Surface Pro 3 processors detailed

Surface Pro 3 processors detailed

We now have more details about what exactly is inside the new Surface Pro 3. While we have the general specs for every model of the Surface Pro 3, we have some more information on exactly which processor models can be found in the device. The Surface Pro 3 is available in different configurations with Intel's i3, i5, and i7 Haswell processors, and the exact processors have been uncovered by Ed Bott at ZDNet:

The model that Microsoft showed off at its press event on May 20 contains an i5-4300U processor, running at a clock speed of 1.9 GHz and Turbo boost up to 2.9 GHz, with HD4400 graphics. (This is the same processor used in the Surface Pro 2.) It's available in two configurations, one with 4GB of memory and 128 GB of storage and the other with 8 GB of memory and 256 GB of storage. Both configurations will ship in the U.S. and Canada on June 20 and will be available worldwide in August.

The base model, with 64 GB of storage and 4GB of RAM, will sport a 1.5 GHz i3-4020Y process, which features Intel HD Graphics 4200.

Meanwhile, the top-of-the-line model has a i7-4650U processor running at 1.7 GHz, though it has a maximum Turbo speed of 3.3 GHz and HD5000 graphics.

The i3 model can reportedly drive two 1920 x 1200 displays at 60 Hz, while both the i5 and i7 models can drive two 2880 x 1800 monitors at 60 Hz. Monitors will need to support Mini DisplayPort to connect to the Surface.

What do you think of these specs? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: ZDNet


Reader comments

Surface Pro 3 processors detailed


The performance difference from i5 to i7 is 12% while the price jump is 18%

I think I will skip this generation as well as I am still happy with my 6 years old laptop.

Yep, I'll have to wait until January for a price drop to get 128GB with keyboard because now this bad boy would set me back $1129 and that's unacceptable (the same MacBook Air costs $899).

Kind of a bummer that it only has 4300 when the MBA has a 5000, but I'll take that over the compromises that the MBA would give me.

Looking at the specs online comparing the i5 with the i7, the only real differences between the two are processor speed and graphics, and L3 cache (3072 v. 4096). Therefore, I don't think the extra $400 some is worth those subjectively minute differences.

You're looking at the wrong processor. The Intel Iris 5100 is 28W and twice the graphics performance, but the HD 5000 is only slightly better than HD 4400.

MacBook Pro with Retina display has "Intel Iris Graphics", but MacBook Air has Intel HD 5000.

I dunno, that article is either not very clear or they are indeed bemchmarking the difference between the 4000 and 5000. They seemed to have only mentioned the Iris.

They seemed to have fixed it now. When you click the link its listed as 4gb. Not the 8gb in the email. But its funny cause it shows $1099 with a line through for a sale price of $999. Lol

I'm sure there'll be eBay retailers who will ship to India. Don't know what shipping, duty, and taxes would be like though; could get prohibitively expensive.

Is the i5 fast enough for most people and students? Would anyone feel disappointed in the processor speed, given that it's the exact same processor as the SP2?

No complaints of lag, stutter, etc, after some time with the SP2? I just want this thing to last me through college.

"dog slow" doing what? because if you're saying SP2 doesn't compare to a desktop chip, you're really trying hard to sound ridiculous no?

I compare it to my Lenovo x230 laptop. everything is faster - the News app in particular takes a long time to load on the Surface. Mail is faster, websites, etc. to say nothing of serious number-crunching. Office loads files much faster. PDF generation. everything.

I'm not being ridiculous. I'm being realistic. and I worry about what Penny Arcade said about SP3 feeling slower than SP2.

No, you really do sound ridiculous.  I have used SP2 vs other machines including ones with i7's and SP2 either matches or beats the i7s. My expereince is also in all of the same apps. I expect this is due to all of the optimizations Microsoft incorporated in SP2.  Across teh board my experience is precisly the opposite of yours. Your expereince is also flat out contracdicted by use stats on the processors. Unless you happen to live in another dimension or an alternate reality, the difference is absolutely negligible.   The only way you will a dramatic difference is maximizing RAM on one vs the other.  I have many reservations about SP3 but the i5 processor IS NOT one of them,

you are getting hysterical. i think you are forgetting that the sp uses an ultra-low voltage chip. compared to other laptops with ULV chips i don't disagree with you, but there are plenty of laptops with non-ultra-low-voltage chips. i own one, and it is significantly faster. I sure wish that weren't true, because I otherwise love my SP2.


the lenovo x230 laptop is twice as heavy. and as far as performance goes, if your idea of performance is that laptop he he, well let's just say it isn't all that hot :)

I don't know why you'd think the surface is slower than it, maybe you have a wireless driver issue. But I have a core i7 laptop and the surface rourtinely beats it if not match it.

