Cluster of Surface Pro 2017 Problems

Discussion in 'Microsoft' started by msintle, Jul 22, 2017.

  1. msintle

    msintle Notebook Guru

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    I've got a 1 TB i7 Surface Pro 2017. Unfortunately, the device is plagued by problems:

    1. Fuzzy display. After installing an Intel GPU driver so I can set custom resolutions, and switching to 1152x768, I get this utterly ugly blurry effect in most Windows and Microsoft apps (other apps are strangely immune):
    blurry.jpg
    Ready for the zinger? If you do any of the following things:

    a) Attach an external display in "Duplicate" mode
    b) Rotate the screen into any portrait mode
    c) Rotate the screen to reverse landscape mode

    The issue goes away:
    crisp.jpg

    Of course, its not practical when using the tablet as a mobile notebook with the type cover and the kickstand to go into reverse landscape or something else. It's definitely not:

    i) A resolution issue. In any display mode other than regular landscape, the resolution is the same but the problem doesn't show.

    ii) A display issue. The same display can handle the output extremely crisply, in anything other than regular landscape, or when duplicating to an external display.

    It's a bug, Microsoft!!! How do we fix it, or work around it?

    I've even tried to fake Windows intro tricking that a secondary monitor is attached, so I could duplicate into it; but it appears Windows 10 has removed this capability. Guess who we have to thank for that as well - Microsoft!

    2. SSD defragging instead of TRIM: I use the Defragment and Optimize Drives tool to TRIM my Surface SSD. Clearly, you don't want (or need) to defrag an SSD. Unfortunately, that's exactly what this built-in system tool does, instead of trimming:
    defrag.png
    Upon investigation, it appears that this may be due to the new Storage Spaces software RAID 0 on the system:
    storagespaces.png
    While I appreciate having a software RAID 0 on a tablet this size, its ridiculous that Microsoft's own software does *not* recognize underlying SSD hardware and cannot TRIM the storage, instead running a defrag operation when I try to optimize.

    I figure the Surface Pro 4 1 TB had a single 1 TB device in it. This one has two 512 TB devices, which probably save Microsoft some money. It would have been nicer, of course, had they released a 2 TB model of the device - or even 4 TB, as you already have 2 TB M2 form factor drives, and you could combine those for a total of 4 TB storage on a 12" tablet! That would have been something.

    Regardless, does anyone know how to override this Storage Spaces lock on TRIMming the underlying SSDs on this device? Any command line parameters or similar?

    Even Intel has supported TRIMming underlying SSDs in all their RAID arrays for multiple versions of their Rapid Storage/Matrix software already.

    3. Fan always on: When you set your Power Mode to Best performance:
    powermode.png

    The fan is always on. This device was advertised as being cooler and quieter, thanks to the new Kaby Lake CPU. The fan is certainly not as high pitched as the previous Surface Pro devices. However, it being always-on is a brand-new nuisance, and one that defeats the whole purpose of the exercise of having a quieter machine.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2017
  2. msintle

    msintle Notebook Guru

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    4. Random CPU slowdown: Another brand-new issue, the tablet seems to slow down to a crawl apparently any time. Maybe there is a buggy power state transition or something, but its certainly abnormal. This happens when you are *active* on the device, and *not idle*. However, the Task Manager screenshot you might take at that time could be very misleading:
    cpuslowdown.png
    This is typically what it looks like your CPU speed has been reduced to save power when you're idle on the machine (and no background computation is going on). Unfortunately, on this device, I stress it *again*, this happens when you are active and using the device.

    You'll notice an aggressive slowdown and stuttering. Fortunately, there is a quick fix to the problem:

    a) Click the battery icon
    b) Wait a few seconds (that's literally how long it takes due to the CPU stutters)
    c) Change your Performance slider in any direction

    This solves the stuttering, for anytime between the next 5 to 50 minutes; until it inevitably happens again. Needless to say, this is an extreme nuisance, and clearly a bug with the device firmware or software which should be fixed ASAP.

    Note that I always keep my performance setting at Best performance, yet this issue keeps happening repeatedly.

    5. Sub-par GPU benchmarks: The pure CPU benchmarks seem to be faster than the previous generation (Pro 4). Older GPU benchmarks also seem to be faster than the previous generation. However, most benchmarks starting with 3DMark 11 regress to levels substantially below the previous generation device:
    benchmarks.png

    I'll post full benchmark results on another thread soon, but these results appear very abnormal indeed.

    Has anyone else run these on their Pro 2017 i7 based device? Could you let me know if your results differ?


    To sum it up - that's five brand-new issues with a brand-new flagship class device. Extremely disappointing to say the least.

    I've been through every Surface generation since the original abomination that was the Surface Pro. Allow me to summarize my list of issues with each:

    i) Original Surface Pro, 64 GB *and* 128 GB: SSD issues which were very hard to trace. Random crashes, failures, and loss of data. Most probably caused by defective SSD.

    ii) Surface Pro 2 512 GB: Quite possibly the *only* Surface device I have had which worked without issues.

    iii) Surface Pro 3 512 GB: CPU underclocking issue (not like the stuttering above - a much more "reasonable" underclocking when the machine is under stress).

    iv) Surface Pro 4 1 TB/Surface Book 1 TB/Surface Book Performance Base 1 TB: This generation first introduced the blurry text issue above. This generation also took about six months to stabilize - from freezing problems with docking stations to freezing problems when shutting the type cover, this generation was extremely problematic upon launch.

    v) Surface Pro 5: Adds three fresh issues:
    a) Defrag instead of trim,
    b) CPU stuttering,
    c) Fan always on,
    In addition to sub-par benchmarks, and retaining the blurry display issue.

