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Surface 2: A Look at the Hardware Inside

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 26 comments

Want to see what the Surface 2 looks like on the inside? We take a look at the chips that make up Microsoft's next Windows RT tablet.

Microsoft yesterday showed its Surface 2 tablet computer (click here for our hands-on video). While it may run the lesser-preferred (by power users, at least) Windows RT, albeit in 8.1 form, Microsoft has some significant improvements in this new model. The hardware in particular is much nicer, with a thinner and lighter magnesium casing. Nvidia provides the main SoC with its Tegra 4, which we had fun with in the Nvidia Shield.

The main display gets a considerable resolution boost, now sharing the same full HD panel that's also in the Surface Pro 2. Storage and memory capacity is a bit more modest than full Windows 8.1 bigger brother, however, with 32GB and 64GB SSDs as options and 2GB RAM standard.

We had a chance to take a bit of a closer look of the guts inside the Surface 2. Check out our videos and photos below:

Surface 2 Hardware

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  • -5 Hide
    g-unit1111 , September 24, 2013 12:02 PM
    Windows RT = epic FAIL.

    If it ran full Windows 8, this thing would be out selling the iPad by a 5:1 ratio. But nope I see they're still sticking to crappy RT.
  • -2 Hide
    jhansonxi , September 24, 2013 12:03 PM
    Probably hardware locked at the CPU like the previous version so it's basically a M$ services terminal.
  • 2 Hide
    hannibal , September 24, 2013 12:29 PM
    Quote:
    Windows RT = epic FAIL.

    If it ran full Windows 8, this thing would be out selling the iPad by a 5:1 ratio. But nope I see they're still sticking to crappy RT.


    As soon as Microsoft store is as good as Play store on Apple store or near enough, Win RT is guite ok alternative to iPad or any Android based pad. In the meanwhile the pro version is more usefull, because it allready have guite huge software base that people can use allready. So I would not say that TR is bad not at least in the future.
    RT will be the pad replasemet, pro version in laptop replasement that can allso be used as an pad. So it has wider range of uses than RT, but RT may have its plase as an pure pad device. It all depends on how the software situation will develop.
    In the meanwhile the pro version is much safer bet, because it allready has the aplication pool that is needed and it will just get stronger when Metro based aplication become more common.
  • Display all 26 comments.
  • 3 Hide
    stevejnb , September 24, 2013 12:32 PM
    Quote:
    Windows RT = epic FAIL.

    If it ran full Windows 8, this thing would be out selling the iPad by a 5:1 ratio. But nope I see they're still sticking to crappy RT.


    Two points you should consider. First off, since the dawn of the iDevices, there have been hardware and (arguably) software bearing devices that were superior to the iDevices which were vastly outsold by said iDevices. They do not sell on hardware/software alone and it's likely they could sell the Surface Pro for $450 and it wouldn't outsell the iPad. IDevices carry weight well beyond their hardware/software components, and it's a weight that MS's products do not come even close to replicating.

    Second, if you actually bother to compare Windows RT to it's non-x86 competitors - iOS and Android - it's really not crappy at all. The app store is a distant third, but a competitive distant third, with enough apps to keep your average user more than happy. Also, it has full Office and far better multitasking than its competitors. Simply put, it's a competitive OS in the field it actually aims to compete in. Thing is, people see the name "Windows" and assume it must compete with, you know, full Windows, rather than the OS's on actual equivalent devices. This is a mistake, and a common one. Try Windows RT, compare it to iOS and Android, and you might find it has a very distinct set of strengths that will suit some people well compared to the strengths of iOS and Android.

    That being said... $350 for the (now) slightly outdates hardware of the RT, $450 for the decent but not $450'ish hardware in the Surface 2... Both strike me as an overcharge. I'd avoid the Surface RT line not because they're bad devices, but because they are overpriced products. I have a Surface RT I bought two months ago at $350 and I'm *damned* pleased with it for that price. With the T100 on the horizon, I'd tell people to hold off until the competition has their say.
  • 3 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 24, 2013 12:34 PM
    So hating on MS for being exclusive with RT to marketplace, but perfectly fine for Android and iOS? You mustn't be able to see the double standard from on top of that ivory tower.
  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 24, 2013 12:37 PM
    Apple and Google had 'only' 100,000 apps at one time and when it did it was magical, now MS has the same and Apple and Google have way more, but how much of that extra is duplication and shovelware? Seriously need 160 fart apps?
  • -3 Hide
    stevejnb , September 24, 2013 12:49 PM
    Quote:
    So hating on MS for being exclusive with RT to marketplace, but perfectly fine for Android and iOS? You mustn't be able to see the double standard from on top of that ivory tower.


