Best Surface Pro 4 Screen Protector

Putting a screen protector on your computer or laptop can help reduce glare and keep what you’re working on private. However, screen protectors are made from several materials, most of which are made to be flexible to install them easily. If you’re needing a Surface Pro 4 screen protector, this review can help you find the best one for your needs.

Reasons To Use Screen Protectors

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Privacy Screen Protectors

When there is a privacy filter or screen protector on your computer, it blocks out light, so the information is impossible to see when reading it at certain angles. As a result, no one can walk past your computer and get information to which they shouldn’t have access.  

Most companies that have employees working with sensitive data, such as financial or medical information, will have privacy filters on all monitors. If you ever take work home, then your home computer or laptop should have a privacy screen on it as well. Otherwise, you could be in violation of privacy regulations or HIPAA if you work with medical information.

Glare Screen Protectors

Many screen protectors also protect the operator’s eyes against glare on their monitors. Glare from overhead lights or the sun can make the information on the monitor difficult, sometimes impossible, to see. However, by reducing glare, the screen is easier to read, and it won’t give the operator a headache or eye strain as they try to work.

Impact Resistant Screen Protectors

While you may think that this isn’t a problem for your system as you don’t work in a construction zone or outside with the wind blowing, it can be an issue for those drawing or writing with a stylus on a computer like the Surface Pro 4. If a piece of dust attaches itself to the end of the pen, it could scratch the monitor if there isn’t a screen protector on it.

Many of the screen protectors that are impact resistant, reduce glare, or protect the privacy of the work you’re doing are made from tempered glass. These screen protectors fit over the monitors and adhere to it to create a smooth surface. Adhesives are not necessary for installing the screen protectors as they are made to cling to the glass of the monitor upon installation.

Comparison Table

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How We Chose Our Ratings

While researching screen protectors for the Surface Pro 4, we read about each one and the company’s reputation. We also read testimonials and reviews about each one from the people who had bought and used them.

Then, after gathering this information, we gave each screen protector a rating from one to five stars, with five being the highest, to help people find the best Surface Pro 4 screen protector for their needs. Here are seven of the best screen protectors we found.

While researching screen protectors for the Surface Pro 4, we read about each one and the company’s reputation. We also read testimonials and reviews about each one from the people who had bought and used them.

Then, after gathering this information, we gave each screen protector a rating from one to five stars, with five being the highest, to help people find the best Surface Pro 4 screen protector for their needs. Here are seven of the best screen protectors we found.

Top 7 Surface Pro 4 Screen Protectors

Here are seven of the best screen protectors we found for the Microsoft Surface Pro 4.

SPARIN

2,757 Reviews
SPARIN Screen Protector Compatible with Surface Pro 7 Plus/ 7/ 6 /5th Gen/4, Tempered Glass Screen Protector with S Pen Compatible/Scratch Resistant
  • 1. Perfect Match: Specially designed for Surface Pro 7 Plus/ 7 / Surface Pro 6 / Surface Pro (5th...
  • 2. Easy Installation: Automatically attach to the screen smoothly, hassle-free and bubble-free, no...
  • 3. HD Retina Clarity: 99% transparency, 0.26mm thickness and oleophobic coating preserve your...
  • 4. 9H Hardness: Protects your Tablet from drops to a certain extent, scuffs, and scratches
  • 5. Multi-Compatible: Flawlessly Compatible for Mouse or Keyboard, Surface Pen, And whether you're...

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The SPARIN screen protector comes in a set of two for the Surface Pro 6/5/4 laptops that have a 12.3-inch screen. Their tempered glass is scratch and impact resistant, so when you use the pen, you don’t need to worry about the monitor sustaining damage.

Also, the screen protector keeps fingerprints off the monitor whenever you use the touchscreen features of your system. The screen protectors are only 0.26mm thick and provide up to 99 percent light and high declination clarity, so images come through the barrier looking as good as they do without a screen protector.

This type of screen protector easily installs on the monitor by automatically adhering to it. It creates a smooth bubble-free surface that doesn’t leave behind any residue after removing it.

ArmorSuit

45 Reviews
ArmorSuit MilitaryShield Anti-Glare Screen Protector for Microsoft Surface Pro 4 - [Max Coverage] Anti-Bubble Matte Film
  • ArmorSuit MilitaryShield Kit for Microsoft Surface Pro 4 includes our MilitaryShield piece(s),...
  • Anti-glare Matte MilitaryShield to reduce glare and improve visibility in bright environments. Easy...
  • Created from scratch-proof, ultra-tough, matte finish, military-grade, yellow-resistant material and...
  • MilitaryShield has self-healing technology, which helps eliminate minor scratches on the film all by...
  • ArmorSuit stands behind the quality of our MilitaryShield products to ensure 100% Satisfaction to...

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The ArmorSuit screen protector is specifically for the Surface Pro 4 laptop. It is a clear protector that is thin and flexible, so it fits exactly onto your device. It offers full-screen protection while being scratch and yellow resistant, it is clear and made from a military grade material.

The material is self-healing, so if it does get a minor scratch or scuff, it can eliminate them so that they won’t interfere with your viewing of the monitor. This material also helps to reduce dust, fingerprints, and oil smudges from human hands.

ArmorSuit offers a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee on their screen protectors, as well as a lifetime replacement warranty on them. They make their products in the United States. The screen protector is easy to install, and it is anti-bubble.

OMOTON

8,283 Reviews
OMOTON Screen Protector Compatible with Surface Pro 7 Plus/Surface Pro 7/Surface Pro 6/ Surface Pro 5/Surface Pro 4 - [Tempered Glass] [High Responsivity] [Scratch Resistant] [High Definition]
  • Compatible with Microsoft Surface Pro 7 Plus / Surface Pro 7 / Surface Pro 6 / Surface Pro (5th Gen)...
  • Equipped with guide frame, clear instructions, installation video and all necessary tools, which...
  • 9H hardness scratch-resistant screen protector can effectively protect your Surface Pro 7 Plus /...
  • Hydrophobic and oleophobic screen coating protect against sweat and oil residue from fingerprints
  • Highly responsive and sensitive with HD clarity and transparency ensure maximum resolution for Super...

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The ArmorSuit screen protector is specifically for the Surface Pro 4 laptop. It is a clear protector that is thin and flexible, so it fits exactly onto your device. It offers full-screen protection while being scratch and yellow resistant, it is clear and made from a military grade material.

The material is self-healing, so if it does get a minor scratch or scuff, it can eliminate them so that they won’t interfere with your viewing of the monitor. This material also helps to reduce dust, fingerprints, and oil smudges from human hands.

ArmorSuit offers a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee on their screen protectors, as well as a lifetime replacement warranty on them. They make their products in the United States. The screen protector is easy to install, and it is anti-bubble.

