Skip to main content

Microsoft Surface Pro 7 vs. Microsoft Surface Pro 6

There’s no question that the Surface Pro 7 is getting long in the tooth. Microsoft’s latest Surface detachable made its first appearance at the tail end of 2019 and, now well into 2021, has yet to be succeeded by anything newer. However, if you’re still sporting an older model, you may be curious as to what makes the Pro 7 different, if not better.

This guide compares the Surface Pro 7 against the Surface Pro 6. The big difference lies within the underlying CPU, but we make other comparisons to give you an idea of what changed between the two generations. Did the refresh make the Surface Pro 7 an imperative purchase? Read on to find out.


Image used with permission by copyright holder

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 silver-gray magnesium formed into a very robust thin and light tablet at 0.33 inches and around 1.73 pounds. Both devices feel like solid chunks of glass and metal.

That said, the Surface Pro is probably the most elegant and modern Windows tablet around, thanks in part to the most flexible and smoothest kickstand you’ll find today.

Both 2-in-1s share the same 12.3-inch display in the productivity-friendly 3:2 aspect ratio and a sharp 2736 x 1824 (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 2-in-1 today and over 400 nits of brightness.

However, the Surface Pro 7 does improve connectivity over the prior generation. While both offer the same USB-A and Surface Connect ports, the Surface Pro 7 swaps out the Pro 6’s Mini DisplayPort for USB-C connectivity — without Thunderbolt 3, alas.

Both detachables are compatible with the same optional $130 Type Cover. This keyboard offers a precise mechanism, consistent backlighting, and a very good (if a bit small) Microsoft Precision touchpad with reliable support for all Windows 10 gestures. As usual, it magnetically clings to the slate and is 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.

Finally, both Surface Pro models ship in Platinum. However, Microsoft serves up the Surface Pro 6 in Black whereas the Surface Pro 7 has a Matte Black option.


Digital Trends

The big difference between the two models is the switch from Intel 8th-Gen “Kaby Lake R” CPUs in the Pro 6 to 10th-Gen “Ice Lake” chips in the Pro 7. The latter CPUs 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 along with creative apps like photo and video editing much better than the Surface Pro 6. If you do plan to game on the Surface Pro 7, you’ll see better performance on the Core i7 configuration that uses Intel’s integrated G7 graphics core.

On a more technical level, the Surface Pro 6 model we tested in 2018 had Intel’s eighth-generation Core i5-8250U. It scored 4,074 in the Geekbench single-core test and 13,567 in the multi-core test. When we tested the Surface Pro 7 with a newer chip, we experienced a 20% increased improvement in multi-core performance, and 24% faster 4K video conversions in Handbrake.


Surface Pro 6 Review
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

The Surface Pro 7 and Surface Pro 6 are the same size and weight. Neither will weigh you down, even with the connected Type Cover and Surface Pen tucked away inside your bag.

However, battery longevity clearly divides the two generations. One would assume that the Surface Pro 7 should see increased performance, but that’s not the case. Even Microsoft admits that its newer model has less battery life than the Surface Pro 6. Where the company estimated 13.5 hours for the Surface Pro 6, you’ll only see an estimated 10.5 hours for the Surface Pro 7.

Our reviews point to this huge dividing factor. In testing, the Surface Pro 6 saw 570 minutes in web browsing, 849 minutes in our video loop test, and 228 minutes using Basemark. Meanwhile, the same browser test performed on the Surface Pro 7 revealed a shorter duration: One hour and 20 minutes less than the Surface Pro 6.

Overall, you can expect 8.5 hours of battery life in light usage on the Surface Pro 7. The Surface Pro 6, however, can blaze through a full 8-hour workday without a problem.

The Surface Pro 7’s jump in power wins the day

The Surface Pro 6 is rather old, so it’s only available through third-party sellers like Amazon. The one we found costs $709 packing a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. That’s just for the tablet potion — the keyboard is an added cost.

The top-tier Pro 7 from Microsoft has a much higher spec, with an Intel Core i7 chip, 16 GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage. You’re paying for all that you get, with a hefty price tag that averages out to about $2,100, plus the cost of the type cover if you want to use it as a laptop.

The Surface Pro looks modern with its streamlined design, and it performs as well as anything else on the market. The performance level of the Surface Pro 7 can’t be beaten, but the Surface Pro 6 boasts a longer battery life, so it holds its own when you compare them side-by-side.

Before you purchase a Surface Pro, determine if you prioritize first-rate performance capabilities or want longer battery life instead — that answer will tell you if you need the Pro 7 or Pro 6. Remember, a tenth-generation CPU will drain the battery faster than the Pro 6 chip.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Coppock
Mark has been a geek since MS-DOS gave way to Windows and the PalmPilot was a thing. He’s translated his love for…
Surface Pro 10: all the major changes rumored for the new model
The Surface Pro 9 in laptop mode on a table.

Microsoft has consistently put out a new version of its most popular Surface device, the Surface Pro. With it due to celebrate its 10th anniversary this year, it's an important milestone for the device and may herald some exciting changes and upgrades over the still-impressive last-generation device, the Surface Pro 9.

As we edge closer to its impending release, here's what we know about the Surface Pro 10 so far.
Rumored release date
The Surface Pro 10 was a no-show at the last Surface hardware event, which was held in September 2023, with  Microsoft instead focusing on two new Surface devices: the Surface Laptop Studio 2 and the Surface Laptop Go 3. The Surface Go 4 also got a nod, though it's only available for businesses.

Read more
How to remove a Microsoft account from Windows 11
Windows 11 updates are moving to once a year.

While many people love porting their Microsoft account to their new Windows 11 PC, just as many hate the experience. One of the nicest things about having a new computer is how little tabs it has over you, and letting Microsoft in from the beginning — especially in a way that feels required — is a bit letdown for privacy-minded people.

To make matters worse, getting rid of your account feels tricky. It not only feels like it, Microsoft is your direct antagonist in getting the privacy you want. Luckily, you can make a local account that is disconnected from the rest of your life to gain back the personal feel of your computer. Here's how:
Removing a Microsoft account from Windows 11

Read more
The best laptops for music production, chosen by experts
best laptops for music production

The world has gone pretty far when it comes to the processing power that we carry around with us, and if you're big into music production, then you're the luckiest of all. Some of the best laptops on the market have high-end CPUs for relatively low prices, which means that if you want to do music production on a laptop, you have a huge number of choices. Of course, that does also mean that it can be hard to navigate and pick the best laptop for your budget and needs, which is why we've done the legwork for you. We've collected our favorite picks below in various categories so that you can pick them with ease. Plus, we've even thrown in a quick guide on what to look for so that if you don't find what you want here, you can check out these other laptop deals for alternatives.
The Best Laptops for Music Production

Best overall laptop for music production:
Best Windows device for music production:
Best portable laptop for music production:
Best large-screen laptop for music production:
Best for 2-in-1 laptop for music production:

Read more