Microsoft Surface RT Review and Gaming Performance: Thoughts and Impressions

Posted by B. Johnson
September 12, 2014 | 0 comments
Microsoft Surface RT Review and Gaming Performance: Thoughts and ImpressionsHi guys, welcome back to this site!

It’s not a secret anymore that Microsoft used to be not that interested to jump to the hardware-making business given that its Windows OS along with Office software have been doing great around the PC, desktop and laptop markets on this planet.

However, that soon changed ever since tablet became really viral around the world and in fact, managed to steal some of the sales and market share of productivity devices market (laptop, PC and desktop).

Microsoft then decided to jump to an entirely new bandwagon – a tablet-making industry – by releasing not just one device, but 2 devices on the same markets.

Microsoft Surface RT benchmarks and gaming performance

The tablets were named by Microsoft as Surface, which consists in 2 different models – the one with full-fledged Windows 8 OS and the other one with Microsoft’s simplified mobile OS specifically made for tablet, called Windows RT.

The Windows 8 model is called as Surface Pro, while the Windows RT model is carrying the name Surface RT.

Anyway, today i want to show you one of the Microsoft Surface models above. However, this time, i’m going to review the Windows RT version only.

I don’t know when the Windows 8 model is going to have its turn to get reviewed on this website.

So if you’re also interested to get to know more with the Windows 8 model, be sure to always stick around on this site!

Well, if you want to learn more about this Microsoft’s RT tablet, as well as its gaming performance and how it performs when handling the latest graphically demanding games in full graphics, then here you go, my personal review of Microsoft Surface RT.

Introduction

I think one of the interesting fact about this Microsoft Surface RT is that, this Microsoft’s homemade tablet is powered by no other than NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 processor.

This is actually quite surprising given that Tegra 3 quad-core processor is more common on Android tablets, which comes with much lighter OS and UI compared to Microsoft's usual operating system.

However, the use of Tegra 3 processor on this Microsoft’s tablet is acceptable given that Microsoft Surface RT also comes with a light-weight Windows RT OS, which is not going to squeeze a lot of power from its processor.

Microsoft Surface RT Review and Gaming Performance: Thoughs and Impressions

However, despite being the lighter-version of Windows 8 Pro OS, there are still many things to be liked on the UI and features of the Windows RT on this tablet.

Basically, most of the key features of Windows 8 OS can be easily found here on Windows RT – especially on the ones that have something to do with customizations or looks of the UI.

The good thing is, Microsoft also provides the access to many Office document software on this tablet, like Office Word, PowerPoint, Excell and some other more, making it a great productivity offering for tablet shoppers out there.

And that’s the reason why this Microsoft Surface RT also comes with the same smart keyboard just like on the full-fledged Microsoft Surface Pro.

However, besides as a productivity device, Microsoft Surface RT will also be great for many other things, like for watching HD movies, browsing the web, reading contents like books or magazines or even playing games.

Of course, it’s not that surprising given that this device is powered by Tegra 3 quad-core processor, which is more than happier to execute many heavy 3D games in buttery smooth performance.

But we’ll get more on that later.

But the questions remain, with all of the great specs provided by Microsoft on this tablet, as well as its great productivity elements, does Microsoft Surface RT have what it takes to be a great gaming tablet?

Does this tablet deserve to be positioned alongside other 10-inch rivals out there on the market, including the iPad?

Is it worth it to buy this Microsoft’s tablet, especially since this tablet only comes with the simplified version of Windows 8 OS?

Well, we’re about to find out more about that at the end of this review. So be sure to read my personal review of this tablet!

