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Microsoft Confirms Surface Book 2 Can't Stay Charged During Gaming Sessions (engadget.com) 138

The Verge mentioned in their review that the Surface Book 2's power supply can't charge the battery fast enough to prevent it from draining in some cases. Microsoft has since confirmed that "in some intense, prolonged gaming scenarios with Power Mode Slider set to 'best performance' the battery may discharge while connected to the power supply." Engadget reports: To let you choose between performance and battery life, the Surface Book has a range of power settings. If you're doing video editing or other GPU intensive tasks, you can crank it up to "best performance" to activate the NVIDIA GPU and get more speed. Battery drain is normally not an issue with graphics apps because the chip only kicks in when needed. You'll also need the "best performance" setting for GPU-intensive games, as they'll slow down or drop frames otherwise. The problem is that select titles like Destiny 2 use the NVIDIA chip nearly continuously, pulling up to 70 watts of power on top of the 35 watt CPU. Unfortunately, the Surface Book comes with a 102-watt charger, and only about 95 watts of that reaches the device, the Verge points out. Microsoft says that the power management system will prevent the battery from draining completely, even during intense gaming, but it would certainly mess up your Destiny 2 session. It also notes that the machine is intended for designers, developers and engineers, with the subtext that it's not exactly marketed as a gaming rig.
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Microsoft Confirms Surface Book 2 Can't Stay Charged During Gaming Sessions

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  • Really? (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) *

    Both of them?

  • by nateman1352 ( 971364 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @03:01AM (#55601385)
    Batteries are one of those things that Microsoft has a tough time getting right in their hardware products. The Xbox One Controller "Play and Charge Kit" absolutely sucks. The rechargeable battery it comes with doesn't charge after about 3 months, giving you ~20min of play time before the controller dies. Might as well keep using AA batteries and not waste the money. Same issue with the Xbox 360 play and charge kits. Back in the day the Zune had battery issues as well. I guess we can add the Surface Book 2 to the rooster of Microsoft doing batteries wrong.
    • by grungeman ( 590547 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @07:49AM (#55602139)
      Was at a store today and already decided on a Surface Laptop. Looked it up online just for final confirmation and saw that battery is glued completely into the device, replacement impossible. WTF, Microsoft?
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Given their track record, they'll quit supporting the thing in two years so they expect you to throw it away and buy a new Surface by then anyway.

      • Point me to a laptop with those specs including thickness which doesn't have the battery glued into the device.

        The answer to your WTF is "YOU ASKED FOR IT". You said it yourself. YOU decided on it, and don't claim that the specs and styling didn't have something to do with it.

        Screw ponies, I want a unicorn.

    • by nomadic ( 141991 )

      Yes, I have a Surface Pro 4 and I like it a lot, but the battery does suck. A friend who works at MS used to keep telling me it would be fixed soon by a firmware update, but finally conceded that the first generation of the SP4 just couldn't hold a charge.

      The Xbox One controller doesn't seem that bad to me, though. I'm at a year+ and it still charges for me.

    • ...and they knew it well enough to stop the system using too much battery unless you made a specific act to let it do so.

      There's so much wrong here - first that the charger can't be powerful enough to do the job. Second that you have to 'enable' performance - why can't it just turn itself on and off when appropriate? As a baseline it could turn on high performance when charging and demand was high enough. But no, they knew the battery was shit, the charger was shit and so made the software shit to match.

    • I guess we can add the Surface Book 2 to the rooster of Microsoft doing batteries wrong.

      Well, no. The battery is dying while the machine is plugged in. They didn't fail at the battery, the battery is doing its job and providing power when wall current isn't sufficient. They failed at the power supply, which doesn't have enough output to float the battery and run the machine flat out.

      • Which seems more like a design flaw than a manufacturing defect: "MS didn't design their device to charge while under a full work load."
        • Which seems more like a design flaw than a manufacturing defect: "MS didn't design their device to charge while under a full work load."

          To me, the critical question is whether the problem is the internal circuitry, or the power brick. If you put a 60W charger on a laptop which came with a 90W charger you'll have the same problem. Did Microsoft FUBAR the voltage regulator, or just underspecify the brick? The latter can be trivially solved. The former practically requires hardware replacement.

          I wonder if anyone has made a robot which desolders components and replaces them. That could solve many such problems (underspecified voltage regulators

  • Who the heck? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @03:01AM (#55601387)

    Who actually green lights a power supply that can't keep a device charged under full load?

    Seriously.

    • I was thinking the same. Seems like poor planning. In a few years, like most laptops, that battery wonâ(TM)t hold much charge. At which time you wonâ(TM)t be able to touch the tabletâ(TM)s full performance because it will shutdown relying on just the wire.

      What idiot let that through? Did they replace the GPU at the last minute and not do a full spec assessment?

