Microsoft's new Surface Pro subtracts the numbering-scheme branding and adds some highly incremental steps forward. Let's see exactly how incremental, as we line it up next to its direct predecessor, the Surface Pro 4.
Absolutely no differences here: Microsoft's boasts of "lighter and thinner" only apply to the new keyboard covers for the Surface Pro – not the device itself.
Ditto for weight.
The Surface Pro still has a magnesium (silver-colored) build. And any design differences are extremely minor.
Rest assured, we will eventually get to differences, but not here.
There we go: The only significant upgrade in the 2017 Surface Pro is a generational move forward to Intel's 7th-gen (Kaby Lake) processors.
The Core m3 model is fanless (silent) in both versions, but the new Surface Pro goes quiet with the Core i5 models as well. The i7 Surface Pro still has a fan, but Microsoft says it stays pretty quiet. (Constant fan noise was one of our few grips with the Surface Pro 4.)
RAM breakdowns look the same as in the Surface Pro 4, varying depending on which processor configuration you go with (with some overlap).
That 4 GB of RAM looks pretty questionable for a premium 2017 productivity device. Heavy multi-taskers may want to consider ponying up $1,299 or more for an 8 GB or higher variant (or going with a rival device that's more generous in this department).
Storage tiers haven't changed.
Both have microSD card slots.
Microsoft isn't as eager as Apple to push the world into USB-C – retaining a lone USB 3.0 port. Perhaps the company is exploiting Apple's questionable move to position the Surface as a common-sense device that works with the accessories customers already own.
If you use your large tablet as a camera, this is what you're working with.
While Microsoft recently stopped bundling the Surface Pen (active stylus) with the Surface Pro 4, that model otherwise included the pen in the box. That all changes with the 2017 Surface Pro: The Pen will be a separate $100 purchase.
Windows' Hello facial-recognition login is still around.
Both devices will keep you updated to the latest version of Windows 10 Pro.
The Surface Pro is up for pre-order now, with shipments starting June 15.
These prices reflect today's price drop for the Surface Pro 4. For that minor difference, anyone who cares much about performance and fan silence (or relative silence) will likely be much better off going with the new model.
If you already own a Surface Pro 4, it looks like you'll be fine standing pat – with such minor upgrades.
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