Design

Surface Pro has become an iconic design now, and perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising to see more of an evolution in a new launch than the revolution we sometimes hope for. As the saying goes, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, and there’s a lot that’s not broken on the Surface Pro design. Ever since moving to the 3:2 aspect ratio back with the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft has seen the other manufacturers imitate their design, with varying levels of success.

Surface Pro 6 keeps the unibody magnesium design relatively unchanged from the 2017 model, with the same rounded edges, and exactly the same exterior dimensions. Weight is almost identical as well, with the Core i5 model coming in at 770 grams, and the Core i7 slightly heavier at 784 grams to account for the fan.

Really, the big change on the design front is the new black color, which as you’d expect on an all-metal device like the Surface Pro, is an anodized finish. The new color option does look striking, especially with the Microsoft logo as a contrasting reflective finish. Microsoft will still be offering the platinum color they’ve been using since the Surface Pro 3. There’s got to be a concern that the black finish won’t be as durable, and any scratches will be immediately apparently, whereas with the platinum finish, scratches would be masked by the color of the metal underneath, but that how durable the finish is will require a longer evaluation.

Surface Pro keeps the same bezel sizes, and with the move to thinner and thinner display bezels, it does look a bit out of place compared to something like the Huawei MateBook X Pro, but since the Surface Pro can also be a tablet, it makes sense to keep some bezel in place as somewhere to hold the device when necessary.

Microsoft has been outfitting Surface with a fast and reliable Windows Hello camera since the Surface Pro 4 launched, and the latest model continues this. The sign-in process is simple, fast, and secure, and it’s hard to say if it’s better than the previous model since both work so quickly.

Being so small and light, Surface Pro is incredibly easy to travel with. The full-friction hinge mechanism lets you use the tablet in an infinite number of positions as well. If you are someone that often types in their lap while traveling though, convertible tablets are generally not as user-friendly as laptops, although it can be awkwardly done if needed.

Accessories

Along with things that have not changed with this launch is the lineup of accessories for the Surface Pro. Every Surface Pro practically requires a keyboard, and Microsoft offers several to suit the customer’s preferences.

The standard Type Cover costs $129.99, and comes in black. If you want a more premium experience, Microsoft also sells the Surface Pro Signature Type Cover which features an alcantara cover, and this model comes in platinum, cobalt blue, burgundy, and black for $159.99. At one point these prices seemed extravagant for a keyboard accessory however Microsoft seems conservative in regards to pricing compared to Apple and Google.

The typing experience on the Type Covers is solid, with good key feel, and the keys stretch to the edges of the cover. The glass trackpad is also excellent. The covers haven’t changed much since they were introduced with the Surface Pro 4, and for good reason.

Microsoft also offers a Surface Pen option, and although the pen was once included in the purchase price, it’s now a separate accessory, but that does give the option of different color pens. The pen was improved dramatically with the previous 2017 Surface Pro, offering more pressure sensitivity, as well as tilt support, and has kept the Surface tradition of replaceable tips as well. So for 2018, this accessory is also unchanged, but with the improvements last year, the inking experience on Surface Pro is already excellent.

Microsoft also offers a docking solution, which hooks up to the SurfaceConnect charging port, and provides two DisplayPort as well as Gigabit Ethernet, four USB 3.0 ports, and audio output. The downside to this dock is that the two DisplayPorts are fed from the same channel, so you are limited to a single UHD output at 60 Hz, and if you try to connect two UHD displays you’ll end up stuck at a 30 Hz refresh rate.

Ironically, Microsoft also sells a SurfaceConnect to USB-C adapter. This seems to be their solution to people who would like USB-C, especially for docking, but it has the same limitations as the Surface Dock being only able to feed a single UHD display at 60 Hz. It is possible to connect a second display to the DisplayPort output on the Pro 6 itself, but that does get a bit messy as far as cabling is concerned. What would be preferable is to offer the USB-C right on the Pro 6 rather than sell a dongle.

Introduction System Performance
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  • sorten - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    And to think that the only reason I have a SP4 instead of a SP3 is that I was holding out for a USB-C port! It would have been fairly early to market at that point. Looks like I made a great decision. Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    Tell me... what would you use that port for? You can do it... you can hold out for the Surface pro 3.

    You could always try the 'Surface Connect to USB-C Adapter'?

    Heck wouldn't it be great to run USB c raid arrays with this? No.
    Heck wouldn't it be great to have an external GPU with this? No, how much money do you have!?
    Heck wouldn't it be great to have a fast usb C thumb drive? No, USB 3.1 drives are still selling lots.
    Heck wouldn't it be great to have HDR?

    Oh, here we go, the next excuse.
    Reply
  • drew805 - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    The main draw of the Type C is that I can charge my laptop and phone with the same charger (and even power my 2in1 with a mobile power pack with USB-PD). I fail to see how a more future proof port that already offers display out capacities is worse than the mini-DP in the SP5. Also, while External GPU's via Thunderbolt 3 are expensive, it is cheaper than building a complete desktop just to get a similar (or likely better) experience. Why is more choice bad? Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - link

    It's not bad, at all, but the quality on the USB C chargers is startling. Same with the docks. Plus it's another change to overcharge for something that should realistically be cheap. While all of the printers, scanners, mice, keyboards and thumb drives are still USB, USB C can just wait.

    Plus there's always the MS adapter. People are probably not aware of that.
    Reply
  • desolation0 - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - link

    Usb-c and usb-a ports aren't exactly mutually exclusive. We can pretty easily have both simple backwards compatibility and future proofing in the same model. Meanwhile the future proofing option offers obvious and significant utility opportunities that are just not available on the previous generation spec. To skip it on a flagship device when the tech has been available for years and is now being used by pretty much all of the competition even down to mainstream pricing levels seems like a significant oversight. Reply
  • digiguy - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    Brett, I think you are underestimating the difference between the 2017 i5 and i7 in battery life. I have seen reports of over one hour more battery like in the fanless i5. So I don't think battery like in the 2018 model has improved much or at all. Once we have some direct i5 to i5 comparisons (eg. from notebookcheck) we'll be able to see if there is any improvement worth mentioning. Reply
  • OCedHrt - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    The black levels on surface 6 and 4 are the same? Reply
  • Brett Howse - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - link

    Yes and the display is 100 nits brighter so being able to reproduce the same black level with a white that's 100 nits brighter is a sizeable improvement. Reply
  • evilspoons - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    Argggh, I hate that Avastar wireless card so much. I have a Surface Pro 3 and it posts decent 802.11ac speeds for when the SP3 was new... most of the time... but sometimes it just decides to screw up and slow down by like 90%. Copying files over the network, wired gigabit to wired gigabit PC? 60 MB/sec, forever. 802.11ac adapter in my dad's laptop? 40 MB/s. That damn Avastar? 30 MB/s, until it decides to screw up, then 2.5! Yay! Reply
  • Holliday75 - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - link

    Yeah my SP3 is slower than shit on my WiFi. Usually get around 22-25MB/s. I had to force it to 5.2ghz to get those speeds. Reply

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