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Tests show significant battery life improvements with Surface Pro 2 firmware update

An important factor for laptops, tablets and other mobile hardware is battery life. After Microsoft released the Surface Pro 2, the company pushed out a firmware update enabling the WiFi to go into lower power states and utilise even less power. AnandTech has run another battery life benchmark for the product after updating to see just how much of an improvement we're looking at. 

Too long, don't read version? The improvements are fairly significant. We'll simply grab a few of the results and cover them here for a short read, though we strongly urge you to head on over to AnandTech to enjoy the full read through. So, what benchmarks were ran? First up is a web browsing battery life test, simply because we all go through numerous web pages while on the go.

AnandTech Surface Pro 2 Battery Test

You'll now be able to take advantage of the web for well over 8 hours. That's not bad considering the original version lasted under 7 hours. In fact, the Surface Pro 2 overtook the ARM Surface 2. We'll look at one more, video playback. Playing through a Harry Potter movie (720p, 4Mbps HP H.264), the test showed improvements once again, with a considerable boost in battery life.

AnandTech Surface Pro 2 Video Playback

Even though there are improvements, the product and chip still lags behind competitor hardware, including the Surface 2 with video playback. However, it's positive to see such advances being made without having to purchase new hardware. Microsoft's tablet (sporting an Intel Haswell chip) is a solid performer considering just how much functionality is packed inside (sensors, capacitive touch, etc.). 

That said, 7 hours for video playback will get you through a film or two, which isn't bad going - especially with an i5 processor with a full HD display.

Head on over to AnandTech for the full test and read through.

