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07/08/13 Power Management and WiFi issues on Surface Pro 3–A way to get a more consistent Wifi Connection
With their release of the new Surface Pro 3, Microsoft has definitely created a winner. This new form factor with a larger LCD, and thinner form factor will be turning a lot of heads. However there seems to be one glitch, WiFi drops. I have had my Surface Pro 3 now for about 2 weeks and during the first week, I was driven crazy with the WiFi, constantly dropping, reacquiring and dropping the connection. It happened enough that I was considering returning the unit, thinking that the WiFi on the system was defective. I also own the Surface Pro 2 and the WiFi on it has been rock solid from day 1. When I checked the WiFi driver for the Surface Pro 3 (S-Pro3) I noticed it was also the Marvell driver, so it’s safe to assume it’s pretty much the same WiFi that is on the Surface Pro 2 (S-Pro2). Net, I didn’t think it was a driver issue.
Microsoft did release a large driver/firmware update on 06/14/14, and my unit was running the 05/27/14 driver/firmware. I went ahead and upgraded that, but it did not really seem to make a difference. Then I learned about Hyper-V
One thing that is different about the S-Pro3 is how Microsoft implemented the Power Management. When you go to Power Management options you will no longer find the “power saver” and “high performance” options. Instead all you will find is the “balanced” option. You also don’t have as many options to fine tune the power management. With the current setup, Microsoft has tried to create a power plan for when the S-Pro3 is running on battery that gives maximum life to the batter, and in doing so, they created a plan that does not give a constant enough power supply to the WiFi, so it momentarily drops thus losing the connection. You can read more about this new power plan design here, Microsoft available power plans.
The key is getting your S-Pro3 to allow all three of the power plans, and do to that, you have to enable Hyper-V.
In this screen shot, you can see I have now enabled all 3 of the power options, which are normally available for all laptop devices. With this done, you can now customize the power options for all 3 plans, especially how much power is given to the WiFi card.
To enable Hyper-V, first go to the main screen of the control panel and select “Programs and Features”, once you have done this you should have a screen that looks like this:
Notice up on the left corner there is a area titled: “Turn Windows features on or off”. Click on this, and you will get this screen:
On your S-Pro3, Hyper-V should be “unchecked”. To enable it, place a check in the box. You will get a few screens showing that you have enabled Hyper-V, and the S-Pro3 will need to reboot once you enable Hyper-V. Once the S-Pro3 has rebooted, you can find two new entries on the main programs screen of Windows 8.1 as shown in the screen shot below.
Notice there is now an entry for “Hyper V Management Tools and underneath it two items are listed.
Now to fix the issue with the WiFi power, just go back to the main screen of Control Panel and select “Power Options”
Once you select this, you now will see all three power options available, 1. Power saver, 2. Balanced, 3. High Performance.
Select any of the 3 options by clicking on “Change Plan Settings” to the right of the power option. This will allow you to bring up the screen where you can alter the plan’s settings which should look like this:
Click on “change advanced power settings: and you will see this screen:
Once you have the smaller screen open, line down until you find the “Wireless Adapter Settings” option, open it and here you now have various options for the amount of power that the WiFi adapter will get, I changed mine to “Maximum Performance”.
Once you do this, your WiFi will no longer drop the connection and the experience of the Surface Pro 3 will be much more enjoyable.
It’s quite clear Microsoft played some games here to attempt to reach the 9 hour battery life claims on the Surface Pro 3. It’s also clear to me that this laptop/tablet did not get tested fully and was rushed to the market, a sign of the times. I believe that Microsoft will attempt a software fix to existing Surface Pro 3 units but more than likely over time they will change out both hardware, firmware and software to tweak this issue. This is unfortunate for the early adopters like myself, since we will never be able to reach the maximum potential of the machine. I understand that hardware and software tweaks will happen in the life of a laptop, but this is a bit overboard to me.
Currently, with Hyper-V enabled, the battery life of my Surface Pro 3 is just about the same as on the Surface Pro 2, around 4 hours of normal use with the screen at 1/2 of total brightness. The Surface Pro 3 has an adaptive brightness feature, that when enabled will not allow the screen to be on Maximum brightness on battery no matter where the screen slider is. Again you have to go back to the Hyper-V settings box and turn the Adaptive brightness OFF.
