April 19, 2021

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Review of Surface Pro X Upgrade

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Based on the new SQ2 processor, the Surface Pro X upgrade achieves better performance and longer battery life, making it a powerful enough mobile productivity tool. But from a Windows on ARM perspective, it’s still a step away from perfection.

In the first half of this year, I used the first generation of Surface Pro X, the dual function notebook has a narrow bezel and pure black body of high level in appearance, the longest 13.5 hours for long life and based on ARM architecture of SQ1 processors bring change in habits, can be like a phone card on the Internet and never shut down, always keep yourself online. As a result, the laptop is more like my ideal “mobile productivity”.

Released in October this year, Microsoft Surface Pro X upgrade, the biggest change is to pick up a new generation for SQ2 processor, which brought a faster connection of LTE, run faster and longer range, the official claimed that can achieve the longest 15 hours of life, so this laptop takes full consideration in the use of “not charging” scenario.

However, this is a bit of too simple to introduce the Surface Pro X upgrade. Break it down and find out where the new Surface Pro X has been upgraded. How does arm-based compatibility affect this laptop?

Still good-looking but a little different

At last year’s Surface launch event, the Surface Pro X was a surprise because it was the only two-in-one laptop in the Surface Pro line with a narrow bezel, which made it recognizable throughout the Surface family. The Surface Pro X update is the same in this respect, but a little different this time.

The biggest difference in the appearance of the Surface Pro X update is the bright platinum color, which looks more like the panda color popular on mobile phones than the elegant black, but looks more textured and lively because the platinum color is more silver-like in appearance and is made of frosted metal.

So, the Surface Pro X upgrade is a continuation of the Surface’s usual sophistication from the level of appearance, but the bright platinum palette also exposes a problem of color differences due to different materials. The top of the laptop is made of plastic, so its color is markedly different from that of the metal back. In fact, the same thing happened with the previous Surface Pro X, but it’s not visually noticeable because it only has a color palette of elegant black and is all black.

Why is Microsoft doing this? I think Microsoft has designed this to ensure signal strength. In addition to Wi-Fi connectivity, the second Surface Pro X models also support LTE connectivity, allowing users to plug in a SIM card to get their laptop to the Internet on the go, just like a mobile phone. If this part is also made of metal, it will ensure the consistency of the back, but it will affect the network performance of the Surface Pro X upgrade. In today’s society, poor signals, low Internet speeds, and high latency are very damaging to productivity and our mood. It’s equivalent to Microsoft sacrificing a little bit of appearance in exchange for faster and more stable network performance, prioritizing functionality. In that sense, it’s worth it.

If you really mind the color difference, there’s also a classic black color option for the Surface Pro X upgrade. We took the Surface Pro X upgrade and turned it 360 degrees and tasted the front again.

The Surface Pro X update is essentially the same in front design as its predecessor, with narrower bezels on the left and right sides, giving the 13-inch screen greater field of view and a higher level of front appearance. In a PC industry where “narrow bezel is the key,” the Surface Pro X update continues this design trend and aesthetics. Also, with a larger screen, multitasking on a 13-inch screen doesn’t feel too “crowded.” The top and bottom bezels of the laptop aren’t narrowed, but by contrast, the 5-megapixel front-facing camera stays in the top bezels, while the face recognition is preserved.

By the way, the Surface Pro X face-recognition upgrade is a significant improvement over the previous generation, and it basically unlocks automatically as I sit in front of my computer during my use. The experience is very comfortable.

Moving to the screen, the Surface Pro X update still has a 13-inch PixelSense touch screen, and it’s more sensitive and precise than its predecessor, so it’s going to have a better touch experience. In addition, the resolution of this laptop reaches 2K level, and the display effect is clear and exquisite. It has a very clear display effect for desktop icons, text, pictures, etc. 3:2 proportion of the screen which makes it more solid. In simple terms, when the Surface Pro X upgrade shows vertical information, such as web pages, Word, documentation, chat content, compared to 16:9 ratio screen with screen display more information, which is why the screen scale more and more appear in positioning high-end business book, super and thin.