Megoo

782 Reviews
Megoo Screen Protector for Surface Pro 6 12.3 Inch,Tempered Glass/Easy Installation/Scratch resistant, Also Compatible for Microsoft Surface Pro 5 (2017) / Pro 4
  • [Perfect Fit] Megoo Professional Tempered Glass screen protector only compatible with Surface Pro 6/...
  • [Easy To Apply] Automatically attach to the screen smoothly. The oleophobic coating reduces smudges...
  • [Best Touch Feeling] Highly transparency maintains your Surface Pro 6 / Surface Pro 5/ Surface Pro 4...
  • [Highly Durable] Megoo industry-leading 9H hardness glass with best toughened degree, protect your...
  • [Customer Service] Your surface pro need a good tempered glass screen protector, you deserve better...

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The Megoo Surface Pro screen protector is for the Pro 6, but it is also compatible with the Pro 5th Gen and Pro 4 laptops. It is tempered glass that protects the screen of your device from scratches while writing or drawing with the pen that comes with it. Also, it is impact resistant and responsive to touch, allowing users to use the touchscreen features.

The screen protector is easy to install on the 12.3-inch monitor. It fits flat on the screen and automatically attaches to it. After removing it, the screen protector does not leave any adhesive residue behind.

The screen protector’s glass has a hardness of 9H to keep it from scratching, scuffing, or breaking if something accidentally falls on the monitor. The Megoo company offers a lifetime warranty on this product.

JETech

2,446 Reviews
JETech Screen Protector for Microsoft Surface Pro 6 / Surface Pro (5th Gen) / Surface Pro 4, Tempered Glass Film
  • Exclusively for Surface Pro 6, Surface Pro (5th Gen) and Surface Pro 4
  • Made with high quality 0.33mm thick premium tempered glass with rounded edges
  • Extremely high hardness: resists scratches up to 9H (harder than a knife). High-response and high...
  • Dust-free, fingerprint-free, one-push super easily installation, bubble free
  • Retail package includes: 1-Pack tempered glass screen protector, cleaning cloth, dust removal stick,...

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JETech’s screen protector for the Surface Pro is compatible with the Pro 6, Pro 5th Gen and Pro 4 devices. It is made from 0.33-millimeter tempered glass with rounded edges to keep the user from receiving cuts when installing or removing it from the monitor.

The surface of the screen protector is coated to remain dust-free, scratch resistant, and it has a hardness of 9H to keep from sustaining damage from the impact of keys, pens, or anything else that may drop on the screen. The surface also remains fingerprint-free, and it is very responsive when using the touch screen monitor.

The JETech screen protector has a lifetime warranty, and it comes with a cleaning cloth, a stick to remove dust, a guide stick, and instructions about installing it. The glass is clear to allow high-quality viewing of the device’s monitor.

ZBRANDS

290 Reviews
ZBRANDS // Microsoft Surface Pro Magnetic Privacy Screen Anti-Glare | Anti-Spy Glass Screen Film (Surface Pro 4/5/6/7)
  • ✔ COMPATIBILITY: Exclusively designed for Microsoft Surface Pro 4 / 5 / 6 / 7! Works for the...
  • ✔ DUAL-PURPOSE: Protective privacy screen and Anti-Glare screen construction that lasts. Get...
  • ✔ SMART ONE-SNAP PRIVACY: Our trademarked One-Snap Privacy screens, its super easy to put on and...
  • ✔ LOW MAINTENANCE: Our privacy screen resists dust, fingerprints, scratches and other sediments...
  • ✔ GUARANTEE: For the latest Microsoft Surface Pro 7 (2019) and Microsoft Surface Pro 4 & 5 & 6....

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This ZBRANDS screen protector is specifically for the Surface Pro 4/Pro 5th Gen/Pro 6. It is also compatible with the newest Surface Pro for 2018. It is an anti-glare screen, so if you have problems with the overhead lights or sun reflecting on your display, this screen with help reduce the glare that can bother your eyes.

In addition, the screen is also a privacy screen. If you’re working with sensitive or proprietary information while in a public place, or at work, the screen doesn’t allow passersby to see what you’re working on, so you don’t need to worry about visual hacking.

The film of the screen is also scratch resistant, and it resists dust, fingerprints, and sediments. It is easy to maintain because it cleans off with a little water and a paper towel. ZBRANDS offers a one-year warranty on their screen protector.

Anker

5,558 Reviews
Anker New iPad 9.7 in (2018/2017) / iPad Air 2 / iPad Pro 9.7 in / iPad Air Screen Protector, Anker Tempered Glass Screen Protector with Retina Display, Anti-Scratch, Smudge-Resistant, Easy Installation
  • Engineered for iPad Pro: Precise, laser-cut dimensions provide maximum protection for your iPad...
  • Easy Installation: Unique "hinge" method and video instructions make it incredibly easy to perfectly...
  • Ultimate Scratch Protection: Premium tempered glass with industry-high 9H hardness rating...
  • HD Retina Clarity: 96% transparency, 0.3mm thickness and oleophobic coating preserve your iPad Pro's...
  • What You Get: Anker Tempered-Glass Screen Protector, alcohol wipe, microfiber cloth, 3 positioning...

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This Megoo screen protector measures 12.3-inches, which makes it compatible with the Surface Pro 6/5/4 and the 2017 models. It is easy to install using the hinge method, and it comes with an instructional video to help users put it in correctly the first time they attempt it.

It is clear, tempered glass, so it is scratch resistant when using the Surface Pen for drawing or writing, and it has a hardness of 9H, so it is also impact resistant. So, if you drop the pen or a set of keys on your monitor, it should sustain very little, if any, damage. If it should crack, it is made to stay in one piece to prevent cutting fingers when removing the screen protector.

The HD glass helps transmit touches on the screen to operate the Surface Pro. The screen will also reduce smudges and fingerprints when it is touched because it is resistant to the oils in human hands. It is also bubble-free after installation.

Buyer’s Guide

If you need a screen protector for your Surface Pro 4, then carefully examine the packaging or information in the description. Not every Surface Pro screen protector is compatible with each other due to the different sizes in screens. For example, the Surface Pro 3 only had a 12-inch screen, but after updating to the Pro 4, the screen width is now 12.3-inches.

Also, the new editions may not be compatible with the Pro 4/5th Gen or Pro 6, so read the information to ensure they are compatible with the device that you own. Not all screen protectors are for privacy, so if you want one that prevents onlookers from stealing information while you’re working, make sure that description on the box or online indicates it is a privacy screen protector.

Most privacy filters for laptops or desktops will only allow the user to see the information onscreen clearly, so most of them will be dark instead of clear. They also block light at an angle, so the information cannot be seen at all by anyone sitting near you or walking past you as you’re working. Blocking the screen prevents most cases of visual hacking.  

Since the Surface Pro 4 uses a stylus or pen, the screen protector should also be scratch and impact resistant to prevent it from sustaining damage when you use the pen for drawing or writing directly on the tablet. Finally, check for a warranty in case the screen protector gets damage, and you need a replacement.

Many companies that make the Surface Pro 4 screen protector offer one-year to lifetime warranties on their products, so if something does happen to it during normal use, they will cover replacing it. So, when your ready to buy any product for your Surface Pro 4, read the information to ensure they are compatible, and they are covered by a warranty in case something happens to it.

