Surface Pro 4 questions

chenw

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Oct 25, 2014
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Hey all,

Just out of curiosity, has anyone tried reinstalling a desktop Windows 10 onto their surface pro 4 and successfully have it working?

I am wondering if it is possible to use a surface pro 4 as a multimedia tablet for very light gaming (emulation, indie games in general) and movie watching, essentially I want to install a full sized windows onto the Surface and change it into a laptop with the form factor of windows.

While I am here, is the iGPU powerful enough to do play 1080p movies, assuming codec is a non-issue?

Thanks!
 

rhysiam

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Mar 24, 2013
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I've never had a problem with external HDDs on my SP3. It is USB 3.0 so should provide enough power for any device that stays within spec. The SP3/4 charger also comes with a USB port for power delivery (charging phones and the like), so if you have the charger nearby you should be able to use a 2 USB port external HDD by plugging the additional USB cable for power into the charger. I haven't even had need to try that, but in theory it should work.

The SP4 dock should have no problem with an external HDD, it has multiple USB 3 ports.

Even at full load the charger will continue to top up the battery. I've found it certainly charges slower if I'm doing something strenuous, but it will make headway and certainly provides enough power.

Just FYI, things like streaming/multimedia with well optimised programs (includes VLC, Edge, the Netflix Win10 app, etc) will not put significant load on the system. In fact, you really don't want to load up the system because the fans ramp up and they're quite unpleasant when they have to work hard (that + excessive battery drain is the main reason I stopped using Chrome for youtube). So if you are planning to put the SP4 under sustained load (like 80%+ for a minute or more), you are going to have a pretty load tablet.

i7 nets you very little in the way of CPU. The GPU is substantially better, but the i5 can already handle 1080P, and neither will provide a decent experience in gaming, so I'm dubious about the merits of the much more expensive i7 models personally. But your priorities may be different.
 

therealduckofdeath

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May 10, 2012
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Shouldn't be a problem. If you don't have the keyboard cover, you need a USB hub as the poorly designed Window installer Microsoft uses requires a mouse or keyboard during setup. You also need to install the Surface drivers after the Windows install is done. For some reason Microsoft still doesn't incorporate those in the core Windows installer. you can download those from this 90's style download page (not a joke):
https://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-ie/support/install-update-activate/download-drivers-and-firmware-for-surface?os=windows-10&=undefined

Regarding the performance. A Surface Pro 4 definitely support light gaming and HD media playback. Codec support isn't a problem. Any media player you use on a normal PC can be used on a Surface Pro.
 

rhysiam

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Mar 24, 2013
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All Surface Pros you're buying now ship with a full versions of Windows 10 Pro. No need to reinstall anything. From a hardware perspective it's just a touch-screen ultrabook.

I've had an SP3 for over 3 years now. I use it all the time for movies, 1080P BluRay Rips, 1080P netflix, youtube, etc. It's great for all of that. I also travel a bit and being able to use a standard mini DP -> HDMI cable makes it trivial to throw any content up on a TV. Put into a home theatre receiver and you get 5.1 digital audio out of it too.
I'd recommend using Edge instead of Chrome for online video playback. Chrome, particularly with youtube, seems to halve battery life compared to Edge, and the fans become annoyingly loud. I understand Chrome will use VP9 - which the SP3 lacks meaningful hardware decode for. Not sure about SP4, to be honest, but Edge is a workaround anyway (I only use it for youtube - with Chrome for everything else).
VLC has no issues whatsoever with any of the 1080P content I've thrown at it. I ran Kodi for a while to my MythTV Backend, and that worked well with 1080P TV streams too.

RE Gaming - extremely light gaming only. It's an ultrabook. I found even e-sport titles like League of Legeds ask too much of the SP3. Technically it's playable with lowered resolution, detail and sub 30fps, but it's a pretty bad experience. SP4 is a little faster, but unless you get the overpriced i7 with the 540 Graphics and eDRAM, it's not massively faster.
But sure, lightweight Indie titles are probably fine if you choose them carefully.

If you want a sort-of ultrabook and sort-of-tablet, and you're prepared to accept that it does an acceptable, but not brilliant, job at being both, then it really is a good device. Plus, I use a dock at work with mine and run a 3 screen work PC that runs rings around the "new" "i7" machines at work which are still saddled with mechanical HDDs.
 

chenw

Estimable
Oct 25, 2014
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4,590
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Thank you both for your input, while I decide between i7 to i5 (I am leaning towards i7), I have a few more questions regarding the USB port on the Surface:

1. Can the USB on the pro itself supply enough power for an external 2.5" portable HDD, or am I limited to connecting low powered/externally powered devices (like 3.5" externals, flash drives or peripherals)?

2. Same question, except now for the external dock USB ports?

3. Does the pro PSU give enough juice to the pro so that I can use it at full power plugged in, or would some 'down time' be required?

Much appreciated.
 

rhysiam

Honorable
Mar 24, 2013
84
0
10,610
15

I've never had a problem with external HDDs on my SP3. It is USB 3.0 so should provide enough power for any device that stays within spec. The SP3/4 charger also comes with a USB port for power delivery (charging phones and the like), so if you have the charger nearby you should be able to use a 2 USB port external HDD by plugging the additional USB cable for power into the charger. I haven't even had need to try that, but in theory it should work.

The SP4 dock should have no problem with an external HDD, it has multiple USB 3 ports.

Even at full load the charger will continue to top up the battery. I've found it certainly charges slower if I'm doing something strenuous, but it will make headway and certainly provides enough power.

Just FYI, things like streaming/multimedia with well optimised programs (includes VLC, Edge, the Netflix Win10 app, etc) will not put significant load on the system. In fact, you really don't want to load up the system because the fans ramp up and they're quite unpleasant when they have to work hard (that + excessive battery drain is the main reason I stopped using Chrome for youtube). So if you are planning to put the SP4 under sustained load (like 80%+ for a minute or more), you are going to have a pretty load tablet.

i7 nets you very little in the way of CPU. The GPU is substantially better, but the i5 can already handle 1080P, and neither will provide a decent experience in gaming, so I'm dubious about the merits of the much more expensive i7 models personally. But your priorities may be different.
 
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