatronium Active Member

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    My i7 does seem to be cooler and the fan runs less than before Tuesday's update.
     
  11. ctitanic

    ctitanic Well-Known Member

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    Nothing compares to real life experiences being posted here.
     
  12. dman27

    dman27 Active Member

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    I too was having second thoughts about returning my sp3 (did return i5 version for I7) I but held out. One word of warning, if you keep the SP3 for longer than 21 days, you will be literally in love with all it Can do!!

    My biggest and current issue is the battery life because it is unusable for me to turn brightness below about 60% during the day. Apparently this is a huge drain on the battery and I'm only getting 4-5 hours.

    After the 18-19th update, the throttling issue is "Much" better. I use Google Sketchup for design work and did see Some hang in large models with shadows etc turned on, but now it Seems to bee much better after the update.

    Could someone test gaming compared to the sp2 pro after the update to confirm?

    overall, my Suggestion is to use it as much as possible before your return period, especially in more creative ways.
    Absolutely keep the i7 model I as it is faster the the I5 model in real world usage. Can't explain it , but things just seen to snap onto the screen with this model.
     

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