Microsoft Surface Pro as main work device

By | May 14, 2014

Nice surprise in the mail today, my Surface Pro dock arrived. I have been using the Surface as my primary work PC / device now for nearly 4 months. ie this is what I use for work all day, and when I take a tablet to meetings it’s the same device just unplugged. To now I have been using a rather horrid HP USB 3.0 dock that I really would not recommend to anyone, the drivers are crap and performance not so great either.

Surface Docked

Sort of started out as a bit a joke but as I went on I realised its totally workable. It’s been quite an eye opener however. CPU is only a Core i5 1.6Ghz so you need to be a bit more careful about what’s running in the background and also be on the watch out for CPU hogs.

Most people at work use 2 x 22″ screens however here double screens are out really as it only has a single mini display port, but that MDP can drive up to 2560 x 1440 so a single 27″ screen was called for (this is what I use at home, Dell XPS 27). If you do the maths 2 screens at 1920 x 1080 gives about 4.1 million pixels. A single 27″ at 2560 x 1440 gives about 3.6 million pixels so for all intents and purposes almost the same amount of screen real estate. I make extensive use of windows features like “snap” to only ever let any one app use the half the screen without resizing manually. Like this 2 side by side docs is easy, half the screen for Outlook half for browser etc.

The dock has Mini DP, Ethernet, sound in and out and 3 x USB 2 and 1 x USB 3, more than enough, I use the USB to connect to the USB 3 hub on the screen. No special drivers needed and the DP is just a pass thru from what I can tell. Docking and undocking is super quick, slide in, slide out

Daily Surface Usage

As to software, biggest disappointment was Firefox, just totally unusable, absolutely the biggest CPU hog I had running. Close second was MS built in AV, installing Avast! fixed that. Biggest surprise, IE and Chrome, almost no idle CPU use but IE probably wins that one. Chrome is OK if you don’t mind your browser using 4Gb of RAM 🙂 I pay a lot of attention to start up programs also. I don’t have something run at start-up unless you use it.

Energy consumption ? The Surface itself sits idle with all my windows applications I use every day open (89 processes) using about 7 watts (including the dock). During normal use this sits at about 10-12 watts with occasional peaks to about 17-18 watts. The screen uses about <3 watts on standby and 60 watts fully lit. That’s puts me at about 70 watts mark during normal use.

This is not something I would recommend for your average office end user just yet. But maybe one day real soon.

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