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

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

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 
RAM 8GB DDR3  8GB DDR3
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
Networking

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
Ports

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.

Design

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.

Camera 

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.

Price

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.

Conclusion

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.

Product Review

Still waiting for a new Mac Pro? Corsair’s mini PC has all the power you'll need

With a modern 12-core Intel Core i9-9920X processor, Nvidia’s RTX 2080 Ti graphics, and 32GB of RAM, the Corsair One Pro is designed to woo creatives who demand more power from Apple’s Mac Pro. Like the Mac Pro, the best part of this PC…
Mobile

On a budget? We found the best affordable smartphones you can buy

Here are the best affordable phones for anyone working with a tight budget, whether you're a fan of stock Android or marathon battery life. Find out what you can get for under $500 or far, far less as we round up the best budget…
Mobile

The OnePlus 7 Pro will have four launch events to celebrate its release

The OnePlus 6T may still be new, but we're already looking ahead to the upcoming OnePlus 7. It will use the Snapdragon 855, and may have a new pop-up front camera, too. Here's everything we know about the OnePlus 7.
Computing

Microsoft deal takes up to $400 off select Surface Book 2 laptops

Microsoft is running a promotion for the Surface Book 2, taking as much as $400 off the price of the laptop at the Microsoft Store. The promotion applies to select 13.5- or 15-inch configurations of the convertible laptop.
Computing

You won't want to miss these deals on some of the best laptops around

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some post-holiday shopping, we have you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.
Cars

Nvidia agrees with Tesla’s take on self-driving cars, but corrects specifics

Nvidia vice president Rob Csongor agreed with broad statements by Elon Musk at Tesla's April 22 Autonomy Investor Day. Csongor then took exception to what he termed were inaccuracies about Nvidia's self-driving car chip.
Computing

Amal and George Clooney want to change the world. Can Microsoft help?

Microsoft and The Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ) unveiled the TrialWatch app Thursday morning, a new tool in CFJ’s ongoing TrialWatch effort to shine a light on injustice in courts around the globe – which too often are simply…
Computing

Tablet or notebook? Our favorite 2-in-1 PCs give you the best of both worlds

If you can’t decide if you need a tablet or a notebook, then don’t bother. The best 2-in-1 laptops are both, and they can provide all the power you need. Check out our list for the best 2-in-1s for any user.
Computing

These are the best 13-inch laptops you can buy right now

With so much choice out there, how do you know which are the best 13-inch laptops? They should have beautiful screens, long battery life, and remain light and portable. This is a list of our favorites.
Computing

These gaming monitors will transport you to another dimension

What are the best gaming monitors you can buy right now? We select five that are all priced under $900 packing premium technologies like G-SYNC and FreeSync, high resolutions, and fast refresh rates.
Photography

Luminar Accent A.I. can now recognize faces for more natural instant edits

Want to edit faster? Skylum Luminar's latest update enhances the Accent A.I. to use machine learning for instant enhancements. The tool now recognizes faces for more natural skin tones along with other enhancements.
Computing

Intel’s 10nm desktop dreams may be dead — new road map pushes them beyond 2022

Intel may never release a competitive 10nm CPU on desktop if a new roadmap is to be believed. It suggests that Intel will rely on its 14nm process to at least 2022 and perhaps even beyond.
Computing

Turn your desk into a command center with the best ultrawide monitors

Top of the line ultrawide monitors have the deepest curves, the sharpest colors, and the biggest screens on the market. You’re going to want one, sooner or later. So why not sooner? These are the best ultrawide monitors you can buy now.
Computing

Corsair’s Ironclaw, Glaive gaming mice are tuned for performance and comfort

Corsair is adding wireless capabilities to its Ironclaw gaming mouse this year, while the Glaive RGB Pro has been updated for maximum comfort with thoughtful ergonomics. Both mice feature accurate tracking and durable buttons.