    • Re:Who the heck? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by _merlin ( 160982 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @07:47AM (#55602133) Homepage Journal

      Pretty much all the phone makers. None of the flagship LG or Samsung phones will stay charged at full CPU load.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Prior to "Rapid Charge" or whatever the buzzword is, many phones could not charge fast enough if you were using GPS and had the screen on (hello Galaxy S3).

    • Some of the Mac laptops have the same issue. This was a few years back... They will drain the battery about 1-2% per hour if you use both CPU and GPU while plugged in. Apple wanted to not have huge bricks for power adapters. Meanwhile my Dell can run CPU, display, gpu, AND rapid charge the battery. But the 210w adapter is huge and the laptop and charger are over 10 pounds.

      Given a lot of people in the office is switching to Mac, and weight is a primary concern, seems like a good trade-off. That said,
    • Who actually green lights a power supply that can't keep a device charged under full load?

      Seriously.

      Lots of companies. Very few people put their devices under full load for more than a moment. Even fewer do so for more than an hour or so. Hell most portable devices can't even run their CPU at full load for more than a second or two before thermally throttling.

      All the while no consumer wants to lug around a 200W charging brick, hear noisy fans, or have thick cases with huge batteries.

      They are called trade-offs. Who would green-light something that trades off what consumers want in exchange for something th

  • by blindseer ( 891256 ) <blindseer.earthlink@net> on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @03:08AM (#55601409)

    Starting at $2,499 ($1,499 for the 13.5-inch model), the 15-inch Surface Book 2 is $100 more than a comparable MacBook Pro and is at the very high end of the laptop market.

    I thought only Apple sold overpriced laptops? Turns out if you want the power that used to be only available in a desktop and in the form factor of a portable device then you have to pay for it. The article even ends with a comment that the choice between Apple and Microsoft is mostly over OS preference not price/performance.

    It seems part of the problem here is the choice of USB-C for charging. That connector is limited to 100 watts. If they want to make a laptop that sucks down more than 100 watts under heavy load then they should have used a different connector for charging.

    They mention the lack of ThunderBolt on the Surface Book 2, this reminds me of the previous rantings on Slashdot of being unable to tell a USB cable from a ThunderBolt cable. I looked into this and found this complaint is just ignorance. The people that hold the rights to the USB icon will only allow it's use on cables that meet the USB spec, if you don't see that symbol on the cable then the cable might not be able to pass a USB signal. Same for ThunderBolt, if it has the ThunderBolt symbol then it's rated for ThunderBolt. There's even symbols for the different speed ratings of cables, so complaining of a USB cable not being "super speed" is just not checking the markings. Complaining about being unable to tell a USB cable from a ThunderBolt cable is no different than complaining about being unable to tell cables apart with the old 25 pin connectors. You can tell the serial cables from the parallel cables from the SCSI cables by looking for the cable markings. If your cable doesn't have markings then you are not only an idiot but you are a cheap idiot for buying cheap cables and then complaining you can't tell them apart.

    When it comes to the different power ratings of USB-C cables and power supplies I'm not sure I see a problem here either. I'm pretty sure all the power supplies will have markings indicating their maximum wattage ratings. Unlike trying to use a 10 amp 120 volt extension cord to plug in a coffeepot it's not possible to melt the USB-C cable for exceeding the power rating of a cable. The cable will have a chip telling the power supply what it's current carrying capacity is, not have the wires for high current, or simply not have any power wires at all. If you are melting USB-C cables then you have a serious failure, either in the hardware or in mental capacity for thinking you can use a no name unmarked cable to charge a 100 watt computer.

    If people complain about a computer that came with a 100 watt power supply and that power supply can't keep the computer charged then who's the bigger idiot? The people that designed the computer this way or the people that bought it? The $2500 price tag just adds to the idiocy.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It's not the USB C connector, Macs with the older MagSafe one have the same problem. It's a design decision.

      The issue is that they want to sell a small, under-powered charger. It has to be thin and light weight, rather than appropriately spec'ed. If they really wanted to they could sell a more powerful charger and just use two USB C ports to supply 200W.

      This also means that if^H^H when your battery is dead in a couple of years your Surface won't work properly any more.

      • by blindseer ( 891256 ) <blindseer.earthlink@net> on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @04:24AM (#55601615)

        It's not the USB C connector, Macs with the older MagSafe one have the same problem. It's a design decision.

        What same problem? Being unable to maintain a charge with the included charger under load? I did not know that was an issue. I'm not saying it didn't happen, only that I have not heard of it elsewhere and I have not experienced it myself. I have two MagSafe laptops, one ten years old and the other five. Both stay charged from 85 watt chargers. This tells me that the laptops and chargers were designed with matching power draw to power supplied.

