Surface Pro 3 With Intel Core i3 CPU Has 20-30% Of Performance Degrade Over Core i5 Version

Surface Pro 3 Core i3 Benchmarks

When Microsoft announced Surface Pro 3 earlier this year, 5 different SKUs with various configurations was revealed. However, only the Intel Core i5 models was made available for sale till now. Starting this August 1st, Surface Pro 3 versions with a Core i3-4020Y and Core i7-4650U will be available for customers. Intel Core i3 version starts at $799 whereas Intel Core i7 starts at $1549. AnandTech today posted a detailed post on the new low cost Intel Core i3 Surface Pro 3 version. As expected, the performance is below the Intel Core i5 version of Surface Pro 3, but how much? Does Intel Core i5 justify the extra $200 cost?

Here is the conclusion from AnandTech,

Subjectively, the entry level Surface Pro 3 feels pretty quick. Even running at only 1.5GHz, a pair of Haswell cores are plenty fast. The real question is whether or not the extra $200 is worth the increase in performance. For anyone looking to use the Surface Pro 3 like a real PC and less like a tablet, the $200 Core i5 upgrade is a wise investment. Lighter tasks and more tablet oriented usage models however may not merit the extra expense. In a lot of lighter tasks we’re looking at a 20 – 30% advantage to the Core i5 for a 25% increase in system cost. Ultimately I feel like the increase in storage capacity in addition to CPU performance may be what really justifies the larger expenditure for users who don’t necessarily need the extra CPU performance.

Also, it is important to note that Intel Core i3 version of Surface Pro 3 easily beats the high-end tablets like Apple iPad Air.  Take a look at the below benchmark results,

Surface Pro 3 vs iPad performance

You can order Surface Pro 3 from the links below.

Surface Pro 3Estimated retail price (USD)
Intel® Core™ i3, 64 GB and 4 GB of RAM$799
Intel® Core™ i5, 128 GB and 4 GB of RAM$999
Intel® Core™ i5, 256 GB and 8 GB of RAM$1,299
Intel® Core™ i7, 256 GB and 8 GB of RAM$1,549
Intel® Core™ i7, 512 GB and 8 GB of RAM$1,949

Read about the performance in detail from AnandTech.

  • saqrkh

    The Surface ‘Pro’ should never have been offered with Core i3, the base minimum should have been Core i5 with 128GB SSD. The $999 price point is about right considering the market for similarly spec’d laptops.

    It would have been a great idea to offer the baseline Surface in Core i3. With a 1080p display, active stylus support, Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM and 32GB or 64GB of SSD or Flash storage and starting price of $599 or $649, Microsoft would have a solid contender against the MacBook Air.

    Beneath that, they could offer an ARM-powered Surface Mini with pen for $399+

    • Zeus

      still.. even with the core i3 it beats the crap out of iPad Air.

      • saqrkh

        Yep, but Microsoft needs to hammer the point home. I think a standard one model ‘Surface’ with the above specs and included keyboard for $799 would throw the MBA’s value into the dust. The ‘Surface’ has the premium styling, the better screen, a pen, sufficient horsepower and OS to do what people require of a full computer. Once that message sinks in, Microsoft can then proceed to maul the iPad Air, stating that the ‘Surface’ is also a fully capable tablet.

        • koenshaku

          I don’t think people buying one really care about the additional $130 cost for the keyboard personally. I know I didn’t the thing is if you want one you are purchasing it for the pen and the portability of a fully functional pc. If not for the pen and the portability there are plenty more cheaper options out there that will give you more bang for your buck and bang for your back with the weight increase heh.

      • dave

        wow , that’s really digging deep to put a good spin on the fact that the base Suface pro is low power and not a great value?

        • DsHoit

          You your opinion of it does not matter, the only thing that will determine if it’s successful is sales level & for now it is too early to determine

          • dave

            You your opinion of me my opinion does not matter, you fanzys just can’t stand the truth, it’s just hell for you!, lol,
            it’s not going to be success , MS doesn’t even want it to be, the Devices and service thing is going bye bye. they can’t afford to damage the relationship with OEMs any more than they already have.

        • koenshaku

          the interesting thing about this The Core i3-4020Y carries the same 1000Ku price as the i5-4300U ($281), so unless Microsoft has some special deal with Intel there may be some monkey business at work. The battery may be significantly smaller since the TDP is 6-11w opposed to 15w of the I5 and I7 processors which would cut cost.

        • saqrkh

          The base Surface Pro shouldn’t be marketed as “Pro” to begin with, the Surface should be on Core i3 and marketed as an entry level premium device. Anyways, my mom uses an Asus laptop with Core i3 (IvyBridge), it seems fine for her day-to-day tasks (the most being Office).

    • robertwade

      “Great value” is a purely subjective assessment. I have never been interested in a tablet until I saw the i3 version of the Surface Pro 3 w/Type Cover. The iPad and Android tablets are useless wastes of money, as far as I’m concerned. The i5 and i7 are way over-powered for what I needed a tablet to do, and I didn’t feel there was enough value given the price for those units. I am very happy with my Toshiba Satellite. For me, it would take a tablet that can at least perform as well as my current laptop, minus the DVD drive. So far, the SP3 i3 version nicely outshines my Toshiba. It appears that I will get better performance, a LOT less weight and a lot more flexibility. I’m sure I’m going to be very happy with the SP3.

  • bibleverse1

    If the i3 is 20% below the i5 is the i7 20% above the i5?

    • koenshaku

      I was thinking the same thing, but no the chips are very similar the GPU is slightly better also though I would assume it is more of a modest 10% – 12% bump. I bought the I5 256gb because I had about $1500 to spend at the time and with the accessories the arc touch mouse, type keyboard and mini dp to DVI and HDMI converter etc it came out to $1520 with tax. Which is really the most I have spent on a laptop though I do say it was worth every cent it puts me off that I still need to buy another power supply because I tire of snatching it out of the wall when I leave home daily…

      • Duk3togo

        Did you know if you put yourself as a student with MS you get 10% if a pro 3? I got mine 130 bucks less that way.

  • hushv

    Here’s an interesting thought:

    Would a normal resolution lead to 10 hour+ battery life on surface 3?


    Then would you trade longer battery life for a “retina-ihs” display?

  • dave

    Suface Pro 3 as many have pointed out is going to be obsolete by the end of the year when Intel releases 11nm CPU’s , big mistake to release so late in 22nm life cycle!

    • koenshaku

      Then you will be talking 6nm after that one is out. Technology changes all the time the next surface will have something else new in a year anyone knows this buying the device. By that time I would have already enjoyed my ultraportable for a year and will not be thinking of upgrading until twice the battery life and about 4-5 times GPU performance. ^^

  • JustMe

    Why not start the i3 with 128Gb? Most people don’t want 64gb as they fear Windows will ‘fill it up’. I understand one is to move all files to the cloud, but that’s not always possible. And microSD cards are a pain.

  • dave

    wow can this be a laptop replacement when it’s not suitable for placing on the lap without the little stand thing digging into your legs? and 800$ I3 with 64Gigs, not a good value, and 130$ extra for cheap flimsy keyboard, joke, period.

    • Thoughtful

      I have the i5. the device is so light the stand is hardly noticeable on the legs. The keyboard is really sturdy. That’s a fact.

  • –7–

    Don’t you guys think there should be an 8gb version with 128gb storage for the budget conscious geek?

  • ZappyKins

    Looks like the good ole “WinTell” is back. The new Intel CPU’s coming out next year well improve both CPU and more importantly right now – heat and efficiency. Then add that new lower power yet faster DRR4 RAM. Nice to see tech leaping forward again.