What is the best Windows tablet in 2021? Every year a lot of new 2-in-1 tablets are released by Microsoft, Lenovo, and other brands. Some of them are very similar to each other and others offer unique features. Most are released with a keyboard and an active pen. And all of them run Windows 10. So, which one is the best?
I’m visiting almost every trade show and review almost every Windows tablet once it is available. Here, you can find the best ones that I can currently recommend. At the top, you’ll find the better ones and a couple of cheaper alternatives are listed below.
Yes, I did review all the Windows tablets on this list. They are linked below, and you can find all my other reviews here.
Best Windows Tablets: A Quick Overview
Here is a quick overview of the best tablets running Windows that I can currently recommend.
- Best Windows tablet overall: Microsoft Surface Pro 7 (on Amazon*). The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is the best Windows tablet overall. It features a premium-feeling design, a great 12.3-inch screen, and it’s faster than every other device on this list. At the same time, you can get it with the Microsoft Surface Pen and a fantastic Microsoft Type Cover. If you don’t mind its high price, it’s the best choice.
- Interesting alternative: Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i (on Amazon*). The Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i is an interesting alternative to the Pro 7. Its basic design with a high-end body and integrated kickstand is the same. But the 13-inch screen is a bit bigger and the keyboard can be used while detached from the tablet too. It’s a bit slower but since the keyboard and active pen are usually included, it can be quite a bit cheaper.
- A cheaper Microsoft tablet: Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (on Amazon*). If the Surface Pro 7 is a bit pricy for you but you want the same features, the Surface Pro 6 can still be a great choice. At least if you can find a good deal because it should be cheaper, of course. The basic design, screen, and keyboard and pen accessories are the same. But the internal hardware is a bit slower and you don’t get a USB C port.
- Best 10-inch Windows tablet: Microsoft Surface Go 2 (on Amazon*). The Microsoft Surface Go 2 is the best 10-inch Windows tablet you can get. It features the same basic premium-feeling design of the Pro 7, works with the same Surface Pen, and you can get a good Type Cover. Its 10.5-inch screen is smaller but it’s a pretty one. You can get it with an up to Intel Core m3 processor which is slower but fast enough for Office work.
- Good inexpensive 10-inch Windows tablet: Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3i (on Amazon*). The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3i is a cheaper alternative to the Microsoft Surface Go 2. Many features are similar and that goes for the design with an integrated kickstand as well. But the 10.3-inch screen is a tiny bit smaller and the hardware a bit slower. Since the keyboard usually is included, it can be a lot cheaper though.
- Cheapest usable Windows tablet: Lenovo IdeaPad D330 (on Amazon*). The Lenovo IdeaPad D330 is the predecessor of the Yoga Duet 3i. If you can find a good deal and want a as cheap Windows tablet as possible, it can still be a decent choice though. Don’t expect high-end hardware, since you can get it with a 10-inch HD screen and 2GB of RAM only. But if you don’t need more, you can save a lot. The keyboard is included again.
- Great Windows ARM tablet: Microsoft Surface Pro X (on Amazon*). If you want a standard Windows tablet, you should stay away from the Microsoft Surface Pro X. But if you like to experiment, it can be an exciting choice. The Surface Pro X seems to be a more modern Pro 7 from the outside and you can get it with a fantastic pen and keyboard. But the heart of the inside is an ARM processor and it’s running Windows on ARM. So, you won’t be able to install most traditional Windows programs.
Best Windows Tablet: An In-Depth Look
Let’s check out all of them in more detail. If you want to learn even more, you can find my reviews linked underneath all of them.
Microsoft Surface Pro 7: The Best Windows Tablet
The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is the best Windows tablet you can buy right now. It’s faster than its competition because you can get it with an Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 10th generation processor that has access to up to 16GB of RAM and an up to 1TB SSD. The hardware is powerful enough for demanding work in Adobe Photoshop CC and for light video editing in Adobe Premiere Pro.
One downside is the big screen bezels. But the 12.3-inch PixelSense display is a fantastic one which is great for photo editing. It supports the Microsoft Surface Pen which is a fantastic pressure-sensitive active stylus that you can buy separately. Together with OneNote, you can use it for handwritten notes. Handwriting recognition is built into Windows 10 too, and the pen works great in apps like Photoshop.
While the design is a couple of generations old already, it remains one of the highlights of the Pro 7. We’re getting a super premium-feeling magnesium body with an integrated kickstand that works fantastic. I like that we finally get a USB C port which has been missing from Microsoft’s tablets for a long time.
Another accessory that works fantastic is the Microsoft Type Cover. That’s one of the best keyboard covers you can get in general. It’s comfortable to type on, folded up it protects the screen, and the integrated touchpad works fine too. You connect it magnetically to the tablet and it has a magnetic strip so that you can use the keyboard at an angle.
The tablet has decent speakers, a microSD card slot, and a good webcam. You can unlock it using facial recognition and Windows Hello thanks to an infrared camera that sits next to the webcam.