Functionally, the number and Type of Surface Pro X upgrade are exactly the same as the previous generation. There are two Type-C interfaces and a volume key on the left, and a power key and a magnetic Surface Connect interface on the right. If you have more diverse needs for interfaces, a docking station is recommended later. While it’s a shame the Surface Pro X update doesn’t have a USB port of its own, the dual-Type-C comes with a lot of extenuating features, and if you can, you can greatly upgrade the laptop’s hardware.

It’s worth noting that the Surface Pro X update continues a detailed design from the previous generation, its M.2 SSD solid-state drive. Its SSDS are self-removable and replaceable, meaning you can buy and replace your own SSDS in the same format. If you do not what they do, I suggest you to go to a Microsoft after-sales for replacement.

In addition, the solid state is placed with the SIM card slot. If you have the need of computer mobile Internet, you can apply for a data card into it, so as to avoid the trouble of mobile phone opening hot spot to computer. This function is very useful in the situation where there is no public WiFi or bad WiFi signal on trains, railway stations, airports, etc.

In general, the Surface Pro X update uses the same design as the previous generation, retaining advantages such as narrow bezels, a 2K quality screen, and detachable solid state, laying a good foundation for a great user experience. In addition, the addition of bright platinum color, also let this laptop in the familiar and fresher.

This keyboard suits you

The keyboard is a big highlight of the Surface Pro X update, but the laptop comes in Bobbi red. Unlike the previous black version, the color keyboard also has a marble-like texture, paired with Alcantara Ophidia, so it’s more textured than the red one.

However, the keyboard layout in the updated Surface Pro X is exactly the same as in the previous version, with little free width between the keys and at either end of the keyboard, but the caps are wider and easier to enter, and the keyboard is roughly the same width as in the updated Surface Pro X. As a result, the keyboard looks very compact. But it also tends to give people a sense of constraint, which is not the case in actual use.

The keys are big enough to avoid the strangeness and dislocation of a new computer and the odd words typed into Word. In the hand, the keyboard presses up relatively soft, but the feedback is obvious, long press makes hand not tired. And the soft touch means it doesn’t require a lot of effort, making it ideal for female users and for a wider audience.

There’s also a groove above the keyboard that holds the Surface Slim Pen and wirelessly charges it, which folds away to hide the stylus completely. However, I’d like to remind you that when using this keyboard, try to fold it up to form a space with the desktop to buffer the force of the keyboard strokes. As for the stylus, the top of the Surface Slim Pen can be used directly as a rubber sassafras, and the writing delay is only 2 milliseconds, which is hardly noticeable. Although this is not a popular pen for me, the low-latency Surface Slim Pen is a necessity for people who like to write and draw on a daily basis or who have drawing needs.

The weight of this Surface Pro X upgraded special keyboard is only 0.62lbs, the body of the computer is only 1.7lbs, and the total weight is only 2.32lbs, about 2.2lbs weight and 0.29inch thickness, making this laptop very portable and suitable for rush hour commuting. And not to mention a backpack, a one-shoulder bag with plenty of space can fit.

What’s the mobile office experience like?

In an office environment, needless to say, this is a very standard Windows 10 laptop with no significant difference from other regular laptops. But as you walk out of the office, the advantages of the SQ2-powered Surface Pro X upgrade become apparent.

Thanks to LTE connectivity supported by the SQ2 processor, the improved Surface Pro X can be plugged into a SIM card and surf on the Internet anytime, anywhere, just like a phone. Because of the nature of my job, I have to write breaking news all the time, even when I’m on a train, in an airport, on the street, in a bunch of other outdoor places you can think of. If I follow the old habits, I will first turn on the phone to set the hot spot, then find the hot spot on the laptop to connect, and finally function. Although my laptop successfully connected to the Internet, I could do nothing but watch my mobile phone drain power like water. After finishing the news, picked up the hot mobile phone in the wind messy.

But if the computer itself can actively connect to the Internet, that’s another story. All I had to do was turn on the “Cell Phone Network” switch in the computer notification bar, and I can feel very relaxed. It is worth noting that LTE network connectivity will increase power consumption to some extent.

In terms of endurance, this part is based on my personal working habits, which may be deviated due to the different nature and habits of work. I usually open 10 or more tabs in the browser, open Word at the same time, set the screen brightness to 70, set the battery usage mode as standard, and it can last 7 hours and 11 minutes without power. If you have LTE on, it lasts around 7 hours, which is enough for emergencies. According to official figures, the laptop can last up to 15 hours and has an increased battery capacity.

