Microsoft’s flagship Surface Pro 2 tablet received a processor bump in December, according to customer reports verified Thursday by The Verge. After launching in late October with a 1.6 GHz Haswell-based CPU, Microsoft quietly switched to a 1.9 GHz part at some point last month.
The reason for the change isn’t clear, although limited supply of the Surface Pro 2 at retailers may suggest a component shortage of the 1.6 GHz chip. Microsoft for its part acknowledged the change, but declined to offer further details, telling The Verge:
Microsoft routinely makes small changes to internal components over the lifetime of a product, based on numerous factors including supply chain partnerships, availability, and value for our customers. With any change to hardware or software, we work to ensure that the product experience remains excellent.
In addition to the faster base frequency, the updated processor, a Core i5-4300U, offers a slightly faster maximum GPU clock frequency and support for Intel’s hardware security features — such as vPro and Trusted Execution Technology — compared to the original Core i5-4200U. According to early Geekbench comparisons, the new chip provides a roughly 6 to 10 percent performance advantage depending on the task.
The new ARM-based Surface 2 and x86-based Surface Pro 2 tablets already offer significant performance advantages over the first-generation Surface products, so a slight CPU bump is even better news for future Surface Pro 2 owners. However, those who already picked up their Surface Pro may feel cheated by the release of a slightly faster model so soon after the product’s introduction.
While models sporting the 1.9 GHz CPU are already in the retail supply chain, new customers should check to make sure they’re getting the latest version. Microsoft has never advertised the clock frequency of the Surface Pro 2’s processor — referring to it only as a “4th generation Intel Core i5 Processor” on the product’s website — so new customers will likely need to make a trip to the Windows Control Panel to verify their hardware configuration.