Source: AnandTech

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

99 Comments
  • How can u update the firmware?? Cz i got surface pro 2 last week and i ddnt get any updates
  • They come in windows updates. Check for new updates and you should see anything that's come in from last check.
  • Yah do wat he said
  • Most likely will show up tuesday
  • I checked Settings->Change PC Settings -> Update and recovery -> Windows Update -> View your update history and saw a System Firmware Update from Oct 24 2013. Is that the same I wonder.
  • check your update history. you probably have it already. i got a formware update on 10/24
  • 8.1 definitely made VERY large improvements on the Surface RT, so I'm not too surprised. It actually made the jump to Surface 2 disappointingly small... but I had already commited to upgrading my wife so...
  • From what I saw on the Windows Weekly podcast , they say that the difference between original Surface Rt and Surface 2 is night and day
  • Yes, my experience was almost the same as Mary Jo. I think 8.1 gets you about 60% of the way there to Surface 2 level performance. So it makes Surface Rt still kind of pokey for games, but for general use it works quite well.
  • Windows Weekly didn't say that! Mary Jo Foley said there was little difference between Surface RT and Surface 2 with Windows 8.1 loaded on Surface RT. Windows 8.1 makes Surface RT significantly better.
  • You're both right.  Paul says the difference is night and day.  Mary Jo says the difference between Surface 2 and Surface RT w/8.1 is not big enough to upgrade.  I feel that Paul has been way too hard on Surface RT from the start.
  • You're getting a new wife?
  • That seems to be what he typed. :D
  • Ha!  Nah... I have decided to stick with the current model.  But I have upgraded her Surface.
  • So, cosmetic surgery then?
  • Oh boy... this is only getting worse...
  • Or better, depending on which side of the story you're on. ;D
  • The surgery made it worse?
  • HAH
  • Wish I could upgrade my wife :p its still v1 and gets more noisy each day... :D
  • Hahahahhhah lol
  • "the product and chip still lags behind competitor hardware"
    Isn't it "normal" ? I mean, on that list, the Surface Pro is the only real computer on the list, whereas all the other are pure ARM based tablets.
  • Yeah that's what I thought too...comparable or even higher battery at times with a whole lot more functionality and familiarity...nothing beats that...:)
  • That's what I'm thinking too. Comparing an i5 to an ARM is like comparing a nuclear bomb and a grenade.
  • Saying comparing an i5 to an ARM is like comparing a nuclear bomb and a grenade is like saying comparing an apple to a slightly different apple is like comparing an apple to an orange.   Meta? I 'ardly knew 'er!
  • Yeah that's what I was thinking too
  • Well Asus t100 is also full windows just an atom instead of an i5
  • True. I think the statement should read 'the product and chip speeds ahead of all the competitors in the benchmark'.
  • The fact that the Pro 2 can surf longer than the RT 2 surprises me. But how do you get that fw update?
  • Check for new updates and you should see it.
  • What gets me is that MS have put out such an impressive update just a week after this went on sale. Couldn't they have forseen this? Cos all the reviews are out now, few sites will go back like AnandTech and review battery life. So people have made their decisions on the SP2 already and they could have been a lot more positive if MS had only gotten this ready in time for release - or at least made reviewers aware a big boost to battery life was forthcoming.
  • I find it hard to believe that surface pro 2 now can outlast the Tegra4 ARM powered surface2 in web browsing. I think someone else needs to corroborate these results.
    If it does turn out to be a fact, then hopefully Microsoft will generate and release a comparable update for surface2 owners as well....
  • SP2 has a bigger battery.......
  • May I ask where this information comes from? A source please?
  • It was noted in reviews too that the Pro 2 actually outlasted the RT 2.
  • Of course they are lol...The Apple logo must pay them a ton. 
    Play a game on the SP2 and the S2 lets see how that goes for the SP2.
  • Why is this surprising? Haswell is nearly as power efficient as all ARM tablets and 3-4x faster. In exchange, it costs literally an order of magnitude more. This shouldn't surprise anyone. Broadwell will make it even better.
  • Exactly, Intel is trying to push for tablets. Just like Windows, Intel has always always reigned supreme on the desktop, but as ther world pushes for tablets and more mobile computing, they're making a desperate bid to remain relveant in the consumer's eyes when it comes time for their next device purchase (just like Microsoft's dramatic push for Windows 8). And since these new chips are beginning the transition to tablets, it only makes sense they're more power efficient. Granted, Microsoft is doing a lot of work on their end (as evidenced by the dramatic improvement from the firmware update), but nonetheless, the point still stands. It really only adds insult to injury for Microsoft's refusal to use Atom processors on the Surface 2. I understand ARM is the future, so they can finally dump legacy Windows (and due it being built up for almost 30 years, the big mess of code that comes with it), but it's still in its infacy. They should shelf Windows RT, then when a bigger selection of apps become avalible for it, then start pushing for the transition. Anyways, back on topic, loving my Surface Pro 2! The battery life is indeed excellent, just about an hour and a half off from my old first-gen iPad (and one must consider, my Surface is pushing a much heavier work load). Not as good as tablets, obviously, but this is a PC, so I'm more than happy with the results!
