Which Microsoft Surface Is Best for You?

A look at all the Surface versions to help you decide

The Microsoft Surface lineup of touchscreen computers includes different form factors of machines that they view may pave the way for the future of personal computing. Different designs within the Surface family include hybrid tablets, 2-in-1 notebooks, all-in-one convertible desktops, and more traditional clamshell laptops.

Surface Laptop

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
  • Display: 13.5-in 2256x1504 resolution, or 15-in 2496x1664 resolution
  • Processor: Intel Quad-core 10th Generation Core i5 or Core i7 CPU; or AMD Ryzen 5 or 7
  • Memory: 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM (Intel); or 8 GB, 16 GB, or 32 GB (AMD)
  • Storage: 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, or 1 TB SSD
  • Graphics: Iris Plus 950 (Intel); or Radeon Vega 9 (AMD)
  • Battery: Up to 11.5 hours; fast charging
  • Weight: 2.89–3.4 pounds
  • Release date: October 2019

Surface Laptop 3 is twice as fast as previous versions of the device and is available in two sizes depending on your use case. However, even with a large screen and powerful processor, you can charge the Surface Laptop 3 to near completion in an hour, making it ideal for trips and last-minute heavy use until you have to unplug it.

With a USB-C and USB-A port, your mix of devices can plug into your laptop without hassle. It's not the heaviest or the lightest generation of Microsoft Surface devices, so it's perfect for mobile and stationary work.

Notable Features:

  • Comfort: The Surface Laptop 3 has a trackpad that's 20 percent larger than previous versions, making it easier to use it longer.
  • Performance: It has the latest Intel Core processor for better speed and performance, but you can still charge the Surface Laptop 3 up to 80 percent in an hour.
  • Color choices: New Sandstone, Matte Black, Cobalt Blue, and Platinum.
  • Data safety: The SSD is completely removable, so you can keep your information safe by storing the drive elsewhere when needed.
  • Alcantara: Palm–rest and keyboard surroundings are covered in spill-resistant, soft Alcantara fabric material.
  • Ports: 1 USB-C port, 1 USB-A port, 1 Mini DisplayPort, 3.5mm headset jack, 1 Surface Connector.

Surface Pro

Microsoft Surface Pro 7
  • Display: 12.3-in 2736x1824 resolution
  • Processor: Intel Dual-core 10th Generation Core i3, Quad-core 10th Generation Core i5, or Quad-core 10th Generation Core i7 processor
  • Memory: 4 GB, 8 GB, or 16 GB of RAM
  • Storage: 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, or 1 TB SSD
  • Graphics: Intel UHD (i3) or Iris Plus (i5, i7)
  • Battery: Up to 10.5 hours
  • Weight: 1.7–1.73 pounds
  • Release date: October 2019

Surface Pro 7 is ideal if you're into 2-in-1 devices. You get the benefit of a mobile tablet with a laptop's security and robust nature all-in-one device. It boasts a performance of over two times that of older generations and displays anything you need on a beautiful 12.3-in PixelSense display.

You can customize the Surface Pro 7 with various colors for the Signature Type Cover, Surface Arc Mouse, and Surface Pen.

Notable Features:

  • Device ports: There are many options for all your devices, including USB-A, USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack, Mini display port, Surface Connect, MicroSDXC card reader, Surface Type Cover Port, and Surface Dial compatibility.
  • All-day battery life: Use it through an entire workday on a single charge, and boost it to 100 percent in less than a couple of hours.
  • Windows Hello: Authenticate with your face using the front-facing 5MP camera. It also has 1080p full HD video and an 8MP rear-facing autofocus camera.
  • Wireless connectivity: It works with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.

Surface Go

Luxury Travel Accessories Worth the Money
Courtesy of Microsoft
  • Display: 10-in 1800x1200 @ 217 PPI
  • Processor: Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y
  • Memory: 4 GB or 8 GB of RAM
  • Storage: 64 GB, 128 GB, or 256 GB
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Weight: 1.7–1.73 pounds
  • Release date: August 2018

The Surface Go is small but durable, making it a great portable device for kids. This 2-in-1 model works as a laptop or a tablet, and it has enough battery life to get through school days and long car rides.

The latest Microsoft Surface Go 3 lacks the power of other Surface laptops, but it's a great deal if you mostly want a device for productivity apps and browsing the web.