I think you got a lemmon :)

no, I've had two different SP2s (warranty replacement) and they were the same speed.

seems we are talking about two different things. maybe you are saying that the sp2 is as fast as any *ultrabook*, which I'd agree with. my comparison was to another laptop with a non-ULV processor, which is why it is faster. of course it's a bit heavier at 3 pounds (2.96, if you want to nitpick) but it's still a laptop, as I said.


neonspark, I deeply apologize. I realized today that the "Power Saver" setting on my battery profile was slowing down my SP2 dramatically. I'm now back on the Balanced profile and it runs much faster. the fault was mine.

I still have core 2 duo, with ssd it runs faster then most new machines without one so I'd say i5 with ssd in SP3 will definitely last u through college

Same here. I am still on my Core 2 Duo laptop since 2008. Doubled the RAM to 8 GB, installed a SSD, upgraded to Windows 8.1 and I'm still very happy with it. My next laptop will probably be due with the release of Elder Scrolls 6 !

Same here, old laptop with core 2 duo. I upgraded the system to ssd and win 8.1 and the system is very fast. Win8.1 faster than XP. SSD is way faster than HD. No ram upgrade (4g)

I've had my SP2 since launch day. Still the fastest machine I've ever used. Period. Buying this collage, you say? Then you're more than set with i5. It can easily handle any web browsing for research and effortlessly handle Microsoft Office for any projects or presentations you may have to make.


And while the i7 is better suited for such tasks, the i5 can still handle some 3D graphics and perhaps even some moderate gaming (for when you need a study break, of course).


But yeah, for nearly all intents are purposes: the i5 is already enough of a speed demon to suite 95% of the population's needs. The other 5% consists of harcore PC gamers, intense graphic deisgners and Photoshop gods.

Heck... I can run Diablo3, World of Tanks, and WoW on my i5, SP2... And decent settings... I normally will do it while in "desktop" mode with my monitor and keyboard attached. Sure the fans run high, but it works great.

agreed. my SP2 has NEVER felt slow. I say this typically running

-full office always open.

-photoshop, lightroom 36MP nikon D800 editing.

-VS 2013 with SQL Server 2014 running IIS and lots of goodies.

You just can't make a surface lag. well except when IE likes to go wild and freeze but that's another issue from the world's wierdest browser.

Intel Bay Trail is powerful enough. There's a big difference between a processor in a laptop, and in a tablet. With Bay Trail there's no cooling required, so you can use the highest available power for the CPU, but even with the Core i3/5/7 in tablets you get great performance with lower power usage.

All central processors today are fast enough and even more, for not heavy tasks like heavy gaming, calculations, etc.
What you really need is fast hard drive.

My old Turion powered laptop got me through college and through the first semester of my masters.  An i3 should serve you just fine honestly.  It will do more than get you through college.  

Given they don't require hardcore rendering, I would think so. The toughest games to play on here would be Bioshock, Skyrim, Battlefield, etc.

Half Life 2, Darksiders, Metro 2033, Titanfall, Diablo 3... and much more on my SP2, so I'm sure this will run those games pretty well.

Which XCOM?  Cause the older ones should run like a charm.  The new one should run just fine at lower settings and resolution. 

Microsoft said their differences in battery life between the models is very insignificant, but testing will let us know for sure.

Interesting, they used a Y-model core i3 instead of U.

That, combined with the fact that i3s don’t have turbo, means they could easily make it fanless.

Yeah, but when they release the pro 4 you will be disappointed of having spent a lot of money and in one year or less they'll coming with a new model

That can be said about every iteration in technology. In fact, I'd be pissed if the Surface Pro 4 came out and it was just a 'meh' upgrade. People would then complain about that instead.

well said. I'm actually surprised they didn't go for a better i5 chip than on the SP2.  Since they upgraded the SP2 in december after I got mine in october, maybe we'll see another upgrade.

I hope SP4 makes me feel obsolete or else I won't be waiting for midnight to order like I did with SP3.

i did the exact same thing. i waited till midnight but it took me 2 hours just to make up my mind between i5 and i7.

after a lot of thinking, by 2:30 AM , I made finalized my purchase with i7, 256 GB. I know in my heart it was the right decision for a lot of reasons. I just can't wait till august though. thats a long wait. i hope they don't release s4 in september. hahaha.

All i know it SP3 is a great great device, if not the greatest till today's date.

Does Core i3 have Turbo Boost? It sounds overkill to have a tablet with an i7, and even the i5 is pretty expensive. I do however like that the processor saves power when you're not doing anything intensive.

If not turbo boost, at least turbo jump or turbo punch.  I couldn't imagine it not having at least one of the three.

