Microsoft is expanding the processing range of its Surface Pro 3 tablets, offering i3 and i7 variants of the Windows 8.1 tablet -- previously only Intel i5 processors were offered in the third generation of Microsoft's Surface line.

The 12-inch Surface Pro 3 lineup now includes 64-GB i3, 128-GB i5, 256-GB i5, 256-GB i7 and 512-GB i7 versions of the tablet.

The Surface Pro 3 with the i3 processor was clocked at 1.5 Ghz and had an Intel HD 4400 graphic processing unit; both of the i5 processors were clocked at 2.9 Ghz with an Intel HD 4400 GPU; and both of the i7s were clocked at 3.30 Ghz with Intel HD 5000 GPU.

The 64-GB and 128-GB versions of the Surface Pro 3 were fitted with 4 GB of RAM, while the 256-GB and 512-GB models were constructed with double the amount of temporary storage space.

At four times the resolution of 720p, the Surface Pro 3's 2160 x 1440 display is just shy of the iPad mini's version of the Retina display (2048×1536) -- that's 3.145 million pixels for the iPad mini and 3.110 million for the Surface Pro 3.

While not in the same ballpark as desktop GPUs, the Surface's mobile GPUs compare favorably among tablets and low-end laptops. The HD 4000 was given a score of 456 on GPU benchmarking tests and ranked 417 on the list of GPUs, the 4400 was scored at 533 and ranked 381 and the 5000 earned 607 points and ranked 341.

All things considered, the Surface Pro 3 was constructed to be a future proof for several years -- though solid for a tablet, its GPUs constitute the biggest weakeness of the tablet series on the performance side of things. Starting with at least the i5, 8-GB version, users would likely be able to skip a generation or two of the Surface series before considering an upgrade.

While the Surface Pro 3 has had its kinks, namely inconsistencies with Wi-Fi, Microsoft's latest tablet has largely received praise for everything from weight and form factor to ease of use and performance. Microsoft has said that the Surface Pro 3 has been the best-selling model in the Surface line and the tech company may be looking to capitalize on that success by releasing smaller versions into the series.

Microsoft stated it cancelled plans to release a new form factor of the Surface Pro, but a source with knowledge of Taiwan's supply chain later said a 10.6 inch Surface would go into production this September.

Here's a video of a pre-K through grade 12 school's experience with the Surface Pro 3.


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