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Notebooks Microsoft Surface - Advice needed

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Sentinel-R1, 11 Oct 2018.

  1. Sentinel-R1

    Sentinel-R1 Morse Monkey

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    It's new laptop time and I've been eyeing up the Surface family for a few months now. With the new Pros about to launch, there's some fairly decent deals on the 5th gen to be had, but I'm not sure which model to go for. I'm fairly confident that I'd prefer the Pro, rather than the laptop or Go versions, unless your experiences differ?

    Usage: General office/project use. Portable and versatile. Battery must last a full working day.

    Is the 4GB RAM option going to hinder performance on the Surface Pro?
    Which CPU option should I go for?
    Any other considerations that I've missed?

    Thanks.
     
  2. thewelshbrummie

    thewelshbrummie Member

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    More than likely. I'd say 4GB is the absolute minimum and probably wouldn't use a machine with 4GB for anything other than basic consumption use.

    I have the 8GB Go (thanks to Microsoft offering the student discount to me for reasons I haven't figured out). It's fine but Edge/Opera/Firefox struggle once you get beyond 10-15 tabs (I don't use Chrome), mainly down to the CPU being hammered but memory usage can easily hit 80%+ without difficulty. It's certainly not as quick as my 3 year old Spectre x360 Skylake laptop despite it having the same amount of RAM. The battery isn't fantastic either, 4-6 hours is typical from it so I'm confident the Go isn't for you.

    The Pro 6 starts with 8GB Ram so is definitely worth considering. The extra £100 over the discounted 128GB/i5 5th gen Pro gets you extra CPU cores - the i5-8250 which is a 4 core/8 thread cpu, the i5-7300 in the 5th gen is a 2core/4thread option. Worth keeping in mind.


    Based on a quick search, the m3-7Y30 option in the 5th gen is 60% faster than the 4410y (not the 4415y in the Go but the closest model I can get results for) and the i5-8250 in the 6th gen is another 60% quicker than the m3 (no idea if the source is accurate but it's the result of a quick search) - the i7 in my laptop gets the same advantage over the m3 which puts it at around double the speed of the Pentium, which my anecdotal gut instinct evidence agrees with.

    Doubt you can go wrong with either 5th/6th gen 128GB/i5 option at £779/£879, the main difference being double cores/threads for an extra £100. Obviously being a Surface, the usual about the extra keyboard cost comes to mind and especially for the Pro but I'd add that a decent Bluetooth keyboard works well enough. I'm using the MS Wedge keyboard with the Go and it does the job at a fraction of the price.
     
  3. javaman

    javaman May irritate Eyes

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    Ideally you will want 8GB ram min and an ssd or the ability to upgrade these options yourself if your device doesn't come with these.

    Personally I would avoid the Surface range. I was recently put off the surfaces for several reasons

    a) Expensive than similar ultra books
    b) Windows updates not playing nice on occasion
    c) Battery life was middling on some reviews
    d) non upgradable

    To help recommend something What are you looking for?

    1. What is you're exact workload? Can you expand a bit on project work?
    2. Will you be doing any gaming at all?
    3. What screen size is the min you would be willing to accept?
    4. What is the max screen size you would be willing to go for? (affects portability)
    5. Do you need all day battery or is half day battery enough
    6. Do you need a 2-in-1 or tablet?
    7. Do you need a touch screen
    8. Are speaker quality important?
    9. What is you're total cost?

    If I was looking for anyone I would go with the latest or last gen intel processor due to efficiency gains. I wouldn't go less than 8gb unless it was upgradable (Last laptop I got with 2gb as I could upgrade it myself for considerably less than buying any other configuration) I would stick to 1080p as 4k is added cost and I can take or leave a touch screen. I would also consider a swappable battery that lasts half a day and a sightly thicker and heavier laptop with better cooling and reduce cost.

    Off the top of my head LG Gram and Dell XPS are worth a shout. I would consider Lenovo as well especially their thinkpad line if looking for good value if you are willing to make a few sacrifices.
     
  4. Pete J

    Pete J RIP Teelzebub

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    I've been looking at the Dell XPS 13...
     
  5. Sentinel-R1

    Sentinel-R1 Morse Monkey

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    Thanks for the help, suggestions and opinion so far!
     
  6. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    XPS13 massiv. I love mine, even if the keyboard wastes space where Page Up and Page Down keys could have gone (something fixed in newer versions, I understand.)

    A bit over the £1K budget, though - unless you're willing to get a ex-demo older-generation model, in which case you can squeeze it under. Just.

    Ticks a lot of boxes, though: thin, light, 13" screen but the footprint of a 12", can do a bit of light gaming, all-day battery (12 hours easy, my Linux-running one hits 18)...
     
  7. jinq-sea

    jinq-sea The Double Insulates Super Moderator

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    I had a Surface Pro 4 as my daily for work for a year. Hands down, the worst notebook I have ever used. The hardware build quality was really underwhelming, battery life abysmal (used to do about five hours tops), and the wi-fi chipset was flakier than a dandruff-ridden sausage roll.

    EDIT: Oh and the displayport output on both the Surface Dock and the Surface Pro itself used to be incredibly temperamental. It used to revert to 640*480 all the time, and sometimes if I was lucky, would just output what looked like analogue TV static.

