Surface Pro vs. PC gaming: We torture test the tablet's gaming prowess

We take a look at just how well it handle itself when put through a few days of the average gaming machine.

By Alex Cocilova, PC World |  Hardware, gaming, Microsoft Surface

The Surface Pro's battery life is already quite poor, so you'll probably be searching for a wall outlet before you get halfway through a level. Indeed, games tax battery life much more than, say, word processing or web browsing, and this leaves the already battery-challenged Surface Pro at a distinct disadvantage.

In our lab tests, Surface Pro managed to last a little over five hours, but that was just under the rigors of video playback. My real-world gaming results were worse, and after each session I could see significant hits to battery life.

In just under an hour of playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the battery dropped from a full charge to right around the 50% mark. And after two hours of game play, the system was dead. At this point, I connected the magnetic power cord, booted the machine back up, and was pleased to find my game still intact, just where I had left it when it died. So, all its battery deficits notwithstanding, It's nice to know that not all is lost if you run the machine into the power-hungry ground.

Fill 'er up

Besides needing electricity, games also require a lot of storage space. It's great that the Surface Pro comes with a beyond-speedy SSD to satisfy impatient gamers who hate loading times, but the technology is expensive for the amount of space Microsoft delivers.

There are two versions of Surface Pro--a 64GB model for $900, and a 128GB machine for $1000. If you're even remotely thinking of loading any games onto it, walk right past the 64GB version, as it's simply too small. In fact, reports show that only 23GB of the 64GB version is usable, and even the 128GB version only comes with 83GB of usable space.

Once you account for the storage footprint of Windows 8 itself, a few necessary programs, and a few decent games, your 128GB SSD will be pushing its limits--and that doesn't include any other media like videos and a music collection. And the situation gets even more dire if you love games that require a lot of patching, which includes basically anything with a multiplayer component.

Moral of the story: Be prepared to evict old titles for new ones. There's just not enough room for a large number of games.

Game on?

The Surface Pro can deliver smooth frame rates most of the time--if you're willing to sacrifice various visual settings. But a dearth of USB ports, crappy battery life, and poor touch support show us that Surface Pro really isn't ideal for hardcore gaming on the go.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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