Microsoft wants to compete with the iPad, which means offering a Surface for around $400. Opting for lower performance Pentium chips would certainly help keep the price down.
Microsoft is known to be working on a $400 Surface tablet, and in order to reach that price point it looks as though Pentium processors are going to be used.
It’s now possible to pick up a Surface Laptop or Surface Pro for $799, while the Surface Book 2 starts at $1,199. Those prices are very competitive when compared to Apple’s range of MacBooks, but the iPad still comes in cheaper at $329 and the iPad Pro starts at $629. Microsoft’s response is this yet-to-be-confirmed $400 Surface, but achieving half the price of a Surface Pro means taking a performance hit.
As Engadget reports, the latest rumors suggest Microsoft has opted to use Intel’s Pentium Silver N5000 and Pentium Gold Y-series chips inside the budget Surface tablet. The N5000 is a 14nm quad-core processor running at a base frequency of 1.1GHz and bursting up to 2.7GHz. It can be paired with up to 8GB of RAM, uses an Intel UHD Graphics 605 GPU, and compares quite favorably to the Core m3 found in the entry-level Surface Pro.
Opting for a Pentium processor would be a problem if this new Surface was meant to be a tablet for all tasks, but it isn’t. This is a competitor to the iPad, meaning it needs to play back HD video, be capable of surfing the web smoothly, and supporting mobile games. A Pentium chip will happily perform all those tasks while saving Microsoft money compared to opting for a Core chip. The mobile Pentiums do draw a little more power, but not enough for it to impact battery life too much.
We don’t know when Microsoft plans to launch the $400 Surface, but when students return to school later this year would be a safe bet. Just don’t expect it to include a keyboard cover in the box.