Surface Pro 3 Undervolting

While the Surface Pro 3 is not lacking in terms of performance by any means  (For a Windows tablet), there are those of us still wanting a bit more.  And it is possible with a few minor tweaks to boost both your CPU and GPU output by around 20% according to our tests*. If your one of those types that like to tweak your machine to the best of its ability, then this is for you. We’re not promising you will get 20%, but in our own benchmark tests this is around the figure we were able to achieve with ease. You might even be able to go over 20% more performance on your own Surface Pro 3. It all depends on your chipset and varies from CPU to CPU -We can’t stress this enough. And you should even see reduced fan noise, heat and a tiny increase in battery life.

 

And to do this we only need one program, Intel Extreme Tuning Utility aka Intel XTU. Some of you might know of this utility from Intel or have used it to overclock before on test tops or notebooks. Well, don’t worry we are not overclocking here. You would have to be insane to try that on a tablet like the Surface with its thermal limits. No, no in fact we want to do the opposite of overclocking and overvolt. A simple undervolt, that’s the key to make the Surface Pro 3’s Haswell i5 or i7 preform even better. All while reducing heat and that throttling that reduces the systems performance.

 

The whole goal of  doing this is to give the CPU and Intel HD GPU more thermal headroom to allow the GPU and CPU to maintain higher clocks longer, less heat and throttle much less than stock voltage.

 

Download and install the latest Intel XTU version. Once installed, go to All Controls. Click agree on the warning. Now you can start with tweaking your CPU, GPU and Cache voltages. The worst that can happen is a BSOD and the system will reset, if that happens your pushing the undervolt too far. Highly unlikely you could corrupt your SSD from a sudden reset. If you don’t want to risk this, then please do not continue. There is no way you can do any physical harm to the CPU.

We suggest you start out on the dynamic CPU voltage offset on your Surface Pro 3. Try around -50mV, run a CPU stress test and to see if its stable. If that’s good, try a little less. Repeat this process till your happy and most importantly stable. Then move onto the Processor Graphics Voltage Offset and the cache voltage. Its best to tweak one at a time, find a stable undervolt before going onto the next.

 

Our stable setting below. We could do better but for now this is very stable.

Note your CPU maybe do much better or worse than this. Mileage varies somewhat cpu to cpu.

Our Surface Pro 3 undervolt.
Our stable Surface Pro 3 undervolt. i5 4300U model.

Show me the proof!

Here is the proof of our claim, our simple 3D mark 11 benchmark test showed a big improvement in CPU and GPU scores over stock on our Surface Pro 3. Why? Well less voltage = less heat = more time in turbo (higher clock speed) and better overall performance.

Undervolting Surface Pro 3 our stock score

Our 3Dmark 11 stock voltage score P826

undervolting Surface Pro 3 our undervolt

And our undervolted score, was P1012 A healthy 22.52% increase over stock voltages, both CPU and GPU benchmark numbers have increased. Nothing to sneeze at for a free performance increase right?

So have fun with this, but remember if you encounter the system resetting itself, blue screens of death or not sleeping correctly. Chances are you need to ease back the undervolt a little. And remember this is not for everyone!

Please do comment with your own undervolts and testing. This may help other Surface Pro 3 users looking to squeeze the most out of this amazing tablet.