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  • No SIM
  • Released 2012, November
  • 680.4 g (Weight)
  • Built-in kickstand
  • 10.6 inch TFT capacitive touchscreen, 1366 x 768 pixels, 16M colors (~148 ppi pixel density)
  • ClearType technology
  • Microsoft Windows 8 RT, upgradable to Windows 8.1 RT
  • Quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A9 Nvidia Tegra 3 T30 Chipset
  • ULP GeForce GPU
  • 2 GB RAM
  • microSD memory card slot for up to 64 GB
  • 32/64 GB Internal storage
  • No GPRS
  • No EDGE
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n,
  • Bluetooth v4.0
  • USB v2.0
  • 1.2 MP rear-facing camera, 1280 x 800 pixels
  • Video 720p
  • 1.2 MP front-facing camera, 720p@30fps
  • Accelerometer, gyro, compass Sensors
  • HTML5 Browser
  • No Radio
  • No GPS
  • No Java
  • Dark Titanium Color Options
  • 31.5 Wh Non-removable Li-Ion battery
  • Up to 360 hours Stand-by
  • Up to 8 hours Talk time 
As a 2012-released tablet, this Microsoft Surface RT probably is ‘on the same page’ with other 10-inch rivals like Sony Xperia S, Acer Iconia Tab A700 or any other tablets powered by Tegra 3 quad-core processor – of course in terms of performance.

However, given that this Microsoft’s homemade tablet is originally intended by the company as a simple productivity tablet, not just media-consumption device, then it makes this tablet probably a better offering than other regular Android tablets out there, which mostly are only used as media-consumption devices.

In terms of specs, Microsoft Surface RT features some internals that used to be considered as powerful in 2012’s tablet market – from a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, 2GB of RAM, 12-core GeForce ULP GPU, a 10.6-inch display sporting the 1366x768 pixel resolution, a 31.5Wh battery capacity (which is expected to provide 360 hours of standby and 8 hours of talk time), 32/64 internal storage options, microSD card slot for up to 64GB and a couple of other standard features of tablet.

Not to mention, as a productivity tablet, this Microsoft Surface RT also comes packed with smart keyboard (probably is sold separately) and some of Microsoft’s productivity software, including Office Word, PowerPoint, Excell and more.

Unfortunately, this tablet is only equipped with 1.2MP cameras front and back, which probably is not on par with other 10-inch rivals on the market.

But it should be appreciated to see these cameras come on a productivity tablet like this.

Screen

Unlike other regular 10-inch tablets out there on the market, Microsoft Surface RT interestingly is packing a slightly different screen specs than most of its rivals.

Microsoft Surface RT features a 10.6-inch display rocking the resolution of 1366x768 pixels.

This type of display is actually equal to the 1280x800 pixels on other 720p tablets out there, especially in terms of sharpness.

Besides, this Microsoft’s tablet comes with a slightly bigger 10.6-inch screen compared to 10.1-inch screen on other rivals.

So basically, with this type of display, it still looks nice and pretty sharp on this tablet.

It may not deliver the same sharpness as other 1080p tablets out there, but at least, the screen of Microsoft Surface RT is still readable and more than enough to accommodate user’s hobbies of watching HD movies, browsing the web, reading contents like books or magazines, checking out photos, playing games and even editing Office documents.

User Interface

The UI of this Microsoft Surface RT actually looks a bit similar with the full-fledged Microsoft Surface Pro, which comes pre-installed with the “real” Windows 8 Pro.

They both have the same looking Live Tile UI and visual presentation, and they also have some similar features one to another.

However, given that Microsoft Surface RT comes with Windows RT OS – which is very light-weight compared to Windows 8 Pro OS -, not to mention, this tablet is only equipped with lower-grade internals compared to Microsoft Surface Pro, then the UI of Microsoft Surface RT has been tweaked and simplified a lot by Microsoft in order to ensure the fast and smooth experience to this tablet, not to mention, long-lasting battery life.

But even so, there are still many things to be liked from the UI of this tablet.

It may not have all the complete elements and features that are found on Windows 8 Pro OS, but at least, Microsoft still provides this platform with some key important features that will be useful for its users – especially the ones that have something to do with productivity and basic customizations of this tablet, which are more than enough to make its users feel satisfied with its overall experience.

