Ever since the world opened up and we could start traveling again, I noticed how much I love taking my Windows tablet everywhere. I went 12 days with just my Microsoft Surface Go Windows tablet, leaving my three-kilo main computer at home.
So, which devices are a great buy today? I’ve got great news. You can find a Windows tablet for every budget and every purpose. If you heavily prioritize compactness, you’ve got the Surface Go series. I own one, I love it even though it feels sluggish.
On the other side of the spectrum, if you only want to own one device that can play the latest games, edit videos, render 3D graphics, then you might consider the ASUS Flow Z13. We’ve also got an in-between. For most people, you would be happy with the all-purpose Microsoft Surface Pro 9.
We’re in the process of reviewing more Windows tablets. Here are our recommendations so far.
The Best Windows 11 Tablets: An Overview
Here’s a short overview of the devices we recommend.
- Satisfies 80 Percent Of Users: Microsoft Surface Pro 9 (on Amazon*). For people who want a traditional Windows 11 experience for work, videos and light gaming, the 13-inch Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is an excellent Windows 11 tablet.
- No-Expenses-Spared Gaming Laptop Replacement: ASUS ROG Flow Z13 (on Amazon*). This is a top-of-the-line Windows 11 tablet that can replace a desktop. Coming in between $1,500 to $2,000, the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 omes with the latest Intel chip and currently has the 4000-series Nvidia RTX GPU. Weighing just over one kilogram (2.5 lbs), and sporting a 13.4-inch display, you’ll definitely be able to play the latest games, edit videos, render 3D graphics.
- Ultra-Portable But Limited Performance: Microsoft Surface Go 4 (on Amazon*). The Surface Go 4 remains a very compact, 521 grams (1.15 lb) weight on a 10-inch display that will allow you to watch videos and do work. However, anything involving heavy graphics like games, Photoshop or video editing would be difficult.
Our Windows Tablet Comparison: All Details
Let’s check them out in more detail. You’ll see links to our full reviews and our videos of these reviews are embedded.
Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Satisfies 80 Percent Of Users
Sitting in the middle of the pack is the Microsoft Surface Pro 9. It is Microsoft’s flagship Windows tablet with better specs than the Surface Go series but it’s not as pricey as the ASUS ROG Flow Z13.
It fulfills the needs of 80 percent of Windows tablet users. The rest of the 20 percent might need the top-end specs of the Flow Z13.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is the best Windows tablet you can buy at the moment. It offers a premium built, newest Intel processors, a pretty 120Hz display, as well as fantastic accessoires with the Slim Pen 2 and Signature Keyboard. Sadly, the battery life is short and not much has changed compared to the Surface Pro 8.
You can buy two different versions of the Surface Pro 9. One with an Intel processor and another with the Microsoft SQ3 ARM chipset. Choosing between the ARM or Intel version depends on your needs. The ARM version suits those who prioritize 5G and use mainly Microsoft apps and store applications, while the Intel version is better for traditional Windows usage, especially for running more demanding programs and games. We’ll focus on the Intel version only.
Performance-wise, the Surface Pro 9 is a pretty powerful. You have the option to choose between a 12th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. The RAM options range from 8GB to 32GB, and storage choices span from 128GB to a massive 1TB SSD, with the convenience of being able to swap out the SSD across all models is a noteworthy feature.
Price-wise, the Surface Pro 9 is wedged between the Surface Go and the Flow Z13. Our version cost around $1000 and came with a Core i5, 8GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD. Even when including the cost of the keyboard and pen, it remains more affordable than the Flow Z13.
In terms of gaming and graphics performance, the Surface Pro 9 is adequate for casual gamers but may not satisfy the needs of more demanding users. It handles games like Apex Legends decently at lower resolutions but struggles at full HD. The tablet does get warm during gaming, and you can hear the active fans, but we didn’t think it was a dealbreaker. You can go fanless with the Surface Go if you want something completely silent.
The design and build quality are top-notch. The aluminum case, available in several colors, adds to its premium feel. The integrated kickstand, ease of SSD replacement, and the lack of a microSD card slot are practical design choices. The connectivity options with USB C 4.0 ports (on the Intel version) and Thunderbolt 4 are a plus.
