3 New Surfaces

How Do Microsoft’s New Surface Devices Compare to Their Apple Alternatives?


October 3, 2018 Tech By

Microsoft announced the Surface Pro 6 ($899+), the Surface Laptop 2 ($999+) and the Surface Studio 2 ($3,499), each of which is the next-gen model of Microsoft’s previous 2-in-1 tablet, laptop and desktop computer, respectively.

There’s no big surprise here in terms of form factors, as each device in Microsoft’s new Surface line bares a similar look and feel of its predecessor. (Although the Surface Pro 6 and the Surface Laptop 2 are now available in matte black, which is a first.) But the new Surface devices are way more powerful and way faster, and they come with significantly upgraded displays – which you’d admittedly expect in a next-gen device.

The real question is, however, how Microsoft’s new devices stack up to Apple’s alternatives? We haven’t tested any of Microsoft’s new Surface devices, remember, so we can’t accurately compare how one device compares to another. But we still wanted to give a quick rundown of how each compares to their made-in-Cupertino competition.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (An iPad Pro Rival)

The Surface Pro 6 is a pretty significant upgrade over its predecessor, the Surface Pro 5, in terms of power. It packs Intel’s latest 8th-gen quad-core processor – it’s the first-ever quad-core processor in a 2-in-1 form factor, according to Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer – which enables the Surface Pro 6 to be 67 percent faster. It has a 12.3-inch display (267ppi), which is pretty identical to the Surface Pro 5, however, but the new model has a higher contrast ratio so it’s supposed to look nicer.

Compared to its Apple rival, the iPad Pro, the Surface Pro 6 has a better battery life (13.5 hours vs the 10 hours of the iPad Pro) and more storage option (up to 1TB). It’s tough to compare processing power, but we’re guessing that the iPad Pro’s A10X Fusion chip still edges out these new Intel processors. Also, the Surface Pro 6 ($899+) has a slightly more expensive starting price compared to the smaller iPad Pro ($649+).

The Surface Pro 6 is available for pre-order today and will ship on October 16.

Key specs

Surface Pro 6

Display: 12.3-inch
Processor: Intel 8th-generation (Core i5 or i7)
Ports: Mini DisplayPort, Surface Connector, microSD, USB-A and a 3.5mm jack
Storage: 128, 256, 512GB, 1TB
Battery: 13.5 hours
Weight: 1.7-pounds
Price: $899+ (12.3-inch)

iPad Pro

Display: 10.5- or 12.9-inch
Processor: A10X Fusion
Ports: Lightning port, headphone jack
Storage: 64, 256, 512GB
Battery: 10 hours
Weight: 1-pound (10.5-inch), 1.5-pounds (12.9-inch)
Price: $649 (10.5-inch), $799 (12.9-inch)

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 (A MacBook Pro Rival)

The Surface Laptop 2 comes with Intel’s 8th-gen quad-core processors (i5 or i7), making it supposedly 85-percent faster than the previous Surface Laptop. It has an upgraded display with 3.4 million pixels and a best-in-class contrast ratio, as well. This display is actually “the thinnest LCD touchscreen ever in a laptop,” according to Panay, while the keyboard has been made quieter, too. Other than that, the Surface Laptop 2 is very similar to the original Surface Laptop as it essentially looks the same and has the same amount of SSD storage (up to 1TB) and RAM (up to 16GB).

If you were to compare the Surface Laptop 2 to its Apple alternative, the 13-inch MacBook Pro, the main advantage of Microsoft’s new clamshell is the price and battery life. It starts at $999 while the MacBook Pro starts at $1,299, and it has a 14.5-hour battery life compared the MacBook Pro’s 10. There are more memory and storage configurations available, too. The disadvantage is that the MacBook Pro is going to have a higher-res display, better graphics and generally more power.

The Surface Laptop is available for pre-order today and will ship on October 16.

Key specs

Surface Laptop 2

Display: 13.5-inch PixelSense
Processor: Intel 8th-generation (Core i5 or i7)
Ports: USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, Surface Connect
Storage: up to 1TB
Battery: 14.5 hours
Weight: 2.76 pounds
Price: $999+

MacBook Pro (13-inch)

Display: 13.3-inch IPS LED
Processor: Intel Core i5
Ports: Thunderbolt 3 (2x)
Storage: up to 512GB
Battery: 10 hours
Weight: 3.02 pounds
Price: $1,299+

Microsoft Surface Studio 2 (An iMac Pro Rival)

The Surface Studio 2 is Microsoft’s next-gen all-in-one desktop computer. It’s the same size as the original Surface Studio – both have a 28-inch display – but the Surface Studio 2 has drastically improved internals. Its screen is 38-percent brighter with 22-percent more contrast, and it’s way more sensitive (accurate) when drawing with the Surface Pen. It has an upgraded Nvidia chip that’ll give the Surface Studio 2 around 50 percent more graphics power, according to Panay. And it’ll have faster SSD storage. Like its predecessor, the Surface Studio 2 be able to tilt so that it’s almost flat on the desk, and it’ll support the Microsoft Surface Dial for more advanced photo editing and animations.

Admittedly, it’s difficult to compare the Surface Studio 2 either Apple’s iMac or iMac Pro because even though they are all desktop computers, the Surface Studio 2 is completely different. It has a touchscreen, most obviously, while Apple’s desktop computers do not. And in terms of other specs (and price), the Surface Studio 2 falls in between the iMac and iMac Pro. It’s also worth noting that the iMac Pro is significantly more powerful and has a high-resolution screen than the new Surface Studio 2.

The Surface Studio 2 is available for pre-order today and will ship on November 15.

Key specs

iMac Pro (2017)

Display: 27-inch Retina 5K display
Resolution: 5,120 x 2,880
Processor: 8-Core Xeon processor (upgradeable to 18 cores)
Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro Vega GPU card
Storage: up to 4TB of SSD
Price: $5,000+

Surface Studio 2

Display: 28-inch PixelSense display
Resolution: 4,500 x 3,000
Processor: Intel 7th-generation (Core i5 or i7)
Graphics: up to Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5
Storage: up to 2TB of SSD
Price: $3,499+

Microsoft Just Beat Apple to the Noise-Canceling Punch

The Surface Headphones are Microsoft’s first-ever noise-canceling headphones. They’re built with 40mm drivers and have a 15-hour battery life. Read the Story

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