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There’s no single doubt that, when it comes to overall performance, Microsoft Surface RT will be blazing fast especially when knowing that this tablet is powered by NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 quad-core beast, plus it comes with simplified version of Windows 8 Pro OS, which is very light-weight compared to the original full-fledged Windows 8 Pro OS.

So as a result, this device will be more than capable to execute any tasks that you wanna throw on it, even the ones that require a lot from its graphical power like watching HD movies or even playing some high-performing games.

All of these tasks can be easily executed on this tablet in even buttery smooth performance, mostly thanks to its 12-core of GeForce ULP GPU that comes packed on its Tegra 3 quad-core processor.

And given its huge 2GB of RAM, there will be no lag whatsoever when multitasking many apps at once because it provides a huge space of memory in the background.

It goes the same with the gaming performance of this tablet.

Similar just like any other Tegra 3 quad-core tablets out there that i’ve already showed you on this website, this Microsoft’s homemade tablet will also be great for gaming.

I’ve actually already seen this device capable to handle the very latest and most graphically demanding games like Asphalt 8: Airborne, GTA San Andreas and many other popular titles on the market right now – although GTA San Andreas doesn’t run smoothly even in medium graphics setting, probably due to the optimization from developer that hasn’t arrived to this tablet.

Meanwhile, the Asphalt 8 game runs so smoothly in medium graphics, with sun glare and road reflection visual effects.

Unfortunately, the good gaming performance of this tablet is not followed by its great game catalog and ecosystem.

There are many many games – even the most popular ones – that just cannot be found on the platform (Windows RT) of this tablet.

So if you decide to buy this tablet, you must also accept the fact that you’re not gonna find many of your favorite apps and games on this tablet.

Even a popular game developer like Gameloft doesn’t have complete app catalog for this tablet. It may have Asphalt 8: Airborne.

However, there are many other titles from this developer that haven’t arrived yet to this tablet.

The good thing is – despite lacking in app and game collection -, there is still something to be liked from this device, in terms of gaming experience.

As i’ve already seen on some video reviews on YouTube, this Microsoft Surface RT surprisingly can be synchronized easily with Xbox 360 controller.

And the more impressively, you don’t even need to hack or root this tablet in order to be able to play games with that Xbox controller.

So basically, you just need to plug in the controller and VOILA.. your Microsoft Surface RT has officially become a gaming tablet.

As for the games, this tablet may be lacking on this sector, however, you can still play many games from other platforms – for example like SNES games with SNES emulator and probably other game platforms out there.

So if you’re already familiar with retro games like Super Mario World or Donkey Kong Country series, then you’ll feel at home when using this tablet because these games can be played perfectly on this device – even with that Xbox controller.

I believe this tablet can also run PS 1 or PS 2 games with their specific emulators that you can find on Windows RT Marketplace.

But of course, for the games or known as ROMS, you must find them by yourself around the net, which is not that hard given that these games can be found easily on many websites.



Anyway guys, if you want to know more about the gaming performance of Microsoft Surface RT , including what games that will run on this tablet, check out my YouTube video playlist or Pinterest page. :)

Battery Life

Microsoft Surface RT is powered by a pretty huge 31.5Wh power battery inside, probably equal to around 4000 to 5000mAh battery capacity (if i’m not mistaken).

According to GSMarena, this device is able to survive in 360 hours in standby mode and 8 hours of talk time (multimedia), which is great enough for this 10-inch tablet.

I believe that can be achieved on this tablet because Microsoft Surface RT only comes with Windows RT OS (which is very light-weight compared to the original Windows 8 Pro OS) plus it’s only sporting a medium-resolution 1366x768 pixel display (which is not that power hungry similar just like 1280x800 pixels or 720p display).