        The issue is that they want to sell a small, under-powered charger. It has to be thin and light weight, rather than appropriately spec'ed. If they really wanted to they could sell a more powerful charger and just use two USB C ports to supply 200W.

        I recall from previous uses of two USB cables to draw sufficient power for a device that the USB Implementer Forum frowned on this practice. I know it's been done, that's without doubt. Calling this good practice does seem suspect. I'd think offering a single charging connection to meet all power demands would not only be logical but also not appear as a hack to get around a poor design decision. The Surface family of devices also use the SurfaceConnect port, does that provide more than 100 watts? I've been looking and I can find very little that is definitive on this port.

        This also means that if^H^H when your battery is dead in a couple of years your Surface won't work properly any more.

        That's far from unique to Microsoft.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          What same problem? Being unable to maintain a charge with the included charger under load? I did not know that was an issue.

          Yes. On older models with a removable battery the OS would limit CPU performance when the battery was not installed because of this. Obviously newer models glue the battery in.

        • by Aaden42 ( 198257 )

          Some older Macs I've had did this. Is was mostly a problem if you used a smaller MagSafe brick than was included with the machine. MagSafe came in 45, 60, and 85 watt versions. You could plug any of them into any machine, and it would work. The difference was like plugging a modern phone into an old 500mA USB port versus a 2.4A quick charge.

          My partner & I had 13" and 15" MBP's at one point. My 15" came with an 85 watt brick and her 13" with the 60 watt. Running my 15" on her brick made the brick g

    • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

      Er, what makes you think it uses USB-C for charging? It like all the other recent Surface devices uses a Surface Connect connector for charging. You can charge it via the USB-C port but Microsoft don't supply such a power adaptor.

      My biggest beef with the Surface power supply is that it comes with a USB-A connector for charging stuff up. It would have been super nice if they had also but a couple extra connectors on the Surface Connect plug and run two wires back to the power supply so that port was also an

    • it's not possible to melt the USB-C cable for exceeding the power rating of a cable.

      Only those cables rated for >3A are electronically identified. So cheap USB-C cables can still burn up if they can not handle 3A of current. With a 3A current, most standard cables will have to dissipate 2W per meter of cable. Not that bad but if people go cheap and use 28AWG power conductors, like with some current USB cables, the resulting 4W load could cause things to start smoking.

      • Only those cables rated for >3A are electronically identified.

        My mistake. This just means that a device assumes a low ampere cable unless told otherwise.

        So cheap USB-C cables can still burn up if they can not handle 3A of current.

        Right, that's what I said. If you get cables with the USB logo on it then it's been tested for the current carrying capacity. Lacking that logo it can burn up on you.

        With a 3A current, most standard cables will have to dissipate 2W per meter of cable. Not that bad but if people go cheap and use 28AWG power conductors, like with some current USB cables, the resulting 4W load could cause things to start smoking.

        Right, so don't buy cheap cables. Which was my point.

        Are you saying that even cables with the USB logo will burn up? I'll find that hard to believe. Even if the spec was somehow lacking and would allow for such cables to get the logo I'm pretty sure

        • The vast majority of people are not going to look for a USB certification logo on their USB cable. And even with the logo, there is a strong possibility they could be fake. Pushing 3A through such a cable is pushing the boundaries of what can be performed safely. No doubt the USB consortium knows this which is why anything above 3A requires an active cable.

          My point is that 3A is not a low current draw. 3A is 1/5 the maximum current for most household outlets that use 14 gauge conductors. For compari

    • the one ring does not have the power!

    • by Khyber ( 864651 )

      "Unlike trying to use a 10 amp 120 volt extension cord to plug in a coffeepot it's not possible to melt the USB-C cable for exceeding the power rating of a cable."

      This is actually wrong and we even had a story right here on /. about a guy finding wrongly-specced USB-C charging cables (and their subsequent failures) on Amazon and similar sites. Doesn't matter telling the system you can handle 5 amps when you're using 32AWG wiring, the shit will fucking blow at 5 amps because you can't push that much current

      • Doesn't matter telling the system you can handle 5 amps when you're using 32AWG wiring, the shit will fucking blow at 5 amps because you can't push that much current down that small of a wire.

        Isn't this something you can detect with an intelligent charger? Device asks for x watts, you try to deliver x watts and it doesn't arrive, device says "I'm only getting x/y watts" and the charger reduces output? What fucking year is it?

      • Did they have a USB logo? Or, did they just have the USB shaped connector?

        It's possible that some of those early connectors somehow was able to slip by with getting the logo on the connector and still not meet spec but that's growing pains that most anything new goes through.