  • I agree with you to a point. But remember Microsoft has always been a long term planner. The main reason for windows rt isn't to replace Intel, its to eventually merge phone and desktop together into the ultimate unified experience. Maybe the reason were not getting "major" phone updates like everyone else is because Microsoft is spending all that time preparing the ultimate unification. Lets hope that its what really happens
  • ^this
  • No it's not. It can only be power efficient with CPU scaling. Surface Pro 2 runs 1.60 GHz normally, and 2.6 when it needs it. So this means it will only be as efficient when you do non intensive things. That's it. Start streaming movies and playing games, and Surface Pro 2 is nowhere near the ARM tablets. I have both by the way. Just picked up Surface Pro 2.
  • I have a Surface 2 and the battery life is alright but not the upgrade I'd thought I would be. I've had "Maintenance in Progress" on for a full week. Can anyone tell me how to "fix" this problem?
  • Experiencing this on my original Surface with 8.1 also. Not a full week, but rather excessive. You can go to Action Center and stop it, and I think there's a way to further disable it but i couldn't say without looking it up again.
  • My Surface Pro 2 always displayed, "Maintenance in Progress" for the first few days, then it subsided. No idea what is was doing, but I guess it's just the device's way of setting itself up properly? :/
  • I've the same here about "maintenance" on my pro 2, strange...
  • I think comparison in battery life should be done with handful of Ultrabooks along-side mentioned tablets to provide a better picture.
  • Completely unfair statement to say it "lags behind competitor hardware". Surface Pro 2 is in a completely different league than all the other devices on that list.
  • Definitely.
  • Yes. Its a full on computer rolling in the league of half baked devices.
  • Of course they are lol...The Apple logo must pay them a ton. 
    Totally agree.
  • Yeah, it's as Panes Panay said, "The Surface 2 is sexy, but the Surface Pro 2 is a beast. Seriously, this thing could knock down walls. It might not have the best battery life, but that's because anything else on the market with more power has helicopter blades attached just to cool the thing."
  • I love you anandtech, so fair and such good info. Can't wait to see the battery cover for the surface and see the life that adds to this new total
  • Comparing hardware of different type with so many variables to factor in, is the worst study design ever. How can you compare laptops to tablets and then to top it up not factor in differences between screen sizes, processors and worst of all ignore battery sizes completely?
    Comparison, a fair one, should be likes against likes. I call this BS. But then again, its been a slow and cold weekend eh? ;)
  • You can't really account for all of that... Anandtech's tests are consistently the most objective and well run review tests in the industry. Bigger screens use more power but also provide more battery. And with haswell being about as efficient as arm, as we have seen with the SVP13 and MBA, it doesn't really matter any more what you compare it with.
  • There has to be a relative math of power consumption vs power size. You cannot use relative layman's term esp when you call yourself a tech site and review engineering products.
  • I don't really think this hardware comparison makes sense.  Surface Pro 2 runs on a full x86 architecture processor.  The fair competition would be against other Ultrabooks like some higher end Samsung, Asus and Hp's, even the Macbook Air.  Comparing it against ARM chips really doesn't make any sense at all, and if these numbera ring true, which they are, the Surface Pro 2 is more than formidable when it comes to the ultrabook market.
  • :D
  • It is curious shield is on that list. Not eve the same class device... Its nice to see the SP2 update improvements though!
  • My battery on my S2 does better than this test definitely. I read another site tested the rt2 video play back and it was 14 and some change. Edit: Engadget battery test. And believe me it is not a pro surface article to say the least. Friggin up apples ass.
  • Of course they are lol...The Apple logo must pay them a ton. 
  • Can you say anything other than "the apple logo must pay them a ton"? Once was fair enough, reading through the comments it's everywhere.
  • I also wondered why AnandTech didn't measure huge difference for both new Surface tablets given the new CPUs specs unlike other reviews. Something seems wrong with their test. Maybe they're not properly calibrating brightness level.
  • I not sure how any of these reviews get done. From what I understand the Engadget test was line them up and go. I would say mines on par with 14 hours. It's tough to go machine to machine sometimes it takes time for the battery to level out.
  • It's probably the case that it depends a lot on video codec type. I wouldn't read too much out of those video battery test results. Who watches videos 8 hours straight anyway? S2 battery life is excellent and should be completely a non-issue for perspective buyers.
  • Agreed! Its a Google - Apple world I'm just trying to live in it.
  • Battery life, its stupendous for my use. Email browsing some quick video, it's a beast for me...
  • I can't really tell if my battery life is good or not, becaue I'm constantly using it. Can't put it down. Just from the eye test, I say its just dandy.  How do I know if I've received this update? Is there a WPC app for Windows 8?
  • ^^ this ^^
  • I love how the Surface Pro 2 is being compared to Tablets with ARM CPU's yet the Surface 2 still pushes through with its Haswell CPU :D
  • I think you have these mixed up? SP2 is haswell, surface 2 is not
  • The Asus T100 is looking pretty good too and it's running full Windows 8.
  • I tipped this last night :D this is a huge battery improvement!
  • Partially on topic, any1 noticed better battery live with GDR3 on the 920? At least it now lasts more than a day...
  • Mine has always lasted a full day but I think quick glance may be draining it not horribly but faster than normal. May play with those settings on my phone.