How To Unlock Surface Pro 4 Without A Password

It can be almost impossible to access your computer if you lose the password before changing it to something you’ve memorized. However, you can use several methods to unlock a system if you’ve forgotten a password or bought a locked computer at a pawn shop or from a friend. Here are six ways to learn how to unlock Surface Pro 4 without a password.

Methods To Access Laptop

If you’ve bought a Surface Pro 4 and lost or forgot the password for some reason, you can still access the system. In fact, six methods exist for accessing a password protected Surface Pro. You can also apply many of these methods to any computer you’ve forgotten the password to and need to unlock. The first method is to use your Microsoft account to access the system.

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Reset With Microsoft Account

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When you’re trying to access the computer, the screen where you enter the password gives you the option of resetting the password. When you choose this option, you will be directed to enter information to verify your Microsoft account.

Most people have a Microsoft account if they subscribe to a service like Microsoft 365 or register their computer after buying it. Using the information for this account, you can access a PC through Microsoft. After verifying the account information, you can reset the password for your Surface Pro 4 to something you can easily remember.  

Use The Windows Password Recovery Tool

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After failing to log onto your computer, you can opt to use a Windows Password Recovery Tool to reset the password. You can download this program for free and set it up to help recover your password on a Surface Pro 4 or any other computer that you may have. This program works with Windows 10, 8, and 7.

After downloading the program on a working computer, you will need a USB drive or a CD/DVD to “burn” a password reset disk. A screen will appear to select the device to which you’ve downloaded the software. Once the disk is ready, put it into the locked Surface Pro and reboot the computer from the USB drive or CD/DVD.

Once the Windows Password Recovery Tool appears, choose the option for removing the forgotten admin password and follow the instructions. This method will allow you to reset the password to one that is easier for you to remember.

Reset Password With Second Administrator Account

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If you have another administrator account on your Surface Pro, then you should be able to sign into it to reset the password for the main account. First, select the other Administrator account and sign into the Surface Pro with it.

Then, after getting into the account, open the Command Prompt as the administer. The Command Prompt will appear as C:\Windows\system 32. After the prompt, type in the net user <user name> <new password> and then press “Enter” to change the password for that user.

After you’ve completed this step, sign out of the second administer account and you should be able to sign into the Surface Pro using the new password.

Use Windows Password Refixer

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Another software that you can use to learn how to unlock Surface Pro 4 without a password is the Windows Password Refixer. It is third-party software that you can find online to reset a Microsoft account, local login, or the Administrator account for Windows. Other versions exist under other names, but they are all third-party programs.

To start using this method, you will need a free USB drive on which to download and install the program. First, find a computer that you can access Windows with and insert the drive into a USB port and select it on your screen. Then, download and burn the software onto the drive to create a password reset disk. Once it is finished burning, unplug the drive from the USB port to use in your Surfac

Booting The Surface From The USB Drive

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Start this step by shutting down the Surface and then inserting the USB drive into the computer. Next, press down and hold the “Volume-down” button, then press and release the “Power” button. After holding down these buttons, the Surface logo should appear on the screen. It will then boot the Surface from the USB drive.

Resetting The Password​​​​

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After the Surface boots up from the USB drive, the software will access the computer and display its user accounts. Select a user name and then click “Reset Password.” Doing this will prompt the program to check the status of the account and either reset the password for the Microsoft account you’re using, it will change the local account password to a blank to allow you to access the Surface without a password.

Finally, it can help you create a new administrator account on the Surface. If you do this, select the “Add User” button, then create a new username and password. When you’ve finished, click the “Reboot” button and remove the USB drive from the computer.

When the system reboots, you should be able to access the computer with the Microsoft account default password, the local account, or the new user account. Most of the password fixers that you’ll find online work in much the same way but follow the instructions that pop up when trying to change the passwords to ensure it works properly.

System Restore Point

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If you cannot log into Windows and you have an old password that you remember, you can restore the Surface Pro to that restore point and access your computer. Although it doesn’t remove your personal files, it will remove apps, drivers, or updates installed after creating the restore point, so carefully consider whether you want to try this method.

If you want to do this, then boot the system to the advanced startup options. First, power up the Surface. At the Windows login screen, select the “Power” button on the lower right of the screen. While holding down the “Shift” key on the keyboard, click “Restart.”

Then, select “Troubleshoot,” “Advanced Options,” and then “System Restore.”  If it prompts you, you can select an administrator account that you want to provide credentials. You can then enter the password for the administrator account. However, if you haven’t set a password, skip this step and click “Continue.”

After that, click “Next,” and select a restore point from the list, and click “Next” again. Confirm that restore point and click “Finish.” After the Windows login comes up again, you should be able to access the Surface Pro 4 with the password that you remember.

Reset Surface To Factory Settings

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The last resort for accessing your Surface Pro will be to use a hard reset to restore the computer to its factory settings. Make sure you want to take this drastic step as it will remove everything that you’ve saved on the system, like apps, drivers, updates, and passwords.

If you have no other choice, there are two ways to do a hard reset. You can do a factory reset from the sign-in screen or with the Surface Recovery image. To do a factory reset, start by turning on or rebooting the Surface. When the Windows login screen appears, select the “Power” icon at the lower right-hand side of the screen, then hold down the “Shift” key on the keyboard and click “Restart.”

If you’re using your Surface in tablet mode, then hold down the “Shift” key using the on-screen keyboard. To open this feature, choose “Ease of Access,” and then “On-Screen Keyboard.” The Surface will then restart to recovery mode. Once it has, select “Troubleshoot.”

When the next screen appears, s​​​​elect “Reset this PC.” Next, you can either choose “Keep My Files” or “Remove Everything.” If you are donating or selling the laptop, then you should remove your files. However, if you’re trying to reset the system to gain access to it, choose to keep your files.

Select an account to keep resetting the computer. If you didn’t set a password for the Administrator account, use that one and press “Continue.” Next, select the “Reset” button to begin the factory reset process.

Reset Using Surface Recovery Image

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If you need to use the Surface Recovery image to get into your computer, then you will need a USB drive with at least 8 gigabytes of free space on it. The first step is to go to the Surface support website, then select your Surface device, and type in its serial number. The serial number is on back of the tablet or the UEFI firmware. After typing it in, select “Continue.”

A recovery image is sent to you as a ZIP file. Format the USB drive to FAT32 to extract the ZIP file to the root path of the USB drive. Next, turn on the Surface and put the drive into a USB port. Press and hold down “Volume-down” and the “Power” button to reboot the system from the USB drive. When the Surface logo appears on screen, release the “Volume-down” button.

The Surface will boot into recovery mode. You will need to choose your language and keyboard layout, then at the “Choose an Option” screen, select “Troubleshoot” and then “Reset this PC.” From there, you can choose to keep or get rid of your files and continue the factory reset process. After it finishes, then your Surface Pro drive will be clean like when it came out of the box.

Since some of these methods are drastic, be careful about which method you try. Only choose the factory reset if no other option has succeeded in unlocking the PC. By learning how to unlock Surface Pro 4 without a password, you never have to worry about being shut out of it again.