Display and sound quality don’t disappoint either. The 13-inch PixelSense Flow screen is excellent for office work and entertainment, with good color reproduction, high contrast, and wide viewing angles.
A key highlight is the keyboard and pen options. The Surface Pro Signature Keyboard and Slim Pen 2 enhance the user experience significantly. The Alcantara material of the keyboard feels luxurious, and the Slim Pen 2’s haptic feedback is a nice touch, especially for digital note-taking and drawing.
I mentioned about how great Windows tablets are for traveling. Battery life is a bit of a downside, averaging around 4.5 hours in intensive use scenarios. However, for regular office tasks, it can stretch beyond 6 hours, which is manageable. This means the Surface Pro 9 will survive direct flights between Minnesota and Texas but not New York to California.
ASUS ROG Flow Z13: Portable Gaming Machine
The ASUS ROG Flow Z13 isn’t just a tablet; it’s a game-changer, literally. However, we didn’t review this tablet ourselves yet.
As someone who’s juggled between gaming and work, finding a device that doesn’t force me to choose between power and portability has been a challenge (which is why I own a Surface Go and a gaming laptop).
The ASUS ROG Flow Z13 (2022) is a 13.4-inch tablet running Windows. Aimed at gamers, it features an Intel Core i7-12700H chipset, a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 graphics card, and the display supports 120Hz. Similar to the Surface Pro series, it has a kickstand and a keyboard cover.
But if you could only have one computer, the ROG Flow Z13 is the ultimate Windows 11 tablet.
First, let’s talk specs, because, oh boy, are they impressive! With a 13.4″ WQXGA touchscreen display boasting a 165Hz refresh rate, this bad boy is a feast for the eyes. And when it’s powered by the 13th Gen Intel Core i9 and an NVIDIA RTX 4060, you know you’re in for a smooth, immersive gaming experience. But that’s not all. We’re also looking at 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, ensuring lightning-fast performance whether you’re gaming or editing videos.
As someone who uses Adobe Photoshop frequently, the touchscreen with stylus support is a dream come true. Drawing directly on the screen is a game-changer for creatives. It’s like they took the best parts of a graphics tablet and a high-end gaming rig and fused them into this sleek, portable powerhouse.
The biggest downside involves the price. You’re paying up to $1,879.99 for the higher-end model that comes with a Nvidia RTX-4060 GPU. That’s a lot of money for a mid-tier graphics card. If you wanted similar specs on a gaming laptop, you could save hundreds or pay the same money and get better specs.
The Flow series comes with a unique port that allows you to connect an external GPU module, called the ASUS ROG XG Mobile GPU. This external GPU, compatible with the Flow Z13, can house beasts like the Nvidia RTX 4090 Laptop GPU. Yes, it’s an additional purchase, but it transforms your already powerful tablet into a desktop-rivaling machine.
Microsoft Surface Go 4
This is the most affordable and most compact Windows 11 tablet among the other two listed here. The Surface Go 4 makes a compelling case for those in the market for a compact, business-oriented device, costing $580 (accessories are extra).
In terms of design, the Surface Go 4 maintains a premium feel, echoing its predecessors. The magnesium alloy body exudes quality and durability, though the design hasn’t seen significant changes since the first model. This consistency means it’s compatible with existing accessories, which is practical for long-term users. The built-in kickstand is a notable feature, enhancing its usability in various settings.
The Microsoft Surface Go 4 is an excellent choice if you're looking for a 10-inch Windows tablet. It offers a pretty display, a high-quality design, an excellent Surface Pen and a good keyboard. The performance is very good, especially for office work, but I can't recommend it as a gaming tablet or for graphic work. It's also a shame that it's quite expensive.
- Premium design
- Pretty display
- Great Surface Pen
- Good keyboard
- Perfect for office work
- Short battery life
- Quite expensive
- Slower than an iPad
Port selection is limited, with the inclusion of a Surface Connect port, a USB C 3.1 port, and a headphone jack. The ability to connect to a 4K monitor is a plus, broadening its utility beyond just a standalone device.