  • I actually enabled glance on peek and background image, and the discharge rate is much more smooth, even when gaming. Anyway, I don't care how and why, but I'm happier with the battery life now :D
  • If you call those competitors...
  • My pro 2 battery been going for 8 hrs...impressed
  • How is the keyboard with the 2's anyone?
  • What I really do not like with most of the reviews of the Surface Pro 2 is that most reviewers do not take into consideration the fact that it is a hybrid device of a tablet and an ultrabook which can not be compared so easily to those devices. I feel that all it's specs are always measured with the stronger counterpart. Like when it comes to the keyboard they say it is worse than the ones of an ultra book. But they do not say that it is by far better than any accessory keyboard of an iPad more portable beautiful etc --> means bad review score for keyboard. But when it comes to weight, they do not compare it to ultrabooks, they compare it to the weight of an ipad air --> means bad review score for weight and thickness. This kind of reviewing is totally stupid. It is a devices which does some compromises, but these compromises is not what makes the device bad, it is what makes the SP2 so great. U have to use it for some times to understand that. Its not possible to just measure its specifications and compare them to other non hybrid devies which have their srenghts. of course it is maybe not as good for productivity like an ultrabook, and it is not as good as an iPad air as a pure tablet. But the balance it offers ist just awesome and to me this overweighs the bad sides of the compromises BY FAR. And this is never reflected in thoses review scores. So getting a 10/10 review score is so hard for a SP2 because it would have to be as good as the best ultra book and at the same time be as good as the best tablets. But that is simply not possible. When u read a review of the ipad air noone says it sux that it is not having a usb port... Why ? because it is a tablet and tablets dont need that. But when u see the review of the Surface 2 or Pro 2 they say both have a usb port, BUT they only have one and most ultrabooks have more !! hence, not good. . In the end it comes to a meh 6/10 score. but an ipad air gets 9/10. this is just bullshit.
  • Exactly!   I think pro-Apple guys intentionally "frame" the discussion that way and most other reviewers are just falling for it like idiots. Microsoft badly needs some sharp reviewers/bloggers who can see through all that BS and put things in proper perspective.
  • Good comment, Apple makes good devices but so does Microsoft and Nokia and a bunch of other players, the bias is evident.
  • That was a long read for one paragraph, I'm glad I read it though, it's a good comment; makes me see the SP2 in a better light. I think people expect the SP to be the king of all or dismiss it. It's just not possible for it to be be the best tablet and the best ultrabook; it's a new class of device. It lets you have the benefits of both but the laws of physics (or current technology anyway) prevent it from being be the best of both. I am still fence about getting one though, but your comment scored off one of my issues; weight and battery life. Sure I can get something lighter, but I can have a SP in my bag and take it anywhere more easily than any ultrabook or laptop and do real work on it, which you can't do with any tablet. If I need something so light to browse the web, or quickly check something, then I can use my phone; that's more than good enough, especially if I were to get tempted into a 1520 from my 920. But what is holding me back now is the screen size. 10" isn't a lot to work on; a 12-13" ultrabook would be a lot easier on the eyes for my job (programming and web design). I think even 11" like Sony's Tap 11 would have been a better size. So can I ask people who have a SP2, how do they find the 10.6" screen for working on? Do you wish for a couple more inchces (screen size!!!) or do you find it fine? I think I've still to get over my experiences with a Samsung NC10 netbook, which was cramped and frustrating for working on. I realise this is a much higher res and better display in every way, so I should probably find it fine, but would like some real world stories before I plump down some cash.
  • I'm replacing a 15in laptop with my s2. Its not the same but it is working. Man if you can get one with the 14 day return try it out for a week. I didn't know what to think when I started using it because it was so much like a PC in that there isn't the tablet work arounds and so on. And the surface is frickin fast. My experience with my surface will be amplified with the pro. I was totally prepared to return it if it was a good eBook and checking email devise but I am very impressed. Best tablet experience I've seen.
  • Hey, I think it depends on how you are going to use the SP2. Which is the common scenario ? To me it is working on my desktop and using it on the coucht as a tablet. Working on it on the go happens, but not very often. This means to me, SP2 is totally fine. When I use it on my desktop i connect it to my 27" screen and bluetooth keyboar and mouse. And because the device is so incredibly fast (it starts full windows in 6 seconds !! that impressed me very much), i cannot tell the difference to my former desktop pc (which was core i7 950, 12 gb ram, geforce gtx 580 samsung 830 256gb ssd) when im working on it (of course it cant compete in graphics tho). And the small screen of the SP2 doesn't matter anymore due to the external screen. So I am totally fine. For tablet use it is kinda heavy but I have to say it is not as bad as I thought it would be and thats due to the new kickstand position which makes it really easy to use it on the couch on the lap. So you do not have to hold it the whole time while watching a youtube video or reading a website and stuff. BUT I think when u are doing most of your work on the go or do not have the possibility to connect it to a larger screen when you use it on the desktop the small screen really might bother you. Especially when you need to have multiple windows/apps on screen at the same time.  When its only one app in full screen, you might be happy with the screen size tho. Really depends on your preferences. So in this case I'd recommend you to try it and maybe send back if you don't like it.