So if you’re not a power user and basically will only use this device for doing some basic tasks in moderate use in mixed screen on/off time – like watching HD movies, checking emails, browsing the web, and playing some random games -, then you can definitely expect to see this tablet last an all-day-long, of course on a full charge.

However, its battery life will drop drastically to just around 4 to 6 hours if you use this tablet for doing some heavy tasks intensively without resting the screen at all – like watching HD movies in marathon or playing games in the row.

My Personal Opinions

So in conclusion, despite lacking in app and game collection on its Windows RT platform, i personally think that Microsoft Surface RT is still a decent quality tablet to purchase, especially if you’re looking for a great but simple productivity tablet that is also great for enjoying media contents or even gaming.

The coolest thing about this tablet in my opinion is actually its ability to "get along" easily with Xbox 360 controller.

I mean, can you imagine that, by bringing this tablet to your office or library, along with your Xbox controller, you can basically turn this device from a boring productivity tablet into a solid gaming device.

It may not have such a huge collection of games just like Android or iOS, but at least, you can still have a lot of fun playing many retro games like Super Mario or Donkey Kong Country series on this tablet.

However, the core concept of Microsoft Surface RT is still a simple productivity tablet.

And that’s the thing that Microsoft wants to highlight on this device.

Through Microsoft Surface RT, it’s really clear for us to see that Microsoft wants to provide tablet shoppers out there with another option if they think that the full-fledged Microsoft Surface Pro is too “heavy” in terms of price and hardware, which probably are not the things they’re looking from a tablet in the first place.

With this tablet, you will be straightly provided with some of Microsoft’s important Office software – like Office Word, PowerPoint, Excell and some other more – of course in simplified version for Windows RT platform.

So to sum this up, Microsoft Surface RT will be great and suitable more for those of you who are looking for a great but simple productivity tablet.

However, this tablet will also be great for many other things, like watching movies, browsing the web, reading contents, listening to music and even playing games – either Windows RT games or retro games.

Anyway, to end this review, i’ll try to answer some of the questions i’ve asked previously above:

Does Microsoft Surface RT have what it takes to be a great gaming tablet? 

Yes – despite lacking on app market and game optimization, Microsoft Surface RT is still a decent quality gaming tablet.

In fact, thanks to its ability to work seamlessly with Xbox 360 controller, i think Microsoft Surface RT could be a great gaming tablet, of course, put its limited game choices aside.

And thanks to its Tegra 3 quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and 12-core GPU, this device will be more than happier to execute many latest and graphics demanding games like Asphalt 8: Airborne or Need for Speed Most Wanted.

However, as for GTA San Andreas, this game can be played smoothly only in medium to low graphics setting, not in full highest graphics.

Does this tablet deserve to be positioned alongside other 10-inch rivals out there on the market, including the iPad? 

Yes – despite having some outdated hardware, Microsoft Surface RT still deserves to be positioned alongside other 10-inch rivals on today’s tablet market.

However, in terms of specs, it’s really obvious that this device is only comparable to rivals in mid-end market only, alongside Samsung GALAXY Tab 4 or HP Slate 7 Plus.

The good thing is, given that this tablet is originally intended as a productivity tablet – thanks to its smart keyboard -, then Microsoft Surface RT can still be rivaled with other 10-inch tablets on the market right now – even the flagship ones.

Is it worth it to buy this Microsoft’s tablet, especially since this tablet only comes with the simplified version of Windows 8 OS?

Yes – again, despite its lacking of game and app catalog, Microsoft Surface RT is still a worth buying tablet.

And that’s because it has all complete elements of a great and useful tablet.

Not only is this tablet great for doing some productivity stuff, but Microsoft Surface RT is also great for many things – like watching movies, browsing the web, reading contents and even playing games with its Xbox controller support.

So by buying this tablet, you can get a lot of cool things that are not provided on other 10-inch tablets on the market.

Disclaimer: Hi guys, bear in mind that this is not some in-depth review. This is Read more...

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