Surface Pro 4 and Performance

I’m looking at getting a Surface Pro 4 or the Surface Book with discrete GPU. The Pro 4 has the “Iris Graphics” (if you buy the i7 version). Would Unreal run on that very well? Has anybody tried on the Surface Book yet and seen performance?

No it would not, the Surface Book would be better since it has a GPU that’s somewhat equivalent of the GT940 though that’s still pretty low end.

For those machines you’re paying extra for other stuff like portability/touchscreen/pen/high resolution screen
If you’re doing development a laptop isn’t the best use of money anyways.

But has anyone actually tried it? I was under the impression that once windows 10 and DX 12 came about that Unreal games were going perform a lot better on intel graphics. I would be interesting to see how well the editor and some of the sample project load on to the i7 version. as this is likely going to be my next portable. Maya, Zbrush and photoshop all seem to run quite well on them. I have seen if the Allegorithmic stuff does yet though.

DX12 is very experimental with UE4 and the way it improves things doesn’t necessarily improve a game. The benefit is mostly with draw calls, which not all games have an issue with. In any case, none of those GPU’s are very good, they’re not designed for the purpose of games and game development, they are designed to get enough functionality for the average person and cut some performance so that it uses less power and less space.

What’s also a problem is the high screen resolution, most game stuff targets 1080p and stuff like the Surface 4 are higher than that, so if you run it at native resolution then you’re trying to run it at a resolution that’s higher than what people typically use. It’s a similar issue with phones–you’ve got phones with 1080p and 2k screens, and while a phone these days has much more power than like an Xbox 360 or a PS3 we don’t see games of that quality and part of the reason is that those console games ran at 720p resolution max and phones run much higher.

but just because the screen is higher doesn’t mean that you have to run at full resolution. I mean I have a 4K monitor doesnt mean I run my games at 4K. I have a 3K monitor on my laptop but I run at 1920x1200p.

People aren’t asking if they can run crysis on the **** thing they are asking if it is a passable solution for working on the go. I have seen them run Applications like Maya and zbrush Very well and at Native resolution. I’m not saying that they run it as good as My Desktop workstation but for a on the go experience and getting something done while traveling they do a **** good job! Of course an intel graphics in the grand scheme of things is ****! But if I can use and it run my application and finish and asset that I’m working on or prototype a level while not burning my lap or running thru a 10 hour battery in 45 minutes, Well that is plenty good enough in my book.

So I think what I’m saying an not to be rude but what people are asking for is people that have run on one of these devices impression not someones opinion on whether they feel they are worthy or a good expenditure of funds.
Again not trying to offend ya Darth. You have been very nice and helpful here but while very good points they aren’t really answers to the question being asked.

Again thank you though for taking the time to give us you input.

Of course you don’t have to run at the full resolution–but for UE4 that means changing your actual desktop resolution. Which is also kind of weird on the Surface Pro and the Surface Book because they are 3:2 aspect ratio so when you do that you get black bars on the top/bottom

And no, it’s not all that great of a mobile solution, if you want something mobile you can get a regular laptop with more ram/better CPU/dedicated graphics card for a lower cost.
UE4 is not going to be the same performance as Maya or Zbrush, Zbrush for instance benefits a lot more from a good CPU and the amount of RAM, whereas Maya it will depend on the poly count in the viewport and what viewport features you have turned on. Games/UE4 aren’t like that. I’ve tested on many different computers at work, laptops and the Surface Pro 3 and the performance is really very poor for this type of thing–and it definitely heats up if you’re concerned about that.

I had the opportunity to try out the Surface Book i7 with dGPU 16GB ram model. The machine looked and felt great, the screen size and resolution is amazing. As far as the GPU is concerned, I would say the closest comparison I can make is to my MacBook Pro 15" 2014 ( uses the GT 750m ) I was seeing VERY similar speeds from the default project templates. If your plan is to use desktop style graphics features, then you will be VERY disappointed. If you are doing low poly / 2D, basically making a mobile targetted game, then you may be VERY happy indeed. The portability, the ability to draw, the disconnectable screen ( though you won’t be using the dGPU at the moment ) is amazing. Please be warned, that Surface Book as described is $2700 ( funny enough that was the price of my MacBook Pro 15" ). If you have the cash for it and your project fits what you can get performance wise, then this may be an awesome idea for you.