        I bought one of those cables without a USB logo on it. It was from a respectable cable maker but they made it clear that it was not a USB cable. I missed that detail when I bought it though. I was kind of bummed that it could only p

    • Well, I guess I'm part of the idiocy then, I just bought one. I also owned the original surface book. I'm a greybeard, been doing this since TRS-80. Was linux guy for a long time till OSX was a better linux, then did macs. I only say all this to provide some context, I'm really far from being a ms fanboi.

      The Surface Book devices are hands down the best computing devices I've ever owned. Not even close to anything else. And yes, I've owned and still own top-end Macs, top-end System 76 Linux boxes, etc...

      Wind

  • by Anonymous Coward

    if you buy a Surface Book 2, and even stupider if you game on one.

    Signed,
    humanity

  • Why? (Score:4, Funny)

    by dohzer ( 867770 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2017 @03:24AM (#55601449) Homepage

    Why would you try to play games other than FreeCell or Minesweeper on a Surface?!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Because they call the Surface 2 a "Gaming Powerhouse" on their product overview page.

      http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/surface/devices/surface-book-2/overview

    • by dAzED1 ( 33635 )
      why would you pay $2499 for a portable that can't even play games? What, is their market supposed to be only coaching staff for (insert your favorite NFL team here)?
      • No one said it can't play games. Only that the device discharges while doing so. You can still happily get in a 5-6hour gaming session before that happens.

        Who the hell would want to sit playing games on a tiny Surface for 6 hours?

  • As blindseeer pointed out, the accessory decision and the acknowledgement of the power delivery of that accessoy not being enough is one problem, but a solution to the problem remains a grey area. So...

    Does the Surface 2's power input and/or battery support a stronger power supply? (and if it does) How many more nanoseconds before it becomes available as an option, or you provide the option for a free exchange for the current one?

    Because the fact they are stating " the machine is intended for designers, dev

    • Does the Surface 2's power input and/or battery support a stronger power supply?

      From what I gather, the laptop uses a USB-C connector to charge, which is defined by the USB Power Delivery standard.
      (I can't get information is the Surface Connector can be used for charging and if it follows the same standards and limitations).

      USB PD, in its most recent revision supports up to 100W of power (by using thick wires able to hold 5A and using 20V).

      So no, the 105W total consumption of the laptop in "Performance" settings, cannot be catered to by any currently available USB-C charger.

      They should

  • This thing is just an epic fail. It is a piece of a junk. Microsoft is just not a hardware company and every attempt that it makes to develop a piece of hardware ends up a failure.
    • by 6Yankee ( 597075 )

      My Natural keyboard begs to differ.

    • This thing is just an epic fail. It is a piece of a junk. Microsoft is just not a hardware company and every attempt that it makes to develop a piece of hardware ends up a failure.

      Back in the day, they made excellent keyboards (loved the original natural keyboard.) As much as I dislike Xbox, I would hardly call any of the iterations failures. "Every attempt" is a little heavy handed. A lot of their other attempts would have likely been successful if they didn't insist on running their software on it. Heck, I'd say they are much better at hardware than software.

      If it weren't for shady practices (particularly in the late 80s and 90s,) their software would have been long forgotten. I su

    • I like their controllers better. The Playstation ones only feel ergonomic if I hold them upside down and use my fingers instead of my thumbs.
    • Microsoft has plenty of examples successful hardware: keyboards, mice, the sidewinder joystick, video game controllers and systems.
    • I'm not so sure. I'm typing this comment on a Surface Book, and I have to tell you, I really, really like it. I've used the Book for 2 years now, and it's been great--excluding the first couple months of firmware updates. It's fast, has a great form factor, has a rad touchpad, the screen is good, and it's cool to handwrite notes (I do way better with memory retention when I hand write, vs. typing notes; go figure). It's my daily driver and I run my business from it. I'd definitely like the 2, just for
  • Coming up with a device that embodies in itself the disadvantages of a laptop and the shortcomings of a tablet is exactly what one would expect MS to do.
    • Yes it's a major shortcoming that I can't play a game for more than 6 hours straight on a tiny little Surface device.

      Sarcasm aside this is outrage over technical specs, nothing more. The precise number of people who will actually be affected by this is zero.

  • First - Why link to an Engadget article talking/linking to a Verge article that is clickbait/repeat from the original Verge article. wtf... Second - At max loading in the described Destiny 2/max performance setting quandry, it was "at least" 10% an hour. One could literally play for more than 9 hours NON-STOP before draining the battery. This is a concern for... who exactly? Hard core gamers that wear a diaper and didn't buy a gaming rig?
  • Older Macbook Pro have this "feature", too, with their 85W power supply. Happened to me on my 2012 15" Macbook Pro, and it seems I was not the only one. For example, just a simple Google search shows discussions like https://discussions.apple.com/... [apple.com] or https://apple.stackexchange.co... [stackexchange.com]

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