The Microsoft Surface Book is an Insomniac

Putting a computer or tablet to sleep is nothing new, it’s an inherent part of a modern computer or tablet, something you don’t think often about. Microsoft’s Surface Book was claimed to be very power efficient when sleeping, but sadly is currently not the case.

I’ve had my Surface Book for over a week now, and I’ve been using it heavily to play games and run various graphical applications. Overall the machine works quite well, but it’s quirky, a word you don’t ever hear muttered about an Apple device. If you look online at Microsoft’s own Surface Book forums, the number one issue being talked about is the horrible sleep functionality of the Surface Book. I’ve experienced this myself. The first day I had it, I used it at the office, and at the end of the day, I just shut the lid and slid it into my backpack for the 15 minute drive home.

Upon getting home I open up my backpack to a near inferno of heat bellowing from the pocket where my Surface Book sat. The fans were running at full speed, and the unit was extremely hot. I opened the lid to wake it up, and 40% of the battery drained on my short drive home. Not a very impressive sleep mode. My Retina Macbook Pro was also asleep, and was nice and cool to the touch.

Over the past week Microsoft has been busy putting out almost daily updates for the Surface Book, and the forums were abuzz with various things to try. The latest is to manually perform an update to the battery drivers from the device manager, which interestingly finds new drivers, that isn’t part of the Windows Update. Doing this update did seem to fix some of the massive drain the Surface Book faced, but it’s still quite a hungry sleeper.

I tested the new setup overnight, I closed the lid of my Surface Book with nothing plugged into it, and in the morning the battery was 10% lower, an improvement over the 40% drain I saw earlier. The only issue now, is the system hibernates on it’s own after 120 minutes. Waking up from hibernation isn’t smooth. I had to forcibly shut the machine down because of glitched or frozen machine states at least twice in the week.

Today I just realized that the power settings for the display are now being ignored. It’s set to shut the display off in 10 minutes while plugged in, and I left it running last night to finish a download, and was still on in the morning. I find it annoyingly funny how Microsoft has yet to nail something that seems so mundane and old as the sleep mode on a computer. I’m hoping that Microsoft can resolve it soon. The only good thing is Microsoft is quite busy working on fixes for these initial problems, and hopefully as the year comes to an end things will improve. But right now, my Surface Book is an insomniac, and the safest thing to do is just shut the thing down before putting it in your bag; luckily the Surface Book boots up pretty quick.