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Surface Pro 3, 512 Core I7 Thermal Images

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Here's the initial results my own testing of the Surface Pro 3, 512 w/ a core i7 with updated firmware, as of September 15th, 2014:


Testing, using Prime 95, prime number generator and CPU stressor. The computer had been running for 3 hours before the test began, so it was already at operating, idle temperature. It was also sitting in the dock. All temperatures are in F. Ambient room temperatures are at 70 degrees, 40% humidity.


@ 0 minutes, idle

CPU temperature: 120 degrees

CPU utilization: 4%

CPU speed: 0.85 GHz

Front maximum temperature: 98 degrees

Back maximum temperature: 95 degrees


@ 10 seconds, testing

CPU temperature: 190 degrees - limit reached

CPU utilization: 90%

CPU speed: 2.07 GHz (maximum observed speed, using Prime95)


@ 1 minute, testing

CPU temperature: 192 degrees - limit

CPU utilization: 75%

CPU speed: 1.70 GHz


Within the first minute of testing, the thermal limit had been reached and the fan kept the device running at the same temperature for the next 19 minutes, when the testing was halted. No instability or gross sluggishness was noticed during the testing. Some delay during photoshop actions and the machine was used to browse the Surface Geeks forums at the time. Interestingly, the highest case temperature was observed 10 minutes into the test, at 115 degrees on the backside. That temperature slowly decreased until the end of the test.


@ 20 minutes, end of test

CPU temperature: 192 degrees - limit

CPU utilization: 75%

CPU speed: 1.70 GHz

Front maximum temperature: 113 degrees

Back maximum temperature: 111 degrees


Post test: it took roughly 2-3 minutes for the system fans to bring the CPU & exterior temperatures back to the pre-test temperatures.


Initial conclusion: Considering I never saw the CPU speed drop below the chip's rated 1.70 GHz over the 20 minute CPU stress test, I would assume I could continue at that speed indefinitely. Further testing is needed to simultaneously stress the built in GPU and see the impact on CPU clock speed.

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And here are the promised thermal images:


Pre-test temperatures:





At the end of the test temperatures:





And as a point of reference, here's what the temperatures look like on an LED lit, multi-touch Dell P2714T 27-inch monitor: 


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While it probably deserves its own post/topic within the Surface Pro 2 forums, I decided to do a nearly identical thermographic test on my Surface Pro 2 (512 gig) with the early model core i5 4200U processor (1.60GHz). The only major difference in testing is that the Surface Pro 2 is connected to a USB 3.0 Dynadock, and outputting video to 4 external monitors, which raises the CPU utilization a bit.


Idle state:




@ 0 minutes, idle

CPU utilization: 6%

CPU speed: 0.90 GHz

Front maximum temperature: 102 degrees (4 degrees hotter than Surface Pro 3)

Back maximum temperature: 106 degrees (11 degrees hotter than Surface Pro 3)






@ 10 minutes, end of test

CPU utilization: 80%

CPU speed: 1.82 GHz

Front maximum temperature: 109 degrees (2 degrees cooler than Surface Pro 3)

Back maximum temperature: 121 degrees (10 degrees hotter than Surface Pro 3)






Conclusion: the Surface Pro 2 does seem to be able to better maintain CPU speed while under high CPU loads (1.82 GHZ vs. 1.70 GHz). This resulted in notably higher case temperatures in the Surface Pro 2 vs. the Surface Pro 3. One area that overlooked in this testing scenario is the dramatically differently powered on-board GPU's that would likely result in improved graphic performance of the Surface Pro 3. Fan noise in the SP3 was more noticeable, and appeared to reach the thermal limit faster than the SP2 - but only by about 5 or 10 seconds.

In comparison, the Surface Pro 2 has had nearly a year's worth of firmware tweaks to optimize performance and thermal characteristics. I wouldn't be surprised if the Surface Pro 3 will see minor performance bumps from firmware optimizations - but that said, it does suffer on pure CPU to CPU GHz on CPU heavy tasks.

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