High-demand tasks for the Surface Book 2 swamp a plugged-in battery

In a surprising, and disappointing, demo from Digital Trends, a plugged-in Surface Book 2 running common but demanding tasks shows battery drain.

smart plug

Mark Coppock at Digital Trends has just published the results of a series of tests that he ran on Microsoft’s flagship Surface Book 2. Running Destiny 2 at high resolution/frame rate, or Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2018 video editing app, caused the battery indicator to drop, even though the SB2 was plugged into the wall and fully charged.

Says Coppock:

The power supply on the 15-inch Surface Book 2 holds it back from being the portable workstation it seems to be at first glance … the Surface Book 2 15-inch comes with a 95-watt power supply. The notebook’s components, however, can consume more power than that when they’re running at full speed.

He reported the problem to Microsoft, which responded with a nod to the Win10 Fall Creators Update’s new Power Mode Slider:

In some intense, prolonged gaming scenarios with Power Mode Slider set to ‘best performance,’ the battery may discharge while connected to the power supply provided in-box with Surface Book 2. However, through power management design, the battery will never drain entirely, ensuring that users are able to keep working, creating, or gaming.

The implication being that the Surface Book 2 won’t play demanding games at full throttle: Push the machine hard enough, and it will automatically reduce the frame rate.That’s certainly a reasonable response to an untenable situation, but hard-core gamers who just ponied up $3,300 for a Surface Book 2 aren’t going to be overly sympathetic.

Although Microsoft emphasized the gaming market, Coppock wondered if similar results might await folks who are using productivity software.

We fired up Adobe’s Premiere Pro CC 2018 video editing app, imported a large AVI file, and added some effects. Then, we exported it to an MPEG4 file. In other words, we performed the kind of task that thousands of creative types are likely to perform on a daily basis. We did this with the performance slider to the right on “Best Performance” and the Surface Book 2 plugged in with fully charged batteries.

The result? Almost immediately, the battery indicator changed status from “Fully Charged” to “Plugged In, Discharging” and one of the battery changed from “100% and fully charged” to “100% and in use.”

He repeated the test, with the Power Mode Slider in the middle, and also saw some battery drainage.

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