Best Monitor For Surface Pro 4: Top 7 Revealed

The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is still a fantastic device. It’s incredibly convenient and ideal for getting work done, as well as for leisure. But one area where it’s inferior to a laptop or desktop computer is the size of the screen. The Surface is only small, which makes it very portable, but not perfect for extended office use.

Fixing the issue is simple. You can buy an external monitor and connect it to the Surface Pro 4 using a cable. In this guide, we’ll be helping you to find the best monitor for the Surface Pro 4. All of these screens are stellar, but some are better than others and might be better for certain conditions or uses.

The Surface is a very practical device. As a result, you could be wanting to play video games, watch movies or work on a spreadsheet. Depending on what you’ll be doing, one type of monitor might be better than another. However, we’re going to try to recommend monitors that work great for everything, as well as some more niche options.

How We Rate And Rank Products

Rating electronic devices are very challenging. Not only does everyone have a unique point of view, but because they are expensive, it’s critical that we help you to make the right decision. To do this, we do extensive amounts of research. We start with a huge list of products and narrow it down to only a handful which we believe are worth spending money on.

Part of our research involves learning more about the electronic. In this case, we got to grips at a technical level with computer monitors. The result is that we can recommend more confidently a device that we believe will be ideal for your circumstances.

We also read as many reviews as possible. By crowdsourcing reviews, we can get a broader range of experiences than just a single person could. The result is a more balanced, unbiased recommendation based in statistics, not feel. Therefore, we can easily rank and rate even complex products to help you to make a more informed purchase.

The 7 Best Monitors for the Surface Pro 4

We believe that, for most people, the Acer R240HY is the best monitor. Not only is it very affordable, but it also offers excellent value for money. It’s also available in a variety of sizes and can come with built-in speakers if you want. Therefore, we recommend it highly for all Surface Pro 4 users who are looking for an all-around, quality monitor for a variety of uses.

The standard size for this monitor is 23.8 inches. You can also get it as small as 21.5 or as large as 27 too. In our opinion, most people would be best suited to the standard size. Unless you are doing a lot of video work or playing games, most people won’t benefit significantly from a huge screen.

What they are likely to benefit greatly from is the 60Hz refresh rate. While not perfect for video games, it will ensure a smooth feel to HD and 4k movies. Again, if you plan to play video games extensively, this monitor might not be the best for you. But most Surface users don’t game on them regularly, and therefore we didn’t weigh this issue heavily.

You’ll also notice that the screen has practically no bezel or border. This bezel gives it a more attractive look, with a sleek finish. But it also means that it’s physically smaller and therefore can fit comfortably on smaller desks and in cubicles.

On the hardware side, the monitor takes HDMI, DVI, and VGA. Given that the Surface Pro 4 has none of these ports, we would highly recommend that you get a USB-C to HDMI converter and use this to attach to the monitor. This adaptor will give you the highest quality signal and will also transmit audio if you buy the screen with built-in speakers.

For most people, these speakers are incredibly valuable. Having to buy and fit another device on your desk is a pain. The audio from the monitor is fantastic and well worth the extra money, even just for the convenience.

If this first monitor didn’t do it for you, perhaps this one will. It’s also by Acer, one of the premier mid-range brands in the industry. While they create laptops and desktop computers, they are most known for their quality monitors.

This device comes in at 21.5 inches, a little smaller than the last. However, it’s entirely HD, with a 1920 x 1080 resolution. The refresh rate is also slightly higher at 75Hz, which will mean a smoother picture if you’re playing games or watching high FPS footage.

The device itself uses AMD Radeon FreeSync technology. This technology ensures a perfectly synced and flawless picture that refreshes regularly and accurately. For streaming movies or playing games, this is incredibly beneficial.

This monitor sells itself as zero-frame. While that’s not technically true, it does has a small bezel and is ultra-thin. This size ensures that it looks gorgeous and can fit into even the most cramped offices and homes.

The screen has a 4ms response time. This time is the amount it will take for you to see movement on the screen after it occurs. For day-to-day tasks, this is fantastic. But for hardcore gamers, you’ll want a screen that’s down to 2ms or even 1ms delay. Again, we’re trying to recommend monitors that are ideal for the average Surface Pro user.

No matter who you are, you’ll have heard of HP. They are arguably the most recognizable brand in the entire PC world. Known for their quality hardware, they are a brand that is trusted by some of the largest corporations in the world for their mission-critical devices.

This monitor is a classic. The Pavilion has been around for years and has improved over time. Today, it’s an incredibly affordable Full HD option that is around a hundred bucks. As a budget option, it’s a fantastic choice. For a little more, you can even get a dual-monitor setup with a stand.

The screen itself has 2 million pixels. While that might sound like a lot, it’s not incredible and will give you a fairly standard picture. Similarly, it only has a 7ms response time. Therefore, we’d primarily recommend this monitor for those looking for a sturdy workhorse for office work. For movies, it will be okay, but not fantastic.

However, you’ll notice that for a monitor of this cost, the colors are incredibly vibrant. The density of color is excellent. Therefore, for photo work and even video editing, this could be a fantastic budget option for creators.

In general, the main reason why people buy the HP Pavilion is that of its reliability. Thin modern monitors are finicky. The Pavilion is sturdy and is likely to last you for years to come because of the reliability and toughness of the components.

We would highly recommend this monitor to users looking for an additional screen for work and leisure. If you browse the web, work on the computer or use social media, this monitor is a cheap option with plenty of benefits. But, it’s not a stunning display that’s for watching long movies or playing games.

The reason why we wanted to include this monitor on the list is that of its size. Some Surface users love a huge monitor, and this is a great choice. If you need a lot of screen space for multiple applications, or if your eyesight isn’t great, a large monitor like this can be very beneficial.

It’s not every day that you find one this size, particularly at a reasonable price. Dell is a brand that you can trust because they create quality products and have done so for decades. With a Full HD, 1920 by 1080 screen, you’ll get high-resolution images with crisp details. Plus, with Dell’s screen technology, you’re guaranteed to get vibrant and deep colors.

Having a screen this size is a real luxury, but you won’t have to break the bank to get this monitor. At under $$, it’s very affordable for these screen dimensions. However, being so big you won’t get as crisp an image as you would at the same resolution on the previous Acer monitors that we listed.

For this reason, we would only recommend this to people who value size over everything else. As a large monitor, which is useful for many people, it’s a bargain. But if you don’t mind a smaller alternative, the Acer monitors will give you superior performance, albeit scaled down.

You don’t need to look closely to see that this isn’t your standard monitor. Not only is it UltraWide, at 21:9 dimensions, it’s also curved. With a curved screen, you get a very different viewing experience, which can be ideal for using multiple applications side by side.

The screen itself is 34 inches wide, making it huge. It has a 3840 x 1440 resolution, which means that even on such a big screen, you’ll get ridiculously crisp images and video. If you plan to have multiple monitors side by side, having a curved screen is fantastic because it gives you a flawless look.