Notable Features:

  • Accessories: Includes a built-in NFC chip and a kickstand with a 165° angle. The compatible detachable keyboard, Surface Pen, and Surface Type Cover are all sold separately.
  • Device ports: 1 USB-C port, 1 USB-A port, 3.5mm headset jack, and 1 Surface Connector.
  • Cameras: 5MP front-facing camera, 8 MP rear camera, and an infrared camera that supports Windows Hello login.
  • Color choices: Ice Blue, Sandstone, and Platinum.

Surface Book

Microsoft Surface Book 3

Sinchen Lin

  • Display: 13.5 in 3000x2000 @ 267 PPI or 15 in 3240x2160 @ 260 PPI
  • Processor: Intel 7th Generation Core i5 or Intel 8th Generation Core i7 CPU
  • Memory: 8, 16, or 32 GB of RAM
  • Storage: 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB SSD, or 2 TB PCIe SSD
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650, or Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
  • Battery: Up to 15 hours
  • Weight: 3.38 pounds (13-inch model) or 4.2 pounds (15-inch model)
  • Release date: May 2020

The Microsoft Surface Book lineup has the 2–in–1 detachable notebook form factor. A 13.5-inch or 15-inch notebook is instantly transformed with a button click, allowing the device's screen to be pulled off and used as a tablet. Users can also take advantage of docking the tablet into the keyboard in reverse position to take advantage of longer battery life of up to 15 hours.

The Surface Book is Microsoft's heaviest portable device at 4.2 pounds for the larger 15-inch variation with the keyboard attachment. It has the most potent internal specifications of any of the Surface products. It's ideal for those who prefer the more typical laptop form factor with an option to turn it into a tablet or those who need the system's processing capabilities and VR-capable Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 or 1560 graphics processors.

Notable Features:

  • Surface Pen support: Both systems fully support the use of the Microsoft Surface Pen, allowing for 4096 levels of pressure and 1024 levels of tilt detection.
  • Ports: 1 USB–C port, 2 USB-A ports, full–size SDXC card reader, 3.5mm headset jack, 2 Surface Connectors.
  • Windows Hello: Sign in to your PC with a glance of your face, thanks to the unit's front-facing 5.0 MP 1080p camera. It also sports an 8.0 MP 1080p rear-facing camera with autofocus.
  • Detachable dock: Easily switch between a notebook computer and a tablet with Microsoft's patented hinge solution.

Surface Studio

Microsoft Surface Studio on desk

Microsoft Corporation

  • Display: 28 in 4500x3000 @ 192 PPI
  • Processor: Intel Core i7 CPU
  • Memory: 16 GB or 32 GB of RAM
  • Storage: 1 TB or 2 TB SSD
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB or 1070 8 GB
  • Weight: 21 pounds
  • Release date: October 2016

While Microsoft had aimed their Surface lineup at mobile computing, they introduced a new desktop addition in 2016. The massive 28-inch all-in-one desktop is set upon what Microsoft calls a "Zero Gravity Hinge" and can effortlessly float between being propped up for daily use or laid flat on a desk for use with the Surface Pen.

Wholly aimed at creative professionals, the Surface Studio is the most powerful machine in the Surface lineup, with a stunning touchscreen display to match.

The high price tag of the machine doesn't limit the specs, with a top-end model featuring an Intel Quad–Core i7 CPU, 32 GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060. In addition, the Surface Studio offers impressive storage with a 1 or 2 TB SSD.

The Surface Studio comes with a Surface Pen and Surface Keyboard. Most other models do not include the Pen in the box.

Notable Features:

  • Ports: 2 USB–C ports, 1 nano-SIM, 1 Surface Connect.
  • Windows Hello: Sign in to your PC with a glance of your face, thanks to the unit's front-facing 5.0 MP 1080p camera.
  • Surface Dial: On-screen support for the Microsoft Surface Dial accessory, allowing for physical control of the screen.
  • PixelSense display: The true beauty of the machine is the unit's ultra-thin 28-inch display with 10–bit color depth and 13.5 million total pixels surrounded by an aluminum frame.
  • Which Microsoft Surface is best for students?

    The Surface Go is one of the best computers for college students because of its portability and versatility. However, students who require resource-intensive software may need something more powerful like a Surface Book.

  • Which Microsoft Surface is best for drawing?

    The Surface Studio desktop computer is the best Microsoft Surface for visual artists thanks to its large display. However, the Surface Book may be preferable for its portability.

  • Which SD cards are compatible with my Microsoft Surface?

    Any SDXC card should be compatible with a Microsoft Surface that includes a card reader. Microsoft has a list of SD cards compatible with Surface devices.

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