This weekend Microsoft introduced a new model of the Surface Pro 3. Like the existing two Core i7 models, this new version uses Intel's Core i7-4650U CPU. At $1299 in the United States, the new model is significantly cheaper than the next Core i7 model, which starts at $1549. In fact, it's the same price as the high end version of the existing Core i5 model. With this new introduction, the Surface Pro 3 lineup is now as follows.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Configuration Options (Core i3 Omitted)
Configuration $999 $1299 $1299 $1549 $1949
CPU Intel Core i5-4300U Intel Core i5-4300U Intel Core i7-4650U Intel Core i7-4650U Intel Core i7-4650U
TDP 15W 15W 15W 15W 15W
Cores/Threads 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4
Frequency Base/Max Turbo 1.9/2.9GHz 1.9/2.9GHz 1.7/3.3GHz 1.7/3.3GHz 1.7/3.3GHz
GPU Intel HD 4400 Intel HD 4400 Intel HD 5000 Intel HD 5000 Intel HD 5000
GPU EUs 20 20 40 40 40
GPU Frequency Base/Max Turbo 200/1100MHz 200/1100MHz 200/1100MHz 200/1100MHz 200/1100MHz
Storage 128GB SSD 256GB SSD 128GB SSD 256GB SSD 512GB SSD

In addition to the models above, Microsoft still offers a version at $799 with an Intel Core i3-4020Y CPU, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and Intel HD 4200 graphics.

The sacrifice you make with the less expensive Core i7 model is that it only comes with 128GB of internal storage, while the Core i5 version at the same price has 256GB of storage. However, you move up from Intel's HD 4400 graphics to HD 5000 graphics, which bumps the number of GPU EUs from 20 to 40. The Core i7 has a lower base frequency at 1.7GHz vs 1.9GHz on the Core i5, but it can turbo up to 3.3GHz which will outperform the Core i5's 2.9GHz in bursty workloads. Moving to the Core i7 also gets you 4MB of total CPU cache, instead of the 3MB in the Core i5.

The intended audience for this new model seems to be users who want more CPU and GPU power, but are able to survive within 128GB either by leveraging cloud storage or simply by not having many programs and files that they need to store. With this new model the Surface Pro 3 line has now expanded to six different versions. While there's still no option with 16GB of RAM, Microsoft now offers a different model to suit almost everyone's preferences.


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  • chizow - Monday, June 29, 2015 - link

    Don't much see the point of this update, the i5 was already really close to the i7 especially in sustained performance due to throttling. The extra 4GB is nice though. I guess this does more or less confirm Surface Pro 4 will be delayed a bit still.
  • Morawka - Monday, June 29, 2015 - link

    i7 is a totally different beast.

    More Cache (doesnt need to read/write to ram as often),
    Double the GPU (thats all it takes for most),
    Legacy AVX Support
    Wide range of memory speed support vs i5
    Unlocked Multiplier
    specially binned for low power/max ipc (thats why it can turbo more, and fit double the GPU EU's to boot)
  • fokka - Tuesday, June 30, 2015 - link

    "Wide range of memory speed support vs i5"
    i don't see what difference that makes on a tablet with soldered RAM you won't (be able to) overclock in the first place.

    "Unlocked Multiplier"

    this is the first time i read about the CPU being unlocked, also i wonder what good that is in a thermally constrained tablet.

    "specially binned for low power/max ipc"

    afaik you don't bin for "max ipc", you bin for voltage and hence possible clock speed and efficiency.
  • cbf - Monday, June 29, 2015 - link

    Hmm, I wonder. Could it be that Microsoft ended made too many Core i7 Surface Pro 3's but realized it wasn't going to move them in the $1,500 to $1,750 price range. Maybe this is just a way of clearing those out -- but not in a way that makes it too hard from them to clear out the better Core i5 models as well.

    Just speculating, mind you..

    I also agree with another poster -- Surface Pro 3 performance in general is capped due to thermal throttling issues. As a result, one doesn't really get that much more benefit from the Core i7 over the Core i5. In fact in some cases the Core i3 performs better because it runs cooler! That's the main reason I'm continuing to wait for a hoped for, cooler SP4.
  • meacupla - Monday, June 29, 2015 - link

    If my gen1 Surface Pro breaks for whatever reason, although that feels extremely unlikely at this point, I would get the 128GB/i7 SP3.

    I don't really need 256GB of storage space, but the extra CPU and GPU power from an i7 works better with my usage, as there are times when my SP1 will struggle to keep video playback smooth on two screens.
  • ruthan - Monday, June 29, 2015 - link

    No LTE no go, again.
  • Intranetsites - Tuesday, June 30, 2015 - link

    mg do i have to buy yet another ipad toget Lte.. Its been a 5 year wait! many business users would embrace a live surface pro 3-4. Tethering is a total joke. Not a viable solution for business people.
  • RaistlinZ - Monday, June 29, 2015 - link

    They're charging an EXTRA $250.00 just to upgrade from a 128GB SSD to a 256GB SSD? And then ANOTHER EXTRA 400.00 to go from 256GB to 512GB? What is this, Apple?!
  • ViperV990 - Monday, June 29, 2015 - link

    At least Apple gives you PCIe SSDs. The Surface Pro comes with an mSATA SSD. Look up how much a 512GB PM951 costs.
  • Mr Perfect - Tuesday, June 30, 2015 - link

    Is it something you could open up and upgrade yourself? Working in thin-and-light laptops is admittedly difficult, but if it's a standard part inside it might be worth the hassle.

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