It’s worth noting, all of these benefits come at a cost. We’d only recommend this monitor to power users. If you don’t need a vast curved display, go for the Acer. However, a small niche group of people can benefit from this type of screen and therefore should find this review helpful.

We love this monitor. But the reason why it’s not ranked higher is that it doesn’t offer anything significantly different to far cheaper alternatives like those from Acer and HP. Regardless, if you want a curved screen, but at a small size, this is the ideal option.

At 24-inch, it’s small for a curved monitor. At 60Hz refresh rate and 4ms, it could easily be for video games, especially for those gamers who aren’t hardcore. But where this screen shines is in the picture quality. With a 3000:1 contrast ratio, you’ll notice that blacks and bright whites are incredibly vivid, making movies and games look incredible!

At 27 inches and with 1080p Full HD, this is a fantastic monitor. The reason why it’s not ranked higher is that ViewSonic, the brand that makes this monitor, isn’t particularly well-known. While not a huge issue, it does mean that it’s difficult for us to know how reliable the customer service will be going forward.

We tend to prefer to buy expensive electronics from quality companies that have a proven track record. But that’s not to say that we won’t give new things a chance. Plus, with an industry-leading 3-year coverage and warranty, you’ll be more protected with this monitor than you would be with name-brand alternatives.

We tend to prefer to buy expensive electronics from quality companies that have a proven track record. But that’s not to say that we won’t give new things a chance. Plus, with an industry-leading 3-year coverage and warranty, you’ll be more protected with this monitor than you would be with name-brand alternatives.

Buyers Guide: Find The Best Monitor For Surface Pro 4

When you’re thinking about a monitor, you have a lot to consider. The most obvious difference between screens is the size. The size of monitors is typically measured in inches, diagonally from corner to corner. They can range from 18” up to 50” and even larger. Most people will need a screen between 18” and 24” for day-to-day tasks.

However, for video games or movies you might want to go even larger. The next consideration should be the frame rate. Monitors often go up to 144Hz. Hz is a measure of the number of times the screen refreshes the image per second. A faster pace means a smoother picture. But a monitor above 60Hz is only needed for video editing and playing games.

Cost is also a huge consideration. As with most tech goods, the price can differ significantly. Pick a number in your head and stick to it to prevent yourself from overspending.

It’s worth noting that the Surface Pro 4 only has a USB-C and a Mini-Displayport. Most modern monitors require Displayport or HDMI, and therefore you’ll need to purchase an adaptor to utilize these premium monitors. Adaptors typically are relatively cheap and buying a quality cable should reduce any possible signal loss or disruption. To summarize:

  • Keep in mind the price
  • Figure out how large a screen you need
  • Decide what you want to use the monitor for
  • Find the right adaptor for the monitor

Surface Pro 4 Battery Life Benchmarks

The Surface has been out for about seven weeks as I write this and I finally managed to get all of my data together to do some real-life Surface Pro 4 battery life benchmarks. Part of this delay was to give Microsoft a chance to address some ongoing battery issues with the November Update which released in mid-November.

I’ve done this type of testing for previous Surface models, and many people have found it much more useful and accurate than synthetic benchmarks created by battery testing software (which many reviewers use).

So, let’s get down to the test results.

Surface Pro 4 Battery Life: Benchmarks

Here are the results for all three SP4 CPU models (m3, i5, i7). For these tests, in the interest of scientific rigor, my testing procedure was as follows (unless noted otherwise in a specific section):

  • The m3 SP4 had 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD
  • The i5 and i7 SP4s and 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSDs.
  • The Surfaces were all patched up as of November 15th (and included the November Update).
  • The Surfaces were not updated during the test sequence (to keep the patch level consistent throughout the tests).
  • The tests were run six times for each model and averaged to get the results below.
  • The devices were fully recharged and restarted before each test run.
  • The default “Balanced” power plan was used on each device.
  • Screen brightness was set to “Suggested.”
  • The devices were used until the critical battery action put them into hibernate at 3% remaining capacity. All low power messages were ignored.
  • None of the three devices I tested seemed to suffer from any issues or bugs that caused premature battery drain.
  • If I got an “outlier” result (such as the battery only running half as long during a single test), it was discarded, and a new run was performed.
  • Results were rounded to the nearest minute.

Now that you know what my testing procedure was like, let’s move onto the actual benchmarks.

Surface Pro 4 Battery Life: Normal Use

In this scenario, I tested a “normal use” scenario. I used the Surfaces to do things like web surfing, blogging, editing pictures, light graphics work, email, Facebook, streaming videos, etc. In other words, I basically just used them to work and web surf like any normal day.

I let the SP4s turn off the screen and sleep normally when I wasn’t using them, but I did not power them off or press the power button to rest them manually.

This graph shows minutes of battery life during regular use, including when sleeping:

All three tablets would have made it through a typical 8-hour work day but, the m3 model would have just barely squeaked by at 7 hours and 54 minutes. By comparison, the i5 model gave me, on average, 10 hours and 4 minutes of life

This graph shows the total battery life while the Surfaces were actually powered on and in use (not including sleep):

You might be surprised by how poorly the m3 version did with this test. At 376 minutes (6 hours, 16 minutes) of average total run time, it had a battery life that was even less than the average for the i7 version. However, nothing was wrong with the test. It seems that the m3 version of the SP4 is simply less efficient than the other models.

If you try these tests yourself, the results will vary depending on the types of software you run, power settings, and how often you let your Surface go to sleep. I tend to let my Surfaces sleep about 30% of the time during the day, and I don’t tend to run high-intensity apps like Mathematica, Lightroom, or Lumion. Inversely, I do often run several web browser windows at once, and I usually have MS Paint and/or Excel running in the background; so, I am taxing the CPU a little bit, just not a lot.

Surface Pro 4 Battery Life: Streaming

For this test, I fired up the Netflix app and played back to back videos until the battery was exhausted. There were minimal gaps between videos (sometimes I had to deal with the “are you still watching” prompts). This test does a good job of simulating being on a long flight and passing the time by streaming movies. I did the same thing with YouTube (in Chrome).

The results are as follows:

Correction: The original graph for this section was incorrect. The m3 data was good but, the data for the i5 and i7 models were from a different test that I decided not to use (powered on, doing nothing). The graph above is the corrected version. The other graphs were double-checked and are correct.

As you can see, the m3 model once again is lagging behind the i5 model but, has a slight edge on the i7 model. Streaming from the net uses Wi-Fi quite a bit, but it shouldn’t be a significant tax on the CPU; so the m3, in theory, should have an advantage.

It also seems that the Netflix app is a little more efficient than YouTube on Chrome, which is not a total surprise.

Surface Pro 4 Battery Life: Gaming

For this test, I fired up SP4 is lacking) but they are still pretty good, and it draws each spacecraft component separately which adds to the CPU load.

Here are my results:

 

The m3 finally outperformed the i5 and i7 for battery duration. However, even though the battery lasted longer, it was much more painful to play KSP on the m3 than the others.

