Microsoft has recently launched two new Surface machines and rounded out its Surface line to include four device families.
While each one has a touchscreen, only three of them are "mobile", as one of them is an eye-catching all-in-one that sits on a desk. Also, one of them runs a sandboxed version of Windows known as Windows 10 S. Confused now? No worries. It's actually really simple, and to prove it, we've compared every new Surface device spec by spec to give you a better idea of which one might be best for you.
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The Surface Pro is the cheapest Surface device overall. It's a Windows 10 Pro PC that also offers a tablet experience, but it's definitely not for people who need a workhorse PC or desire a conventional laptop. It offers a fan-less configuration and a longer battery life over its predecessor. However, before you get all excited and buy it now, keep in mind Microsoft said a 4G/LTE version will arrive by the end of the year.
The Surface Laptop is more expensive than the Surface Pro. It's also Microsoft's first Surface device that doesn't fold into a tablet, though it does have a touchscreen display. It's definitely not a great business PC, as it runs sandboxed Windows 10 S, meaning you can only run apps in the Windows Store. But you can take advantage of the free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, which we certainly recommend.
The Surface Book is a professional laptop, and like all other Surface devices, it has a touchscreen. What makes it standout, however, is its solid base and a discrete GPU option. It's bigger and more expensive than the Surface Laptop, but it offers more in terms of performance. The i7 Surface Book (and some i5) configurations, for instance, give you a nice performance boost and up to a 16-hour battery.
The Surface Studio is the most expensive Surface device, and it's primarily for creatives. It's a gorgeous all-in-one Windows 10 PC with a Zero Gravity Hinge. With a light push, a creative can push it down to a tablet-like position and then use the included Surface Pen or even the optional Surface Dial to sketch. This device is the first of its kind. But it's super pricey, and it's not at all mobile, obviously.
Microsoft Surface Pro
- Dimensions: 10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 inches ;768g weight
- Display: 12.3-inch PixelSense display; 2736 x 1824 resolution (267ppi)
- Connections: One USB 3.0, microSD reader, Mini DisplayPort, Cover port, Surface Connect, headphone
- Battery: Up to 13.5 hours
- Accessories: Type Cover (sold separately); Surface Pen (sold separately)
- Price: Starts at £799/$799
The new Surface Pro looks just like its predecessor, the Surface Pro 4. Although it ditched the model number, it has the same dimensions and standout features as last year's Surface Pro. There's a kickstand, and it works with a detachable Type Cover and Surface Pen, but it also brings some impressive improvements, such as a longer battery life. You can also get the fan-less m3 and i5 models if you hated the fan noise of the Surface Pro 4, so long as you don't require intensive processing power. Microsoft also said a 4G/LTE version will arrive by the end of the year.
The new Surface Pro is a Windows 10 Pro PC that also offers a tablet experience. It's not for people who need a workhorse PC or desire a conventional laptop; it's for people who want to be mobile and prefer to get done work on a tablet. In many ways, its main rival is the iPad Pro, which Apple has marketed as a tablet with some computer-like features. Before you choose this device, make sure you consider the level of computational power you need and whether you want a hybrid device - especially one only offering Wi-Fi connectivity at the moment.
Microsoft Surface Laptop
- Dimensions: 12.13 x 8.79 x 0.57 inches; 1,252g weight
- Display: 13.5-inch PixelSense display; 2256 x 1504 resolution (201ppi)
- Connections: One USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, Surface Connect, headphone
- Battery: Up to 14.5 hours
- Accessories: Surface Pen (sold separately)
- Price: Starts at £979/$999
The Surface Laptop is Microsoft's first Surface device that doesn't fold into a tablet. It basically serves as a reference design for a Windows 10 S-powered mobile PC. It has a bit of flair, offering up an Alcantara fabric keyboard and multiple colour choices. But if you're considering this device, style options won't matter too much. You value the ability to work on the go, and you don't need tonnes of computer power. Make no mistake: this is not a business PC. It's a cross between a MacBook Air and a Chromebook, but it runs sandboxed Windows.
The Surface Laptop weighs slightly less than the MacBook Air but has a battery life that's 2.5 hours longer. It also supports biometric sign-in with Windows Hello facial recognition. Although it doesn't transform into a tablet, it does have a full touchscreen that's the same size as the Surface Book (though it has a lower resolution). We suspect students will want to try this machine, though if they do, we'd recommend taking advantage of the free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. That way they can run a myriad of apps, not just ones in Windows Store.
Microsoft Surface Book
- Dimensions: 12.30 x 9.14 x 0.51 inches; 1,516g weight
- Display: 13.5-inch PixelSense display; 3000 x 2000 resolution (267ppi)
- Connections: Two USB 3.0, full-size reader, Mini DisplayPort, Surface Connect, headphone
- Battery: Up to 12 hours
- Accessories: Surface Pen (included)
- Price: Starts at £1,449/$1,499
The Surface Book is a 2-in-1 convertible device that's also a professional laptop, thanks to its solid base and a discrete GPU option. It's bigger than the Surface Laptop, but it offers more in the performance department, which makes sense considering the higher price tag. We think the Surface Book competes with the MacBook Pro, too, but it comes with more unique features, such as a touch experience and a Surface Pen. The Surface Book is a high-powered, touchscreen laptop. Graphics professionals, in particular, could use it for work.
The i7 Surface Book (and some i5) configurations, for instance, include a discrete Nvidia GPU, so you'll get a performance boost that's not available with onboard graphics. It also has a nice-sized battery, and the updated Performance Base ups the battery life even further from 12 to 16 hours. It weighs more than the MacBook Pro, though, coming in at 3.34 pounds (3.68 pounds with the Performance Base). If you can't choose between these Surface devices, just evaluate your needs. This is the right machine if you need a mobile workhouse that'll last all day.
Microsoft Surface Studio
- Dimensions: 25.1 x 17.3 x 0.5 inches; 21-pound weight
- Display: 28-inch PixelSense display; 4500 x 3000 resolution (192dpi)
- Connections: Four USB 3.0, full-size SD reader (SDXC), Mini DisplayPort, headphone
- Battery: Power cord with grip-release cable
- Accessories: Surface Pen (included); Surface Dial (sold separately)
- Price: Starts at £2,999/$2,999
This is a desktop Windows 10 PC aimed at creative professionals who don't care about price. Microsoft sought a niche crowd with the Surface Studio. While its OEM partners can pump out Windows 10 devices at great price points that'll appeal to a mass market, Microsoft clearly thought it could be a bit eccentric and put out a device that won't compete with OEMs but will score it some design points. Similar to the iMac, the Surface Studio is an upright, all-in-one PC. But it uniquely has a Zero Gravity Hinge that transforms it into Studio mode.
With a light push, a creative can push it down to a tablet-like position and then use the included Surface Pen or even the optional Surface Dial to sketch, colour, and mark-up on the screen. This device is the first of its kind. It's like an iPad Pro and iMac all in one, but better. The only problem is the humongous price tag. We can't imagine there isn't too many people out there with the urge to spend so much, unless of course they're really artsy and want a showstopper of a machine. If that's not you, you're better off considering another Surface device.