No, i3 doesn't have turbo boost. It still has speed step though. Turbo boost lets a CPU boost the clock rate past the nominal clock rate for a short burst (until it gets hot) and then goes back down to the nominal clock rate. Speed step (which all of them have) allow the CPU to UNDERCLOCK to very low clock rates when the CPU isn't busy in order to save power. 

That, plus the i3 being a Y series which has an even lower TDP will probably make the i3 SP3 last the longest on battery. 

Does that mean Clock Speed is the maximum of the processor, and Burst Frequency is the overclocked maxmimum? I understood it as the processor could go from Clock to Burst whenever it needed more power, but not that it was a short burst using a lot of power and generating a lot of heat.

Intel doesn't list any Burst Frequency for the i3, what specifically does that mean? Is Clock - Burst a short burst of power, or a range of processing power the CPU can utilize? http://ark.intel.com/products/76609/Intel-Core-i3-4020Y-Processor-3M-Cac...

I also don't understand how the i3 can be $281.00 when the Intel Atom Z3740D is $32.00! This comparison is between the i3 and the Z3740, and it doesn't show any benchmarks, but it doesn't seem that different in capability: http://cpuboss.com/cpus/Intel-Core-i3-4020Y-vs-Intel-Atom-Z3740

Read for yourself and figure it out.


i3 not having boost means it'll never go over its default max speed, 1.5 GHz in 4020Y's case, by itself. You can overclock it manually yourself though.

4020Y has about 2.3 times better single-threaded and about 2 times better overall performance compared to Z3740D.


But why is it more than 8 times more expensive? Because there isn't really anything else that can compete with it at that performance/power consumption point, hence the high price. Economics.

Intel is forced to sell atoms cheap because of heavy competition from ARM processors.

The Atom does not have a Turbo Boost of 1,9 GHz, and I'm not sure a PassMark score paints the whole picture. Does it test graphics too?

I'd say at an eight of the price, a fourth of the power consumption, the Atom competes well with the i3. Intel could probably build a Silvermont processor for tablets closer in power to the i3, for a fragment of the price.

Yes, it's not 1.9; it's 1.83 GHz.


I think passmark only tests the CPU part and that was the point.

As for graphics, 4020Y has 20 execution units at 200-850 MHz; Z3740D has only 4 units at 313-688 MHz, which means the i3 is 3 to 6 times faster.


Atom is a very small processor. For it to match i3, they'd have to clock it at more than 3.6 GHz turbo which will make it even more power hungry than i3.

As for graphics, they can never make it 5 times faster than what it is.

That's actually pretty interesting. The processing power and graphics appear to scale with the power consumption. That's probably not how it works in practice, but the Intel Iris Graphics do has double the graphics performance of HD Graphics, AND twice the power consumption.

Couldn't Intel build a Silvermont processor with a 11-15-17W power consumption, and theoretically better performance? I honestly don't see how the price can climb so high, even if it's 3 to 6 times faster.

My ASUS VivoBook can't really be compared to Surface Pro 3, but in practice I've found the Core i5 y-series processor and 4000 HD Graphics to not be very powerful. Especially gaming, which is limited by the fact that a laptop generates more heat than Surface, and uses more power. There's not a big difference between gaming on my i5 laptop, and gaming on my Atom tablet.

No, power consumption doesn't always scale linearly. It's a big topic that cannot be covered here. There are many factors at work.

Just one thing; if we were to increase Atom's graphic clock by 5 times to match i3's performance, power consumption will rise by much more than 5 times. Again, it's a big topic.

They are already making atoms with better performance. They are called Core processors.

If intel where to make Atom match Core, it'd be just as big and consume just as much power, and if made it faster, it'd consume more. There is no magic in chip making.

As for price, as I said, there is no real competition for mobile Core processors, so they charge high price for them. It might not be fair, but that's how it is.

Did you measure the exact performance difference? What are the exact specs of your devices? What's the display resolution? There are many factors at work.

In an apples-to-apples comparison, where all the other factors are the same, the Y-model i3 should be 2 to 5 times faster than a Z-model Atom. (Very generalized statement, but you get the point.)

don't think of it as a tablet. think of it as a laptop in the "form of tablet" , then it will all make sense. A kot of people are comparing it with other tablet (unfair and incorrect),I think it needs to be compare with laptops and it has an advantage of  having tablet form factor. :D

It's better to compare it with other tablets, because other tablets have way more inexpensive hardware, while staying high-quality for half of the price.

Of course, but there is nothing quite like the Surface. There are other full-Windows 8 convertibles but what else offers such a thin and light form factor, with the high res display with such accurate pen input?

That seems to be a common theme with the SP2. It appears to handle MMOs fairly well. Someone on the Wildstar forums said they ran games from WoW to Wildstar just fine at 720p. Nice to know ESO runs as well.

I am loving it so far. I'm not sure about the status of end-game compared to WoW, but so far it has been amazing. I was a WoW player for years and I've been trying to fill that void, I think this did it.