Often, I would have framerates in the single digits when I had more than one small spacecraft on screen. The i5 was quite playable most of the time (but would lag if I had a lot of objects on display) and the i7 version played pretty smoothly no matter what I had on screen (up to a point I put a monster space station with 628 individual parts in orbit, anyway).

Funny enough, if you look at my post on the Surface Pro 4 for this test, you will see that the SP3 has a battery with a larger capacity.

Surface Pro 4 Battery Life: Recharging

While depleting the battery is usually more fun, how quickly you can recharge your SP4 is pretty essential, as well. So, here are the results of my testing where I recharged the SP4 models from 3% back up to 100%. The tablets were not in use during the charge cycles:

This time, the result is pretty much a draw as all three versions recharge in a little over 2 hours and 30 minutes. Since the m3 version of the SP4 comes with a 24W charger (as opposed to the 36W version that comes with the i5 and i7 versions), I was a bit surprised by this result.

Surface Pro 4 Battery Life: How to Save Battery Life on Surface Pro 4

There are some basic things you can do to save battery life on this Surface. These are fantastic tips if you are looking to experience prolonged juice, in addition to already having a good battery!

Use Battery Saver Mode

There is an icon in your notifications section (it can also be searched, or Cortana can be used) that can be set up. This preserves the battery as much as possible by automatically dimming the screen as well as turning off other behind the scenes life suckers. You can turn this one on at all times, or select it to go on automatically when it hits 20%.

Disable background apps

In your settings, you can disable the background apps with a simple click. Go to the privacy feature and then click on background apps under the words “let apps run in the background”. You also have the option to turn off individual apps as you desire. These selections will help your device to do less work and therefore preserve your battery.

Keep an eye on your brightness

When the brightness automatically adjusts to brighter, it is wise to put it at a moderate level. High brightness on the display is one of the worst battery drainers. You can change the brightness through settings, on your toolbar, or on the keyboard itself.

Turn off battery suckers you don’t need

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and mobile broadband are all things that run in the background. They are always searching for networks, and they drain your battery life in the process. Airplane Mode is a great way to give your laptop a break when you can go without these features. You can also individually keep them off as they are not in use.

Surface Pro 4 Battery Life: Best Accessories

We can talk all day long about battery life, but I also wanted to give you some insight into how to improve your time spent on the Surface Pro 4. I am doing that by giving you a list below of some of the best accessories! These accessories will only make your device even more lovable than it already is.

Type Cover

Some would argue that the Microsoft Surface type cover(aka the Surface’s keyboard) is the most important of all the accessories. This addition is the one thing that can make or break you having just a tablet or a two in one tablet and laptop. And the Surface 4 type cover is the best out there! It is larger than its predecessors by a whopping 40 perfect, and it’s so upgraded that even the Typepad glass is smoother than before! Not only does it have these improved features, but it is also faster, and typing has never been more comfortable with the new space that fits in between keys. There are even a few extra keys that come with this upgrade, which adds onto the list of improvements. All that extra space was truly put to good use!

Car Charger

The next great accessory on our list is the car charger for your Surface Pro. Do you use your Surface on the go regularly? Do you worry about it dying while you’re on the road? Then this is a great accessory for you! Laptop chargers seemed all but a far off dream for many of us. But now they are here and made just for your device. This charger is specifically designed for both the Pro 3 and 4. It also keeps the device from overcharging, which protects your battery from harm in the long run!

Surface Pen Tip Kit

Our third great feature is the Surface Pen Tip Kit, which saves you from buying a ton of pen types or wearing out your pen. With this kit, you have a great variety of sensitivity in your pen tips as well as different shapes and sizes. This product is a customizable set of pen tips which help you to get to work more efficiently. Regardless of if you draw, shade, write, select, or whatever you do, these tips are great for anyone who is looking for more than the generic tip that came along with your surface when you first purchased it.

Urban Armor Gear

The last add ons we will cover are some very protective, military-grade accessories. The first is the Urban Armor Gear, which is a surface case made for your Pro 4. This case offers ultimate protection from severe potential damages such a dropping it, scraping it, and scratching it. Not only is this an incredible protector, but it also has a built-in storage space for your Surface Pen! You can even stand this case up in not one, not two, but FIVE positions! Not to mention, it does not block any necessary ports from being used. It’s like a dream protector.

Matte Screen Protector

One of the best brands around is the ArmorSuit MilitaryShild. This accessory of theirs helps to keep your screen from scratching and cracking. If you are on the go frequently, have children around, or simply experience wear and tear that can lead to breakage, this screen protector is your best bet. It is military grade, meaning it’s top-notch quality. It is designed for this device specifically and offers incredible clarity through the glass. This protective layer is not like others meaning it is clear as day. This protector allows the device to remain free of common issues like fingerprints, dust, oil, and even screen bubbles. Not to mention, it is a UV protection, meaning the glass will not yellow like others tend to do. Lastly, the brand is so incredible that they allow you to claim free of charge if it does not live up to its expectations.

There is everything from mouses and chargers, to a variety for pens, to cases and screen protectors. There are so many fun and useful accessories out there for you to purchase and enjoy with your Surface Pro 4. We have covered a good variety of them below, but be sure to dig deeper and find ones that aren’t listed here as well!  

Surface Pro 4 Battery Life: Conclusion

Surface Pro 4 Battery Life: Final Thoughts

So, according to the marketing folks, the low-end m3 version of the SP4 should have the best battery life. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. I poked around online looking for other SP4 m3 battery reviews, and it seems that SP4 that was pretty similar to mine. This makes me think that my testing wasn’t flawed and that there’s something wrong with the m3 equipped SP4 when it comes to power management.

Overall, the i5 version seems to do the best job of managing battery life and, as a bonus, it has more computing power than the m3 model. So, if you want the best battery life from your Surface Pro 4, opt for one of the i5 models.

See also:

Manual Disk Cleanup: How To Find Out What Is Taking Up Your Hard Drive Space In Windows 10

Turn Off Hibernation In Windows 10

Core M3 Vs I5 Vs I7 Processors

Microsoft Surface Pro 5 releasing in Q1 of 2017

Hey guys and happy New Years Eve! 2016 is ending and 2017 is about to begin! There are a lot of releases coming out for Microsoft.

From a reputable source, Digitimes, the Surface Pro 5 is releasing Q1 of 2017.

As you know the Surface Pro 5 will have a ultra HD display and a magnetic charging stylus!

We are not sure when the Surface Pro 5 will release exactly but we are sure it will not disappoint us like the Surface Pro 3 and 4 battery life.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 came a long way from when it was first released in October 26, 2015 to now with many firmware updates.

Let’s hope Microsoft learnt from last year to improve the Surface Pro battery life since many people had problems with the Surface Pro 3 and 4.

Click here for the article about the Surface Pro 5.

Netflix 4K streaming – can Surface Pro 4 / Book handle it?

Netflix is finally offering a 4K streaming service. But Netflix 4K streaming isn’t for everyone. You must have a PC that satisfies both the hardware and the software requirements.