    No, on the contrary... I personally find the Windows store - which, if you'll check my post history, you'll clearly see I've defended on multiple occasions - to be more than adequate. I'm finding some very enjoyable short term games on it (Jewel Ever, Everlands, Robotek, and a few others) along with most of the software I need for basic functioning. On top of that, the inclusion of proper MS Office is an absolutely spectacular boon to a lot of users and should NOT be ignored like many do. If you want to use excel or word on your tablet, RT or full Windows Pro tablet is the way to go, on question.

    That being said, there is no denying that the Windows Store is about 2 years behind its competitors. I've head you "150 fart apps" line before Demand and, while it is largely true - 90% of those extra apps are superfluous - what about things like Whatsapp? Those are things a lot of people actually use and value. There are actual important apps missing from the Windows store, and pretending like this is not he case is disingenuous.

    I don't know why you're painting me as some sort of an MS/Windows hater... I am VERY far from either. We are essentially on the same side, but you seem to take offense to the fact that I can't sit here and pretend like there is *nothing* wrong with MS and MS's products. They release some great stuff - in fact, awesome stuff - but it's not for everyone. 90% of the people who hate on Windows RT with no experience of it should give it a try and they might change their tune... But as much as I dislike that, I can't endorse someone who praises MS whatever it is they do.


    Besides, wasn't it just yesterday you said you had no interest in Windows RT? I'll quote you on it if you want, but, care to explain why you weren't interested in the Surface 2? Frankly, I am, just not at the price point they offered.
  • 1 Hide
    tipoo , September 24, 2013 1:20 PM
    I'd like to see more tablets putting heatsinks on the SoC, as many of them throttle and have been demonstrably fixed with small pieces of copper and thermal paste.
  • -2 Hide
    g-unit1111 , September 24, 2013 1:33 PM
    Quote:
    So hating on MS for being exclusive with RT to marketplace, but perfectly fine for Android and iOS? You mustn't be able to see the double standard from on top of that ivory tower.


    I don't completely hate MS for using a closed system. They should not be advertising it as a full version of Windows. I like the idea of the Surface Pro because it's full Windows 8.0 but it's twice the cost of iOS and Android devices. I like the idea of the Surface but Windows RT is horrendous and has no app support for it. That's the biggest problem that I have with the device. If I'm being accused of being a Windows hater, I'm far from it. Every PC I've owned since 2007 has had Windows XP, 7 or 8 on it and I refuse to go back to Mac OSX. It's Windows RT that I can't stand. Sure it's cool that it can run almost a full copy of Windows, but the fact that it can't run EXE files really limits the device and what it can really do. It's not that it can't, it's a bad decision on Microsoft's part to release a limited, locked OS.

    Quote:
    Apple and Google had 'only' 100,000 apps at one time and when it did it was magical, now MS has the same and Apple and Google have way more, but how much of that extra is duplication and shovelware? Seriously need 160 fart apps?


    Fart apps? Really? That's what these devices are being used for? It's not a question of that. It's a question of numbers. And what's really supported. There's actually less than 10,000 apps for Windows RT. There's over 900,000 for iOS and Android. Sure a lot of these apps are useless but the ones that are useful are far better on iOS and Android devices. The Surface is a great device from an IT stand point because it integrates Windows with full MS Office on a basic tablet. But when you factor in real world usage, the device isn't as good as advertised.

    Quote:
    Two points you should consider. First off, since the dawn of the iDevices, there have been hardware and (arguably) software bearing devices that were superior to the iDevices which were vastly outsold by said iDevices. They do not sell on hardware/software alone and it's likely they could sell the Surface Pro for $450 and it wouldn't outsell the iPad. IDevices carry weight well beyond their hardware/software components, and it's a weight that MS's products do not come even close to replicating.


    I am not denying that at all. I'd take an NVIDIA Tegra 3 tablet running Android 4.2 than an Apple A7 any day of the week.

    Quote:
    Second, if you actually bother to compare Windows RT to it's non-x86 competitors - iOS and Android - it's really not crappy at all. The app store is a distant third, but a competitive distant third, with enough apps to keep your average user more than happy. Also, it has full Office and far better multitasking than its competitors. Simply put, it's a competitive OS in the field it actually aims to compete in. Thing is, people see the name "Windows" and assume it must compete with, you know, full Windows, rather than the OS's on actual equivalent devices. This is a mistake, and a common one. Try Windows RT, compare it to iOS and Android, and you might find it has a very distinct set of strengths that will suit some people well compared to the strengths of iOS and Android.