The fact that Microsoft officially claims that the “only power option for the Surface Pro 3 is the balanced option” is true if you run your machine with Hyper-V off. From what I can tell Hyper-V is unique to Windows 8.1, as I cannot find any such setting under Windows 7 64 bit. With the older Surface Pro 2 you had all three options available, but with HYPER-V OFF. NOTE I WROTE OFF. So something has changed in the layout of the Surface Pro 3.
I have heard rumors that a major update to the power management will happen sometime in the July 15th time frame. I am not sure what this entails, more than likely it might take away the ability to turn on Hyper-V knowing how Microsoft works, so I will pass on that update for a while.
By turning on Hyper-V I have found that the Surface Pro 3 runs much more reliably especially with WiFi connections. It’s pretty clear to me that the “9 hour” battery life is just another marketing ploy and you should not make a purchase decision based on that.
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Featured Arkansas Photography
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10 Jun 2013
Taken with a Phase One P45+, Mamiya 35mm F3.5 Lens at F14, iso 50, Exposure for approx 1.5 seconds. Here are my print prices if you would like to purchase a print of this photograph My website features many photographs of Cedar Falls on Petit Jean. Petit Jean is about a 40 minute drive from […]
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Taken with a Canon 1ds MKII, and 100mm Macro lens, ISO 200. The Cossatot River has some of the most unique rock formations in Arkansas. They are sandstone mixed with Quartz veins. The rocks tend to work their way across the river in rows and ledges and the river creates small channels through the rocks. […]
02/23/13 Featured Arkansas Photography–Night skies over Area 51 in Western Pulaski County Arkansas
23 Feb 2013
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31 Mar 2013
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11 Mar 2013
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07/14/12 Featured Arkansas Photography–Butterfly and Thistle in the Boxley Valley
14 Jul 2012
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6 Dec 2015
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Equipment in Use–Nikon MB-D12 Grip for D800
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01/04/14 Some issues for IQ260 and IQ280 owners on the Wifi top cover
6 Jan 2014
This only applies to photographers that purchased a IQ260 (possibly IQ280) early in the product life. I would say back to about July to October of 2013. One of the features of the IQ2 backs is the built in Wifi capabilities. When you first get the back, you will notice that the top has a […]
03/30/13 Adding a Grip Extension to a Arca Swiss Rm3di–Getting a better handle on things
31 Mar 2013
One of the more unique aspects of the Arca rm3di camera are the orange/yellow horizontal and vertical grips. These grips are made from a smooth plastic material that seems very durable. However the grip for the vertical extension has one rather minor issue, clearance for fingers around the grip. Arca does not allow for any […]
09/23/14 Using Stacking for better Night Photography results
23 Sep 2014
I have found that working at night in Arkansas can bring out some amazing photographic opportunities, like the photograph below. Since early in 2008 I have been fascinated by one facet of night photography—the creation of star trail photographs. Capturing the motion of the earth over a period of time and blending the […]
06/15/13 Phase One Back failures using Silver vs Black batteries
7 Jan 2014
As many Phase One users may know the main battery used in most modern Phase One Digital backs, is based on a Canon Video camera battery. In fact in the older Phase One cameras which had the battery external to the back, like the P45+, P65+ etc. you could use Canon’s AC adapter/battery setup on […]
08/15/16 A close look at the Dynamic Range of the Phase One IQ100
16 Aug 2016
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Pentax K1 White Dot Issue on Longer Exposures–Same as the other cameras using the Sony 36MP chip
19 Aug 2016
With the introduction of the full frame Pentax K1, Ricoh Imaging appears to have made a giant stride forwards with technology, however it appears that they overlooked one critical issue with the 36MP Sony sensor–White Dots with longer exposures. I have worked with the K1 now for several months and have found it to […]
07/08/13 Power Management and WiFi issues on Surface Pro 3–A way to get a more consistent Wifi Connection
9 Jul 2014
With their release of the new Surface Pro 3, Microsoft has definitely created a winner. This new form factor with a larger LCD, and thinner form factor will be turning a lot of heads. However there seems to be one glitch, WiFi drops. I have had my Surface Pro 3 now for about 2 weeks […]