    The issues are *not* OS related and reproduce on clean factory installs, as well as, in the case of blurries, being persistent across two generations of the device already.

    I'd use a Mac at this point if I could. Doing free beta testing for Microsoft is one thing, and then having multiple fresh issues with each "newer and better" device is another thing.

    Especially considering how they've taken the pen out of the Surface Pro 2017 box, and how they're now storage-spacing a 1 TB device so they can ship you two cheaper (and slower) 512 GB SSDs, this thing is one big rip-off.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2017
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  3. msintle

    msintle Notebook Guru

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    I had originally posted these issues at surfaceforums.net, who promptly banned me for stating my issues:

    http://www.surfaceforums.net/threads/blurry-text.22552/page-3
    http://www.surfaceforums.net/threads/defrag-problem.22571/
    http://www.surfaceforums.net/threads/surface-pro-2017-benchmarks-and-anomalies.22574/
    http://www.surfaceforums.net/threads/third-new-problem-aggressive-cpu-slowdown.22573/page-3

    Today, as fate would have it, some solutions were posted to my problems below, by a user who apparently took sympathy on my plight. I have shared his delightful workarounds below - some of which are *physical* in nature!!!

    Guess what - they deleted his posts as well, and probably banned him too.

    I must admit they're *not* very nice guys, those surfaceforums people. As clueless muppets as they are, why would they actually *ban* people who are providing solutions to problems? Do they only appreciate their own internally generated empty chatter?

    Anyways...in case anyone else has these issues, please find the solutions below. These are not mine, but credited to user thenorth, possibly formerly of surfaceforums.net.

    1. Blurries - nasty, physical patch. See the screenshots, nay, physical pictures below:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I had to use a Surface VGA Adaptor to make this happen. Just plugging this adaptor is not enough, you also need to get some conductive wire and follow the steps below:

    http://www.geeks3d.com/20091230/vga-hack-how-to-make-a-vga-dummy-plug/

    I did not have to use capacitors - just plain old conductive wire was sufficient.

    All of this is to trick Windows 10 to output to a second display, which you used to be able to do for absolutely free on earlier Windows versions. Thank you for helping make the Surface as ugly looking as possible physically, Microsoft, by removing the ability to project to a fake external VGA display without this nasty physical hack. Hey, at least it works, and I have a story to tell if anyone asks about Microsoft's excellent devices and the literal workarounds one has to devise to get them working properly. I'm sure other people will agree that it makes for a great fun pastime - working around Microsoft's bugs so we can use the hardware we paid for. Also, its a great tactic to sell otherwise useless VGA adapters, I think - kudos, Panos & team!

    2. Defrag - simple enough:

    a) Disable any defrag schedule from the defrag app GUI, because Microsoft will otherwise burn your SSD a little bit every week on schedule. Remember, perseverance always pays off!!!

    b) Run defrag.exe from the command line with the /l parameter to force a trim. So, for example, defrag c: /l. This *seems* to work.

    3. CPU Stuttering - you need to set CsEnabled=0 in the key Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Power. I don't know if anyone actually appreciates the Surface default setting here anyways. After overriding this value and rebooting, my stuttering issues seem to have ceased entirely.

    EDIT: This issue has happened again after about 2 hours of use. Unfortunately, it is a maddeningly irritating issue, not in the least because there's absolutely no documentation of what the new power slider in Windows 10 does, when displayed by the battery icon in the system tray. This is *not* the standard power schemes and is something completely new, undocumented, and apparently buggy.

    4. Fan always on - this is *mostly* fixed by the fix #3 above. The fan still appears to be always-on, but it is at least set at the very lowest intensity on idle now. Which is a huge, huge step above the previous setting of always on, always at max.

    5. I'll repeat the benchmarks to see if the situation is any better now.

    So far, that's four workarounds for five issues, one of which is a full-fledged physical workaround.

    Do I get any bonus for hacking my way through your bugs for you, Microsoft?

    Please send Panos my best regards.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2017
  4. Mobius 1

    Mobius 1 what is quality control?

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    How can microsoft screw up this bad is beyond me

    Maybe it's a byproduct of using bga ssds lol
     
  5. msintle

    msintle Notebook Guru

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    That's Microsoft.

    They used to have the excuse that "they cannot control the hardware their software runs on" which has also now expired.

    Surface systems have been without exception the most buggy and the most prematurely shipped of any that I have worked with (perhaps, with MSI coming in a close second).
     
  6. Mobius 1

    Mobius 1 what is quality control?

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    Huh :|
    Maybe demand a refund?
     
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  7. msintle

    msintle Notebook Guru

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    Exactly. I bought from an excellent reseller who will even partially support my return shipping costs.
     
  8. Mobius 1

    Mobius 1 what is quality control?

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    Glad I didn't preorder lol.

    I have the SP3 and it's still okay.
     
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  9. msintle

    msintle Notebook Guru

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    Yes, really!

    The Surface Pro 4 pens came with a set of four full tips inside the box. Since the softest one wore out eventually, I replaced these at some point with a new purchase of stand-alone pen tips, no big deal.

    The Surface Pro 2017 (which also lacks a pen inside the box as you know) series pens (which are currently available only in the generic color, as the two other colors have not yet shipped for some reason) do *not* have any tips inside the box. I have inquired as to whether the Pro 4 tips are compatible with this new generation - I am wary of damaging the tip in case they are not.
     
  10. msintle

    msintle Notebook Guru

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    My sales rep has confirmed that the Pro 4 nibs are *not* compatible with the latest generation of pens in the Pro 2017 series.

    I find it absolutely incredible how many times an upgrade is actually a downgrade with Microsoft, first with Windows, now with hardware.

    Keep it up guys! You have Google and Apple cheering you on the sidelines.
     
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