The 7 Best Windows Tablets of 2021

From gaming to drawing, there's a tablet for you

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The Rundown
"Shines for everyday usage and media consumption."
"A nice little bundle for anyone taking their first steps into the Surface world."
"A Windows 10 tablet with serious performance and a serious price tag."
Best Always-Connected:
Microsoft Surface Pro X at Amazon

If you think Windows 10 is only intended for desktops and laptops, think again. Microsoft’s versatile operating system runs on a broad range of devices today, including tablets. These offer a host of advantages (e.g. touch-based interaction, stylus support) over traditional PC form factors, and thanks to optional accessories, allow for multiple configurations as well. While some are only meant for basic usage (e.g. media consumption, web browsing), others are powerful enough to run desktop-grade applications too.

That said, choosing a Windows 10-based tablet can be tricky, as there are quite a few of them available out there across all price segments. To help you decide, we’ve rounded up some of the best Windows tablets currently available in the market.

Best Overall: Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Microsoft Surface Pro 7
What We Like
  • Great overall performance

  • All modern connectivity options included

What We Don't Like
  • Design feels a bit dated, especially with thick bezels

Boasting the right blend of features and performance, Microsoft's Surface Pro 7 is arguably the best Windows tablet you can buy right now. Its 12.3-inch "PixelSense" touch-enabled display sports a resolution of 2736x1824 pixels and a 3:2 aspect ratio, which is perfect for productivity tasks. Our recommended configuration includes Intel's latest tenth-generation Core i5 CPU, paired with 8GB of LPDDR4x RAM and a 128GB SSD. Wireless connectivity is handled by Wi-Fi 802.11ax and Bluetooth 5.0, while I/O options include a USB Type-C port, a USB Type-A port, a 3.5mm audio port, a Surface Connect port, and a MicroSDXC card reader.

The Surface Pro 7 features two cameras - an 8MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera - both capable of recording Full-HD videos. You also get an IR camera (used for facial authentication via Windows Hello), dual far-field studio microphones, as well as stereo speakers with Dolby Audio. Weighing just 1.70 lbs (excluding Type Cover), the tablet sports a premium unibody chassis crafted from magnesium. It runs Windows 10 Home out of the box, and can go up to 10.5 hours on a single charge.

Best Bundle: Microsoft Surface Go with Type Cover, Pen, and Mouse Bundle

What We Like
  • Great total package

  • Sleek and portable

  • Awesome SSD storage

What We Don't Like
  • Smaller display than the Pro

On its own, the Surface Go is an extremely portable 10-inch, 1.15-pound tablet with a fairly reasonable base price compared to its bigger Surface family members. It’s the adorable baby brother to the Surface Pro, sharing a similar attractive design and sharp PixelSense display, but with a slower Intel Pentium Gold processor. It can handle day-to-day Web browsing, video streaming, and casual gaming, but don’t expect to push it much more.

To make the most of the Surface Go as a 2-in-1 tablet–laptop, you’re best off with its top-end hardware configuration that’s included in this bundle: 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of solid-state drive (SSD) storage. You’ll also find yourself missing out on a lot of productivity unless you have a Type Cover keyboard to attach the tablet to. The Surface Go’s reduced-size keyboard has some smaller keys and is a little harder to keep on your lap, but typing on it is still a very pleasant experience. This bundle includes the Signature Type Cover, sporting an “Alcantara” material in a color to match the other accessories. One of those other items is a Surface Pen for natural and responsive drawing and note-taking on the screen. The last accessory, a Surface Mobile Mouse, may be the least essential element given the stylus and touchscreen input options, but it rounds out a nice little bundle for anyone taking their first steps into the Surface world. 

Best for Business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet

What We Like
  • Extremely powerful

  • Amazing "3K" display

  • Durable Gorilla Glass screen

What We Don't Like
  • Shorter battery life

Lenovo’s 3rd-generation ThinkPad X1 Tablet is a very powerful 2-in-1 detachable geared toward professional use but with a lot of overall versatility. The top-end configuration runs Windows 10 Pro on a 1.9-GHz 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor and 16 GB of RAM, with up to 1 TB of SSD storage space.

