Surface Pro 3: A brand new power adapter

"Oh thank you, Panos" were the words muttered from my mouth when a new power connector was shown off with the Surface Pro 3. If you have used any of the previous generation Surfaces, you will know that the power connector is not great. Sure, some may say it worked just fine but trying to plug it in, in the middle of the night with no lights on, is equivalent to solving a Rubik's Cube on NASA's vomit comet. Someone is likely saying that this is a bit dramatic but after you use the 'new' power adapter, going back to the old way feels archaic.

The new power connector uses a blade-style setup that slots into the side of the Pro 3. It is reversible but do note that this power connector is not compatible with the previous generation Surface devices. There is also a small indicator light near the tip of the charger that helps you identify if your Pro 3 is getting the juice to fill the battery. On that note, the charger is a 36-watt power supply that can fully charge the device in four hours, or get it to 80% in two hours time. 

As with the previous chargers, Microsoft has included a USB port on the power brick. Additionally, like everything else about the Pro 3, the power brick is smaller and lighter than the previous charger.

Attaching the connector to the Pro 3 is quite simple thanks to the strong magnets in the charger. The charger will detach with a modest amount of pressure on the cord which should reduce the likelihood of someone tripping over our cord and sending your Pro 3 flying across the room. One issue we do have, though, is if you pull straight down on the cord, the blade design does not slide out of the unit which means that you can pull the device off of a table in this scenario. 

The most interesting thing about the power connector is what Microsoft hinted at during its recent AMA: It's actually a thunderbolt port. Why would Microsoft do this? Well, if it truly is a Thunderbolt port, then it can pass a lot of data through the connection (such as video out and/or power USB hubs, ect) which would be quite handy with a dock or other peripherals. 

Finally, the charger is a two-piece setup, which makes it easier for travel. By unplugging the cord that attaches to the socket, you can wrap it around the brick without fear of breaking the casing around the pivot point near the brick.

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46 Comments

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Looking forward to the next article about the Surface 3 instruction booklet. Maybe we can have one about the box as well?

Neowin, please get confirmation and specifics from Microsoft on the Thunderbolt port capability and the external graphics card capability. Thanks.

You forgot to add that if it's really a thunderbolt port, it could possibly support external graphic cards, which would be a big boost for gamers.

"The most interesting thing about the power connector is what Microsoft hinted at during its recent AMA: It's actually a thunderbolt port"

this is not true. MSFT has never said this. However we know this port has a multitude of functions based on the docking station. We know it can carrier ethernet, USB, video. Does this mean it is thunderbolt? not necessarily. What they may be saying is that it has enough capabilities such that a thunderbolt adapter can be created if they need to. However it is unlikely it is itself thunderbolt for one simple reason: the dock has no thunderbolt out. And given how thunderbolt can be daisy chained, it would have made perfect sense to have exposed it this way to other devices in the chain via the dock.

so no, we don't know what it is. It may just be a proprietary high speed bus which can be extended to support thunderbolt devices.

Thanks for confirming what I didn't really understand - that a interconnect standard has been implied to be included, even tho there's no tangible connector-port on offer from MS. Not sure how they can infer that thunderbolt isn't not part of the product..?


neonspark said,
"The most interesting thing about the power connector is what Microsoft hinted at during its recent AMA: It's actually a thunderbolt port"

this is not true. MSFT has never said this. However we know this port has a multitude of functions based on the docking station. We know it can carrier ethernet, USB, video. Does this mean it is thunderbolt? not necessarily. What they may be saying is that it has enough capabilities such that a thunderbolt adapter can be created if they need to. However it is unlikely it is itself thunderbolt for one simple reason: the dock has no thunderbolt out. And given how thunderbolt can be daisy chained, it would have made perfect sense to have exposed it this way to other devices in the chain via the dock.

so no, we don't know what it is. It may just be a proprietary high speed bus which can be extended to support thunderbolt devices.


With the given hints, physical pin counts and general common sense, it is hard to believe it is NOT thunderbolt.

We know almost nothing about the dock.

On the other hand, a SP3 dock for $199 with multiple USB3 and PCI-E slot for eGPU...we can dream right? but ######ing Intel Corp and their greed.

