Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) vs. Microsoft Surface Laptop
Microsoft rounded out its Surface lineup this month by introducing the all-new education-focused Surface Laptop and the latest generation of the Surface Pro. Here's how the specs and features of these devices compare.
The biggest difference between these two machines is their form factor. The Surface Pro is a tablet first; it doubles as a laptop with the addition of a Type Cover keyboard accessory (sold separately). The Surface Laptop is a classic clamshell-style laptop.
For the Surface Pro, the measurements shown here are for the tablet only. The Type Cover adds a small amount of bulk, but overall, the Surface Laptop is still the larger device.
Again, the weight shown here does not include the keyboard for the Surface Pro, but it's still considerably lighter than the Laptop. For reference's sake, the Surface Pro Signature Edition Type Cover adds an additional 0.31kg.
Build materials (case)
Microsoft uses a magnesium alloy for its entire Surface lineup, excepting the Surface Laptop, which is aluminum.
If you get your hands on one of these, you'll also notice a different material used in the keyboard. The Laptop has an Alcantara fabric-covered keyboard that makes for a soft touch and sound while typing. The Signature Type Cover for the Surface Pro also incorporates Alcantara.
The smaller Surface Pro offers 83-percent of the overall display area of the 13.5-inch Surface Laptop. Both have a 3:2 aspect ratio.
Both Surfaces have touchscreen displays.
The Surface Pro has higher resolution, but it probably not enough to make a significant difference for most day-to-day use.
Neither machine has a built-in fingerprint sensor, but some older editions of the Type Cover for the Surface Pro are equipped with one, and they appear to be forward-compatible.
You're not out of luck when it comes to biometrics, however. Both devices support the facial recognition feature in Windows Hello, for fast, secure logins with just your face.
Again, both devices support the Surface Pen active stylus – but it is not included with either of them. The Surface Pen retails on its own for US$99.
The latest generation Intel Core processors show up in both of these devices. However, the entry-level Surface Pro has a less-powerful core m3 processor and the Laptop goes straight for the i5 chip.
Every configuration has embedded graphics with no options to upgrade.
Each machine contains 4, 8 or 16 GB of RAM, but your exact options depend on which processor you choose.
Both are available with 128, 256 or 512 GB of built-in storage. The Surface Pro has an additional 1 TB option.
For the quietest computing, you'll want to go fanless. You have that option with the m3 and i5 variants of the Surface Pro.
Ports stand pat. Microsoft has equipped each with one USB 3.0 port (not the newer USB-C standard) and a mini DisplayPort.
SD card reader
The Surface Pro has a microSD slot, but not the Laptop.
Dedicated charging port
You won't have to occupy that precious USB port to charge your device. Both are equipped with a Surface Connect port for dedicated charging.
The Surface Pro has standard stereo speakers, but the Surface Laptop has so-called omnisonic speakers built into the keyboard.
Microsoft's battery life estimates are fairly impressive. If they are accurate, then both of these can get you through a work day (and then some) without charging.
The Pro has a tablet-like camera configuration with both a front and rear shooter. The Laptop has a 720p webcam.
The Surface Pro runs a full version of Windows 10. The default option for the Surface Laptop is Windows 10 S, a walled version of the OS that only supports apps downloaded from the Windows Store. This is purportedly to keep prices low and the system robust.
If Windows 10 S sounds like a hassle, Microsoft is offering free upgrades to the full version of Windows 10 until the end of the year. After that, it will require an additional fee.
Both are available for pre-order now to start shipping in a few short weeks.
The entry-level Surface Pro is the least expensive device, but once you consider accessories and upgrades, it easily becomes more expensive than the Surface Laptop. These prices do not include the Signature Type Cover (US$160), so if you want an all-in-one Intel core i5 or i7, it's cheaper to go with the Laptop.
It's likely that preferences here will come down to form factor. For some, the portability and flexibility of a tablet will be a major advantage, but for others, it could be an unnecessary complication.
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