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Surface 3: We put its performance to the test, find out the results

by Brandon Russell | April 28, 2015April 28, 2015 5:00 pm PST

We’ve admired its beauty, but looks can only get you so far. After unboxing the Surface 3 last week, what we really wanted to know was if the device is actually a capable computer. Equipped with an Intel Atom processor, it isn’t exactly built for horsepower, but Microsoft has still designed the device to be your go-to everyday machine. As such, we put it through some tests to see how performance holds up when really pushed to its limits.

It’s worth noting that we have the more expensive model, which sports a 10.8-inch Full HD screen, 128GB of internal storage, 4GB of RAM and a quad-core Intel Atom processor. That said, our tests might not be completely indicative of the performance you’d get from the base model, which sports 2GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage.

So how does the Surface 3 hold up under our stress tests? Not so well, and that’s a problem considering Microsoft is marketing this as a laptop replacement. You’ll be able to perform basic tasks like Web browsing, media consumption and emailing. But even those tasks prove to be difficult when you start opening up multiple tabs and windows. If you try and listen to music, watch a video, and edits documents at the same time, you’ll notice performance will start to get sluggish.

And when you perform more intensive tasks, things get even worse. Mark, who edits videos and photos on a regular basis, used the Surface 3 as his only machine for a full work day, and it proved to be more trouble than it was worth. Apps like Photoshop and Premiere Pro CC were usable, but the more you try to get out of them, the slower the Surface 3 gets. That can be problematic for a fluid workflow, and it ultimately inhibits productivity more than anything.

We love the Surface 3 design, and it’s genuinely useful thanks to its portability and ease of use. But with a starting price of $500, the pricing doesn’t really match the performance. You’ll have to buy a Surface 3 Type Cover to really get the most out of the Surface 3, which will set you back an additional $129; a Surface Pen is another $50. When you add it all up, the price hits $679 pretty darn quick.

Check out Mark’s video above to hear more thoughts about the Surface 3’s performance.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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