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John Paul Cook

Surface Pro 3 first impressions

I traded in my Surface 2 (the trade-in program is now over) and bought a Surface Pro 3 with an i7 processor and 8 GB of ram. I greatly prefer the 3 by 2 aspect ratio of the Surface 3. After only one day of ownership, I’ve decided to purchase a docking station. I have a 7 year old desktop with a quad core Q6600 processor overclocked to 3.0 GHz and 8 GB of ram. It has a Plextor 512 MB SSD as the primary drive. It’s a very capable machine, but it does have a little bit, and I do mean only a little bit, of fan noise. I’d like to eliminate even that small amount of noise.

My subjective initial impression was that my new Surface Pro 3 was significantly outperforming my desktop. Time to use PerformanceTest to get the facts. The Surface Pro 3 outperforms my desktop significantly on every measure except one of the 2D graphics tests. The desktop was slightly better drawing 2D vectors at 18.7k vectors/sec compared to the Surface’s 15.7k vectors/sec.


Figure 1. PerformanceTest 8.0 test results.

I have 6 TB of storage on my desktop. The desktop could be moved to the closet where my router and switch are. With the docking station, the Surface can use my gigabit network to access the files on the desktop. My desktop cannot run the latest version of Hyper-V, which is most inconvenient. Installing Visual Studio 2013 installs Hyper-V. As a reader points out below, this alters the behavior of how Windows runs on the device.

What I’ve found is that I don’t want to go back to non-touch enabled devices. I use both touch and a Bluetooth mouse with my Surface Pro 3, which is what I also did with my previous Surface 2. Having said that, I use the mouse with SSMS. I’m a little afraid of using touch when doing things to a database. If you’re going to use the Surface Pro 3 for development or doing demos of SQL Server, I recommend that you get 8 GB of ram. Both i7 models have 8 GB of ram. Only the higher version of the i5 Surface that has 256 MB of storage comes with 8 GB of ram.

UPDATE: After taking the Surface to work today, I concluded that I want a lunch bag with a padded slot to hold the Surface. That way I can carry everything in one convenient bag. To the entrepreneur who creates such a lunch bag, send me one and we’ll call it even, okay?

Published Sunday, August 3, 2014 8:16 PM by John Paul Cook



pmbAustin said:

Just a reminder that Hyper-V interferes with the Surface Pro 3's ability to go into "connected standby" mode.

Go here to read more about it:

You can create a very simple script to turn hyper-v on and off (and thus restore connected standby or disable it) based on your usage.

I keep Hyper-V off most of the time, as connected standby really improves the user experience (and battery life) for me.

August 4, 2014 11:58 AM

Kaitlynn said:

So it was fine replacing your desktop? I'm looking at replacing my laptop with a Surface 3 (Not Pro- any idea on how that could change things?) because it seems amazing for note-taking (I'm a student). However, I was concerned because the program I'm entering is very SAS heavy and I also eventually want to learn Python, R, and SQL. I am worried that the Surface 3 won't be able to handle it. Is the docking station a must? (I'm also on a college student budget, but want to make the investment in a good machine)

Thanks so much!

October 22, 2015 9:23 PM

John Paul Cook said:

For running R and SQL, I recommend Surface Pro, not Surface. If your laptop works, wait just a little bit longer for Surface 4 instead of Surface 3 because of better performance and battery life. A docking station is nice to have but not a must. A higher end Surface Pro is suitable as a desktop replacement for many power users. If you need a lot of power, go with a Surface Book.

October 22, 2015 10:05 PM
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About John Paul Cook

John Paul Cook is a database and Azure specialist in Houston. He previously worked as a Data Platform Solution Architect in Microsoft's Houston office. Prior to joining Microsoft, he was a SQL Server MVP. He is experienced in SQL Server and Oracle database application design, development, and implementation. He has spoken at many conferences including Microsoft TechEd and the SQL PASS Summit. He has worked in oil and gas, financial, manufacturing, and healthcare industries. John is also a registered nurse recently completed the education to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Contributing author to SQL Server MVP Deep Dives and SQL Server MVP Deep Dives Volume 2. Connect on LinkedIn

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