As far as the Surface Pro 4, I also had a chance to try out the i7 model with the Iris GFX. The performance was a bit more then half the performance of the Surface Book i7 with dGPU. I would say that if you are doing purely sprite 2d games in UE4, you probably will work out fine.

Hope this helps!

I’m looking at the Surface Pro 4 too… I usually do more zbrush and maya work, but would be cool if was able to run UE4 to do light work. I do have a workstation for full UE4 development, just want a nice portable machine to work on while travelling.

For Zbrush work it wouldn’t be bad, but performance in UE4 would be very poor, you might be able to manage it if you turn the quality settings down in UE4.

UE4 editor runs terribly on sp4 i5 8 gig version…
actual projects… surprisingly ok

yeah, I don’t mind turning down the quality settings in UE4. I might just do some blueprints, or asset management on the device. Nothing too crazy.

im looking at the i7, 16gb version

Because it would beak my heart if someone gave all this money for something that is not suitable for unreal engine game development I will say my opinion even though I usually do not participate in these kind of threads.

It does not matter if the game is 3D or 2d ,mobile or desktop. At the beginning of your project you will probably be able to use the surface for work. Problems arise when the game starts to get bigger. For example you will not be able to debug the character bp while playing the game in standalone window. It will simply run out of vram and crash or it will run at 2 fps which is useless. My desktop system with 32gb of ram and a gtx980 can hardly keep up in some extreme scenarios.

The only choice for you to use unreal for serious game development while maintaining "portability " is to buy a gaming laptop with a gtx980m and a screen of no more than 1080p.

Just my 2 cents that hopefully will save you a ton of cash and frustration.

Anything 860/960M or above in a laptop should work alright, it’s basically the same performance as a GTX 750ti, which is the minimum I’d suggest for UE4. Might want to also cap your FPS to 30 if that’s the route you go. Works okay enough for smaller scenes or less demanding graphics.

I was working with UE4 for a couple of days on a Surface Pro 4 i7 as well as on a Surface Book. The Surface Book was a pre release version so I had some troubles but the performance is great on both machines. Of course you can’t run huge projects with thousands of assets, but the overall performance is good enough to run the editor smoothly and to do some basic work. I don’t know why people are having editor problems on a Surface Pro 4 i5, because the editor itself was already running smooth on my old Surface Pro 1.

However, if you want to create a game with smaller scenes and less demanding graphics (as ZacD said) you should be totaly fine. If you want anything more, you need a bigger laptop. But isn’t there another reason for you to buy a surface? It’s not a common decision to buy a tablet for game development.

Thanks a lot for that… this helps me with my decision a lot. The main reason I’m considering this tablet is because I’m travelling a lot the coming months and I still have to work on the road. I mainly do content creation (zbrush, maya, PS) and that part is fine on the SP4 i7, but there are times when I will have to set up assets and shaders in UE4 (small simple projects). So, having a tablet like this is more convenient than carrying around a laptop and a Wacom.

My Surface Pro 3 is an extension of my arm. Works fine for UE4 in most cases. Baking lights and compiling shaders takes aaaages and so I have a couple of workhorse PCs and a couple of servers for working with art. Creating logic and using external packages (photoshop, maya, etc) is ok.

I think the way to approach it is the surface is awesome for creating artwork assets in external packages, prototyping bits and pieces and managing the overall design through office applications etc. It also means you will never stop working again (who needs sleep anyway).

That said when you get to the ‘make pretty in the engine’ portion of what you’re doing or when your projects gets to a certain size/level of complexity you’ll invariably want a desktop/server.