Those are fine specs for a laptop, and you can spend a lot of time typing on the large included keyboard with the tablet resting back on its kickstand. But detach the 2-pound tablet and you can carry around a vibrant 13-inch in-plane switching (IPS) display with “3K” resolution at 3000 x 2000 pixels. It’s designed and tested to be durable, built with Gorilla Glass in the screen and sturdy weather-resistant materials all around. The tablet also comes with a ThinkPad Pen Pro stylus that clips to the side. It’s perfect for artists, designers, architects, or any professions that call for drawing, signing, or note-taking. Battery life a bit on the short side, hurting its portability, but the inclusion of two USB-C ports supporting Thunderbolt 3 is a fairly rare and forward-thinking feature for a tablet.

Best for Drawing: Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16

What We Like
  • Built for professional artists and designers

  • Amazing 4K resolution

  • Incredible performance

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Digital tablets for drawing have been around a long time, and Wacom is no stranger to the field. The MobileStudio Pro is the company’s mobile pen computer for professional artists and designers, a Windows 10 tablet with serious performance and a serious price tag. It comes in 13-inch and 16-inch versions, with 3840 x 2160-pixel 4K resolution on the 16-inch screen. Any variety will cover all your on-the-go graphics needs, but the top-end model boasts an impressive 3.3-GHz Intel Core i7 CPU, 16 GB RAM, and a 512 GB SSD. That model also includes a Nvidia Quadro graphics chip to handles both 2D and 3D work, along with a RealSense 3D-scanning camera.

Of course, a drawing tablet is nothing without the drawing instrument itself, and the MobileStudio Pro comes with Wacom’s deluxe Pro Pen 2. It supports tilt, multitouch, and an astronomical 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity. As you’d expect, it’s accurate, responsive, and feels great against the tablet’s screen. There is also a customizable touch ring and eight shortcut buttons to the side of the display, and the whole thing is flippable for the convenience of right- or left-handed users. A fully adjustable stand is sold separately, but it may be worthwhile for anyone already investing in the tablet as their professional creative studio.

Best Compact: Microsoft Surface Go 2

Microsoft Surface Go 2
What We Like
  • Lightweight yet sturdy construction

  • Good battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Can't handle resource-heavy tasks

If you're looking for a well-rounded Windows tablet that can be easily carried around anywhere, get Microsoft's Surface Go 2. Having much thinner bezels than the previous-generation model, it sports a 10.5-inch "PixelSense" display with a resolution of 1920x1280 pixels. The panel also supports ten-point multitouch input, and its 3:2 aspect ratio is ideal for productivity tasks. Our recommended configuration packs in Intel's Pentium Gold processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. There's Wi-Fi 802.11ax and Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless connectivity, with I/O options including a USB Type-C port, a 3.5mm audio port, a Surface Connect port, and a MicroSDXC card reader. The Surface Go 2 features two cameras - an 8MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera - and both of these can record Full-HD videos. Apart from that, you also get an IR camera (for facial authentication via Windows Hello), dual studio microphones, and 2-watt stereo speakers with Dolby Audio support. The tablet weighs a mere 1.2 lbs (without Type Cover), and runs Windows 10 Home (in S Mode) out of the box.

Best Always-Connected: Microsoft Surface Pro X

What We Like
  • LTE connectivity works well

  • Amazing battery life

What We Don't Like
  • No 3.5mm audio and USB Type-A ports

Designed for those who are always on the move, Microsoft's Surface Pro X is an "Always-On" Windows tablet that offers Gigabit LTE connectivity, thanks to its integrated Snapdragon X24 modem. It's powered by a custom-built SQ1 processor (developed in partnership with Qualcomm), working alongside the Adreno 685 GPU. Our recommended configuration further comes with 8GB of LPDDR4x RAM and a 128GB SSD. The tablet's 13-inch "PixelSense" touch-enabled display sports a resolution of 2880x1920 pixels and a 3:2 aspect ratio, allowing you to multi-task effortlessly. It also supports a wide range of input accessories, notably the Surface Slim Pen (available for purchase separately) that offers increased pressure sensitivity and real-time drawing/writing. Talking about connectivity and I/O, the Surface Pro X includes Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, two USB Type-C ports, a Surface Connect port, and a nano-SIM slot. You also get two cameras - a 10MP rear camera (with 4K video capture) and a 5MP front camera (with Full-HD video recording) - in addition to an IR camera (for facial authentication using Windows Hello), dual far-field studio microphones, and 2-watt stereo speakers.