    Windows RT isn't an x86 operating system though. It's Windows 8 made specifically to run on tablets. If Windows RT were an x86 operating system then it would totally destroy iOS and Android for the ability to run executable files. If you could run AutoCAD, Photoshop, MS Office, and other Adobe products on a low cost tablet? Guaranteed you couldn't keep these things in stock as fast as you could get them in.
  • 0 Hide
    stevejnb , September 24, 2013 1:53 PM
    Gunit, I completely disagree with the statement "Windows RT is horrendous" and "has no app support for it." I have to assume that that your information is *sorely* outdated with ""There's actually less than 10,000 apps for Windows RT"... I was just looking through categories and I hit about 30,000 before the 1/3 way mark in the store, and then I see articles likes this:

    http://www.electronista.com/articles/13/07/02/windows.store.population.faster.than.that.of.windows.phone/

    The Windows Store broke 100,000 apps two months ago.

    Many, many people are operating with information about Windows RT/the Windows Store which is damn near a year old. Heck, the proof is in the pudding - you just claimed they don't have over 10,000 apps when they had 10x that two months ago.

    Windows RT is not for everyone, but for a *lot* of people, the App store will fill their app needs, and the inclusion of full Offfice is worth more than a half dozen half-arsed office-wannabe apps when you are actually trying to use the tablet for work... And I say this as someone who used a Le Pan II Android tablet for work for close to two years.

    I'm not a head-in-the-sand MS fanboy like Back-in-Demand and I'm telling you/asking you... Your information is outdated. I don't really care if you choose Android or iOS over Windows tablets but, if you do, do soon accurate information. I was an Android tablet user until I tried a Windows 8 tablet and it was *clearly* better for work than my Android. And heck, I still use my Le Pan II because it's better than my Surface RT for both text to speech and games, and I use it on almost a daily basis. Android is superior for some things, and Windows RT - or 8, obviously - is superior for others. I can't comment on iOS because I haven't used it seriously in over two years now.

    PS - please ignore Back-by-Demand. The guy's comment when accused that he was paid by MS was - and I quote - "that's real easy to say but so difficult to prove, i'm sure there are plenty of Google and Apple shills in these forums too." As a non-hired person who is quite happy using all three types of devices and RECOMMENDING Android and iOS for certain needs , I have trouble believing this guy isn't hired by MS.
  • -1 Hide
    stevejnb , September 24, 2013 2:03 PM
    Quote:


    Windows RT isn't an x86 operating system though. It's Windows 8 made specifically to run on tablets. If Windows RT were an x86 operating system then it would totally destroy iOS and Android for the ability to run executable files. If you could run AutoCAD, Photoshop, MS Office, and other Adobe products on a low cost tablet? Guaranteed you couldn't keep these things in stock as fast as you could get them in.


    Oye.. Windows RT is *definitely* an operating system. Windows 8 is a hybrid desktop/metro system which incorporates - for lack of a better term - Windows 7 type desktop functionality in with an overlaying shell of "Metro" which takes over the role of start menu and search function. It is partial version of Windows 8 made to run only x86 apps, parallel to competitors like Android and iOS and whatnot. The statement that Windows RT "isn't an operating system" is almost a contradiction in terms since it is the primary software used to run a series of devices... Saying it isn't a popular OS? Fine. But it's not an operating system? Hell, you may as well say ChromeOS isn't an operating system since it runs on a fraction of the devices that Windows 8/7/Vista/XP/etc does. Windows RT is a full operating system which does NOT run x86 applications, and rather only runs items from the Windows store and a few select things like Office RT.

    To quote you now...

    "If you could run AutoCAD, Photoshop, MS Office, and other Adobe products on a low cost tablet"

    The Asus T100 comes out in not too long, and it does *exactly* that. I would love to see this very functional device sell like hotcakes, but I doubt it will. Heck the Acer W3 tablet did exactly this, and it sold like garbage. There have been x86 running Windows tablets which did ALL of this on the market for about a half year now, and they haven't *touched* the iPad or various Android tablets for sales... I don't expect the T100 to do differently, even if it ends up being a stellar product. Simply put, hype matters, and Windows tablets have none, even good ones.

