Microsoft Surface for a student

Menkes

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Aug 25, 2014
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Hello everyone,

I'm looking for a laptop solution for my next academic year, I need something that can do some basic CAD work but nothing too serious.

I was offered a Surface Pro 3 as a gift, but was wondering if i should wait for the Surface 4 to come out to market.

I was snooping around and saw some rumors about the release date but nothing concrete and contradicting each other on hardware specs too.

Any input will help!
 

Yuka

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May 3, 2007
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For the performance improvement found in Skylake compared to Haswell, it is not worth to wait for the Surface 4 then. Unless there is a significant battery life increase, I say it's really not worth it.

Plus, that price... OMG. For that money you could get a very sweet notebook in 13".

Cheers!
 

Yuka

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Can you define a bit better "basic CAD"?

If you'll be working with AutoCAD or working with huge architectural plans, then any Surface might not be enough. You will need a full fledged notebook with a big screen real-state (not resolution necessarily).

I can tell you that, because my mother has to work with Architectural plans and she can't use small screens and slow machines. Usually, more than CPU or GPU, you need a ton of RAM and a fast HDD (SSD being the obvious choice), plus the big screen.

Cheers!
 

jaguarskx

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I have no doubts that the Surface Pro 4 will be using Intel's 6th generation Skylake dual core CPUs and just like the current Surface Pro 3, there will be 4GB and 8GB versions. You will want 8GB in yours. It will have the Intel HD 530 integrated graphics; so far there is no indication as to it's performance, but it will be better than the current Intel HD 5500 graphics core and should be enough for "basic CAD".

The problem as pointed out by Yuka is the screen size which will be small compared to a "normal" laptop which can mean you may have problems seeing small details and you will need to zoom in often to see such details.

My guess is that the Surface Pro 4 will be release in time for holiday sales which means probably October and no later than November.
 

Menkes

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Thanks for the replies!

What i will be using it is for electrical circuit emulation and basic product prototyping and simulation, as well as a mathematical software and basic C and Python programming.
 

Yuka

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Ok, that narrows the suggestions a bit then. From what I remember of Circuit Emulation programs, they don't really need that much screen real-state, but it still is nice to have at least an external monitor connection option. I don't know if the Surface has such an option, but if it does, I think it's HW specs should be enough.

For simulation... Depends on what you want to simulate. If it's circuits, then you'll be fine. As for Programming, as long as it's "light" programming (University kind of stuff), then it shouldn't be an issue either. Compiling C and interpreting Python might not be lightning fast, but it should't be a bother. As long as you have external drives for back up, these things don't usually hog your disk space.

So, all in all, I'd leave it to the "monitor real-state" preference. If you think that won't be an issue and you can attach external screens to it, then the Surface 4 is not a bad idea. If not, I'd suggest a thin/light notebook. Something like 13" or 15" tops. You get a lot of muscle in those form factors nowadays. Not Surface like, but not back breaking bricks either, haha.

Cheers!

EDIT: In case you haven't taken a look, read this thread: http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/id-1606801/official-laptops-review-thread.html

I put my notebook in there, so you will have a reference of prices and all that stuff.
 

Menkes

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Thanks for the in depth answer. I do think that the new gen i7 will be nice to work with..
I hate the idea of integrated graphics but honestly i need a machine to last the day more than anything, since i will have the access to a desktop at the end of the day.

I am just not sure than the surface 4 will be that much better than the surface 3 - will it be worth the new price tag (rumored to be around 1700$ - for the 256GB ssd + i7 with 8GB of ram)
 

jaguarskx

Champion
Moderator
So far Skylake generation CPU performance increase has been shown to about 6% - 10% better than Haswell generation CPUs; the Surface Pro 3 uses a Haswell CPU. That is a modest performance increase. Most people were hoping for at least a solid 10% performance increase.

On the integrated GPU side of things the Intel HD 530 is a little more powerful than the Intel HD 4400 in Haswell generation CPUs, but less powerful than the Intel HD 5500 found in Broadwell generation CPUs. I would say the Intel HD 530 is about 5% - 10% more powerful than the Intel HD 4400 while the Intel HD 5500 is about 15% - 20% more powerful than the Intel HD 4400 based on current benchmarks.

Battery life should improve with Skylake. By how much is unknown. It is hard to say what the average battery life of a laptop / tablet is since testing methods / actual use varies by the review site / person. But I would say if the average battery life increases by around 1 hour, then that would be a pretty decent improvement.

It seems the Surface Pro 4 is rumored to be released on October 4th.

http://www.designntrend.com/articles/59009/20150814/surface-pro-4-release-date-october-microsoft-design-skylake-specs-rumor.htm
 

Yuka

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May 3, 2007
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For the performance improvement found in Skylake compared to Haswell, it is not worth to wait for the Surface 4 then. Unless there is a significant battery life increase, I say it's really not worth it.

Plus, that price... OMG. For that money you could get a very sweet notebook in 13".

Cheers!
 
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