Performance: Benchmarks

Let’s take a look at how the Surface Book, equipped with a Core i7-6600U, 16 GB of RAM, a 512 GB Samsung NVMe SSD and Nvidia GeForce 940M, performs in benchmarks. For all of these benchmarks, the Nvidia GPU was set to the preferred graphics processor unless stated otherwise.

In our CPU performance tests, the Surface Book’s i7-6600U delivered small performance gains over the last generation i7-5600U. In Cinebench and our x264 encoding benchmark, these gains were around seven percent, although there was a performance reduction in WinRAR. CPU performance is still well behind Intel’s four-core mobile chips, but if you’re coming from a Core i5 Broadwell system like the XPS 13, expect gains of around 25% in video encoding.

Thanks to the increased memory bandwidth available from DDR4 RAM, the Surface Book dominates the memory bandwidth performance charts.

With an Nvidia GeForce 940M inside, the Surface Book records approximately double the performance of the system with just integrated graphics. The GPU isn’t the beefiest chip going around, so a last-generation GeForce GTX 860M is around 45% faster, but it will suffice for most productivity workloads.

Is it possible to game on the Surface Book? Well, it depends on what sort of games and quality settings you're willing to put up with.

High-performance games like Metro: Last Light and BioShock Infinite, even though they're not the latest titles, won't run at maximum quality settings on 1080p or the Surface Book's native resolution. But if you're willing to turn down the quality settings to medium and reduce the resolution by around 50%, games will begin to be playable.

Lower-intensity titles, including Skyrim (at lower quality settings), the Lego series of games, and Portal 2, can run well on the Surface Book with the dedicated graphics chip pulling its weight. The Surface Book definitely isn't a gaming machine, even with the 940M inside, though it's more capable of the odd casual game than a similar laptop with only Intel's integrated graphics inside.

The NVMe SSD inside the Surface Book delivers excellent performance in both sequential and random speed tests.