Some Surface Books and Surface Pro 4s have massive battery drain when in standby

All new hardware especially new processors tend to reveal new bugs as well. That is the case with the new Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 as users are reporting and we can confirm a rather serious bug that occurs when in Standby aka InstantGo.

They symptom is a familiar one to those with Surfaces: You toss your Surface into the bag and when you get home from work, and you remove it the Surface is unusually warm. Turning on the Surface and the battery has depleted confirming your suspicion that the computer was on and running.

Indeed, we have witnessed this on our new stock Core i7 Surface Book, and it appears to be sporadic with even Surface Pro 4 users experiencing the drain as well. In running a Sleep Study report (see our previous article explaining that feature), users have noticed that the Surfaces never enter into a full standby mode e.g. S1 through S4 sleep states (you can read an explanation of sleep states here (opens in new tab)). Instead, it stays in S0 with the display off.

You can see a sample from the Sleep Study and relevant errors below.

On some devices, this results in a 12% decrease in battery per hour not to mention the lack of heat dissipation if tucked in a bag.

A long thread on Reddit, Microsoft Community (opens in new tab) and a few in our forums hint at a buggy display driver for the new Intel HD processor – it never turns off. Indeed, there are numerous problems stemming from that driver, including:

  • Hue/Tint changes when scrolling in Microsoft Edge
  • Display driver crashes in Microsoft Edge, possibly related to Adobe Flash (disabling Flash in Edge settings may help)

Another potential cause may be Windows Hello and the new drivers associated with the IR camera.

Microsoft is reportedly aware as they are collecting Sleep Study reports and data from users to isolate the problem. Some reports suggest it may be related to the 10/23 firmware update.

Needless to say, it is a rather significant bug as putting these devices in standby is a frequent task. I dare say, this is borderline embarrassing for such a premium product in its first week, and Microsoft needs some better quality control in their testing.

Temporary Solution

For those with a Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book, your best bet is to attempt a workaround. You could try to return the device, but since it is a software flaw and not hardware, exchanging it won't solve the problem. (You could, of course, just return it and get your money back if dissatisfied).

The fix is relatively easy. However, you should remember to undo it when the software fix presumably comes out.

1. Power Options

In the Cortana search box type in Power Options and select the second choice listed for Control Panel

2. Function

There are two options that can be changed: 'Choose what the power buttons do' and 'Choose what closing the lid does' (they both go to the same section)

3. Change to Hibernate

Under When I close the lid instead of Sleep choose Hibernate for both Battery and Plugged In; for Surface Pro 4 owners, you can also make this change for 'When I press the power button' if you are operating the Surface without a keyboard. Make sure to hit Save Changes before exiting.

Effect: What happens now is when you close the lid the PC will go to pure Hibernate, which is the lowest power level. You should have near 0% battery depletion, and the Surface will no longer get warm.

The downside is it takes a few seconds longer when you power on the PC as it is waking from a deeper sleep state. However, with the new Skylake processors and SSD drives this is still relatively fast and is not much of a nuisance. The Surface naturally goes to Hibernate after two hours by default, so this change just makes it quicker.

Alternative solution?

Currently, I am looking into a possible Indexing problem with the Surface Book. Specifically, under Indexing options my Surface Book did not have C:\Users enabled. As a result, app and OS searches yielded no results. Since enabling the feature it seems like my Surface Book is no longer draining, however, I need more testing. (It should look like the sample image below)

As to why my indexing was off for that directory, I have no idea, nor am I 100 percent certain that it is related to power drains. I'll be curious if anyone else is experiencing a similar scenario.

Windows Central will continue to follow this story as it develops, including if and when a fix is released

