It’s been quite a while since Microsoft released the Surface Tablet, so you may be wondering why we’re doing a review of it so late in the game. Obviously gaming has become more prevalent on mobile platforms as of late, and we’ve also been doing quite a few hardware reviews on the side of computer accessories such as mice, keyboards, monitors and a number of headsets. We haven’t really focused much on the hardware itself though, and with a number of tablets out there that just might provide suitable hardcore gaming options, we decided to try and take a look at a few of them to help prospective customers choose which tablet is for them. And, with the increase in second-screen game features in the upcoming next-gen—especially the pairing of the Xbox One with tablet devices via SmartGlass—we thought it might be time to delve into the realm of tablet computing.
The Windows 8 Surface Pro Tablet is the first of which we’ll be taking a look at and quite honestly, it’s probably the most expensive and most powerful tablet on the market. Most of you come here strictly for gaming related material, so this review will take a quick look at the specifications of the tablet, design and side features, but will mostly focus on the gaming side of things. Let’s get to it.
Below you will find the full list of specifications for the Windows 8 Surface Pro Tablet. The version I was sent to review will be used for specifications numbers, but I will also provide links at the end of the review to other available models for comparisons. Before we really get rolling on this review, keep in mind that there are two versions of the Surface Tablet, Windows 8 RT and Pro. RT is essentially what you would find in any other basic tablet, meaning that it supports mostly mobile functions. The Pro however, is essentially a tablet-sized laptop, allowing you to install programs like Steam and so on. When I purchased an Asus Windows 8 Tablet last year, I was confused by this, so make sure you do your research to differentiate between the two products.
Tech Specs via Amazon Product Page
|Screen Size||10.6 inches|
|Max Screen Resolution||1920×1080|
|Processor||Intel Core i5|
|Hard Drive||128 GB|
|Graphics Coprocessor||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Wireless Type||802.11A, 802.11B, 802.11G, 802.11n|
Other Technical Details
|Item model number||9UR-00001|
|Item Weight||2 pounds|
|Item Dimensions L x W x H||0.53 x 10.81 x 6.81 inches|
|Computer Memory Type||VRAM|
|Hard Drive Interface||Ethernet 100Base-T|
The tablet is sleek in design with a matted finish and slick 10.6 inch LED screen that gives you a crystal clear picture. Fingerprints on both the screen and shell of the tablet are pretty prevalent however and will need to be wiped off quite often. The design of the Windows 8 Pro Tablet is quite heavy, weighing in at 2lbs, but even so, it is easy to handle and with the kickstand on the back, it can be used sitting just about anywhere. Compared to sitting with a laptop on your lap, Surface is much more stable even when typing with the keyboard attached, or at least for me it was.
The touch screen works very well, and as an added bonus, the keyboard (purchased separately) has a touch pad on it, which is good if you prefer to use the tablet more as a laptop than a touch screen device. Don’t expect to use the touch pad for any type of gaming material though as it’s just like most other touch pads in terms of accuracy. If you plan to use this device for gaming related material, I highly recommend you get a small laptop mouse. Games that are made specifically for the device however, like the recently released Halo: Spartan Assault, work very well via the touch screen controls, even as a twin stick shooter—I was surprised by the accuracy the touch screen provided.
The tablet also beats most of the other tablets I have messed with in the area of sound performance as well. More than likely you’ll be using a pair of headphones/earbuds to hear the sound from the device, but if you’d rather not, the speakers do an ample job of providing quality sound.
Where the Surface Pro beats all other tablets is in the area of performance. I’ve used a few tablets for gaming purposes such as the Galaxy Note 10.1 and an Asus powered with Windows 8, but the Surface Pro blows them out of the water. As you can see from the technical specifications above, the tablet has the capability to run more games than you would expect. Obviously as a tablet/PC hybrid, the Surface Pro isn’t going to run a game like Battlefield 3 at ultra-settings, but I did manage to get games like XCOM: Enemy Unknown, TellTale’s: The Wolf Among Us and other lower spec games to run.
Essentially, trial and error will be the process used for testing out most of the games on the tablet. Some games run very well and others don’t. A title like Gone Home, which is a fairly simple game, had a hard time running on the tablet. Messing with the settings increased the performance a little bit, but not by much.
Battery life is the main threat to the Surface Pro. Running a game will suck that battery life dry in a matter of a couple hours. Using Netflix also ran the battery dry pretty quickly as well. For as much as the tablet does, having a short battery life on a mobile device isn’t a great thing to have, but I suppose the majority of tablets running games will have that issue.
Overall, as a gaming device, the Surface Pro is a pretty capable player in the tablet market. Following this review, we will do our best to continue following more tablet related games as there are some pretty good single player experiences to be had. Currently, a major selling point of the tablet is for Halo: Spartan Assault, although as most of us expected the game will be arriving on the Xbox One soon as well.
The tablet obviously isn’t going to run every single game on the market, but you’d be surprised by what it can run and what it can’t run. We’ll keep working on updating the list of games we’ve tried on the tablet to give you a better idea of what’s able to run and what’s not. Below, you will find a small list of the games we did test on the tablet. We won’t be assigning a score to the Surface Pro as it continually improves with recent updates like the recently released 8.1 update.
(Review sample provided by Microsoft, Thank you.)
ONLY SINGLE PLAYER SCORE
Build Quality – 8/10
Design – 9/10
Performance – 10/10
Price – 5/10
Overall – 9/10
(Not an average)
GAMES WE TESTED
Takedown (Runs well on any settings)
Xcom: Enemy Unknown (Runs well on low-medium settings)
Gone Home (Does not run well on any settings)
Cloudberry Kingdom (Runs well on any settings)
Halo: Spartan Assault (Tablet specific game, runs flawlessly)
Emulators (Gamecube, PS1, Gameboy Advance—Gamecube didn’t run well, PS1 and Gameboy Advance ran well)