Question Surface Pro 7 vs Surface Go 3 ?

consptheory77

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I had the unfortunate experience of purchasing a used Surface Pro 4 last year, and it revealed itself as having the "flickergate" problem with the faulty display, and I can't use for more than 4-5 hours (with fan or AC cooling) at a time, or 2 hours (without).

So I need to get a replacement, and I'm divided between the Surface Pro 7 (used, $479) and the Surface Go 3 (new, starting at $500)

I intend to use the Surface for three primary reasons:

(a) as an e-reader, I don't like e-ink or the proprietary limitations of e-readers

I don't need lots of storage, and I don't need fast storage, I've books, magazines, and comic books backed on One Drive, so I can download from the cloud what I need when I need it

(b) as a streaming tablet, which I think even the poorest specced version can handle

(c) for what is not available to stream, the ability to mount blu-ray and dvd images so I can take my media library (no, don't suggest Plex)

Surface Go comes with Windows S, I don't think S can mount images, I'll have to revert to standard Home

But does S make the low specs more effective?

Will I be ok with eMMC?

Is there any discernible effect of paying more for the i3?

Should I get the 8GB version?

I know very well that Windows 10 can run smoothly on 4GB, but Surface Go 3 ships with 11.

Battery life on the 8GB RAM version is said to better, presumably because there is less energy to load from cache instead of storage.

Normally I'd take the Pro over the Go on specs alone, but two things gives me pause:

(a) Amazon will let me pay for the Go by installment

(b) The Go is half the weight of the Pro. This might make a difference if I want to use it as an e-reader.

And there is one aspect left to consider: resolution

The Surface Pros (both the faulty 4 I have as well as the prospective 7 I might buy) have a gorgeous 12.3 inch 2736 x 1824 (267 PPI) screen.
I have a Samsung Tab S6 10.5 2560 x 1600 (288 PPI) that looks great as well, but the Surface screen is better. When watching films, it seems to stream at exactly at 24fps, whereas I feel like the Tab S6 is probably doing 30fps.

Surface Go 3 has a 10.5 inch 1920 x 1280 (220 PPI). I am somewhat concerned that, although the resolution is higher than needed for displaying Blu-ray content, the lesser pixel density might diminish what I feel is a sort of upscaling effect that the additional resolution of the Pro has upon the video.
But even the negative reviews of the Go say it has a gorgeous screen for the price point.
 

consptheory77

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There's a general critical consensus about the SG3 among the professional tech reviewers ("it's overpriced and underpowered") but it is interesting to read the consensus in the aggregated consumer reviews from Google:

First, the battery, which will probably last me only 4 hours of streaming because I like to crank the screen to full brightness:

"The panel runs at 60Hz by default but also has a 48Hz option, great for movies (24FPS) or just extending the battery life through less GPU usage."

"Battery Saver isn’t the only thing you’ll need to do to see close to the 11 hour estimate that Microsoft touts for this device. At full power and medium screen brightness I was seeing about 4 hours of runtime under casual use (web browsing, videos) before reaching critically low levels."

"On my system with the power mode set at the Windows 11 “recommended” setting battery drain is 10% an hour while web streaming video from Hulu or Netflix. This setting yields 8 hours of runtime until “battery saver mode” engages at the 20% battery level. "

"I was able to stream Netflix for about 6.5 hours before the device wanted to go into power saving mode at 20% battery life. I was streaming at the Recommended power setting with screen brightness at 50%."


And as I'm told that batteries are no longer are in danger of getting overcharged, when streaming for hours I'll keep it plugged in, I'll take it off battery for reading or watching a single title.

Second, the processer, one reviewer got very specific:

"the $399 SG3 is for kids and pre-teens. Anyone who complains about the amount of RAM, store, and/or processor power should not be taken seriously because it means they have not bothered to do any research on this device. You don't buy a moped and then turn around complain it ain't a motorcycle.

The $549 SG3 has a Pentium Gold 65004 processor and the $629 SG3 has an i3-10100Y processor. The single-core average Geekbench 5.4 score for the $549 SG3 862, while the average score for the $629 SG3 is 986 (multi-core scores are for things like video editing, photo editing, 3D modeling, etc.; things the SG3 was not designed to do).

The put that into perspective, the Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2 with i5-8250U processors also have single-core Geekbench 5.4 scores in the high 900s. Microsoft is selling the SP6 with an i5 processor for a little under $1,000. Amazon is selling the Surface Laptop 2 with an i5 processor also at a little under $1,000. Finally, the 2020 SPX and 2021 SPX wifi-only single-core Geekbench 5.4 scores are also just below 1,000.

...anyone who states that either the $549 or $629 SG3 are underpowered does not know what they are talking about. Both computer-tablets have more than enough processing power to do what they are designed to do (simultaneously run open MS Office applications on the Go).

If you own a SG2 with an m3-8100Y process (which I did), you will not experience much of an upgrade by purchasing a SG3. Processors have pretty much the same single-core Geekbench 5.4 scores (mid-800s). If, on the other hand, you own a SG2 with a Pentium processor, upgrading to the SG3 will yield a substantial improvement in processing power (around 50% per Windows Central).

Because you will only experience about a 12% decrease in processing power, there really isn't a compelling reason to select the $629 SG3 over the $549 SG3. The $80 you save can go towards the purchase of a keyboard or pen."


So then, less battery life without a commensurate trade-off in increased processing? But will the i3 maybe run an old game better than the Pentium?
 

consptheory77

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I got the Surface Go 3 this week, so far, so good. I got the i3/8GB RAM model. Despite lower resolution than the standard Surface screen, it does retain that "play at 24fps" sheen. It seems to run at about 30% CPU usage (when I play a media file or streaming) and 50% RAM usage. (This makes me wonder how the 4GB version runs at all, but it seems as if Windows scales down its RAM demand when it has to.) I am not using Chrome. I don't really need it (Chrome or the Surface) for web browsing, but I am considering to import my bookmarks from Chrome into Edge. I have not installed an anti-virus program. Since I don't plan to browse, I am considering the trade off I might get because Norton always is doing something in the background. It does not get overly hot. The battery life is bad, as has been noted by others. The pen from old Surface works. It works well enough with a Logitech K480 keyboard and M720 Bluetooth mouse. I have not used it as an e-reader yet, as I am waiting on the Otterbox case to arrive.
 

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