A couple of words about gaming. Demanding titles like Epic Games Fortnite do run on the Surface Pro 7. But since it does not have a dedicated graphics card, it performs much worse than a similarly priced gaming laptop. So, yes, you can do some gaming, but I would not recommend any Windows tablet as a dedicated gaming device.
Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i: An Interesting Alternative
The Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i is an interesting alternative to the Surface Pro 7. It has a similar basic design with a high-end body and an integrated kickstand. But it looks a bit more modern and I like that we’re getting a bit bigger 13-inch screen which is a nice one as well. Since its accessories usually are included, it’s often quite a bit cheaper than the Microsoft tablet.
With that being said, the Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i is a bit slower. While you can get it with 10th generation Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 processors too, they’re a bit slower versions. The graphics performance is a bit worse in particular. If you mostly do office work, it’s hard to see a real difference, but it was much slower in my video render test. You can get up to 16GB of RAM and an up to 1TB SSD.
Usually, Lenovo is shipping it with an active stylus which works almost the same as the Surface Pen does. You can use it for handwriting and drawings. A keyboard cover is included too, and this is one of the unique features of the Duet 7i. While it can be used attached to the tablet, as usual, you can also use it while it’s detached. That’s because it has its own battery and Bluetooth is built-in. It can be useful on a plane or train with a small table, for instance. The tablet can sit on the table while you use the keyboard on your lap.
During my review, I noticed that the speakers are pretty bad. But I like that we get three USB C ports and that it has an infrared camera with Windows Hello facial recognition support. That works well.
Microsoft Surface Pro 6: A Cheaper Microsoft Tablet
The Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is the predecessor of the Surface Pro 7. But I can still recommend it if you want to save some money and if you can find a good deal. When prices are similar, it makes more sense to get the newer version. That should be obvious. But besides its missing USB C port and a bit older internal hardware, they’re almost identical.
With the Surface Pro 6, you get the same basic design as the 7 including the high-end magnesium body and an integrated kickstand. The Surface Pen and the official Type Cover are exactly the same. So, yes, the keyboard and pen have not changed at all. That goes for the pretty 12.3-inch PixelSense display as well.
Now, the internal hardware is different. You can get the Surface Pro 6 with Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processor of the 8th generation. They’re not much but a bit slower than the newer ones. Here again, you can choose up to 16GB of RAM and an up to 1TB SSD. All other features like the infrared camera and speakers are the same too.
Microsoft Surface Go 2: The Best 10-Inch Windows Tablet
The Microsoft Surface Go 2 is the best small 10-inch tablet out there at the moment. To be exact, it has a 10.5-inch screen which is a great one with a Full HD resolution. You can use it with the same Microsoft Surface Pen that also works with the Pro 7. In fact, the two work fantastic together – especially with OneNote. This can be a fantastic OneNote tablet if you like to write down handwritten notes.
Here, we get a similar premium-feeling design with an integrated kickstand, a USB C port, and facial recognition works great too. The Type Cover that Microsoft sells for the Surface Go 2 is a bit smaller, of course, but it’s of high quality too and works great once you get used to the smaller design. It has an integrated touchpad and a magnetic strip so that you can use it at an angle.
As you might expect, the internal hardware is quite a bit slower. You can get it with an Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB eMMC storage which is fine for basic office use. But you’ll get a much better experience if you get the one with an Intel Core m3 chipset, 8GB of RAM, and a proper 128GB SSD. That’s not fast enough for demanding Photoshop work, but it does run okay if you need it to.
Unlike the first couple of devices on this list, I would not recommend replacing a full desktop machine with the Surface Go 2. But it can be a great second device if you want something small running Windows for when you’re traveling.
By the way, the tablet is running Windows 10 in S Mode out of the box. That means at first, you won’t be able to install apps that are not inside the Microsoft Store. But don’t worry, you can switch to normal Windows 10 with just a couple of clicks. Once you do that, you can install whatever you want.
Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3i: A Great Alternative
The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3i can be a great alternative to the Microsoft Surface Go 2. Usually, it’s quite a bit cheaper especially since the keyboard cover almost always seems to be included at no extra charge. The basic design is very similar. We’re getting a nice-looking body with an integrated kickstand and the keyboard attaches magnetically. It’s a small but well-executed keyboard.
Lenovo is shipping the IdeaPad Duet 3i with a 10.3-inch screen that has a Full HD resolution. It seems that some or all versions of the tablet support an active pen. However, I wasn’t able to try that. The screen itself is a good one.
The performance is a bit slower than the Go 2. Here, you can get versions with an Intel Celeron N4020 up to an Intel Pentium N5030 processor. It has 4GB to 8GB of RAM, as well as 64GB or 128GB eMMC storage. Lenovo is selling versions with integrated LTE too, which can be quite interesting for some.
So, it can be a good choice if you’re looking for a small tablet to do some office work. But like with the Go 2, I can’t recommend it for demanding graphics work or high-end gaming. For that, you’ll need better performance.
I like that the Duet 3i has two USB C 3.2 ports. But it has no infrared camera which means you can’t unlock it with facial recognition. It does not have a fingerprint scanner either. That means you can unlock it with a PIN, pattern, or password.
