Microsoft's Surface notebooks give users chance to experience Windows 10 as its creators intended. But do you want the affordable Surface Go, the mainstream Surface Pro 7, the detachable Surface Book, the traditional Surface Laptop 3 or the superportable Surface Pro X?
Keep in mind that Microsoft just gave the Surface Book an 8th Gen Core i5 CPU as a default processor option, so it's not something you must pay to upgrade to.
|Surface Go||Surface Pro 7||Surface Pro X||Surface Laptop 3||Surface Book 2|
|Starting Price||$399||$749||$999||13-inch: $999 15-inch: $1,199||$1,499|
|Display||10-inch, 1800 x 1200-pixel||12.3-inch, 2736 x 1824-pixel||13-inch, 2880 x 1920-pixel||13.5-inch, 2256 x 1504-pixel 15-inch, 2496 x 1664-pixel||13.5-inch, 3000 x 2000-pixel|
|CPUs||Pentium Gold 4415Y||10th Gen Core i3, Core i5, Core i7||Microsoft SQ1||13-inch: 10th Gen Core i5, Core i7 15-inch: 10th Gen Core i5, Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7||8th Gen Core i5, Core i7|
|Battery Life||6:06||Rated for 10:30||Rated for 13:00||Rated for 11:30||12:29|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 615||Intel UHD Graphics (i3), Iris Plus Graphics (i5, i7)||Adreno 685 iGPU||Iris Plus Graphics 950 (13-inch, 15-inch), AMD Radeon RX Vega 11 Graphics (15-inch)||Intel HD Graphics (i5), Nvidia GeForce (i5, i7)|
|Storage||64GB eMMC, 128GB SSD, 256GB SSD||128GB to 1TB SSD||128 to 512GB SSD||13-inch: 128GB to 1TB SSD 15: 128GB to 512GB SSD||128GB to 1TB SSD|
|RAM||4GB, 8GB||4GB, 8GB or 16GB RAM||8GB or 16GB RAM||8GB or 16GB RAM||8 or 16GB|
|Weight (pounds)||1.15 pounds||1.7 pounds||1.7 pounds||13-inch: 2.76~2.89 pounds 15-inch: 3.4 pounds||3.7 pounds|
|Thickness (inches)||0.3 inches||0.3 inches||0.3 inches||0.6 inches||0.9 inches|
|Colors||Silver||Silver, Matte Black||Matte Black||Platinum, Sandstone, Cobalt Blue, Matte Black||Silver|
|Keyboard||$99 extra, $129 extra with Alcantara||Keyboard not included, at least $129 extra||Alcantara||Alcantara or Aluminum||Aluminum|
Each of Microsoft's laptops has its pros and cons. To help you choose, we've broken down the differences below and come up with some recommendations.
Our pick for mainstream users and designers
CPU: Intel Core i5-1035G4 | Memory: 8GB RAM | Size: 12.5 x 7.9 x 0.3 inches | Weight: 1.7 pounds (2.4 with case) | Display: 12.3-inch, 2736 x 1824 | Storage: 256GB SSD | Ports: Headphone/Mic, microSD, Surface Connect, USB 3.1, USB Type-C
A tablet with a kickstand that attaches to Microsoft's keyboards to form something that resembles a laptop, the Surface Pro 7 is the jack-of-all-trades in this lineup. The new system's battery life is rated for 10 hours and 30 minutes, which is impressive if it proves to be accurate, as it surpasses the Surface Pro 6's battery life, at 9:20.
Microsoft's latest flagship detachable starts at $749 with a powerful Intel 10th-gen Core i3 processor, and finally comes with a USB Type-C port. It's a great pick for mainstream consumers and casual artists who don't want to spend over $1,000 for a laptop.
Pros: While the Surface Pro isn't the lightest of Microsoft's devices, it's still just under 2 pounds and is cheaper than ever, landing under the $800 range. It also provides the best tablet experience, as the Surface Book's detachable screen only lasts for a couple of hours on a charge when it isn't docked.
Cons: Unfortunately, the Surface Pro 7's price still doesn't include a keyboard, so you'll spend at least $129 extra for an attachable Surface Type Cover ($159 for one covered in the luxurious Alcantara). And even after you buy one, it's still not as lap-friendly as the Surface Laptop and Book, which offer a more traditional design.
Read our full Surface Pro 7 review.
Students, writers and the business crowd can all enjoy it
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3580U | Memory: 16GB RAM | Size: 13.4 x 9.6 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3.4 pounds | Display: 15-inch, 2496 x 1664 | Storage: 256GB M.2 SSD | Ports: USB-C, USB 3.1, Surface Connect, Headphone/Mic
Starting at $999, the Surface Laptop 3 can only be used as a clamshell, which makes it ideal for users who don't need tablet mode at all. The latest version of Microsoft's flagship laptop comes in two sizes, 13.5-inch and 15-inch. Both offer up to a strong 10th-Gen Core i7 processor, and the 15-inch has an option for an AMD Ryzen 7 CPU. They both sport an improved keyboard built to put the MacBook to shame. The Surface Laptop 3 also introduces an attractive new Sandstone color option, and finally nets you that USB Type-C port.
Pros: Students, essayists and bloggers will likely prefer the Surface Laptop, the best Microsoft notebook for typing. The Surface Pro will bounce around if you try and use its laptop-mode on your lap, and the Surface Book costs $500 more. Unlike that expensive Surface Book, the Laptop offers a cushy Alcantara-covered keyboard. If concerned about durability, Microsoft enabled the keyboard deck to be completely removable and replaceable. On top of that, you can get an aluminum deck instead of Alcantara.
The Surface Laptop 3 -- which comes in platinum, sandstone, cobalt blue and matte black, is also the best option for those looking for a notebook that stands out from the crowd. The Surface Book only comes in silver (the sold-separately Type Covers for the Surface Pro are available in the same colors as the Surface Laptop, except for the sandstone option).
Cons: The Surface Laptop 3's limited design makes it the only member of the family to not offer a detachable tablet display (though its screen supports ten-finger touch input). You also have to spend at least $1,299 (13-inch) or $1,499 (15-inch) to get it with what we consider decent specs: a Core i5 CPU (AMD Ryzen 5 for 15-inch), 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Also, those fancy colors are also restricted to the $1,299 13-inch model, while the 15-inch gets only black and platinum.
Read our full Surface Laptop 3 review.
3. Surface Pro X
An ideal traveller companion?
CPU: Microsoft SQ1 | Memory: 8GB or 16GB RAM | Size: 11.3 in x 8.2 in x 0.3 inches | Weight: 1.7 pounds (without Type Cover) | Display: 13-inch, 2880 x 1920 | Storage: 128, 256, or 512GB SSD | Ports: 2 x USB-C, 1 x Surface Connect port, Surface Keyboard connector port, 1 x nano SIM
The Surface Pro X sounded like an idealized version of the Surface Pro 7, but early reviews suggest that might not be the case. It's not simply a tablet with a kickstand, but it comes included with a Surface Type Cover and a Surface Pen that can be held within the Type-Cover, even when the keyboard is lifted. To top it all off, the Surface Pro X boasts the best battery life in Microsoft's line up, rated for 13 whole hours, making this device perfect for frequent travelers.
Microsoft's Surface Pro X starts at $999 and is packed with the company's own proprietary processor, the Microsoft SQ1. We're excited to see how that stacks up against the likes of Intel and AMD. In terms of ports, it holds two USB Type-C ports, a microSIM card slot for LTE connectivity and a headphone jack.
Pros: With the Surface Pro X, the Surface Pro gets some justice. Now you get the keyboard and pen wrapped into an incredibly portable device at no extra cost. Its 13 hours of battery life can get you through an entire workday and then some. Oh, and not only do you get a USB Type-C port, but you actually get two.
Cons: 32-bit apps sometimes don't run properly, which can be a deal-breaker (or work-killer). Performance issues also arose, with the 2-in-1 hanging on some testers, and slowing down a bit too much at other times.
For those with modest needs
CPU: Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y | Memory: 4 RAM | Size: 9.7 x 6.9 x 0.3 inches | Weight: 1.2 pounds | Display: 10-inch, 1800 x 1200 | Storage: 64GB SSD | Ports: USB-C
If you're looking for a simpler system, Microsoft's latest Surface -- the Surface Go -- is right for you. Starting at $399 before its accessories -- such as detachable keyboard and pen -- the Surface Go is Microsoft's answer to iPads and Chromebooks. It's less-speedy, though, making it ideal for casual internet use, including web browsing, email writing and social media activity.
In our Surface Go review, we found Microsoft's detachable to have an impressively colorful display, a comfortable keyboard complete with a full-on touchpad, and strong overall performance for the price. However, the 2-in-1's somewhat short battery life holds it back.
Pros: While the Surface Go feels like a well-built device, its $399 price is its strongest weapon. That's nearly half the price of the entry-level Surface Pro. And unlike the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop, it features a USB Type-C port, and doesn't require Microsoft's $80 Surface Connect to USB-C Adapter.
Cons: That Intel Pentium CPU means you're not going to be running demanding apps, such as Adobe's Photoshop, smoothly on this device. Also, the Surface Go's tablet screen has pretty thick bezels, which make it look a bit outdated. Lastly, it arrives running Windows 10's S Mode, which limits you to the Windows Store apps, though that's easy to disable.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Go review.
Got a lot of money, or a need to edit video?
CPU: Intel Core i7-8650U | Memory: 8GB RAM | Size: 12.3 x 9.14 x 0.9 inches | Weight: 3.6 pounds | Display: 13.5-inch, 3000 x 2000 | Storage: 256GB SSD | Ports: USB 3.1 with Type-C, Headphone/Mic, Surface Connect, USB 3.1
The Surface Book is the best of the bunch, earning its higher price. Not only does its detachable design give you a real laptop (no kickstand here) and a full-fledged tablet, but it's the Surface with the most graphics power, which many creative professionals require. So, if you can afford to spend at least $1,499, this is your best choice. And if you need to do professional video editing or 3D modeling, you'll have to get the Surface Book with Performance Base, which starts at $2,399.
Pros: The Surface Book provides the best of both worlds: a high-res tablet that you can use on its own and a notebook that balances well on your lap. It also has over 12 hours of battery life if you use it with an integrated GPU.
Unlike every other Microsoft notebook, the Surface Book can also be purchased with a discrete graphics card. Video editors can get the notebook with an Nvidia 965m GPU, which reached 78.5 fps on the Cinebench OpenGL graphics test, a rate more than twice as fast as we saw in systems with Intel integrated Iris graphics.
Cons: Starting at $1,499 without discrete graphics, $1,899 with a low-end GPU and $2,399 with an Nvidia 965m chip, the Surface Book is restricted to those with a mountain of cash to burn. And it took until April 1, 2019 for Microsoft to give it an 8th Gen Core i5 CPU as a standard spec, which will start to look outdated soon enough.
Read our full Surface Book 2 review.