Let’s have a look into them and see if either the Surface Pro 4 or the Surface Book can handle them.

Netflix 4K Streaming – Software Requirements

The first interesting requirement is the browser requirement. Netscape asks you to use Microsoft’s Edge browser and nothing else! Not even their own Netflix’s Windows app!

But why?

At the moment, Edge is the only browser to support Windows 10’s PlayReady 3.0 (Content Protection DRM) and Protection Media Path. Netflix wants this, because they, as the owner of the contents, wants to prevent viewers from capturing and distributing contents illegally.

Other popular browsers may support PlayReady 3.0 in the future but none of them have made any announcements as of yet.

This also automatically means that you will need to use Windows 10.

Netflix 4K Streaming – Hardware Requirements

This is unfortunately where all Surface devices of today fail terribly. Netflix wants you to use a PC that uses the latest generation processor from Intel – the Kaby Lake processors. Note that the desktop version of that generation isn’t even out yet. Only a selected few laptops from specific vendors can claim they have Kaby Lake processors as of today.

So why this (harsh?) requirement?

It’s all about the 4K decoding. This is a very processor hungry operation that requires some help from the hardware. To make it worse (or better, depending on your perspective), Netflix 4K streaming is 10-bit. You can get away with 8-bit streaming, but then you will see banding and lower color details. What’s the point of having super high resolution but less than desirable color grading, right?

A generic processor will have a hard time decoding full 10-bit 4K streams in real time. The Kaby Lake series was designed to handle such tasks. There are some arguments that today’s high-end processors can decode this in real-time, including the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book that uses Core i7-6700K (a Skylake model). But for now, Netflix has decided not to go there. Why? My guess is that they don’t want to deal with support issues. They will want to reduce the number of different variations of supported platform until they build more confidence on the reliability side.

Of course, many of the video cards sold today can easily handle this kind of 10-bit 4K decoding, at least in theory but….

But may be….?

Any video cards powerful enough can be certified for PlayReady 3.0. Could this be enough? Perhaps this is only the first round of testing phase where Netflix wants to limit number of users to iron out potential issues? Both Nvidia’s Pascal series GPUs and AMD’s Polaris series support PlayReady 3.0. You can buy these video cards today and they are not all insanely priced.

But then there’s the connectivity issues. If you are using a desktop machines (or a laptop connected to a display), you will need to use HDCP 2.2. This has only became more popular recently. The chances are that if your setup is not based on the latest generation technology, you don’t have it.

The Surface Pro 4 will probably never be able to play such streams. The first gen Surface Book probably won’t either – it’s dGPU is just not powerful enough. The second gen Surface Book with more powerful dGPU might be able to get there.

But for most of us, we will probably have to wait for Microsoft to release the next generation Surface devices – Surface Pro 5 and the Surface Book. With the Kaby Lake processors, you are in good hands. Well, at least for the Netflix 4K fans.

Oh and Microsoft’s latest creation – Surface Studio won’t be able to handle Netflix 4K streaming. What a bummer.

Netflix 4K Streaming – Do I really need it?

If you are watching movies on your tiny 12/13-inch screens, is it really worth going up to Netflix 4K streaming? After all, that requires not just more hardware but also consumes more data, faster, meaning higher internet bills.

In reality, the answer is probably yes if you are a die hard fan. 4K streaming doesn’t just offer better resolution. In fact, many view higher resolution as one of the less important quality the 4K streaming brings. It is the additional color and dynamic range that adds to the overall enhanced experience.

Also, higher resolution means you can sit closer to the screen. We currently sit pretty close to our 65-inch 4K TV. (Yes, people visiting our place laugh at us). When we watch a good 4K YouTube videos, they are amazing. But only if you sit close enough.

And finally, here are the movies Netflix currently streams in 4K:

Complete List of 4K Movies on Netflix

Free Bose speaker with the Surface Pro 4?

It looks like Microsoft is still trying to push out more Surface Pro 4 with new promotional deals.

First it was with the free Xbox One and now it looks like they are targeting music lovers.

Canadian Microsoft store is looking to give away a free Bose Sound Link Bluetooth Speakers (Carbon) with a purchase of the Surface Pro 4.

The Bose Sound Link Bluetooth Speakers is worth $249 CAD so I can only assume the sound quality is exquisite.

But there is more!

If you purchase the i7 model, Microsoft will take $100 CAD off the docking station.

That means you will get the new Bose Speaker with a docking station for $149 CAD.

For more promotional deal stay tuned for more future deals!

Which is the most popular Surface device on Windows 10?

So what is the most popular Surface device that is currently running on Windows 10? The Surface Pro 3 has been out much longer than the Surface Pro 4 but it was initially released with a earlier version of Windows. The Surface Book received a lot of hype during the initial release but did it sell well, especially compare to the Surface Pro 4?

I honestly expected the Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book to top this chart. But according to AdDuplex, here’s the result:

The Surface Pro 3 and the Surface Pro 4 are placed just about where I expected but the Surface Book appears to be far less popular. Looks like most people are choosing the Surface Pro 4 over the Surface Book. I guess portability and price is more important to most people than a slight increase in the screen size and some performance.

The original article did speculate that this might (partially) be because of the world-wise supply shortage – the Surface Pro 4 became available to most parts of the world from the get go while the Surface Book was only available to few countries. I doubt that alone can explain almost 10-times lower number though.

I expect most Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3 users to have upgraded their Windows to the version 10 by now, so given this chart, I’d say the Surface Pro 4 is doing rather nicely.

And here’s one more slide that might interest you:

No big surprise here, the big five – HP, Dell, Lenovo, ASUS and Acer are leading this chart. But I do expect Microsoft to gain significantly by this time next year when they have the next generation models in production full speed.

… and 5 more days to go from the end of our vacation!

Most power efficient browser for your Surface Book and Surface Pro 4?

Microsoft has recently performed some study on various browsers in the area of battery efficiency. They picked the usual popular browsers – Chrome, Firefox and Opera. They then compared them against their latest browser – the Edge. Microsoft says the Edge is especially optimized for mobile devices such as the Surface Book and the Surface Pro 4.

Their quote:

“You can simply browse longer with Microsoft Edge than with Chrome, Firefox, or Opera on Windows 10 devices”

You can read the this article to find out the details of their test methods. This is the chart they came up with:

All the tests were performed on the Surface Book which means the results probably apply well to the Surface Pro 4 as well.

Given the above, and if you care about longevity, its a no brainer to go with the Edge, right? Even the Wall Street Journal’s article confirmed that the Edge lasts longer than Chrome.

Well, a day later, Opera fought back, posting an article on their own blog, refuting Microsoft’s claim. Here’s what they posted:

Both Microsoft and Opera posted videos running their own tests.

Looking further into details, it does appear that Opera has used several methods to conserve battery. They offer a ‘power saving mode’ (the Edge doesn’t have one) and some of what it does may not suit your need. Of course, Microsoft has decided not to use this mode. Also, an insider build was used which may or may not point to anything.