I should read it again, cuz my girlfriend confused me.
Can' t wait to get a hand on one of those device.

Per Ed Bott.

The top model in the new line has an i7-4650U processor, running at a clock speed of 1.7 GHz with a maximum Turbo frequency of 3.3 GHz and HD5000 graphics.

You need an adapter. I connect my SP2 to two external HDMI monitors, one with a DP->HDMI adapter, and the other with a USB3->HDMI adapter.

Did you know that a single Display Port can connect up to 4 monitors? If you use an adapter to increase the number of ports, you can save that USB 3.0 port for your other peripherals.

I don't give a rat's tail about the gpu specs. it is only that the DRIVERS are so bad with intel. Their DP1.2 support is spotty at best, and it makes me go bunkers when I see the HD4400 cannot do screen cloning without tearing...WTF! such a thing would NEVER happen with nvidia.

I'm looking for this information too. And seem like it's kinda same spec with surface pro 2, then I can play Skyrim and Diablo 3 on it :) Might have to get the i5 8GB version though...

But what struggle me is why didn't Microsoft use HD5000 instead of HD4400... Are there any chance that they will release another, better GPU in future?

Search it up on YouTube :) there are bunch of people who show Diablo 3 on even surface pro 1 at low setting with decent frame rate. And some are playing on surface pro 2 with medium settings. I'm kinda surprise at that moment too...

Hey guys is there much difference between the 128 GB i5 with 4 GB RAM and the 256 GB i5 with 8 GB RAM? Had my heart set on the 8 GB but the jump in price is a bit steep (Aust dollars). Would I notice much difference in performance?

Depends on what you use it for. Millions of people use Windows with less than 8GB of RAM with no issue whatsoever. If you're just using it for social media, browsing and a few basic Apps, 4GB is fine. If you are trying to do things you really shouldn't do on a tablet, anyways, you may benefit from 8GB.

I guess id like to have that extra 'oomph' if I needed it from RAM. My current laptop is an i5 with 8GB of RAM so this would be a good replacement. If I could get the 128 GB i5 with 8 GB RAM I'd be happy. I'll probably just settle for the 4 because of price. We'll see.

Why does no one make clear that this is not a true power house i7 but in fact a low powered dual core processor. That isn't much more than an i5 besides clock speed and 1mb of l3 cache?

do we really need to state that no, the laws of physics still apply and MSFT didn't find a way to give you 9 hours of battery life on a single tiny fan in a 1.7 lb device with an i7 -E edition? really? do we need say this? does it make the i7 sku bad?

i would argue that we DO. Consumers hear that there is only three versions of cpus to know ,i3,i5,i7 and people doing video encoding or 3d autocad with no hardware knowledge see the i7 and get excited.

Not even a core duo processor and windows 8 is gonna run on 512mb of ram. Even my 2gig laptop struggles to run both windows 7 and windows 8. They are both not mobile OSes, so don't expect them to run on that kinda spec.

They should have used a core i3 4120U or 4030Y instead of a 4020Y. The core i3 version will get very long battery though.

That's awesome! Unless you are a graphics designer or something high tech, use the i5. That's a much ass machine.

wtf man, top of the line is only a dual core with hyperthreading? where's the true quad core? they need to drop the price for that.

I wonder what the i3 moves like... Is that the one that gives the best battery life? I had a laptop with an i3 and for just basic stuff it was plenty quick enough

I'm only messing with the i7. Not even entertaining the i5 models. Already have the SP1 & 2, time to go big.

The article mentions the i5 in the SP3 is the same one used in the SP2. Its my understanding the SP2 uses the 4200u and the SP3 uses the 4300u, which is the Haswell refresh ;)

I would guess like any other Windows system with a full OS on it but the difference from (traditional) computers is that this can probably come out of sleep in less than 5 seconds, hibernation in less than 10 and from a complete shutdown in around 15.

Hardware specs sound good. The fact that the i5 processor is the same as the surface 2 makes me think the surface pro 3 is agressively overpriced.

I have a MBP with a i7 (2.2 GHz from 3 years ago). Would the i5 give me a similar speed or should I consider getting the i7? Or will both of these be noticeably slower?

I'll probably do most of my graphic design, compiling, and running CPU-intensive programs on the MBP still, but I was planning to transition it to more of a "desktop" and use the Surface for day to day activities (mostly taking notes, some video). 

Thanks for the advice!

The CPUs for the Surface Pro 3 are all Haswell microarchitechture, the i7 in your MBP would most likely be SandyBridge. The i5 will be more than enough for day to day activities. If you were going to be doing a full on transition, then I would say go for the i7.

I'm going to be using Revit and Sketchup, along with other CAD programs. Will the i5 be sufficient, or should I opt for i7?