Microsoft Surface vs Apple: DATA – Make your own analysis

Microsoft has introduced its new Surface Pro 3 computer, billed as both a tablet and a laptop. Naturally, they promoted it as the greatest thing, both at the announcement event, and on their website.

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 1.49.50 PM

There, under the selection Surface Pro 3 vs. MacBook Pro, they do a comparison with the MacBook Pro. For those who think that comparing the Surface Pro 3 to a MBP is stretching things a bit, below is a list of comparison figures for you to contemplate. Meanwhile, others say that SP3 is really targeting the MacBook Air ( amore reasonable comparison in my view. At Seeking Alpha, Quoth the Raven has a reasonable analysis, although I think he should to examine the real comparison data here.

[click to enlarge]

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 7.48.06 AM  Notes:

  1. Processor – I am asserting that Apple’s A7 64-bit SoC is roughly equivalent to the Core i3 in the low end surface. Geekbench data below more or less corroborate that, and the Anand tech graphics data indicates the A7 may have a significant edge.
  2. Graphics Processors (GPUs) are built into the Intel chips. Microsoft did not provide detailed specs with its news release, so real comparisons are impossible to make. Just learned the i5 model is the i5-4300U model with HD 4400 GPU running at 2.5Gz. this is similar to the previous model, so I do not expect the benchmarks to increase significantly.
  3. Prices are rounded up $1 or less to nearest multiple of 10.
  4. Keyboard for the Surface 3 costs $130. A similar keyboard, Logitech Ultrathin Bluetooth for iPad Air costs $70 on Amazon. (Weight = 330 g)
  5. Memory – On the MacBooks, I have included both RAM and SSD (RAM based drive) sizes. On most configurations listed, the RAM can be increased as a build to order option.
  6. Weight – I list here the weight both alone and with the keyboard

Unfortunately there is no way of making an objective comparison when we know so little about the SP3. Not all i3 chips are the same, and ditto for i5 and i7. In particular, each “model” comes with several levels of GPU – a most important factor. Additionally, they all can be run at different speeds (GHz) to either max out speed or max out battery life or a mix of the 2. Even then, we can only compare specs which are merely an indication. We have to wait until AnandTech gets a set of them and runs benchmarks. Well – since I wrote that, AnandTech has indeed run its initial tests, and revealed the model of at least the i5 CPU. That data has been listed in the table above. I also present a benchmark result from that review (as it was an initial review there are only 3 given, and they were all similar in the result.) As there is no Cinebench for iOS, I include as well a table from the iPad Air that includes the Surface Pro 2. You can draw your own conclusions.

Breaking news…

ZDnet has an article filling in the missing  CPU data. I summarize here:

Processor Speed GPU
Surface Pro 3 i3-4020Y 1.5 GHz HD4200
i5-4300U 1.9 GHz HD4400
i7-4650U 1.7 GHz HD5000
Battery 42 watt-hour

The article also has info on external display support.





Microsoft makes the following claims/comparisons on their page.

[click to enlarge]Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 4.19.51 PM   Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 4.20.08 PM


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It seems as though we have the first SP3 Geekbench results just in.

And here are some Geekbench scores. This tests overall CPU functionality across many platforms. It does not focus on graphics, as do some other tests, such as Cinebench. Here are for Surface Pro 3 and 2 – Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 6.01.47 PM   And for Surface and MBP and MB Air – all with Core i5 processors – Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 10.43.59 AM Here are a couple of typical Core i3 machines: Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 11.06.01 AM And finally, iPad AirScreen Shot 2014-05-21 at 11.08.16 AM Note: I believe that the iPad Air Geekbench is only run on 32-bit mode since (the last time I looked) they do not yet have a 64-bit version for iOS.

AnandTech Data:

And here is test data from the ever superb analysis from AnandTech. Surface Pro 3 Review This shows the SP3 in comparison with SP2 and MBP  (though they do not specify the configuration). The SP3 show a roughly 20% increase over the SP2, while the MBP shows almost 40% increase over the SP3. This chart is typical of the 3 they offered. .63822   iPad Air Review Here we have the iPad Air. The chart is reasonably typical of those in the review. In some others, the Air fares worse, while in others it performs even better, relatively. 59452     Below is a complete list of iPad Air vs Surface Pro 2 test results from the AnandTech review. I have just listed numbers not the test names to save me time. People should refer to the two articles for the details.   Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 1.31.58 PM The “Normalized” column shows the SP2 performance as a percentage of that of the iPad Air. It should be noted that in the the 3D Mark tests where SP2 excelled, that these 2 tests were Physics tests. These test the power of computation of physics routines (e.g. compute the bouncing ball) and not graphics production per se. The lines marked “Avg – outliers” (read “minus”) are the averages computed without the extreme numbers (2 each). This favors iPad in the second (which seems fair since it is not really graphic routines being tested), and SP2 in the first.


Here are a bunch of data. You go make your own conclusions.


PS: Here is one early adopter’s experience with a Surface.





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