One conspicuous difference between the base model Surface Pro 4 with the Core m3 processor and the rest of the lineup lies not within the device itself, but in what it comes packaged with. Unlike its bigger brothers, which come with 36W power chargers, the base model comes with a 24W power charger. To pour more salt in the wound, the 24W charger is missing the additional USB charging outlet found on the higher-end charger, as well as virtually every Surface Pro since the Surface Pro. This is, in my opinion, a rather obnoxious and borderline insulting omission on Microsoft’s part, given that the company raised the base price of the Surface Pro 4 $100 USD.
The reduced product value, however, wasn’t my chief concern. In addition to my newly purchased Surface Pro 4, I also own a non-Pro Surface 3, and my biggest complaint about the device is its charging time. It takes a traumatic 5 hours to fully charge from empty. Even though the base model Surface Pro 4’s supplied power charger charges at nearly double the rate of the Surface 3’s supplied charger, it also feeds a much bigger battery. While I would never expect the 24W charger to take as long as the Surface 3’s 13W charger, I was extremely worried that it would charge the Surface Pro 4 slower than the 36W charger: that I would be penalized for purchasing the least expensive version of a premium flagship device.
As it turns out, my worries were unjustified. According to a battery charging time report from AnandTech, the midrange Surface Pro 4 with the 36W charger filled herself up from empty in 2 hours and 38 minutes. My charging times with the base model Surface Pro 4 and its weaker charger, with the device on and doing light tasks, averaged 2 hours and 46 minutes. When charging with the device off the device charged in an average of 2 hours and 28 minutes.
I also happen to own the new Surface Dock, which features a much beefier 90W power charger. Charging through Surface Dock produces strikingly similar results.
All told, I’m very glad to see the smaller power charger does not inhibit charging speeds, and over the course of my two weeks of ownership have comfortably charged the device to near full-capacity over quick naps, giving me the efficient mobile computing lifestyle I so desire.Further reading: core m3, Microsoft, Surface Pro 4