 

In addition to its own battery life, the Surface Pro X upgrade supports a 65W fast charge. In tests, the laptop was able to charge 65% of the battery in an hour, and 95% after 96 minutes of charging. At this time, the laptop entered the trickle-charging stage, and finally took 2 hours to fully charge the battery. While the Surface Pro X can charge at a slower rate than its predecessor, with 65 watts, it can charge around 80% in an hour, but that also comes with longer battery life and a larger battery capacity.

How much productivity can it have?

No matter how beautiful the products are said in words, videos or PPT, they must be put to the test in real life. One of the best things about the laptop is that the Surface Pro X update has also been upgraded to better deal with problems you might encounter in real life.

The upgraded Surface Pro X is equipped with a new generation SQ2 processor. As an iterative version of SQ1, the performance of Surface Pro X has been enhanced to some extent, which makes it suitable for office tasks. At the same time, there is another concern — compatibility, which is the biggest concern for most users of these devices. SQ2 is still an ARM architecture processor, which means it may not support a significant portion of 64-bit desktop applications and can only run 32-bit programs in X86 environments, which can lead to inefficiencies and performance problems in the process, as shown in performance testing.

Due to the fact that some software is not equipped with ARM architecture processor, such as PC Mark10, the test cannot be started, and the test software that can be run has repeatedly encountered running error, flash back and other problems.

In the 3D Mark office environment benchmark, the Surface Pro X upgrade scored 7414, equivalent to the level of a business office laptop in 2020, which means it can be used to handle all kinds of documents and do simple PS work.

The solid-state read/write speed test, which I did with CrystalDiskMark, it was 2319.15MB/s for sequential read/write and 1540MB/s for the Surface Pro X upgrade in normal mode. In 4K file multithreaded read-write speed, the reading speed is 560.13MB/s, and the writing speed is 204.55MB/s. This part is ok, which means that under normal use, you can quickly open the file and read the contents.

By contrast, the Surface Pro X upgrade performs better in ARM’s 64-bit software. When running Geekbench 4 under ARM 64 environment, the single-core run score was 3590 points, while the multi-core run score reached 12058 points, which was a certain improvement compared with SQ1 and higher than the Surface Laptop 3 with AMD Ryzen processor. However, since the latter is an X86 architecture, there are no compatibility concerns.

As for the compatibility problem of Surface Pro X update, although there are incompatibilities in some tests and large software, which are commonly used in daily life. It can work normally. So, from a daily use point of view, don’t worry too much about compatibility issues.

From the point of the above test, Surface Pro X upgrade is a very standard business notebook, suitable for office file and simple image processing, combined with support LTE network connections and similar interest screen of mobile phone set, a strong mobile office properties, for people with this kind of demand, the Surface Pro X upgrade performance is enough. But if your job is to make pictures and render video clips, a more powerful device is recommended.

Is the Surface Pro X upgrade worth buying?

First of all, it is necessary to determine your needs. If you often go out, work scenes are often accompanied by problems such as inability to charge, absence of public WiFi, etc., and the tools used in your work are mainly common software, then there is no problem in choosing Surface Pro X upgrade. But if you work a lot and don’t have to worry about charging, networking, etc., then the choice of Surface Pro X upgrade should be carefully considered.

The Surface Pro X upgrade, which relies on the SQ2 processor, has better performance than the previous generation. In addition, this laptop has LTE link, longer battery life and higher portability, which makes it have stronger mobile office attributes. I personally expect the Surface Pro X product line will exist for a long time in the future, and it will cover more users and office needs with other Surface products.

But the Surface Pro X update still faces the same incompatibility issues that all ARM-powered PCS face. Therefore, at the present stage, the processor of ARM architecture does limit the performance of relevant PC products to a certain extent, and even limits the development of Windows on ARM. I hope that Later Microsoft can cooperate with Qualcomm and other software vendors to make more software adaptations, and take more actions against developers. The more adaptations, the stronger and the more competitive of Microsoft’s subsequent ARM products and the higher the appeal of Windows on ARM will be.

 

In fact, this is the last and most important step toward perfection for the Surface Pro X upgrade.

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