The display is a high point. The 10.5-inch PixelSense screen offers a resolution of 1920 x 1280, making for a sharp and vibrant viewing experience. It’s well-suited for office work or media consumption. However, the 60Hz refresh rate might seem a step behind some Android competitors that offer higher refresh rates.
Performance-wise, the Intel N200 processor and 8GB RAM handle office tasks with ease. It’s not a device geared towards intensive gaming or heavy graphic work, aligning more with everyday productivity needs. You can’t play most modern games but we have a list of games that might work. Compared to its predecessors, it offers a noticeable improvement in performance, though it doesn’t quite match higher-end models like the Surface Pro 9.
Battery life is a bit of a drawback. A 5-hour lifespan under consistent use means you’ll need to stay close to a power source, which can be limiting for those needing a device for on-the-go use.
The Microsoft Type Cover and Surface Pen are where the Surface Go 4 shines. The Type Cover is a standout accessory, offering a comfortable typing experience, which is a boon for prolonged use. The Surface Pen remains a reliable tool for note-taking and basic graphic tasks, though for more demanding creative work, alternatives like the iPad might be better suited.
Your Questions Answered
Here I’m answering a couple of questions that I get frequently. If you want to know something else, please feel free to write us on X.
You should get a Windows tablet if you need a specific Windows app. That can be the full desktop version of Microsoft Office, for instance. It can be Adobe’s suite or a business program. Or because you’re a computer science student who needs to run something specifically for coding. I think for most Windows is also better suited if you want to replace your laptop with a tablet. But if you don’t need Windows, in particular, you might be better off with an Android tablet or an iPad.
Usually, yes. Since almost all Windows tablets behave just like any other normal Windows machine, you usually can connect all kinds of printers, and either they work already, or you just install the driver. There is one exception though. If your tablet runs Windows 10 in S Mode or Windows on ARM, like the Surface Pro X, the basic features of your printer might still work. But you probably won’t be able to install any specific driver or software that’s needed for more advanced features.
Probably not. Microsoft Office can be free on tablets that have a 10-inch screen or smaller. But most current ones have at least a little bit bigger display and that means you’ll have to buy it. Sometimes stores and manufacturers are selling their tablet together with a Microsoft 365 subscription, though, so it might be free in some cases.
Samsung used to make Windows tablets. But they haven’t released a new one in a couple of years. You can’t install Windows on their Android devices.
That depends. If your tablet shipped with Windows 7 or 8, then sure, you can install Windows 10 just like on any other PC as long as the hardware is powerful enough. But you can’t install it on tablets running Android, Chrome OS, or iPadOS.
There is one basic difference between Windows and Android. Android is a mobile operating system first and a tablet or desktop operating system second. Windows, on the other hand, is a desktop operating system first with mobile-friendly features for tablets added later. Usually, a Windows tablet can behave like any other desktop machine while an Android device more resembles a phone.
Usually, Windows tablets get updated much longer than iPads or Android tablets. That’s because the update is delivered by Microsoft directly, no matter who makes it. So, unless the hardware gets too slow, your tablet should be up to date on the software side for years to come. However, there have been a couple exceptions in the past. About a decade ago Microsoft experimented with Windows RT. Tablets running that software haven’t been updated much.
No. Most Android tablets and iPads are better suited for gaming. That’s because Windows tablets usually don’t have a dedicated graphics card. You can play simpler games, of course, although they’re usually developed to be played with a mouse and keyboard and not with a touchscreen. Usually, demanding titles like Fortnite or PUBG run better on a premium tablet running Android or iPadOS. Or on a traditional gaming laptop or PC.
Yes, Windows tablets can be great for college. But it also depends on what you need to do. If you’re studying computer science or if you need a Windows app for a specific purpose, then they can be the perfect choice for you. Windows tablets are great if you want to replace a laptop or a desktop machine as well. But if you don’t need Microsoft’s operating system at all, you should also check out devices running Android, iPadOS, and Chrome OS.
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