Surface Pro 3 vs. 11-inch MacBook Air: Specs, price, and features compared

Today, Microsoft announced the Surface Pro 3. It’s a high-powered laptop/tablet hybrid that looks to unseat Apple’s MacBook Air as the best all around mobile computer. Once it’s available for pre-order starting tomorrow, the Surface Pro 3 will be offered at five price points, ranging from $799 to $1,949. The cream of the crop includes an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 512 GB of storage. However, all that power comes at the aforementioned (and steep) price of $1,949.

Let’s take a look at how the high-end 11-inch Macbook Air stacks up against the top of the line Surface Pro 3 by comparing their specs.


Surface Pro 3

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

11-inch Macbook Air

Macbook Air 2013

Dimensions 7.93 in x 11.5 in x 0.36 in 11.8” x 7.56” x 0.68”
Weight 1.76 lbs  2.96 pounds
Chassis Magnesium Aluminum
Keyboard Backlit w/ ambient light sensor ($130 extra) Backlit w/ ambient light sensor
Processor Intel Core i7 4th-generation Intel Core i7 
Graphics Intel HD Graphics Intel HD Graphics 5000
Screen Size 12″ 11.6″
Resolution 2160 x 1440 1366 X 768
Storage 512GB 512GB PCIe-based Flash Storage

Wi-Fi 802.11ac/802.11 a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0

802.11ac Wi-Fi networking, 4 IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible, Bluetooth 4.0

Micro SD card reader, Mini-display port, USB 3.0

USB 3.0, Thunderbolt
Webcam 5MP 1080p HD webcam (front and back) 720p HD facetime webcam
Operating System Windows 8.1 Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks)
Battery Life 9 hours 9 hours
Price $1949 $1649


Power and productivity 

Both are outfitted with 4th-generation Intel Core i7 processors. However, it’s unclear whether the Surface Pro 3 packs a current or previous-generation Core i7. Meanwhile, the Air is powered by a 4th generation Intel processor. 

When it comes to display resolution, Microsoft wins big. The Surface Pro 3’s resolution betters the MacBook Air’s by miles, though we wonder how that will impact the Pro’s battery life.


The biggest difference between the SP3 and MacBook Air lies in the design. But first the similarities, they have similar screen sizes and rated battery life. Obviously, one is a laptop and the other is a tablet. The SP3 promises to out-shine the Macbook air in size and weight, making it significantly more portable than Apple’s offering.

The SP3’s tablet body weighs 1.76 lbs, which is significantly lighter than the Air’s 2.96 frame, all while providing a larger 12-inch touch screen. However, it’s worth noting that the Surface Pro 3 ships without a keyboard. To snag one, you’ll have to put down an extra $129.99, which will also add to the device’s bulk.


The Surface Pro 3 packs a 1080p webcam on both the front and back, while the 11-inch MacBook Air is limited to a 720p webcam that’s mounted to the front of the display.


Without factoring in the extra cost of a $129.99 Surface Pro Type Cover keyboard, this version of the 11-inch MacBook Air costs $1,649. Meanwhile, the high-end Surface Pro 3 will run you $1,949. That’s a difference of $300, which heavily favors the Air.


Microsoft designed the Surface Pro 3 with weight and thinness in mind, and it shows. Though the 11-inch MacBook air is a bit bulkier and features an inferior display resolution, when it comes to core specs like CPU, RAM and storage, it matches the Surface Pro 3. When you factor in the $300 you’d save by going with the Air, it’s difficult to make a strong case for the Surface Pro 3.

Based on this comparison, which device would you choose and why? Let us know in the comments below.

Get our Top Stories delivered to your inbox: