The Microsoft Surface Pro has undeniably carved out a new segment in the PC space. But what was once a powerful, but heavy, thick, and unwieldly tablet when it was first launched, has become a thin, light, and even more powerful tablet in the following years. It was really the launch of the Surface Pro 3 that finally changed Microsoft’s fortunes in the hardware game. This was the first Surface Pro that was able to bring the weight and thickness into check, and the 3:2 aspect ratio screen was a revelation in this product category where 16:9 or 16:10 displays were really all that was offered in the Windows world.

In October 2015, Microsoft launched the refreshed Surface Pro 4 which was a bigger improvement than you would have guessed. The overall dimensions and look of the tablet were similar to the Pro 3, but the display was a big step forward, offering 267 pixels per inch, and outstanding color reproduction. The new keyboard launched with the Surface Pro 4 was really one of the biggest highlights though, offering an edge to edge keyboard with island keys, and a far more useable trackpad as well.

Now approaching the summer of 2017, it’s been a while since the Surface Pro 4 launched, but its successor has finally come to market: the Microsoft Surface Pro (2017). Yes, Microsoft has dropped the numbering system – and this is probably the the most appropriate time to do it, I feel – but far more important than whatever name Microsoft picks is the hardware. Although on the outside it may seem to be a small refresh, Microsoft has over 800 new custom parts inside, improving their flagship 2-in-1 device in several key areas.

The Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book were the first devices launched with Intel’s Skylake-U series processors, and Microsoft had to work overtime to sort out some power management issues with the then-new Skylake platform and Modern Standby. So it’s perhaps not that surprising to see them sit out the initial launch of Kaby Lake until they could ensure they had all the bugs worked out.

But with the launch of the Surface Pro this year, they’ve now moved onto the latest Intel CPUs, which offer both improved performance and thermals. Microsoft has not made any other dramatic changes for processing though, and the Surface Pro keeps the same CPU lineup as the outgoing model, but with 7th generation replacing 6th generation. That means there is a Core m3-7Y30 4.5 W CPU in the base model, a Core i5-7300U in the mid-range, and a Core i7-7660U in the top end. However Microsoft has also extended the passive cooling configuration to the Core i5 as well. This change comes thanks to some important improvements in the cooling system, which we’ll take a look at in a bit.

Microsoft Surface Pro
  Model Tested: Core i7-7660U, 16GB, 512GB, $2199
Processor Intel Core m3-7Y30 (2C/4T, 1.0-2.6GHz, 4MB L3, 14nm, 4.5w)

Intel Core i5-7300U (2C/4T, 2.6-3.5GHz, 3MB L3, 14nm, 15w)

Intel Core i7-7660U (2C/4T, 2.5-4.0GHz, 4MB L3, 14nm, 15w)
Memory 4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB Dual-Channel
Graphics Intel Core m3-7Y30
Intel HD 615 (24 EUs, 300-900 MHz)
Intel Core i5-7300U
Intel HD Graphics 620 (24 EUs, 300-1100 MHz)
Intel Core i7-7660U
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 (48 EUs, 64 MB eDRAM, 300-1100 MHz)
Display 12.3" 2736x1824 3:2 PixelSense
LG Display, Touch and Pen support
100% sRGB color + enhanced color, individually calibrated panels
Storage 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB PCIe NVMe PM971
Networking 802.11ac, 2x2:2, 866Mpbs Max, 2.4 and 5GHz
Bluetooth 4.1
Marvell AVASTAR
Audio Stereo Speakers (front facing)
Dolby Audio Premium
Battery 45 Wh, 45 W AC Adapter with USB charging port
Right Side USB 3.0
Mini DisplayPort 1.2
Surface Connect Port (charging and docking)
Left Side Headset Jack
  Power Button
Volume Rocker
  Keyboard Connector
Dimensions 292 x 201 x 8.5 mm (11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 inches)
Weight Core m3: 766 grams (1.69 lbs)
Core i5/i7: 786 grams (1.73 lbs)
Cameras Rear: 8.0 MP auto-focus
Front: 5.0 MP auto-focus and Windows Hello support
Extras Surface Pen and Dial (sold separately)
Surface Dock - 2 x mDP 1.2, 4 x USB 3.0, 1 x Gigabit (sold separately)
micro SD card slot
TPM 2.0
Pricing 128 GB Intel Core m3 with 4GB of RAM: $799
128 GB Intel Core i5 with 4GB of RAM: $999
256 GB Intel Core i5 with 8GB of RAM: $1299
256 GB Intel Core i7 with 8GB of RAM: $1599
512 GB Intel Core i7 with 16GB of RAM: $2199
1 TB Intel Core i7 with 16GB of RAM: $2699

The new Surface Pro is certainly evolution rather than revolution, but considering the success Microsoft has seen with the Pro, it’s hard to argue with the company's choice. In fact, despite the older generation CPU, it wouldn't be a stretch to state that the Surface Pro 4 was still the top of its category, with the best display, good battery life, and great performance. The new Surface Pro makes more subtle improvements, keeping many of the successful attributes of the outgoing model.

