Rumour: Surface Pro 4 may be fanless, run silently

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Microsoft’s Surface lineup of computer/tablet hybrids have certainly been well received and are for many people an ideal balance between a powerful laptop and a fairly limited tablet device, with some of the advantages and few of the drawbacks of each.

The next Surface Pro 4 is already in the works, and there are many specifications swirling online ahead of Microsoft’s developer conference, BUILD 2015, which kicks off today. It’s claimed that the new model will be a powerful fan-less tablet based on Intel’s latest Broadwell processors.

Surface Pro 4 to drop the fan, run silently

Chinese publication 36KR says that even though the design may be fanless (so it will be quiet even when performing heavy-duty tasks), the tablet will still have some small holes to radiate and dissipate heat. The holes are said to be less visible than those on the Surface Pro 3, which uses the Intel Haswell processor from last year.

That means the Surface Pro 4 could be thinner than the Surface Pro 3, but probably not lighter, apparently. It will still use the same 12-inch display and have an expected resolution of 2,160 x 1,440.

Design

Sources ‘in the know’ say that the Surface Pro 4 will keep the design and battery of the Surface Pro 3, in the main. That’s not a bad thing, as it should allow the existing model’s desktop docks, Type Cover keyboard cases and chargers to be reused on the newer version.

The screen resolution and size made the Surface Pro 3 a favourite with many people, and Microsoft recently said in their earnings call that the Surface sales increased 44% year over year. So it makes sense to keep the same screen – the Surface Pro 3 feels much roomier than the 10.6-inch display found on the second-generation model.

Intel CPU

What is still largely unknown regarding the Surface Pro 3 is the choice of Intel processor, considering the claim of a fanless tablet. The only Intel chips that can currently power a fanless design are the Atom series processors, which Microsoft uses on the Surface 3 (not the Pro model), and the Core M series as used in the latest super-thin Apple MacBook and Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 lineup.

It’s not clear if Microsoft will be able to accommodate the heat generated by the more powerful Intel Broadwell processor, especially at the Core i7 level, in order to achieve a fanless design.

Battery

The biggest improvement between the Surface Pro 3 and Pro 4 is expected to be the battery life, all things considered. Intel says that Broadwell chips use 30% less power than Haswell chips of last year, and that users could expect around 1.5 hours more runtime on a single charge.

With a fanless design or one with a smaller fan, the Surface Pro 4 could allow users to be productive even long – the current model can last for about 9 hours before the battery is flat. That means the new model could achieve a battery life comparable with the iPad, but with more power, ability to run Windows programs, and even run enterprise-grade software. Pretty impressive.

It remains to be seen what the Surface Pro 4 actually looks like and features in terms of hardware and specs, but it won’t be long before all is revealed.

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