Home » Reviews » Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) review

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) review

95%
Awesome

Our Verdict

Forget about money for a second and the Microsoft Surface is an incredible product. It's a tablet, it's a laptop replacement and it could even be a desktop replacement too.

  • Design

The finest Windows tablet around, but it’ll cost you

TWEAKED, pinched, squished, refined and now in its fifth iteration, the new Microsoft Surface Pro is here and after a few weeks of using it as a primary device, we’re impressed all over again.

The Surface Pro builds on all the successes and failures of Surfaces that came before it, this time delivering the best battery life and performance we’ve seen to date.

You’d certainly expect incredible performance given the asking price of this thing: £799 for the Intel Core m3 version right through to £2,699 for the Core i7 variant with 16GB RAM. Couple that with the fact it doesn’t ship with the essential £149.99 keyboard, the optional £99 Surface Pen, or Office 365 and that’s over £3,000 for a kitted-out laptop in tablet’s clothing.

Worth the outlay? Keep reading to find out.

Design

The Surface Pro’s design is the epitome of refinement. Sure, every Surface we’ve reviewed has looked excellent, but this one looks better. It’s all about attention to detail here, with the Surface Pro packing color-matched hinges and ports that make the whole aesthetic that bit more seamless.

It’s thin too. Despite packing a better battery than its predecessor, it’s roughly the same thickness at 8.5mm while shrinking the surface area slightly to deliver an ever so slightly better screen-to-bezel ratio.

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) review

Made of rich, matte metal, it feels solid and soft at the same time while keeping fingerprints at bay. Our review device, the i7 variant weighs 784g, and given the fact it was still manageable one-handed, this bodes well for the i5 and m3 variants, both of which are approximately 15g lighter.

Ports are predictably poor, as is the case on all slender, handsome Windows tablets. On the right is a proprietary charging connector, one full-sized USB 3 port, and one display port. To the left you’ll find a headphone jack, while the side is also magnetic, adhering the optional Surface Pen to it relatively securely.

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) review

The sides also play home to stereo speakers, up top are the buttons and at the base is the magnetic keyboard connector.

The key area Surface devices have excelled in the past is hinge-amazingness, and there is no tablet hinge more amazing than that on the new Surface Pro. Supporting the tablet from virtually upright right through to nigh-on flat, the Surface Pro’s hinge is firmly fixed throughout a 165-degree range of motion. It’s incredibly solid and incredibly satisfying – excellent engineering Microsoft.

Screen

The 12.3in PixelSense displays on Surfaces have always looked incredible and it’s very much a case of history repeating itself here. The 3:2 aspect ratio is novel in a world of widescreen laptops while the Gorilla Glass 3 is rich to the touch and offers more protection than we’ve seen on past Surface devices.

Sure, 3:2 screens mean borders up top and below when watching films and is it’s reflective, but those are the only two negatives here.

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) review

Clarity is on-point with a resolution of 2736×1824, resulting in a pixel density of 267 pixels per inch. That’s sharper than pretty much every laptop around and most tablets – so however you want to watch the Surface, it’ll look excellent.

As for the tech at work, it’s IPS LCD, loaded up with an N-Trig digitizer. This means that when the Surface Pro is combined with a shiny new Surface Pen, it has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. Pair that with the extent to which this thing folds flat and the Surface Pro is the best illustration tool to come out of Microsoft to date, other than the Surface Studio, of course.

Keyboard and trackpad

The Alcantara fabric-coated snap-on keyboard component of the Surface Pro is incredibly good. This is one of the major reasons it’s incredibly annoying that it’s sold separately at £149.

Keys have excellent travel considering the accessory’s form factor. There’s sufficient click feedback paired with 1.5mm of travel and the keyboard is also backlit too for low-light typing.

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) review

The magnet not only firmly latches onto the Surface Pro, but it also enables two positions, so the keyboard and trackpad can be angled at around 20 degrees.

As for the trackpad, it’s excellent too. Matte, gloss and smooth as silk to thumb over, it’s very comfortable to use, though, a little extra size would have been ideal. Also worth noting, it physically clicks for truly satisfying interaction.

It’s fair to say the keyboard cover is a must-have for Surface Pro owners, as much as a means of protecting the screen as a typing tool. In turn, when pricing up your new Pro, factor this accessory into the mix.

Software

Windows 10 runs on the Surface Pro and this hardware showcase Microsoft’s OS as nature intended. In addition to all your usuals – start menu, home screen, taskbar, Cortana, there’s also tight integration with the Surface Pen. Click the back of the pen to fire up a creator bar on the right. This gives you access to an on-screen Post-it note of sorts, a page to doodle on, or other customizable pen-centric shortcuts.

