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Surface Pro 4 vs Surface Pro 3 Performance Benchmark

Since nobody else seems to have done it yet
Image Src: Microsoft.com, edited at Pixlr.com

Like any uber nerd watching Microsoft's press release last month, I was really excited to hear the announcement of the Surface Pro 4. But I already own a Surface Pro 3, so it begs the question: Is it really worth upgrading?

The SP4 comes loaded with some cool new tricks, most of which you already know about:

  • Larger screen size (but the same case size)
  • Higher resolution
  • Thinner
  • Lighter
  • Faster
  • A really fancy pen
  • Support for Windows Hello face recognition

If you're as giddy about fancy new toys as I am, that last one alone casts the swing vote. But one thing I've had a devil of a time trying to find is an actual performance comparison. How much faster is the Surface Pro 4? I have yet to see any benchmarks comparing the SP3 and the SP4. So, without any further ado, here are my benchmarks.

Surface Pro 3:
Surface Pro 3 benchmark results

Surface Pro 4:
Surface Pro 4 benchmark results

Note: These benchmarks are made using the built-in Windows System Assessment Tool (WinSAT). This is the same feature that gave you your Windows Experience Index in Windows 7. For the purposes of this benchmark, both Surfaces are running Windows 10 (the SP3 is running Insider Preview build 10576, the SP4 still hasn't downloaded the Insider Preview build - I'll update this when it does). The test was run with each Surface plugged in and running immediately after a clean reboot. The commandline to run the test is winsat formal and the commandline to view the results is winsat query, though the results are visible at the end of the test.

The Surface Pro 3 is a Core i5 4300 @ 1.90GHz (2.5GHz burst) with 128GB SSD and 4GB RAM.
The Surface Pro 4 is a Core i5 6300 @ 2.4GHz (2.5GHz burst) with 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM.
Since these benchmarks are related to speed and not capacity, the increased capacity of storage and memory should not affect the scores.

A few scores of note:

  • The Surface Pro 4 CPU is generally twice the speed of the Surface Pro 3 at encryption and compression tests.
  • Memory speed is 1.5x faster on the Surface Pro 4.
  • Graphics performance is largely unchanged, with a slight increase in memory throughput on the SP4.
  • SSD performance nearly doubled in sequential read and tripled in random read.

In real world usage, the SP4 does feel quite a bit snappier and apps load noticably faster. So yes, these numbers do translate into real noticable performance improvement.

Conclusion: The measurable performance increase, combined with the lighter weight, increased screen size and resolution, thinner form factor, and similar battery life make the Surface Pro 4 a far superior device than the Surface Pro 3.

Postscript:
If you want to know the actual WEI scores:

Surface Pro 3

  • CPU: 6.4
  • D3D: 9.9
  • Disk: 8.15
  • Graphics: 5.6
  • Memory: 5.9
  • WEI: 5.6

Surface Pro 4

  • CPU: 7.5
  • D3D: 9.9
  • Disk: 8.7
  • Graphics: 5.9
  • Memory: 7.9
  • WEI: 5.9

 

Update 4/3/2016:
I promised to update this article once I had both Surfaces running the same build of Windows. I decided, however, to take the SP4 off the "Fast track" Insider Preview, so they now receive different updates at different times. I will not be posting that "perfect" comparison update. Now I feel bad because I'm breaking my promise :(

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