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Surface 3 On Surface Geeks Is Here!


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You are correct.  


Originally, the Surface RT's/Surface 2's used different hardware and ran a completely different version of the Windows OS then the original Surface Pro's/Surface Pro 2's. The hardware SoC (system on a chip), for the Surface RT's/Surface 2's, was the same type that was used in your smart phone. This promised to provide greater battery life than anything the was being produced by Intel.  However, the trade off for switching the processor was that those systems running Windows RT could not run traditional PC applications like Quicken or iTunes, etc... The only software that would run on these machines were free or paid for apps from the Windows Store. 


Poor marketing and implementation of the Windows RT OS caused confusion and lots of ill will. If you understood the limitations, you generally liked the devices. However, shortly afterwards 3rd party OEM's starting bringing out devices running with the then latest versions of the Intel Atom processor. They were put up against the Surface RT/2 devices and had similar if not better performance, battery life AND they could run traditional PC application like Quicken or iTunes, etc... costing about the same.


Today, Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 are more similar then the Surface RT/2 and Surface Pro/2. Both use the Intel Chipsets for choice of processors. The Surface 3 uses the latest version of the Intel Atom (Cherrytrail) processor. This is the fastest Atom processor to date. The Surface Pro 3 uses your choice of Intel's Core I3/I5/I7 processors. Additionally, the type of RAM and storage is different as well. Surface 3 gets a slower memory option. However, this option is still faster than an HDD on a laptop. Surface Pro 3 has a much, much faster SSD storage solution.


In trying to determine which is right for you, you have to understand your use case for the device. Both devices are portable and light. However, the Surface 3 will be more for casual to light duty user and the Surface Pro 3 with be more for medium to high duty. I suspect that most people will not need the power of the Surface Pro 3. 


I currently use both a Surface RT and Nokia 2520 (similar in specs to the Surface 2) as personal devices. I can do most everything I need to get done, on either of these two devices (with the exception of Quicken, which I will then blow the dust off of my old laptop or desktop to accomplish). The portability of these devices makes them exceptional values for working on MS Office documents and browsing the internet or reading books from Barnes and Noble or Kindle or even my local library. I've used them in lieu of a laptop in meetings and presentations and never felt like I brought a knife to a gun fight. In this use case, upgrading to the Surface 3 is probably a no-brainer.


In my professional life as a computer programmer, I wouldn't hesitate one second in picking up a Surface Pro 3, if my company would allow me to choose my computer. As a developer, I'm sure I would go crazy waiting on an Intel Atom based system like a Surface 3 to complete the turn around I've come to expect in my profession. Plus, I have so many applications and multiple browsers and browser windows open AND switch between, that I would probably cause the Surface 3 to roll over and die.


Almost forgot.  Surface 3 now will ship with Windows 8.1 Versus Surface Pro 3 which ships with Windows 8.1 pro. The pro version of windows let you connect to Domains and other fun business stuff.


If you need the "Pro" version of Windows 8.1 you should factor that into the cost of the devices as well. This was an $80 difference.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I thought MS was going to a simpler SKU model for Windows 10 - What will they wind up doing?

while I am not interested in the enterprise additions that PRO brings, I would like the security of having Bitlocker. Once you add the Pen + PRO Upgrade price, you are narrowing the gap between S3 and the I3 SP3 (especially with the discounts they are seeing or will see soon).


I have read elsewhere that the S3 provides 70% of the performance of the I3 SP3. What is the performance difference between the S3 and the i3 SP3? What do benchmarks reveal?

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this looks like a solid device, good review. Microsoft needs to push these to school systems. My gf is an elementary school admin and I showed them the sp3 and they were amazed at it compared to all the ipads- mac airs they give to students. To me the surface is a no brainer better suited for school needs, the only problem is laziness and getting them to switch over.

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