One of the features that many will be happy to see is that Microsoft will finally be offering a 4G LTE model as well, although it won’t be available for a couple of months. It’s one of the requests they’ve had from many of their customers, so it’s great to see it as an option.

Accessories have been one of Microsoft’s strongest suits, especially with the keyboard and pen that launched with the Surface Pro 4. Both the keyboard and pen have seen continuous improvement, and once again, Microsoft has released new versions as well. The flip side to that however is that the one accessory that was included with previous Surface Pros, the Surface Pen, is no longer included. This is a process that started with the Surface Pro 4 – where Microsoft introduced some mid-cycle SKUs that dropped the pen for a lower cost – and has now been extended to the entire lineup.

Overall it's tough to make massive changes when you already have one of the most successful products in a category, but we’ll dig into the changes that are here and see how the latest Surface Pro stacks up both against the competition, as well as the outgoing model.

Design
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  • serendip - Thursday, June 15, 2017 - link

    Microsoft sells a tiny foldable Bluetooth keyboard with an Alcantara covering. I've been using it for months and it still looks good. It's a lot easier to unfold the keyboard when I need it and I can use the tablet without an attached keyboard in tablet mode. These cover-type keyboards add extra weight and make the tablet hard to use as a tablet. Reply
  • SaolDan - Friday, June 16, 2017 - link

    I own a SP4 for personal use and a Huawei matebook for work. Let me tell you that you get used to the keyboard cover and stand theres no going back. i wish my company would give me a sp4 or the new one instead of the matebook. matebook can keep the type c. Type c is very nice but not that necessary for work. Reply
  • simard57 - Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - link

    how would you compare the Matebook to the SP4? Reply
  • simard57 - Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - link

    my past buying habits were mid level laptops - not top of the line ultrabooks - and the hinge is the Achilles heel of them. plastic and metal hinges are not made for a long marriage. the old adage, you pay for what you get, surely does apply Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, June 15, 2017 - link


    Not everyone uses the same coatings on it. Microsoft has shipped alcantara Surface keyboards for years and they hold up well on average. The iPad Pros Apple fabric keyboard, whatever that fabric is, wears more in weeks, Microsofts is still the best fabric tabletey keyboard solution.
    Reply
  • BillBear - Thursday, June 15, 2017 - link

    If a spray on coating could make the Alcantara covered steering wheels on a Porsche hold up to wear, they would most assuredly already be using it.

    However, if you check out the video above you'll see that this is simply not the case.
    Reply
  • mkozakewich - Saturday, June 17, 2017 - link

    If you're talking about that video they posted on Reddit, someone else said the 'wear' is actually just grime that can be washed off.

    Everyone clings so hard to the marketing material. If the original Type Cover wasn't Alcantara, it was at least something very similar. It had a wonderful feel and withstood the years well. It washed well, too, and looks great even today. I could never stand the weird felt-like stuff they've been using the last few years.
    Reply
  • Manch - Saturday, June 17, 2017 - link

    My original Surface Pro KB is just fine. The track pad has bit of visible wear but other than that, its still nice. BillBear has been going on and on about the damn Alcantara but you can get a keyboard without it so I don't understand the grief. Anncedotal evidence of Porsche steering wheels, doesnt prove anything. The material is used on all kinds of things with no issues. Reply
  • Brett Howse - Thursday, June 15, 2017 - link

    Only time will tell if the polyurethane coating on the Surface Signature Type Cover holds up well, but I've been using the Surface Ergonomic Keyboard on my desk for over six months now, and the Alcantara still looks almost new. YMMV, of course, but the normal Surface Type Cover can get beat up too. I don't see this as the major downside of others. At worst, it's going to be about the same as what we've already got. Reply
  • Manch - Saturday, June 17, 2017 - link

    Or you could buy the regular type cover with or without the fingerprint sensor instead of the Alcantara Reply

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