Me? I use Chrome. I use Chrome’s bookmark synchronization heavily. I’ve built up a huge collection of bookmarks over the years in a hierarchy format. This can be used on any platform as long as I stay with Chrome. If someone comes up with something that lasts 50% longer than Chrome, I would use it alongside Chrome for those special occasions.

As for you guys, which browser do you use on your Surface device?

[poll id=”3″]

Oh and by the way, my wife and I are currently on vacation and we will be for another 10 days. Here are two of many pictures I’ve taken so far. Can anyone guess where we are? 🙂

Surface Book’s dGPU – what is it? Is it worth it?

Microsoft has decided to offer a dedicated GPU unit to their Surface Book line-up as an option on their mid-range model (i5 processor) and as a standard option for the high-end model (i7 processor). Similar options are not available for the Surface Pro 4 line-up but their high-end model (i7 processor) comes with a more powerful integrated GPU, called Iris which makes this whole situation very interesting.

There has been countless number of reviews that have ran benchmark tests to determine if the dGPU is faster and if so, by how much, including our own article found here. But what makes it tick faster and how does it compare against other surface models especially vs the high-end Surface Pro 4 with Iris?

Power and Cooling Envelops

It is important to realize that the GPU unit in the Surface Book has its own power and cooling envelop. In case of integrated GPU setup, they are shared. And in case of integrated graphics versions of Surface Book and Surface Pro 4, the total TDP envelop of the processor is 15w. This must be shared between the integrated GPU and the CPU. So in case you run graphically intensive apps such as 3D games, the GPU will take up significant amount of that envelop, forcing the CPU side to throttle down to not exceed 15w. In plain English, the system runs at slower pace than it is capable of due to power and cooling requirement.

In case of our dGPU, both the CPU and the GPU will operate at its maximum designed capacity as both will draw as much current necessary to do their operations within their (higher) TDP envelop limits. Of course, this also means this combo is more power hungry. The dGPU is rated at total TDP envelop of 33w in addition to the processor’s 15w.

Which GPU?

Clearly, Microsoft is not capable of designing and manufacturing their own GPUs. They do mention that it is based on a Maxwell processor, but customized. Maxwell is designed by nVidia and it is used in many of their GPUs right now, including the likes of GeForce 700 series, GeForce 800M series, and even GeForce 900 series. They are all manufactured using a 28 nm process.

This is quite a range of GPUs, so this alone isn’t enough to determine which GPU it actually resembles. There is a tool called GPU-Z that identifies the inner details of the GPU which can help us identify where this GPU sits.

Here’s what the GPU-Z app produces:

This isn’t quite a match against any of the existing nVidia design so Microsoft is correct in saying that it is a custom design. The closest is the nVidia 940M and looking at the numbers, the dGPU in the Surface Book is slightly under-clocked compare to the standard nVidia 940M. The dGPU holds the same number of shaders but it’s pixel rate is slightly lower at 15.3 GPixel/s vs 17.2 GPixel/s. Texture fillrates are slightly lower too, at 30.5 GTexel/s vs 34.3 GTexel/s. But it uses GDDR5 memory rather than DDR3 for significantly higher memory bandwidth. So even though the core is running at a slightly slower pace, I expect this setup to result in a slightly faster overall performance than a typical 940M setup.

Just as a comparison, here’s the GPU-Z report for the standard integrated GPU version (Intel HD 520) built into most of the Surface Pro 4s and non-dGPU version of Surface Book:

As you can see, the theoretical numbers are not even close and that is to be expected. But in reality, the differences aren’t as big as you’d expect as there are other bottlenecks within the system outside of GPUs.

How does it compare to other Surface devices?

Here are the GPUs used by each of the Surface devices with different levels of CPUs. Each number indicates their test results using Passmark G3D Mark numbers. G3D test suit runs two DirectX 9, one DirectX 10 and one DirectX11 tests:

  • Surface Book with Intel i5 processor / Intel HD 520 GPU : 763
  • Surface Book with Intel i5/i7 processor / Custom nVidia 940M “dGPU” : ~1100 (their site does not record average of this GPU)
  • Surface Pro 4 with Intel m3 processor / Intel HD 515 GPU : 569
  • Surface Pro 4 with Intel i5 processor / Intel HD 520 GPU : 763
  • Surface Pro 4 with Intel i7 processor / Intel Iris 540 GPU : 1373

Surprised with the result? Lets look at another benchmark – GFXBench Windows OpenGL – 1080p Manhattan 3.1 Offscreen:

  • Surface Book with Intel i5 processor / Intel HD 520 GPU : 39.6 FPS
  • Surface Book with Intel i5/i7 processor / Custom nVidia 940M “dGPU” : 61.1 FPS
  • Surface Pro 4 with Intel i5 processor / Intel HD 520 GPU : 39.6 FPS
  • Surface Pro 4 with Intel i7 processor / Intel Iris 540 GPU : 63.5 FPS

Again, probably not what you were expecting.

I’ve looked around for some real gaming benchmark numbers and they too show that the two processors don’t show big gaps in performance. To be fair, Surface Book’s dGPU does appear to outperform the Surface Pro’s Iris 540 in most gaming benchmarks but the gap is surprisingly small.

What’s up with those surprisingly high Iris numbers in Surface Pro 4 i7 models?

How could an integrated solution (Iris) outperform (or closely match) the performance of a dedicated GPU unit? How could a portability-focused Surface Pro 4 model nearly match that of the GPU performance of the Surface Book which is clearly designed to handle higher powered GPU processors?

Lets look further into the Iris built into the 6th generation Skylake processes.

Intel Iris for Skylake processors

Intel produces three levels of Iris GPUs for its Skylake processors – 540, 550 and “Pro” 580. The Surface Pro 4 i7 model uses the slowest of the three – Iris 540.

Compare to the “non-Iris” HD 520 model, the Iris 540 features twice as many execution units running at the same clock speed. Just as important is that the Iris 540 gets 64MB of eDRAM on the same die. The result is a surprisingly good performance out of an integrated solution which still consumes only 15w – the same as the lesser models.

Of course, just as with other laptops, if you push the system hard, they will throttle down and it is unknown how long the Surface Pro 4 with Iris 540 can sustain at a high performance level but still it is an impressive showing. And unlike benchmarks, gaming and day-to-day apps typically don’t continuously stress the system, so in real life, throttling might not be as necessary, hence the gap might be even smaller.

Conclusion

IMO, the first generation Surface Book sits at somewhat awkward position. It is positioned as an ultra portable laplet that can handle some light gaming and graphically intensive apps. At first, it sounds all good until you check out the GPU performance of the i7 version of the Surface Pro 4. It features a integrated GPU that consumes little power but more a less matches the graphical performance of the dGPU! Further more, this option is not available for the Surface Book – if you get the i7, you get the dGPU. If you detach, you get the non-Iris “less capable” HD 520. If you get the i5, you are stuck with once again, the HD 520.

There are other pros such as a bigger screen and a larger battery capacity but if those are not as important as portability, and if you still care about some decent GPU power, IMO, Surface Pro 4 is the way to go, but only if you get the i7 version.