Some Surface Pro 3 with i7s are overheating with fans running excessively

Microsoft now sells the Surface Pro 3 in Core i3, i5 and the top-of-the-line i7 configurations. At the top end of the scale, the Pro 3 can run up to $2,000 for a fully equipped device. During our time with the i5 model, we quite liked what the Pro 3 has to offer, as it is generally a great machine. But some users who have the i7 models which started shipping at the start of August are reporting that they have excessive heat issues.

How hot? Well, hot enough to throw a Pro 3 in a safety mode where it shuts everything down until the device cools off, as shown in the image at the top of this post. The overheating is far from an isolated case as one users is saying that they have had four different units exhibit the excessive heat and based on the thread in the Microsoft Answer forums, they are not alone. A friend of Neowin, Romit Mehta, tipped us off to the high heat output after his unit started exhibiting the heat issues.

The i7 is Intel's high-performance line of CPUs, and it's not a surprise that the machines do run warmer than their i5 and i3 counterparts, but running so hot that it shuts the machine down is well beyond the intended heat of expected operation. The support thread linked at the bottom of this post has numerous users reporting that the fan runs an excessive amount under light use and that their machines get warm to the touch.

Our i5 unit rarely has the fans spin up under normal use; the fans only kick in high enough to be heard when the machine is installing updates from Microsoft. Seeing how widespread the issue is with the i7 chips, it does appear that there may be a problem with some of these high-end devices.

It is worth pointing out that not all i7 machines have this issue, so it could be a case where a bad batch of units is the cause for the high heat output. So far, there is no fix for i7 users whose devices run hot, but we will keep monitoring the situation to see if Microsoft provides an update that addresses the concerns of these users.

Source: Microsoft Answers | Image via Microsoft Answers

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35 Comments

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It could be something as simple as the thermal paste hasn't been applied correctly or is a cheap brand, on mass produced stuff like laptops I've seen it happen quite a lot.

The i5 model gets very hot and loud during certain situations as well so this doesn't surprise me one bit. This is one of the reasons I returned it.

Here is my story...Initial set up with many updates dis overheat mine twice. I did a refresh and tried an new set up again. Just too many updates ... However I experience extreme heat in the Dock. I remember that this was an issue with the SP2 in the dock as well. http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/surface/forum/surfpro3-surfusingpro/excessively-loud-fan-constant-overheating-during/1efa253a-f7f2-486b-a891-5633738b8532?page=26&tm=1408887135184

Whilst not acceptable in any instance it would be interesting to know what all users were doing and how intense it was. I'm not suggesting their isn't an issue (as there seems to be many reports of this), but there also appears to be many inconsistencies which makes diagnosing very difficult, such as people describing using it "out of the box" but then running something that is not available out of the box.

Although only a few users have experienced this problem, this is not something you want to hit news outlets if you are Microsoft. They're already having a hard time selling the things as it is. I'd be fuming if my $2000 machine did this.

Definitely not, but I can't say I'm surprised. The few Surface Pro 3s we ordered for the office were i5, but they seem to get about as hot as the first Surface Pro which could get quite up there. Can't imagine what's it is like with an i7.

If it's not all users, I would say it's a defect and those users can have their tablets replaced. If it's all users, then you have a design flaw and that is obviously much more serious.

derekaw said,
Shouldn't this be sorted by V3?

It's the first version with an i7 processor. It's probably the thinnest device in the world that uses an i7 processor.

rfirth said,

It's the first version with an i7 processor. It's probably the thinnest device in the world that uses an i7 processor.

I'm pretty sure it is, doubt there's anything else out there as thin with anything close to an i7.

rfirth said,

It's the first version with an i7 processor. It's probably the thinnest device in the world that uses an i7 processor.

Not that it matters. Something so simple should have been found in testing.

Happened to me once, but that was after the recent firmware update. The fan started to crank up because I didn't realize that the system was requesting for another system restart after the initial restart to install the firmware. it got hot, but after I restarted the system once again, it started running normally, and I never experienced it again ...knock on wood.

Given that it's affecting a few people and the guy with 4 said all 4 have the same problem I'd wager that there's some form of software glitch causing an issue. MS would have done the R&D on what the max heat dissipation is and how long it can run under load in normal circumstances before having shut off.

Could be as simple as a thermistor fault causing the system to report excess temp even though it's fine, thus leading to higher spool RPM's and eventual shutdown.

"It is worth pointing out that not all i7 users are saying their machines do not appear to have this issue"

Not all users don't?

Apparently, English and grammar do not seem to be a requirement for journalists.

Nor are those important to the readers, apparently.

See below for proof.

Edited by abecedarian paradoxious, Aug 24 2014, 6:38am :

b_roca said,
"It is worth pointing out that not all i7 users are saying their machines do not appear to have this issue"

Not all users don't?


That is because everybody has different workloads on their tablets. If someone replicates this problem on all SP3 i7 tablets using specific load, then Microsoft has a major problem at their hands.

Do the ones with the i7 have the same graphics cards? If not it might be that too or instead of. Most times overheating is a problem with graphics cards rather than processor. Of course in a laptop/tablet I could see it being a problem. I have a three year old i7 chip and a 20" fan. More for the graphics card than the processor but still.

I find this odd because of the fact it's still a dual core ULT Core i7, so it can't be generating too much extra heat than the Core i5 model. Must be some form of manufacturing issue.

That is cheap. If I am buying a 2K device I would expect that it could run problem free running Intel Burn Mark for a year at room temperature.

My i7 model has done this once (during initial setup while installing updates)... I haven't had it happen again but I am a bit worried about it. Going to keep an eye on it for a while.

I wouldn't worry about it. Dot Matrix has assured me that this isn't a problem, that Microsoft makes superb hardware and software, and that's good enough for me.

d5aqoëp said,
Expect a software update to fix hardware/design flaw.

Well, a firmware update could alter max frequencies or other things to try to prevent the overheating... but I agree that is obviously not preferred. I haven't pushed my sp3 too much since the initial setup, maybe ill try some games tomorrow.

7Dash8 said,
I wouldn't worry about it. Dot Matrix has assured me that this isn't a problem, that Microsoft makes superb hardware and software, and that's good enough for me.
Funny man. :-)

7Dash8 said,
I wouldn't worry about it. Dot Matrix has assured me that this isn't a problem, that Microsoft makes superb hardware and software, and that's good enough for me.

Hahaha