Microsoft released the 7th-gen Surface Pro at its October 2 Surface event in New York, where the company unveiled a slew of updates and new products. While the popular tablet-based 2-in-1 didn’t receive much of a change on the outside, the insides got a significant upgrade.
Specifically, the Surface Pro 7 is now based around Intel’s 10th-gen Ice Lake CPUs, making it competitive with traditional clamshell laptops. The Surface Pro 6 was plenty fast as well, though, so does this update make the Surface Pro 7 an imperative purchase?
You’ll be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the Surface Pro 7 and Surface Pro 6. Both sport Microsoft‘s familiar Surface design aesthetic and build, with a silver-gray magnesium formed into a thin (0.33 inches), light (1.73 pounds), and very robust tablet. Both 2-in-1s feel like solid chunks of glass and metal, and we think its probably the most elegant and modern Windows tablet around, thanks in part to the most flexible and the smoothest kickstand you’ll find. The Surface Pro 7 does improve connectivity, swapping out the Surface Pro 6’s Mini Displayport for a USB-C port (without Thunderbolt 3, alas), to go with the same USB-A port and Surface Connect port.
Both 2-in-1s use the same Type Cover as before, a $130 extra, and the keyboard offers the same precise mechanism and consistent backlighting with a very good (if a bit small) Microsoft Precision touchpad with reliable support for all Windows 10 gestures. As usual, it magnetically attaches to the slate and can be propped up for a comfortable typing experience. The $100 Surface Pen remains the same as well, with the usual 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, tilt support, and fast response time. The displays are touch-enabled, as expected.
Both Surface Pros come in black as well. The Surface Pro 7 wins out for having more up-to-date connectivity.
As noted earlier, the big difference between the Surface Pro 7 and its predecessor is the switch to Intel’s 10th-gen Ice Lake CPUs. These are faster and more efficient processors with integrated Intel Iris Pro graphics that rival entry-level discrete graphics in performance. The Surface Pro 7 won’t be a bona fide gaming laptop, but it will handle casual games — and creative apps like photo and video editing — much better than the Surface Pro 6 that’s based on Intel’s 8th-gen products.
Both 2-in-1s share the same 12.3-inch display in the productivity-friendly 3:2 aspect ration and a sharp 2,736 x 1,824 (267 pixels-per-inch) resolution. The displays use Microsoft’s latest Pixelsense technology, which creates a very thin panel for images that pop and for pen and fingertip presses that are as natural as possible. The display has some of the best contrast you’ll find on a notebook today and over 400 nits of brightness.
The Surface Pro 7 is a meaningful upgrade in power and takes the lead over the Surface Pro 6 in this category.
The Surface Pro 7 and Surface Pro 6 are the same size and weight, and neither is going to weigh you down — even with the Type Cover connected and Surface Pen tucked away inside your bag.
Microsoft has already indicated, however, that the Surface Pro 7 will get less battery life than the earlier model. Where the company estimated 13.5 hours for the Surface Pro 6, it’s now estimating only 10.5 hours for the Surface Pro 7.
If battery life is your main concern, then the Surface Pro 6 is the more attractive option.
The Surface Pro 7’s jump in power wins the day
Unsurprisingly, the Surface Pro 6 is now more aggressively priced, coming in at $699 for the entry -evel model with a Core i5, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. Or you can spend $2,000 for the Core i7, 16GB, and 1GB SSD version.
The Surface Pro 7 starts at $749 for a Core i3, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. Complete pricing isn’t yet available, but we suspect you’ll spend well over $2,000 for the high-end configuration.
The Surface Pro 7 is faster and newer and has more modern connectivity. It beats out its predecessor, which remains a great 2-in-1 for anyone on a budget or who wants the best battery life.
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