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) review

While the Windows Store is still lacking in a full suite of apps to replace your essentials, the fact a full version of Windows runs on the Surface Pro means that you get support for .exe files. In English, Google Chrome, Adobe Creative Suite, and the thousands of other, less pretty, significantly more fully-featured applications are available at the double click of a trackpad.

When it comes to stability, our review device didn’t have any issues, nor would we expect it to with an RRP of £2,699. That said, Windows 10 has proven stable on lower-specced devices too, and performs well.

Multimedia

The Surface Pro’s aspect ratio may not be ideally suited to watching movies, but thanks to the screen quality, blacks are nice and deep so the letterboxing doesn’t detract from what you’re watching. The 3:2 aspect ratio also translates to more surface area than wide-screen 12.3in the device so it actually feels more like a 13 display when using the whole screen.

This means that video content looks great and when paired with the stereo speakers, for a tablet, it’s exceptional. While it can’t produce sound quite as rich as a high-end laptop, we were still able to watch a couple of episodes of Suits comfortably without the need to plug in an external speaker or headphones.

Gaming and performance

Perhaps most impressive about our Surface Pro model was its gaming capability. This isn’t a gaming laptop and it doesn’t have a dedicated graphics card, rather Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640. Able to handle Tekken 7 at low graphical settings, Street Fighter V, Marvel vs Capcom 3, and more, this is the first Surface that feels like it could be a truly portable gaming solution.

Admittedly, it’s a very expensive solution, but considering this is turning out to be a tablet, a laptop, and a gaming device all-in-one, the price becomes a bit easier to bear.

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) review

That’s not to say this should be bought as a gaming laptop, it obviously won’t handle high graphics settings, but with a 3D-Mark Cloud Gate 1.1 score of 6,812, it’s pretty good going.

This also translates well to things creative endeavors like Photoshop, InDesign, and even basic Premiere Pro video editing. The fact the i7 version is the only Surface Pro variant that uses a combination fan/fanless cooling system reflects its clout – even if it translates to a battery life hit, which we’ll come onto later.

Storage and variants

You can pick up the Surface Pro in a few flavors. The base model costs £799, has an Intel Core m3 processor, 4GB RAM, and 128GB storage. Factor in the keyboard dock and it’s around £950 for an underpowered tablet.

Stump up an extra £180 for the Core i5 variant, then a further £270 for double the RAM and storage.

To make the leap to a Core i7 processor with 256GB storage and 8GB RAM, you’ll be paying £1,549 (£1,798 with the keyboard dock), and for the 16GB RAM variant with 512GB storage, it’s £2,149. Finally, thwack in a full terabyte of storage for the highest asking price on offer, £2,699.

Ports and connections

As mentioned earlier, ports are few and far between, consisting of one USB connector, a display port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a proprietary charger. There’s no USB-C to speak of. Unlike the Surface Laptop though, this is a tablet, and as such, we can excuse the lack of ports to a degree.

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) review

You can pick up the Surface Dock for more connectivity options, but it would have been amazing if Microsoft had done a Huawei a la Matebook X and shipped the Surface Pro with a basic dock.

The Surface Pro also has a capable front camera built for Windows Hello and it works very well, unlocking your tablet with little more than a glance. There’s also a microSD XC card slot, an 8MP rear camera, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.1.

Battery

Battery life is quoted at 13 hours, four hours more than the Surface Pro 4, there’s no doubt that the Surface Pro is better, but it isn’t quite on-par with laptops packing the same power as the Dell XPS 13.

The fact we have the i7 variant means we had worse battery performance than the fanless i5 variant. In saying that, it will still see you through a full working day of light to moderate use – web browsing, document editing, and some basic Photoshop work.

In short

Forget about money for a second and the Microsoft Surface is an incredible product. It’s a tablet, it’s a laptop replacement and it could even be a desktop replacement too. Work, play, creative endeavors, and basic gaming, this thin, light, excellent-looking piece of tech can cover all the bases. That in itself is an incredible achievement, but before we give the Surface Pro 10/10 and call it a day, let’s talk about price.

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) review

This thing is prohibitively expensive. The price is absolutely a reflection of the quality of the product and indeed the accessories. Everything from the keyboard cover right through to the pen is exceptionally constructed. That said, the fact the keyboard cover is a must-have only compounded the pricing issue, as does the limited number of ports and good, but not great battery life.

So, the question is, do you spend £1,500 on a Dell XPS 13 with better battery life and port configurations, or £2,300 on the equivalently specced Surface Pro with a keyboard case?

That’s a question only you can answer, but if you opt for the Surface Pro, you can do so in the knowledge that you have what is probably the finest Windows tablet around right now.

Similar Posts: