Devices Day at Microsoft grows every year. We have seen the numerous Surface announcements come through the special event held in NYC, as well as the peripheral devices around the ecosystem and a few smartphones as well. As this is the first Device Day after Windows 10 launch, we were greeted with numbers and facts about Windows 10 adoption rates, such as 110 million Win10 installs in 10 weeks, 1 billion questions asked through Cortana and 1.25 billion visits to the Microsoft app store. While the Surface Book announcement arguably stole the show, the big presentation everyone was expecting was for the new Surface Pro 4.

Panos Panay exalted the virtues and successes of the Surface Pro 3, such as the march towards 98% of users recommending the device. However the Surface Pro 4 aims to break such records. The device itself looks like an upgrade of the SP3, featuring 500 unique parts, however due to Intel’s major release of their 6th Generation Core platform, the SP4 was expected to get the whole platform upgrade. As a result we will see SP4 devices with Core M (Intel’s 4.5-watt platform), Core i5 and Core i7 processors up to 15W and ‘up to nine hours’ of battery life.

The Core i7 models will have Iris integrated graphics, which is part of Intel’s eDRAM strategy and we assume at this point that they will have 64MB of eDRAM. Microsoft showed the three-chip SoC in one of their presentation slides:

From 12-inches in the SP3 to 12.3-inches in the SP4, we are told that the device itself is not any bigger as Microsoft were able to reduce the size of the bezels. The display optical stack is also thinner than before, with Microsoft saying it is the thinnest optical stack ever fitted and comes with Microsoft custom silicon in the form of a G5 processor to help drive the display. The chassis is machined magnesium with the same SP3 kickstand that allows multi-position configurations. The SP4 comes in at 8.4 mm thick and a hybrid cooled system as well. The display retails the 3:2 aspect ratio of the SP3 but boasts a ‘5 million pixel display’, or 2736x1824 in numbers, with PixelSense. Each display is 100% sRGB with individual calibration, but also features 10-point multitouch.

Microsoft Surface Pro Comparison
  Pro 4 Pro 3 Pro 2 Pro
Dimensions 11.5 x 7.93 x 0.33" 11.5 x 7.93 x 0.36" 10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53"
Display 12.3-inch
2736 x 1824
2160 x 1440
1920 x 1080
1920 x 1080
Weight 1.69 lbs (m3)
1.73 lbs (i5/i7)
1.76 lbs 2.0 lbs 2.0 lbs
Processor Core m3, i5 or i7 Core i3, i5 or i7 Core i5 Core i5
Cameras 8MP / 5MP
5MP/5MP (front/rear) 1.2MP/1.2MP (front/rear) 1.2MP/1.2MP (front/rear)
Connectivity 2T2R 802.11ac 2T2R 802.11ac 2T2R 802.11n 2T2R 802.11n
Memory 4GB, 8GB or 16GB LPDDR3 4GB or 8GB LPDDR3 4GB or 8GB LPDDR3 4GB
Storage 128, 256, 512GB or 1TB
PCIe 3.0
64, 128, 256 or 512GB 64/128GB or 
64GB or 128GB
Battery 'up to 9hrs' 42.0 Wh 42.0 Wh 42.0 Wh
Starting Price $899 $799 $899 $799

The hardware will also come in 4GB, 8GB and 16GB models for DRAM, paired with 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB of PCIe 3.0 based SSD storage. We would assume this is PCIe 3.0 x4 in line with current high end storage in other PCs, although Microsoft does not specify at this point. 802.11ac 2T2R WiFi comes as standard with MIMO enabled.

Cameras come in the form of an 8MP rear facing auto-focus and a 5MP front-facing camera, both capable of 1080p. Nothing special was made about the microphones, but the SP4 comes with a full-size USB 3.0 port (note no USB 3.1 or Type-C here). Other inputs include a mini-DisplayPort for external displays, headphones/microphone jack and the Surface Connect for movement out to an external dock capable of driving more screens and USB ports.

The new Surface Pen is an upgraded model, featuring 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity and is presumably a derivative from Microsoft’s acquisition of pen technology from N-Trig. Microsoft will offer several colors of pen, and adjustable tips to account for the feel of the pen. On stage we noted that these will be labelled similar to pencils, and Microsoft will offer B, HB, H and 2H alternatives but prices were not announced for these. The pen is stored by magnetic attachments to the SP4, rather than a storage bay

New Type Covers are inbound as well, featuring a new switch design that facilitates quiet operation and 1.3 mm travel due to a new scissor design. The keyboard is backlit, and the trackpad is 40% larger than previous type covers. It is also worth noting that the trackpad uses precision glass, which Microsoft claims should give a more accurate representation when used. They weren’t 100% clear on the use of fingerprint sensors on trackpads, but there seems to be some versions with fingerprint sensors enabled as well. No pricing was given on the new Type Covers.