Best Splurge: Microsoft Surface Book 3

Microsoft Surface Book 3
What We Like
  • Blazing-fast performance

  • Multiple usage modes

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

There's no denying the fact that Microsoft's Surface Book 3 is primarily a laptop. However, once you detach that keyboard, you're left with a powerhouse Windows tablet that's every bit worth its high asking price. Of the two screen sizes available - 13.5-inch and 15-inch - we suggest the former, as it's more portable. Our recommended configuration includes a tenth-generation Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. You also get NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1650 GPU (with 4GB of GDDR5 memory) for games and other resource-intensive tasks. Having a resolution of 3000x2000 pixels and a 3:2 aspect ratio, the machine's "PixelSense" touch-enabled display works great for multi-tasking. For wireless connectivity and I/O, there's Wi-Fi 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.0, two USB Type-A ports, a USB Type-C port, a 3.5mm audio port, a Surface Connect port, and a full-size SDXC card reader. The Surface Book 3 packs in two cameras - an 8MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera - both with Full-HD video capture support, as well as an IR camera (for facial authentication using Windows Hello), dual far-field studio microphones, and front-facing stereo speakers.

Final Verdict

It’s interesting to see that a majority of great Windows tablets come from Microsoft’s popular “Surface” line-up of computing devices. However, even though all the products detailed above have their own sets of pros and cons, our overall vote goes to the Surface Pro 7. It provides a well-rounded computing experience that covers all the basics, at a price that isn’t too hard to justify. Yes, the design is a bit dated, but the device’s performance and feature set more than make up for it.

How We Tested

Our expert reviewers and testers put Windows tablets through a comprehensive set of tests. First and foremost, we evaluate them on design, focusing specifically on weight, thickness, and overall portability. Other important factors we look at are screen size and resolution, specifically video, images, and text. Audio and wireless connectivity play a part in evaluating the multimedia experience. For objective performance, we use benchmark tests like PCMark, Cinebench, 3DMark, and others.

For Windows tablets, we also pay a great deal of attention to productivity; testing if the tablets can act as a substitute for a laptop in terms of word processing, image editing, and games. Finally, we consider the price tag, evaluating the value proposition based on the competition to make our ultimate recommendation. All of the Windows tablets were purchased by Lifewire; none were provided by manufacturers.

About Our Trusted Experts

Rajat Sharma has been writing about technology for over six years now, and has reviewed hundreds of gadgets (across multiple categories) over the course of his career so far. Before joining Lifewire, he worked as a senior technology journalist with The Times Group and Zee Media Enterprises Limited, two of India’s biggest media houses.

Anton Galang has been writing about tech since 2007, specializing in Windows products and PC hardware and accessories. In his over 12 years covering the industry, he's written for a number of top tech media publications.

What to Look for in a Windows Tablet

Display - The most crucial component of any tablet is the screen, and a number of factors come into play when determining a display's quality. Probably the most important is resolution, the number of pixels that make up an image, with a higher density meaning crisper, sharper images. But bear in mind that higher resolutions won't matter as much on smaller tablets, so 1080p may look as sharp on an 8-inch model as "3K" does on a 15-inch tablet.

Performance - There are few things more irritating when you're using a tablet on the go than an interminable wait for web pages to load or applications to start. Like laptops, Windows tablets are dependent largely on CPU in most use cases, though if you intend to game a lot on your tablet, GPU is also critical. In terms of load and boot times, getting and SSD rather than a traditional hardware can be crucial.

Size - The advantages of a larger display are obvious, but you should bear in mind that one of the best features of a tablet (as compared to a full size laptop) is how portable and easy to carry around it is. If you're looking for a full-fledged productivity machine, maybe you do need a 15-inch screen, but for the hybrid role tablets were initially designed to fill, an 8-inch screen can actually be a boon.

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