GPU Performance

While many will lament the loss of the Intel Iris graphics on this year’s lineup of Surface Pro computers, as already stated, there’s no Iris graphics available anymore in the 15-Watt lineup. There’s no doubt that the extra execution units, and the extra eDRAM as a system cache were valuable, but you can’t sell a product that doesn’t exist. As such both the Core i5 and i7 models have the Intel UHD 620 GPU for 2018. Whether or not this will make a dramatic impact on real-world use will depend heavily on what the GPU was used for, since in some cases the wider GPU could made a noticeable impact, but often it was highly thermally limited in a 15-Watt package anyway.

To test GPU performance, the Surface Pro 6 was run through our non-gaming GPU suite. If you’d like to compare it to any other device we’ve tested, please use our online Laptop Bench.

3DMark

Futuremark 3DMark Fire Strike

Futuremark 3DMark Sky Diver

Futuremark 3DMark Cloud Gate

Futuremark 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited

Futuremark 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited - Graphics

Futuremark 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited - Physics

In the synthetic 3DMark from UL Benchmarks, the Surface Pro 6’s extra CPU grunt helps it stay with the Iris equipped 2017 Surface Pro except in the least demanding tests, although on the most demanding GPU test, which is Fire Strike, the UHD 620 is well behind AMD’s Ryzen 7 in the same 15-Watt package.

GFXBench

GFXBench GL 4.0 Car Chase Offscreen

GFXBench GL 4.0 Manhattan 3.1 Offscreen

GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan Offscreen 1080p

GFXBench 3.0 T-Rex Offscreen 1080p

GFXBench is an OpenGL based test and is less relevant due to the lack of new OpenGL titles. These tests are aimed at the mobile computing crowd for smartphones and tablets, although in those cases the tests are run in 16-bit mode and not necessarily in OpenGL either so the results aren’t directly comparable. Here again we see the Surface Pro 6 in the middle of the pack, although the AMD based system drops off due to OpenGL drivers.

Dota 2

Dota 2 Reborn - Value

Dota 2 Reborn - Mainstream

Dota 2 Reborn - Enthusiast

Valve’s Dota 2 is a very popular arena battle game, and the game itself is playable on a wide-range of devices. The game engine tends to be CPU bound quite quickly, but is still a good yardstick when looking at lower-power GPUs. Here the Surface Pro 6 does quite well, especially on the lower detail settings. When the game is set to its maximum settings at 1920x1080, the Iris GPU in last year’s Surface Pro ends up throttling heavily and offering lower performance despite being a quicker GPU on paper. You can see quite easily how the game ends up CPU bound though if you look at the Surface Book 2 which features an NVIDIA GTX 1060 GPU. This GPU will easily run circles around anything else in the charts, but the game is held back by the U series processor.

GPU Conclusion

Intel hasn’t made significant changes to its GPU lineup for some time, and definitely lags behind AMD’s Vega architecture found in the Ryzen mobile lineup. Due to the lack of availability, Microsoft was unable to  maintain the tradition of offering the Iris GPU either. We’re fairly accustomed to where the Intel iGPU sits and until a new one is launched, we aren’t going to see anything too dramatic in the GPU performance.

Storage Performance

As with last year’s model, the Surface Pro 6 uses a BGA SSD meaning it’s soldered directly onto the motherboard. This saves space, as well as a couple of grams of weight, compared to the M.2 versions. SSDs have become a commodity, so generally manufacturers tend to buy from several suppliers. We can’t say for sure whether Microsoft is doing that this time, since we just have the single sample, but in the past they have so it would not be surprising to see this multi-sourced.

In the review unit we have the SK Hynix BC501 in a 256 GB configuration. This is a PCIe Gen 3 x2 SSD, which SK Hynix rates for 110K IOPS random read and 150K IOPS random write.

The SSD is bumping into the limits of PCIe 3.0 x2 on sequential read and write, and only the 128 GB model won’t do that according to SK Hynix. As usual, larger SSDs offer better performance, but you’re not going to see higher sequential reads than this BGA SSD offers in a x2 configuration.

System Performance Display Analysis
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  • Brett Howse - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    Cinebench isn't long enough for sustained workload testing, but we run it 8 times and throw out the first number. x264 is a much longer test. Reply
  • krutou - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    I think the idea is to chart multiple Cinebench runs like they do on notebookcheck.

    The first result demonstrates the capability of the chip, at the thermal settings specified by the laptop vendor. Some vendors specify an extremely high max TDP for short turbo.

    Subsequent results show how much performance degradation is attributed to good/bad thermals, as well as the vendor specified sustained TDP.
    Reply
  • eddman - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    You can run it back-to-back in a loop. Notebookcheck does 50 runs, although you can do less since the lowest sustained number usually becomes clear by the 10-11th run.

    You run it 8 times in a loop or with pauses?
    Reply
  • eddman - Saturday, November 10, 2018 - link

    Just as I expected. While i7 model's performance drops by ~11%, the i5 drops by ~25%. That's quite significant.

    https://www.notebookcheck.net/Microsoft-Surface-Pr...

    The omission of the fan was a bad move.
    Reply
  • darkich - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    I don't understand..what supposed performance bump?
    If anything, the performance is a total fiasco judging by those web tests!
    Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    It look close but anything multi-threaded will adore the new quad Cpu. Single threaded will be down to cache.

    i5-7300u - i5-8250u
    2.60GHz - 1.60GHz Base Freq
    3.5GHz - 3.40GHz Max Turbo
    3Mb - 6Mb Smartcache
    2 - 4 cores

    You might want to view ALL the graphs instead of the ones that you want to prove your point.
    Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    Mistake:
    " Here the Surface Pro 6 does quite well, especially on the lower detail settings. When the game is set to its maximum settings at 1920x1080, the Iris GPU in last year’s Surface Pro 6 ends up throttling heavily and offering lower performance despite being a quicker GPU on paper."

    Should be: "last year's Surface Pro (2017) ends up..."
    Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    Yawn. No new features, even more anemic GPUs, still meh battery life, throttled performance.

    What is the point of a pro device if there is noting pro about it? At least the macbook "pros", for as anemic and poorly designed as they are, have the option of iris plus graphics. They are the only company to use the 28 watt options. MS cant even be bothered to use the 15w iris chips.
    Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    Did you read the review? Did you look at the charts? Does the macbook have a touchscreen? Can you use a stylus on the mac that's of the same quality? Did you notice that the Iris graphics didn't offer that much compared to a quad core cpu? Did you notice that the battery life is class leading? Did you notice that it didn't throttle as much as, for example, the Dell quad tablets? Reply
  • rrinker - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    For the intended use, what purpose does more GPU serve other than decrease battery life? My workbench computer is a previous gen I3, and it handles electronic CAD and my 3D model railroad CAD programs just fine - every bit as snappy as my main desktop with a GTX970. There is absolutely no difference with Office type apps. This isn't a gaming device. I built my workbench computer to be as small and low power as possible (without resorting to the ultra low power laptop CPUs), so no discrete GPU, not even Iris, just a plain old I3 and an SSD in a mini-ITX cube. It does the job just fine. So will this Surface. So, in fact, does my laptop, with an I7-660U - it can run the same programs just fine. Games? No, but I did't buy it for that. Reply

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