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • seems like they rushed the release without proper internal testing
  • Anyone else getting device driver error pop up on the side?
  • Yes, Surface Book owner (i7, 256GB, dGPU) here and i get multiple BSOD's per day when removing the tab from the keyboard and the pc switches to integrated graphics. I have also seen multiple pop ups saying that the graphics driver has stopped responding and recovered. Its very frustrating as I love the device. But it's getting to the point where I don't want to "show off" the Book to folks that ask about it bc there is about a 30 chance of it BSOD'ing when i seperate it. I've also seen multiple instances of the pen not responding, touch not working, or the entire pc becoming unresponsive. A reboot fixes this of course but I feel like it should not be happening. MS rushed this device for sure.
  • You can easily get an exchange, I'm sure! Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Wow reading this thread is a shocker. So many people with surface problems. Do they have a quality control department? A self critical eye? Power problems have been around for years and years with PCs and are still present in the latest high end devices. Wow.
  • Lol it seems like NVIDIAs power saving functions never work as for intel well blame the board manufacturer
  • This is kinda frustrating, the best tablet + the ultimate laptop, why the hell their is something MS that make people reconsider getting your stuff??!
    Surface team used to be perfect
  • The hardware is solid, it's the software and drivers that feel rushed.
  • HD or SW the blame is on MS
  • If it's an issue with the Intel Drivers, which is quite likely, than the blame is largely with Intel.  Also, these kind of thigns always happen with new hardware. This isn't just a Window or Microsoft problem. Even Apple and Google run into these issues. 
  • It is Intel driver issue, but MS should have done more testing of the drivers before releasing the device. After all they are considered expert in software!
  • MS is the head coach in his scenario. When another division screws up, whether it be in-house or contracted, the blame should ultimately fall on MS alone. It's their job for them to internally point the finger and hold their partners accountable. Our only recourse should be to hold MS accountable. This would be different if it were a third party device in which lenovo or acer etc... would be responsible. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android because I am unfortunately with Sprint
  • So who else could be the blame if Microsoft is the manufacturer and the software vendor?
  • Wouldn't it be the drivers that were rushed? Windows has been out for a while so it should be more stable. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • This is a lie. Surface team was never perfect. When the RT was first redheaded, the people app was pathetic slow. It always crashed and performance was not good. Gadgets always have bugs when they first come out, even Apple products. I wouldn't buy the surface book for at least another 3 months. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Shiii, my surface 3 dies in a matter of hrs in standby. Its windows 10. I have to turn it off when I'm done using it, or leave it on the charger.
  • It takes but less than 10 seconds to turn on, I always switch my devices off. Standby has been a joke since it was invented.
  • Yet under Windows 8.1 it works fine. People really need to stop making excuses for the honestly poor state of Windows 10.....
  • +1. Never had this issue with SP3 + 8.1. Ever since updating to 10, this has been a major issue.
  • Still in it's early stages. I am hoping by March it will be as fully fledged, reliable, and secure of an OS as Windows XP and 7 :) Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Exactly it would stay on standby for days when it was on 8.1
  • ^ This
  • I have the same problem with my Surface3, I enabled hibernation in registry and now I use that instead of connected standby, my opinion is that it is problem with w10... Never had a problem in w8.1, I am slowly turning into w10 hater...
  • Standby on the Surface 3 is finally usable, not great but usable. It used to actually drain faster than with it just being turned on.
  • Yes Sleep mode doesn't quite work well on Windows 10 compared to Windows 7 either. I have similar problems with my HP Elitebook (that used to have Win7 on it). Sometimes it will automatically turn on and do something with screen being dark.
  • How did you enable hibernate? Couldn't find a guide
  • I tweaked registry settings.. fair warning - dont mess with registry if you dont kow how to - you can broke your system... 1. Go to path HKLM/SYSTEM/CurrentControlSet/Cotrol/Power, look for DWORD HibernateEnabled, if it is there, the value must be 1, if it is not there, create it with value 1. Reboot and check settings according the article. 2. If nothing changes, go to the same path like above, and look for DWORD HiberFileSizePercent, create it or change the value to 75. Reboot and check settings... That worked for me... you can have diffrent settings in registry, if it doesnt help, write me a message...
  • Legend, thanks
  • Already had hibernateenabled set to 1, changing the other did the trick. Thanks again!
  • You're welcome :)