    My suggestion? If you think that such devices are so desirable, keep an eye on the Asus T100... It might be a great fit for you, running full Windows 8, coming with a keyboard dock, and only costing $350. I seriously doubt this device will crack the market open though.
  • -2 Hide
    g-unit1111 , September 24, 2013 2:46 PM
    Quote:

    Oye.. Windows RT is *definitely* an operating system. Windows 8 is a hybrid desktop/metro system which incorporates - for lack of a better term - Windows 7 type desktop functionality in with an overlaying shell of "Metro" which takes over the role of start menu and search function. It is partial version of Windows 8 made to run only x86 apps, parallel to competitors like Android and iOS and whatnot. The statement that Windows RT "isn't an operating system" is almost a contradiction in terms since it is the primary software used to run a series of devices... Saying it isn't a popular OS? Fine. But it's not an operating system? Hell, you may as well say ChromeOS isn't an operating system since it runs on a fraction of the devices that Windows 8/7/Vista/XP/etc does. Windows RT is a full operating system which does NOT run x86 applications, and rather only runs items from the Windows store and a few select things like Office RT.


    I never said Windows RT wasn't an operating system, I'm saying it's not an x86 operating system (missed the key word there). It's a tablet operating system. It's made specifically for the RT platform. It runs apps, but it doesn't run EXE files. I used the Surface for a few days last week and found it to be incredibly frustrating in this matter. If it ran EXE files it would be great. That means no iTunes, no AutoCAD, no Photoshop, no Firefox. It is not a full Windows 8 license, and the fact that Microsoft is marketing it as such is no bueno. You can look at the apps it has if you use Windows 8 - most of them are junk.

    Quote:

    My suggestion? If you think that such devices are so desirable, keep an eye on the Asus T100... It might be a great fit for you, running full Windows 8, coming with a keyboard dock, and only costing $350. I seriously doubt this device will crack the market open though.


    Hmm, that does sound promising.
  • -1 Hide
    michel leclerc , September 24, 2013 2:56 PM
    OK!after sifting tru windows way !I have to say ms has to stop min/maxing!dynamicly setting tsc based on if bios has sleep deep sleep etc is enabled and not speaking about it ?come on ms!what part of max performance and max quality don't you understand?what about message signal interrupt extended?is it also controlled depending if deep sleep or other excuse ?we get lower quality in 1080i and 1080p because of these compromise!if your engineer can't notice the difference might need glass and contact lenses!
  • 0 Hide
    stevejnb , September 24, 2013 3:06 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:

    Oye.. Windows RT is *definitely* an operating system. Windows 8 is a hybrid desktop/metro system which incorporates - for lack of a better term - Windows 7 type desktop functionality in with an overlaying shell of "Metro" which takes over the role of start menu and search function. It is partial version of Windows 8 made to run only x86 apps, parallel to competitors like Android and iOS and whatnot. The statement that Windows RT "isn't an operating system" is almost a contradiction in terms since it is the primary software used to run a series of devices... Saying it isn't a popular OS? Fine. But it's not an operating system? Hell, you may as well say ChromeOS isn't an operating system since it runs on a fraction of the devices that Windows 8/7/Vista/XP/etc does. Windows RT is a full operating system which does NOT run x86 applications, and rather only runs items from the Windows store and a few select things like Office RT.


    I never said Windows RT wasn't an operating system, I'm saying it's not an x86 operating system (missed the key word there). It's a tablet operating system. It's made specifically for the RT platform. It runs apps, but it doesn't run EXE files. I used the Surface for a few days last week and found it to be incredibly frustrating in this matter. If it ran EXE files it would be great. That means no iTunes, no AutoCAD, no Photoshop, no Firefox. It is not a full Windows 8 license, and the fact that Microsoft is marketing it as such is no bueno. You can look at the apps it has if you use Windows 8 - most of them are junk.

    Quote:

    My suggestion? If you think that such devices are so desirable, keep an eye on the Asus T100... It might be a great fit for you, running full Windows 8, coming with a keyboard dock, and only costing $350. I seriously doubt this device will crack the market open though.


    Hmm, that does sound promising.


    Hah, yep, missed that bit. Do try and ignore that paragraph...

    As for the T100, yep, it may be for you. Looks like a pretty handy device.

    This warning though... The Acer Iconia W3 was a sub $350 device that ran full Windows 8 as well, and it *sucked*. Terribly slow, inadequate hardware for the OS basically. I'm not personally recommending the T100 to anyone before I try it.. It may be awesome, or it may be another instance of "too little hardware for the job." Give a try before you buy in the case of the T100.

