|Software||Windows 10 Pro Office 365 30-day trial|
|Dimensions||11.50 x 7.93 x 0.33 in (292.10 x 201.42 x 8.5 mm)|
m3: 1.69 lbs (768 g)
i5: 1.70 lbs (770 g)
i7: 1.73 lbs (784 g)
|Hard drive size||Solid state drive (SSD) options: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB4|
|Display||Screen: 12.3″ PixelSense Display Resolution: 2736 x 1824 (267 PPI) Aspect Ratio: 3:2 Touch: 10 point multi-touch|
|Battery||Up to 13.5 hours video playback2|
|Processor||Intel 7th Gen Core m3, i5, or i7|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 615 (m3) Intel HD Graphics 620 (i5) Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 (i7)|
|Security||TPM chip for enterprise security Enterprise-grade protection with Windows Hello face sign-in|
|Memory||4GB, 8GB, or 16GB RAM|
|Wireless||Wi-Fi: 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking, IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n compatible, Bluetooth Wireless 4.1 technology|
Full-size USB 3.0
microSDXC card reader
3.5mm Headset jack
Windows Hello face authentication camera (front-facing)
5.0MP front-facing camera with 1080p Skype HD video
8.0MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p Full HD video
5.0MP front-facing camera with 1080p Skype HD video
8.0MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p Full HD video
1.6W Stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium
|Exterior||Volume key and power key Surface Pen (sold separately) Surface Keyboard (sold separately) Surface Mouse (sold separately)|
|Sensors||Ambient light sensor Accelerometer Gyroscope|
|Warranty||1-year limited hardware warranty|
Screen: 12.3″ PixelSense Display
Resolution: 2736 x 1824 (267 PPI)
Aspect Ratio: 3:2
Touch: 10 point multi-touch
Powerful Core i7 processor with Iris Plus graphics.
Improved battery life, kickstand, keyboard cover, and Pen.
Higher-than-full-HD screen resolution.
Type Cover and Pen sold separately.
Lacks USB-C and Thunderbolt 3.
With faster performance, better battery life, and other welcome improvements over its predecessor, the Microsoft Surface Pro is still the standard bearer for 2-in-1 Windows tablets.
The Microsoft Surface Pro is the Windows 2-in-1 detachable-hybrid tablet that other PC makers have spent the past four years trying to create. The competition is getting closer to achieving an optimal balance between design and features, but the Surface brand is still the one to beat. The Windows 10 tablet is available in a wide range of prices and configurations, from the $799 base model up to a $2,699 top-of-the-line version. Our $2,199 unit includes upgrades like an Intel Core i7-7660U processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. It’s expensive, but the Surface Pro delivers the design and build quality along with the speed and overall performance to lure artists and media professionals to the tablet camp, making it our latest Editors’ Choice.
Smoothed Out and Sleek
At first glance, the latest iteration looks almost identical to the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, which, until now, was our top pick for high-end consumer tablets. At 7.9 by 11.5 by 0.33 inches (HWD) they are the same size and weight (1.75 pounds alone; 2.41 pounds with the Type Cover; 2.45 pounds with the Type Cover and Pen). The edges of the new tablet’s shell are subtly more round, and the vents have been redesigned to look thinner, but you’d have to dig deep to notice other physical differences. Competitors like the Dell Latitude 5285 2-in-1 have almost identical dimensions, attesting to the popularity of the design.
The back panel is matte silver/platinum-colored magnesium alloy. A prominent (and shiny) Windows logo is centered on the kickstand, which enables the touch screen to recline to an almost-flat 165-degree angle. Tablets like the Dell Latitude 5285, the Surface Pro 4, and the HP Elite x2 stand further upright when fully reclined. As a result, you can easily doodle on the display using a fingertip or the Surface Pen while resting your palm on the screen. Or you can use the optional Surface Dial without danger of it sliding off.
Improved Pen and Keyboard Cover, Both Optional
It’s comfortable drawing on the flatter screen with the Surface Pen ($99.99), though unlike with its predecessor (and competitors like the Latitude 5285$899.00 at Dell, the Lenovo Miix 510, and the Samsung Galaxy Book), it’s not included. The new Surface Pen now has stronger magnets to hold it to the tablet, which lets Microsoft omit the pocket clip here. Pressure sensitivity is improved from 1,024 to 4,096 levels from the 2015 iteration of the stylus, giving artists more granular control while creating and modifying images. The Pen also includes new functions for Windows Ink, like tilt-sensitivity, letting you use the pen like a brush. Thanks to a new digitizer and faster components, the Pen reacts a bit quicker than its predecessor, a boon if you frequently use illustration programs.
Microsoft sent us a cobalt blue Surface Pro Signature Type Cover ($159.99), which is also available in burgundy or platinum. Like the Surface Laptop’spalm rest, the Signature Type Cover is covered in Alcantara, a synthetic suede sometimes seen on luxury sports car seats and steering wheel covers. The fabric is comfortable to touch, though it’s the only notable upgrade to the chiclet-style keyboard from the Type Cover of the Surface Pro 4. It’s comfortable to use, and has a two-stage magnetic latch that helps secure and angle the keyboard, though it was somewhat flappy when I tried to type in my lap during the test period. A clamshell like the Surface Laptop works better in this scenario, though I had no trouble using the Signature Type Cover and the Surface Pro for hours at a time at my desk or in a coffee shop. The touchpad is centered, right where you expect it, speeding cursor control when you’re not using the Pen or the touch screen. Like with the Pen, it’s a pity that you have to budget extra for the Signature Type Cover, because many other 2-in-1 tablets like the HP Spectre x2, the HP Elite x2, and the Samsung Galaxy Book come with keyboards.