  • I never needed to change registry. This should work as well: Windows key +r (run): gpedit.msc Expand and go to: Computer Configuration / Administrative Templates / Windows Components / File Explorer. Under file explorer you see 'Show hibernate in the power options menu' Also note in Windows 10 in 'power options' plan and Advanced settings you can now specify a time to switch from sleep to hibernate (Sleep / Hibernate after).
  • But surface 3 has "home" edition not pro, ergo no gpedit...
  • My surface 3 is the same, it all happened after win 10 upgrade. Hopefully MS can isolate the issue and it is a bit embarrassing that the battery life of the S4 or surface book is nowhere near advertised. I love Win10 however its come at a cost!
  • My Surface 3 is the same :/ 10 hours of video watching? No way I can only get 5 hours of notetaking in there Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Intel drivers - that is all.
  • They should have used an AMD processor. /s Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • No. Just no. AMD is terrible with drivers. It took what, 9 months for them to create Windows 10 compatible drivers. Not to mention the fact that the performance is significantly lower than that of Intel CPU's and Nvidia GPU's. 
  • I think you missed the /s
  • is that some kind of joke?
  • Usually /s at the end of a comment means sarcasm. -You had something to hide, should have hidden it shouldn't you?
  • My Surface Book has been pretty disastrous. All of the driver issues are present, plus what seems to be a bad touch screen. There's a one inch or so area on the screen that when I touch it, it just keeps acting like I'm hitting it over and over. I can see the touch point going of and on. Other touches elsewhere setup working. I have to hit it there again very firmly several times before it will become unstuck. I'm afraid I'm going to have to take this back. And of course nobody has any other units, and I'm leaving on a trip in two weeks. I'm going to have to take my five+ year old laptop instead of my expensive Surface Book.
  • I take it you aren;t close to a Microsoft store? The screen ssue is easily reason enough to take it back and get it replaced.
  • Well... that's what I said I am going to do. But like I said nobody has any units of the book or pro 4 (i7) in stock, so I can't get a replacement until late November. I do have a Microsoft store an hour away.
  • Exact same issue I had on SP3 when 10 (RTM) first shipped. They fixed quite quickly.
  • I still have this problem with SP3
  • I make sure to close any games before putting it down. But mine has been really good for some time. Surprisingly honestly.
  • I've kinda had this problem with surface pro 1 for while. I'd quickly put it in my bag and run for the train.  By the time  I get home, I pull the surface out of my back and it's got the fan running at full speed and it's really hot. The battery is usually like 75-50% drained by then (45 mins train ride). So recently i've been just shutting it down when I finish.  I think the hybernate workaround will help us out though. Thanks for the tip.
  • Yeah, I have my wife just shutting hers down too. My SP3 was corrected, I think SP1 was too, but she is in the habit now, so let it ride. (Not like it has connected standby anyway...)
  • That brings up a good point... I thought the SP2 was supposed to bring connected standby? Did that not work out? They just gave up for intel devices? I haven't been following closely obviously... this is the first pro generation I've considered getting.
  • I thought (could be wrong) that SP3 was the first pro with CS.
  • That is correct.
  • I have/had the exact same issue with my SP1, in fact it was one of the main reasons i decided to do a clean install of win10 RTM on it as i figured that during the update it somehow tried to enable connected standby, but since the SP1 doesn't have it it causes the battery drain. After the clean install its better, however it is still not quite reliable. Have you tried to find another work-around, or do you still shut it down?p p.s. thanks WC for the hiber​nate tip    
  • Couple of other options in Windows 10: 1) Go to Device manager and double-click the type cover and touch screen and then under power management tab disable 'Allow this device to wake the computer' 2) In power options and advanced settings for the plan you can set a time when sleep switches to hibernate. 3) Last using powercfg /waketimers you can list and optionally disable timers that can wake up the computer
  • Thanks for the tips. At this point I'd rather have a slow startup then the battery draining like it is.
  • I've had to change over to only using Hibernate on my SP3 (wakes from sleep when it shouldn't, and does a craptastic job of resuming previous session .. program crash fest). Hibernate is a decent if slow workaround, but hopefully any forthcoming fix for SB & SP4 will help me out too. Stupid graphics drivers.
  • Culprit = Windows 10
  • how could it be mate if it runs without any issues on 120millon devices? its just the latest intel driver.
  • Correction: It is "Running" on 120 million computers, but that does not mean that it is running wihtout issue on 120 million computers.
  • and mine does fine too, even with Insider Preview version.
  • No, these problems have happened in Windows 8 and 8.1 too in previous Surfaces
  • My surface pro 2 sometimes also has this problem
  • Indeed. Standby battery drain was a huge problem with the second gen Surface 2, great hardware and...less than perfect software. They corrected it right enough after some considerable time and the device imo only got better (im still using mine daily) but this is classic MS. This is what happens when Shut up and ship is the MO.
