Archive for December, 2014

Mobile Eve: Surface Pro 3 Edition

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So a few weeks ago I made the call to upgrade my Windows 8(.1) tablet from my old Acer W700 to a brand spanking new Surface Pro 3 (i7 252Gb). So I guess the obligatory question needs to be answered:

“Will it run eve?”

If you’ve read the previous post on running eve on the Acer, you probably know the answer, but the SP3 has a few tricks up its sleeve which might just surprise you. I’ll keep this post in a similar format to the original mobile eve test I ran so that a direct comparison can be drawn between the two tablets.

So let’s talk about specs first:

CPU: i7-4650U clocked at 2.30Ghz.

RAM: 8Gb

OS: Windows 8.1 64bit

Graphics: Intel HD 5000

As per the original post, I won’t be reviewing the tablet in general. But as a quick once over, its smaller, lighter and has a better screen than the original. The Type cover makes it far more useful in mobile situations (read the train) and the pen is a godsend. My only complaint is that the edge detection is inferior to the Acers, meaning that auto hiding the task bar makes it impossible to open with a finger. However despite that it’s an excellent tablets which I highly recommend. But let’s get onto the meat of the post. Eve.

The HD5000 (with the i7 version) has fixed the alt tab issue the older HD4000 had and so eve is at no risk of locking up your graphics. This was a pretty minor annoyance however, and one which I suspect will persist on the i5 version of the SP3.

So let’s looks at settings shall we? My first test was at full graphics. It took a pretty big toll and the system was noticeably slow to respond to mouse movements and clicks. Docked up I was getting an average of 18fps and 10fps undocked.

Next I removed the Anti-Aliasing and this gave me a few extra frames, however the system was still noticeably slow (18fps docked, 10fps undocked).

Then I optimised the graphics for performance (using the pre-set in the graphics menu). This was far more acceptable with 60fps in the hanger and 45fps undocked, without doubt the setting I would advise for playing with.

I tried dropping settings lower, but it made no difference what so ever. Heat wise the surface did start to get a little hot during the play testing but not so much as classify as “overheating”. It’s also worth noting that CCP have moved onto Dx11 from Dx9 since I last ran my test so the improvements I am seeing in this surface vs the Iconia may be either hindered or helped by that change.

So the tablet will still run Eve fine, and indeed marginally better than before. To the point now where I might be willing to play the game on the tablet in serious situations should the need arise (not going to get rid of the main PC however :P). But the real upgrade is the utility given by a minor change in the form factor. I mentioned in the previous review that eve does not accept touch input. A lot of games have this issue, where by UI elements expect a “mouse over” event before a “mouse click” event. This is expected behaviour of course for any interface using a mouse. However when you switch to a touch screen the “mouse click” and “mouse over” events happen in the same instant, meaning that 90% of the time the click will execute at the mouse’s old location rather than where you just prodded. A second prod will activate the UI element. However when you then click on the next thing you want to do, another click is executed on your old location and then the mouse moves. It’s not unique to eve, but it does mean that playing eve with your fingers won’t ever happen until there is a major change in the game engine.

Playing eve with a pen however is a different kettle of fish. Because the pen moves the mouse around when in proximity to the screen, UI elements get the “mouse over” event long before you click and I can confirm that using the SP3 pen works perfectly with eve. It’s even more precise than a finger, so the smaller UI doesn’t matter anywhere near as much, and indeed might even be considered better than a mouse for some tasks such as PI.

It really works fine on the move, anything you can do with the mouse alone, can be done holding the tablet (say on a train). Of course the moment you need to type something you’re going to need to use the type cover, which requires a flat surface to be comfortable. Skill training, PI, fitting ships, checking cargo, even flying can be done in slate mode however.

In summary the SP3 is an excellent secondary eve running client which might even work as a main in a pinch.

Fly mobile,

Hark

Post edit note: I have a friend with the i5 version of the SP3 I will confirm the FPS figures for that and report back soon!