The basic SP4 box will come with the device, a Surface Pen and a power supply (24W with Core m3, 36W with i5/i7 that also has a USB charging port).  Prices will start from $900 and go up to $2200, with pre-orders starting on October 7th. Devices will be available from October 26th, but Microsoft failed to mention which regions they would be available, so given the price information we could assume it might be a US/NA initial launch at this point with other regions to follow. If we get more information on this, we will update this post.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Configuration Options
Configuration $899 $999 $1299 $1599 $1799 $2199 $2699
CPU Core m3 Core i5 Core i5 Core i7 Core i7 Core i7 Core i7
TDP 4.5W ? 15W ? 15W ? 15W ? 15W ? 15 W ? 15 W ?
Cores/Threads 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4
GPU Intel HD 515 Intel HD 520 Intel HD 520 Intel Iris 540 Intel Iris 540 Intel Iris 540 Intel Iris 540
GPU EUs 12 24 24 48 48 48 48
eDRAM None None None 64 MB 64 MB 64 MB 64 MB
Storage 128 GB 128 GB 256 GB 256 GB 256 GB 512 GB 1 TB
RAM 4 GB 4 GB 8 GB 8 GB 16 GB 16 GB 16 GB

At this point the exact CPU models are unknown, or whether each device will use some form of cTDP Up or cTDP Down to align with the chassis. One would assume the Core m3 is in cTDP Up mode to align with the performance of the others, though the battery life of the Core m3 device would be interesting nonetheless as the CPU draws less power overall. We will have to try and source at least one m3, i5 and i7 due to the configuration differences for review. 



View All Comments

  • Alexvrb - Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - link

    Clearly this means something. Something. Yes. It means... it means... they blow away competing processors in this form factor! Wait, was that the point he was trying to make? Cause that's what I'm getting out of this. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - link

    ... and the eDRAM and the faster and/or more power efficient GPU. Reply
  • flensr - Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - link

    I'd be getting one of these to replace a high end laptop (Lenovo at the moment), since the high end SP4 at the moment appears to have better specs overall than my T420s. After swapping in a 750GB SSD and upgrading ram to 16GB, my T420S has cost almost $3000, making the top of the line SP4 a near dollar-for-dollar replacement, whenever my laptop finally dies. For that matter, if they come up with a solution to let me easily dock the SP4 and connect to the 2 monitors and kb/mouse on my desk, the SP4 could also replace my aging desktop which is still rocking a quad core socket 775 cpu and 8GB DDR2. I also have an ASUS transformer tablet that runs win10 very nicely and is great for taking around the house or out to the garage whenever I need more screen size than my phone for *whatever*, and it looks like an SP4 could replace all 3 of those systems for the price I'd pay for a full replacement of either the laptop or the desktop.

    The only thing the SP4 can't provide is high end gaming. I like flight simulators and there's no substitute for cpu and gpu horsepower with those, so the SP4 would be wholly unsatisfactory for me personally as a gaming machine.
  • Devo2007 - Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - link

    They do have a solution to easily connect two monitors and some USB devices to a Surface. Reply
  • BMNify - Wednesday, October 7, 2015 - link

    You are looking for Surface dock: Reply
  • tipoo - Wednesday, October 7, 2015 - link

    I don't follow. This *is* a merger of the tablet and ultralight laptops, and the Surface Pros do everything a laptop does. Reply
  • kspirit - Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - link

    Microsoft bringing the Slayage this year. Very impressed with everything they've announced today. . Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - link

    Not really. They're nice devices, but the big players haven't announced or released Skylake based tablet/laptops yet. I'd expect the Macbook Air / Pro to be at least on par with the Pro and Book. Reply
  • Pneumothorax - Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - link

    At least Microsoft is listening to it's customers. Unlike Apple they don't release 1 port turds with less performance like the Retina Macbook when everyone was asking for a Retina Macbook Air... And that horrid 1-port iPad Prosumer'...
    I want Microsoft to slap Apple around as Apple is basically resting on their laurels...
  • Drumsticks - Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - link

    Can you confirm that the Pro 4 offers facial recognition? Arstechnica's live blog states that it does, in addition to the fingerprint sensor of the Type Cover (for $159), but I can't find mention of it anywhere in the product page or various hands ons. Reply

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