Same Screen, Still Sweet
The 12.3-inch screen offers a 2,736-by-1,824 resolution, and is just as brilliant as the display on the Surface Pro 4. Text and graphics look clear and smooth. Colors pop a bit more on the Super AMOLED screen on the Samsung Galaxy Book, but that tablet is less convenient for movie-viewing on a tabletop or airline tray, since it lacks a kickstand. Both the Galaxy Book and the Surface Pro are easy to hold in one arm as a drawing slate, though the Surface Pro’s stylus feels a bit quicker to react to input. The screen has a 3:2 aspect ratio, which is closer to the size of a sheet of paper, following the trend started by the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and continued by much of the competition. It feels more natural to hold in one arm than a 16:9 screen, which feels disproportionately long, and therefore more awkward in hand.
Limited Ports, Solid Audio
Ports are a bit sparse, owing to the Surface Pro’s limited real estate around its circumference. On the left, you’ll find a headset jack. On the right side are the Surface connector (for power and docking), a mini DisplayPort, and a USB 3.0 port. Underneath the kickstand is a microSD card reader, compatible with up to 256GB cards. There’s a USB charging port on the included AC adapter, so you can juice up your phone and connect a USB hard drive to the tablet simultaneously. These are identical specs to the Surface Pro 4, and the lack of USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 is disappointing. I’m not ready to call the lack of USB-C a deal breaker, but most of the competition from Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung support USB-C for connectivity and charging.
A pair of slits on the left and right sides of the screen are openings for the internal stereo speakers. They emit enough sound to fill a small, quiet room with music or audio from web videos. Understandably, the tiny speakers can’t reach ultra-low bass registers, but I could hear hints of thump on our test tracks. Dialogue, music, and sound effects were clear while watching the Star Trek Beyond movie trailer.
Monster Capacity, Monster Price
As tested, this penultimate configuration of the Surface Pro comes with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD (an upgrade to 1TB would another $500). The upgraded storage (and its faster Intel Core i7-7660U processor) are most of the reason this model is so expensive, but it’s justifiable being that it’s aimed at digital artists and media creators. The base $799 model comes with 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and a lower-powered Intel Core m3 processor.
Storage in this configuration is beefier than the Samsung Galaxy Book, which comes with just 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. The Dell Latitude 5285 we recently tested has 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, though it can be customized with enough memory and storage for $2,010 to match our test unit, but its CPU and screen options can’t mirror the Surface Pro. Microsoft backs the tablet with a one-year warranty.
Enthusiasts and Creative Types Need Apply
The Core i7 CPU with its integrated Iris Plus 640 graphics is one of the most powerful we’ve seen in a tablet. It made quick work of our multimedia benchmark tests, including earning top marks on the Handbrake test (1:47) and the CineBench test (407 points). Those results were much better than those of the Core m7-equipped HP Spectre x2, the Core i7-powered Dell Latitude 5285, and the Surface Pro 4 with a Core i5 CPU. Our Photoshop test was completed in 3:15, a few seconds behind the Dell Latitude 5285 and 5 seconds behind the Surface Pro 4. The Surface Pro finished a close second behind the Latitude on the PCMark 8 Work Conventional test. The Latitude 5285 has a lower-resolution screen, which likely gives it a slight edge on the latter two tests, since it has fewer pixels to manage and render.
While it’s not a gaming PC, the Iris Plus 640 graphics helped the Surface Pro achieve decent frame rates in the Heaven (33fps) and Valley (35fps) tests at medium-quality settings. We consider scores above 30 fps to be playable, and it was the only tablet here to breach that barrier. 3D tests at native or full HD resolution returned single-digit frame rates that were little better than slideshows, but that’s par for the category. The Surface Pro, which topped both 3DMark tests, is ready for light-to-moderate 3D gaming and GPU-accelerated tasks like photo editing.
Lasting just shy of 14 hours on our rundown test, battery life is excellent and just behind the Samsung Galaxy Book (14:06). That’s notable, considering the Surface Pro’s excellent benchmark results and its higher-resolution screen, both of which tend to negatively affect battery life. The next competitor is the Dell Latitude 5285, which lasted almost three hours less (11:09). It’s a significant improvement over the 10 hours and 19 minutes the Surface Pro 4 hit on the same test.
Long-Lasting and Packed With Power for Mobile Artists
The new iteration of the Microsoft Surface Pro is a performance-oriented laptop replacement that impresses with close to 14 hours of battery life, a brilliant higher-than-full-HD screen, top-notch benchmark results, and excellent build quality. You’ll need to budget for the Type Cover and Surface Pen, and, admittedly, that’s a pricey proposition. Still, the as-tested Core i7 power, 16GB of RAM, and 512 GB SSD are justifiable upgrades for artists who need that power for photography, 3D rendering, and video tasks. Since Surface tablets just keep getting better, this one replaces the Surface Pro 4 as our Editors’ Choice for high-end Windows tablets.