    I hated it.
     
  8. Sentinel-R1

    Sentinel-R1 Morse Monkey

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    Do you think the issues of the Surface Pro 4 have been addressed in the 5 or the upcoming 6?

    I'm reluctant to spend over £1k Gareth, but not as much as I am about buying a used laptop/notebook. It's probably one of the few electronic items I'd always buy new.
     
  9. jinq-sea

    jinq-sea The Double Insulates Super Moderator

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    I have no idea; I swore off them completely! It let me down so often I felt I couldn't depend on Surface hardware for work any longer.
     
  10. Sentinel-R1

    Sentinel-R1 Morse Monkey

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    Hmmm. Anywhere else, I'd take opinion as a point of consideration but on this forum, it carries a lot more weight in my experience.

    I'm at a bit of a loss really! The detachable keyboard and pen would be quite a useful feature and make me a lot more productive in the type of environments that I'd be using it, half the time.

    For the past few years, I've made do with an iPad Air and Apple bluetooth keyboard but being on the Apple ecosystem whilst mobile and then transferring everything to Windows when I RTB is less than ideal - hence my search for something more flexible.
     
  11. javaman

    javaman May irritate Eyes

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    If you need the pen and tablet then yes the Surface is worth the consideration. Personally I use a dual set up of thinkpad tablet 10 and thinkpad edge E320 laptop for portable needs.

    Currently if you want an all in one device the surface would be the best shout for under 1K. Depending on pen useage however a galaxy android device with a fairly portable laptop might be a better solution.
    Personally I've been considering dropping the thinkpad tablet for a galaxy note 8 due to always having a phone on me. Since android went split screen watching videos and penning notes would be manageable on the galaxy note alone and I would still have the laptop for development on the move
     
  12. Sentinel-R1

    Sentinel-R1 Morse Monkey

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    The reason I'm going down the M$ route is for integration with desktop apps and the Office 365 suite, plus Visio. Not sure if 365 is available on Droid, particularly Visio.
     
  13. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    The core Office apps are, but I don't think Visio is included - despite Microsoft having demoed it in 2016.

    I have a Surface Pro, original series. It's crap. It's way too bulky and heavy to use as a tablet, the pen is rubbish (and the magnetic clip that holds it in place when you're not using it attaches to the power socket, so you inevitably lose it somewhere on your desk every time you plug the tablet in to charge), the Touch and Type covers are awful even by cheap-laptop-keyboard standards and you can't use 'em on your lap like a real laptop, performance is woeful yet somehow so is battery life...

    Yeah. Can't really recommend it.
     
  14. jinq-sea

    jinq-sea The Double Insulates Super Moderator

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    I'm on a Lenovo Yoga X1 (I think it is) now. I bloody love it. Wasn't cheap, but will fold back into tablet, pen is ace, and it's got heaps of grunt.
     
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  15. Sentinel-R1

    Sentinel-R1 Morse Monkey

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    Thanks, Gareth. Back to the drawing board, it seems. I've just driven into Lincoln to have a look at the Surface range in Currys/PCW but rather unhelpfully, they don't stock them - online only apart from in Superstores. I'd be reluctant to buy blind.

    I did see the XPS13 in store though for £1500 and I can see why you're enamoured with it. It does look very nice indeed but I'm struggling to justify the extra £500 and as previously stated, I won't buy 2nd hand laptops.
     
  16. Sentinel-R1

    Sentinel-R1 Morse Monkey

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    I saw those in-store but wasn't aware they came with a pen?

    Edit: Further question - does the keyboard disable when you fold it back into tablet mode? If so, that could work.
     
  17. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    You can pick up the base model for £1,138.80 (this plus VAT) from Dell's business site, which is cheaper than buying the Ubuntu or Windows versions from Dell's home site *and* comes with Windows 10 Pro instead of Home. That's basically the newer version of mine, except an 8th-gen Core i5-8250U processor, same Full HD display, 8GB memory, and a 256GB SSD you could upgrade in the future if you wanted to.
     
  18. Sentinel-R1

    Sentinel-R1 Morse Monkey

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    Same CPU/RAM as the 2-in-1 Lenovo Yoga 720-13 I'm looking at now thanks to Jinq, except the Yoga is £799 and comes with a pen.
     
  19. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    Check it does: the pen is usually sold separately for £60.

    Yoga pros:
    Convertible.
    Optional pen.
    Touch-screen.
    Cheaper.

    XPS13 pros:
    Smaller and lighter (304x200mm, 1.2kg compared to 310x213mm, 1.3kg).
    Much better battery life (12-18 hours, compared to eight hours on the Yoga).
    Windows 10 Pro (compared to Home on the Yoga).
    Better display (dim display being one of the biggest complaints in reviews of the Yoga).
     
  20. Sentinel-R1

    Sentinel-R1 Morse Monkey

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    The cheaper 720 128gb comes with the pen, the 730 256gb does not. Strange!

    Whilst I do love the XPS13, the Yoga has the tablet/pen functionality which drove this decision making process in the first place and the ~£400 saving leaves plenty of room for a carry case, Office 365, Visio and plenty left over.

    I think we have a winner.

    Thank you all.
     

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