    And yeah, the Windows app store is a *lot* better than you seem to think it is. Give a try before you buy, and don't listen to the generally uninformed bleating of people on Tom's to decide how good the OS/hardware actually is ;) 
  • -1 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 24, 2013 3:28 PM
    Stevejnb, I was referring to jhansonxi, stupid me thought it would post right after him but when it did you comment was in the middle, he was referring to it as an "m$ service terminal" hence my comment - seriously hate this new comment system Toms, it sucks ass compared to the old one
  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 24, 2013 3:32 PM
    Stevejnb, if you seriously believe I am paid by MS you need a catscan, also Whatsapp is on marketplace for WP, but not W8, but it really is an app for smartphones and if you own a Surface you will have a phone for data tethering - no having 2 data plans like Apple
  • -2 Hide
    stevejnb , September 24, 2013 3:42 PM
    Quote:
    Stevejnb, if you seriously believe I am paid by MS you need a catscan


    I seriously wonder if you are. You've accused me of being a "blind hatred fanbois" towards MS because I suggested that the Surface tablets might be priced too high to be competitive, and your sentiment in that is utterly ridiculous. What's more... catscan? The way you conduct yourself in this forum has convinced a lot of people you work for MS. The fact that someone who really likes MS's products thinks you may well work for MS should come as a sign - you come on really, *really* strong in favour of MS. Perhaps to the point where you are unreasonably in favour of them.

    Outside of an offhand comment that wouldn't buy a Surface 2, I don't think I've seen you say anything that wasn't vehemently pro-MS in this forum, paired with *extremely* strong sentiments to the effect that you dislike almost anything but MS. If you want to convince people you don't work for MS, re-evaluate your posting habits a bit and see if you aren't maybe just a wee big hugely biased in favour of MS products. If you really do believe in them as strongly as you seem to, and you don't work for MS, well, I must say, you're a rare breed. If that is the case, stick by what you believe... Hey, lord knows I love a number of MS products, so if you *really* believe in them that strongly, keep a trucking and ignore what people think..
  • -1 Hide
    g-unit1111 , September 24, 2013 3:55 PM
    Quote:

    Hah, yep, missed that bit. Do try and ignore that paragraph...

    As for the T100, yep, it may be for you. Looks like a pretty handy device.

    This warning though... The Acer Iconia W3 was a sub $350 device that ran full Windows 8 as well, and it *sucked*. Terribly slow, inadequate hardware for the OS basically. I'm not personally recommending the T100 to anyone before I try it.. It may be awesome, or it may be another instance of "too little hardware for the job." Give a try before you buy in the case of the T100.


    Yeah that's what I have been reading into the general consensus of Windows 8 tablets - there seems to be no good or bad. It's one extreme or the other. The Asus looks like a solid device, but I looked into the Acer Iconia and other similar Windows 8 tablets and have so far seen no positive reviews. OK maybe a few from the first time buyers on Newegg, but for the most part IMO a $500 tablet should run full Windows and not a watered down version. But most of the professional reviews I've been reading from ZDNet, Tom's, and elsewhere seem to paint the Windows 8 devices in a mostly negative light.

    Quote:

    And yeah, the Windows app store is a *lot* better than you seem to think it is. Give a try before you buy, and don't listen to the generally uninformed bleating of people on Tom's to decide how good the OS/hardware actually is ;) 


    My laptop runs Windows 8 - and the app store on Windows 8 and Windows RT are virtually identical.

  • -1 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 24, 2013 4:04 PM
    Thank god I don't get held to account by you then, the price is not too high for either device, in the class that they occupy they are comparative or even cheap - when challenged that a Surface Pro costs more than an iPad for example by "other" commentards (not you) then of course it is, the Surface Pro competes with high-end ultrabooks - the RT competes with the iPad and its only flaw I can see is a smaller App store that is almost ridiculous to compare when nobody uses more than around 50 apps anyway and almost all the top 50 are there and much less shovelware

    So you may be an MS fan, but to say Surface is overpriced, when you use the correct comparative, you are wrong

    Am I an MS fan? Yes. Do I own Apple products? Yes. Will I re-evaluate my posting habits? Not a chance, go fish with the mods if you really want to petition for a ban.
  • 0 Hide
    w8gaming , September 24, 2013 4:06 PM
    Quote:
    Apple and Google had 'only' 100,000 apps at one time and when it did it was magical, now MS has the same and Apple and Google have way more, but how much of that extra is duplication and shovelware? Seriously need 160 fart apps?


    Back when Android has 100K apps, the quality and variety of the apps were better than the 100K apps Windows Store has now. This from the experiences of a person who has both of these devices during its early days.
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