  • Sometimes I have a similar behavior on my Dell XPS 13: When I put it to standby, after some hours the laptop should go to hibernation. But it boots up and is running until I shut it down, even on battery. I hope Microsoft can fix this.
  • That's the problem with first gen products, we become beta testers, like it or not. Despite knowing this fact we are still invested because we will like the os and confident that these bugs will be quashed soon. So no complaints.
  • This is present in SP3 as well. It is a W10 problem
  • Maybe for some. Mine seems to have been fixed for some time.
  • This happens in my original Surface Pro as well. I have to power it off to be sure. Just closing the cover doesn't seem to do it anymore since moving to Windows 10.
  • Lol I'm not alone mu 4th excange SP3, now shuts down immediately after I remove power, but if I disable the ACPI device in Device manager it works just fine on battery. 5 MS support people made remote assistance session to no success. So so so disappointed...
  • Will try this to see how it helps, but what I have noticed is on a fully charged Surace Pro 4 i5 I am only getting about 5 hours of battery life. Anyone else see this?
  • I have the same issue on my SP4-i5-128GB-4GB RAM. I just read PDFs on my screen and take some notes; and I believe battery does not last more than 5-6 hours (at most) with every settings in default!!.
  • Confirmed 9 hrs video play my foot. 6 hrs max. May as well have a regular laptop. SP4 is losing the mobility case. I still need an power cord strapped to my belt loop with this thing. (i5 8g 256) Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • So does my SP3 since installing W10 as well as large memory usage. It's been completely unusable.
  • Just wondering, has anyone tried to manually install the generic Intel HD Display Drivers to see if that helps with Display Adapter crashes in Edge, blue screens or even possibily the sleep issue?
  • Someone on Reddit did but I haven't followed up to see if they followed up with results.
  • Mine crashed on current build in all apps, incuding x86. Rolled back due to. Edit: Also, had this conversation the other day on another post. They stated that the manual drivers did not fix.
  • If anyone is already fed up with their Surface Book your welcome to send it my way, bugs and all...
  • Well, my SB drained down to 4% while plugged in. I could never get it to charge above that. Normally I might just live with that a couple days but I also could not detach the screen. It doesn't let you when you have low power. Unfortunately I had to send mine back. I love the device otherwise.
  • As the resualt of (1) Hue/Tint changes when scrolling in Microsoft Edge and (2) Display driver crashes in Microsoft Edge; I just made Chrome my default browser! Also I have problem with Sleep/warming/drain; I decided to turn my device off rather than put it on sleep or hibernate mode One more thing: I use my SP4-i5-128GB-4GB RAM for internet browsing, reading PDFs, Taking notes, and typing in MS Word. putting all setting in default, I am not getteing more than 5-6 hours battery life! disappointing! :(
  • Ya know, the only time I had runaway batter drain was when I had left Edge open and just close the lid.  What is Edge doing that pisses the Intel driver off so much?
  • This is the precise reason I never buy a new product right after its release, whether be Microsoft or any other brands...
  • Intel drivers have been terrible mess on the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 with Windows 10. We just never got a headline article on them. One has to ask why Intel and Microsoft are so out of sync with each other. Steve Jobs would have been making heads rollover these problems.
  • So much for that 12hours of battery life. One of the most important key features in a laptop is a good battery. They rush everything, just because they were getting behind in the market. They still failing to keep up in the phone division..that will be rushed too sadly.. Just like what happened in win10 they had this new hardware set to come out. They had to RTM the OS just in time even though it was not time. Same thing is gonna happen with win 10 mobile lol 950 is making its way everywhere sadly with a buggy incomplete OS.
  • I have an easy solution. When you're done, shut it down.
  • Ridiculous!! It takes 10 Min for the thing to turn on. The battery life is very bad othis device. Makes me wonder if the 3 hrs they claim on a detached SB is really no more than 30 min. Had to exchange mine at Best Buy today. Recovery locked up and the device was stuck in Windows Install...please press OK and restart ...loop Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Or you could just shut down the system when not using it.
  • (1) You lose your work (2) That takes longer (3) It's still broken and not working as intended So, no.
  • 1) I usually save whenever my work is interrupted. 2) I figured with the latest Intel CPU and SSD, boot time would be seconds. 3) I was suggesting this as a temporary alternative instead of changing a bunch of settings that you have to remember to restore.
  • I had a similar problem on my dell venue 8. Actually it would even drain battery within a few days when OFF, ie shutdown through windows. Solution was updating the audio drivers. Does this make sense to me? No. But it worked! Can be on standby or off for weeks now and not be drained when I turn it on.
  • I'm having battery issues on my Surface Pro 4 as well. Sucks! Hopefully Microsoft can fix this soon.