In the AMA, when specifically asked "where is the thunderbolt link? you could have external gpu's and make it a desktop replacement, i thought the "ultrabook" standard included thunderbolt."

The Surface team replied: "When you buy your Surface Pro3, do me a favor, and take a close look at the "power connector""

That would seem to me to be a pretty strong indication that there is a Thunderbolt connection in there. Also of note, if the Pro 3 docking station is anything like the Pro dock, it will have a mini DisplayPort on it, and guess what the standard connector for Thunderbolt is (as Thunderbolt was designed to have both data and display out of the same connection at the same time)

Edited by Sraf, May 29 2014, 9:00pm :

I've had a first gen RT for about a year now and I don't have many problems with the power cord... It's a bit odd to plug in since it's on an angled edge of the device - especially if the keyboard is folded over on the back - but it's like five seconds out of every day, not a big grumble. It does pull out pretty easily if I stand on the cord or try to walk off with it plugged in, but isn't that the point?

A little late to the party, aren't we Brad? How many days has it been since release? Did you just notice the power adapter?

What is wrong with this site? now a power adapter is a news? it must be a very slow day

hey, we have no news today, what should we do? take these cables and write something about them :)

surface 3 is a very innovative device and this is a MSFT centric site. off course they are going to cover this. the new power adapter isn't just new, it is actually part of the new accessory bus which the dock uses to bypass the old USB pass through method.

so I think I is very much on topic given the device will be shipping soon and many people who visit this board probably are interested in it, or are owners of the prior device and have had to deal with the bad power adapter design. If you owned a surface, you know why this is a very welcomed change, and Panos didn't really highlight this, choosing to showcase the pen and a typing experience far more than the new connector.

From those pictures I can barely see amp rating for USB port. Can someone please post detailed picture or just send how many amps can I get? (at least 2 hopefully :-)).

Having owned both a Surface RT and then a Surface Pro 2.... which both had nice adapters, they would fall out sometimes, so this new one DEFINITELY looks more intuitive... can't wait to get mine! :D

Lol, the connectors don't just "fall out" of their own accord lol. If yours do, then, well quite frankly, you're doing it wrong ;)

This! I didn't realize how convenient this was until I had to get a Macbook Air off display in response to the refresh the other day. That is pretty awesome...

Who cares if it was copied? From the consumer's perspective, it is win-win since there are more options of devices with the awesomeness that is a magnetic power connector.

My Nexus 10 has a magnetic plug too (pogo).

TBH this is one of those instances where a useful idea is hampered by a patent - and Apple won't licence it so nobody else can benefit even if they paid Apple for using it.
I can't think of any reason why this is pro-consumer or pro-small inventor - can you?

I guess that Apple's patent wasn't broad enough to stop everyone else entirely though..

Apple and Microsoft have a cross licensing agreement which waives payment of royalites as long as there's no blatent copy between the 2.

dopydope said,
Apple and Microsoft have a cross licensing agreement which waives payment of royalites as long as there's no blatent copy between the 2.

This.

dopydope said,
Apple and Microsoft have a cross licensing agreement which waives payment of royalites as long as there's no blatent copy between the 2.
So, they're not infringing on Apple's patents or their licensing agreement. Fine by me!

Although, Thunderbolt is Apple and Intel, isn't it? Hrm...

Chikairo said,
So, they're not infringing on Apple's patents or their licensing agreement. Fine by me!

Although, Thunderbolt is Apple and Intel, isn't it? Hrm...


Think you need to re read up on thunderbolt...

Nice, in the AMA they talked about how the thunderbolt 3 socket can power a stand alone NVIDIA GPU effectively making the surface 3 PRO a gaming machine!

there was a comment on paul thurrot winsupersite. unfortunately it doesnt. but it would be awesome if there was a premium powerbrick which would use the advanced connector to provide extra usb, network, possibly even displayport, etc ...

Nice. The old power adapter was not bad, but it would fall out quite easily if tugged even the slightest bit. And I also had customers who thought it was properly inserted, but actually was not done properly causing 'no charge' to reach the Surface. (leading them to think that something was wrong with the device.)