  • It can be the best of both world if you do a comparison in another perspective, which all these reviewer out there would not want to do for whatever reason. It is a touchscreen tablet that can run full x86 programs, peripherals connectivity (winner of tablet), it is a ultrabook with amazing form factor, power and battery life (winner of ultrabook).
  • I think a really good approach to  review devices like tablets, ultrabooks and hybrids more accurately would be to rate each device by lets say 2 categories (just as an example): 1st: Tablet experience 2nd: Ultrabook experience So lets say the iPad Air gets a reasonable 9/10 in tablet experience but it would certainly be a maybe 1/10 in Ultrabook experience (with a keyboard n stuff). An Ultrabook would be maybe the other way round. And the Surface Pro could be like a 6/10 as a tablet  and a 7/10 as an ultrabook. Now to have a measure of comparison for each device the customer has to give both scores an individual weight. Like s.o. who ONLY wants the best tablet experience he can get it would be: for the iPad: 100% x 9/10 + 0% x 3/10 = 9/10 ultrabook: exact opposite = 3/10 SP2 = 100% 5/10 + 0% 3/10 = 5/10 so that customer would defenitely  go best with the iPad air in this scenario.  If he only wants a full pruductivity device he will defenitely go with the ultrabook. But now in all cases ppl want to do both and its not 100%/0% use case, the SP2 becomes reeeeally attractive. So in a 50%/50% sceenario it would be the best pick (6.5/10 SP2, tablet, ultrabook 5/10) This would be a simple way to make it more accurate but it is very simplified and could be done much more sophisticated to get a really comparable score for each customer individually.... 
  • Agree!!
  • Are these improvements with or without the power cover?
  • Asus T100 holding its own on that list. I do have one myself (64GB version) and I must say it has been a great buy for $400.
  • That's good, but I don't know why my 8.1 on Surface 1 is a bit buggy.
  • My Lumia 1020 is rad.
  • Just curious, will surface pro 3 eventually go higher in battery life? I skipped this gens pro 3 because I have hoe that next year will be 9 to 10 hrs without power cover.
  • I am the founder of Lovesurface.it a blog dedicated to Surface and I own both the Surface RT and the Surface pro. I use the former as a tablet, for daily use in the house, while the latter is dedicated to office, where it is linked to an external monitor, mouse and keyboard and works like a charm! :) When it is needed I unplug everything and go straight to a meeting, impressing everybody with my touch screen. Anyway I find myself using more and more the Surface RT, as it is lighter, longer battery life and so on. But, from a "work" point of view, I cannot afford to leave the PRO for the RT. The load in terms of several web pages, skype, excel and word would be too much for the RT, but I'd love to. On the 22nd october I upgraded the RT to the Surface 2. I tested it straight away , comparing it to the RT (w8.1 installed), and sadly I found that their speed is almost the same in many occasions, like browsing, but it seems that It better handles working between several apps. Then I was considering on upgrading the PRO to the PRO2, but then I stopped. I read many reviews and it seems that the difference between the haswell and the old I5 it is not much in terms of battery life. Till today, till this article: now I am changing my opinion, just to show how important are these tests from a consumer perspective.
    Now the question is, in case the PRO2 had a battery life comparable to the SURFACE2 (rt), would I ditch that one amd use the PRO for double use? I dont think so, for two main reason:
    1) the weight is way too much to use it as a tablet the whole day. It definitely is a very light laptop that can be used as a tablet from time to time, and so it must be compared to laptop having as a plus the tablet functionality.
    2) when idle the PRO drain the battery a lot. I learned to hibernate it every time, but it is an hassle. I definitely prefer the ARM powered from this point of view. Has this changed a lot with Haswell? I dont think so. It is still Wintel, not very good on managing stand by, but I hope to find some good information about this.
    In conclusion, I dont find this update very relevant for the market. I'd love an improvement in Speed and Ram for the RT and in Weight and Ram for the PRO. I believe this update is oriented to new customers and not to customers having already any of the two. I look forward to something new next year, but then it must be something that really stand up, we want that.
  • compare Surface Pro 2 battery life to bunch of garbage, then you say lag behind? that's unbelievable. Why don't you compare it to my calculator, that lasts fever.
  • Sweet... another reason for me to get teh PRO.
  • I'm getting way more battery life out of my Surface RT..
  • I don't see much improvements though. And it feels like I'm bean cheated because if you notice in the event log, under System log it is throwing errors that the kernel is purposely capping processing power. And my SP2 can be laggy when performing some basic functions!!!
  • I get significant improvement on my 8X with Update 3. I track the usage with the Battery app and battery drain dropped from 3.57%/h to 2.95%/h it is almost 20% of usage. And I always keep WiFi+GPS on.
  • You know what is nice about Surface? When MS releases an update, the users get it almost immediately. No stinking carrier blocking it or taking forever to "test" it. Which I don't believe based on some of the obvious bugs in GDR2. It makes me never want to own a LTE tablet if that allows wireless ISPs to dictate my OS,software.