Out of the box, it’s running Windows 10 in S Mode. If you want to install other apps that are not inside the Microsoft Store, you can switch to Windows 10 Pro with a couple of clicks at no additional costs.
Lenovo IdeaPad D330: The Cheapest (Good) Windows Tablet
The Lenovo IdeaPad D330 is the predecessor of the IdeaPad Duet 3i. I can recommend it if you want an even cheaper tablet as long as you can find a good deal. That also means that I can’t recommend it if you need a powerful processor, of course. But it’s fine for office work if you’re looking for something cheap.
Its basic design is a bit different. The IdeaPad D330 ships with a solid keyboard dock which means that it’s much more stable and secure if you’re using it on your lap. Due to its 10.1-inch screen, the keyboard is much smaller than a standard one. The size is similar to the Surface Go 2 and Duet 3i.
I think the 10.1-inch Full HD screen is a good one. But you can even get it with a lower-resolution HD display. I can’t recommend that unless you really want to spend as little as possible. You can get this tablet with very low specifications if you want to. That means as low as 2GB of RAM, which is quite little for Windows 10 these days, as well as an Intel Celeron 4000 processor.
But you can also get it with 4GB of RAM, an up to Intel Pentium N5000 processor, and 64GB or 128GB of eMMC storage. LTE is an option too.
Microsoft Surface Pro X: The Best Windows ARM Tablet
From the outside, the Microsoft Surface Pro X looks like the perfect Windows tablet. It has a much more modern-looking design than the Surface Pro 7. The body is very premium-feeling, it has a nice kickstand built-in, and the screen bezels around its bigger 13-inch screen are much smaller. But the internal hardware is much different too, and that can be a problem.
The Surface Pro X ships with an ARM processor that is made by Microsoft and Qualcomm. It means that the basic technology is similar to the chips you can find on Android tablets or iPads. While that sounds great in theory, it also means that it is running Windows on ARM. That version of Windows is capable of running most apps from the Microsoft Store, as well as Microsoft Office.
But other apps that are not made for Windows on ARM either don’t work at all or run much worse than on Intel or AMD processors. So, even though you’re paying a lot for a high-end tablet that’s supposed to run Windows, you can’t use demanding apps like Adobe Premiere Pro, for instance. You also can’t install many, if not most drivers.
So, since you’re probably looking for a Windows tablet because you want to use traditional desktop apps, I can’t recommend the Surface Pro X for most. However, it can be an interesting choice if you just want to run Microsoft Office apps or OneNote, for instance. And you must be interested in experimenting.
The accessories Microsoft sells for the Surface Pro X are fantastic. I like the Type Cover a lot and the new Surface Slim Pen is well executed too. The tablet supports LTE as a standard as well, so you can always be connected to the internet.
The thing is: If you don’t need to run traditional Windows desktop apps, then why don’t you get the 12.9-inch Apple iPad Pro or the 12.4-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ instead? Together with their accessories, they’re very similar. You get the benefits from an ARM processor in addition to a huge selection of apps which, let’s be honest, you don’t get from the Microsoft Store.
What About Other Choices?
There are a couple of other choices that I didn’t review. For instance, in most countries, you can get cheap tablets from lesser-known brands. Since I’m based in Germany, I can’t test the local Indian or US brands. Often, they sound good on paper but are bad in reality because of too slow storage or other reasons. But it might be that you can get a great deal, so you’ll have to check local reviews for that.
If you want a mobile Windows machine with a touchscreen and you don’t really need a tablet alone without a keyboard ever, then it almost makes no sense to get a Windows tablet. All major brands make 2-in-1 laptops that are probably a better fit for you in that case. They’ve got touchscreens too, you can fold them into a thick tablet, and many have active pen support as well.
Another device you could look at is the Microsoft Surface Book 3. Without its base, it’s basically a heavy and powerful tablet. But it’s super pricey too. You should check it out if you need much more performance than the Surface Pro 7 can offer.
In case you don’t need to use a specific Windows app, you don’t have to get a Windows tablet. You can get great keyboard covers and active pens for the Apple iPad Pro and Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+, for instance, which can be great for productivity work too. And a cheaper 10-inch alternative is the Lenovo Duet Chromebook that is running Chrome OS, comes with a good keyboard cover, and supports a USI stylus.
How I Review Tablets
I’m reviewing almost every tablet that is released and that certainly goes to the ones from big manufacturers. Every time I’m reviewing a Windows device, I try to replace my laptop with it for a while. That’s how I can really get a feel for it, see how it performs outside of benchmarks, and if it’s even possible to replace a “real” PC with it. My daily workload consists of standard office work in Microsoft Word, a bit of Excel, and I use Adobe Photoshop CC and Adobe Premiere Pro.
My tests contain of two parts. The first one is my personal impression. And the second ones are benchmarks and more objective testing. For instance, I always run benchmarks like Geekbench 4 and 5, as well as Cinebench. And I do a render test in Adobe Premiere Rush, if possible. To get a feel for battery life, I’m looping an HD video locally and on YouTube in two separate tests.
Windows tablets are not great for gaming in general. But I do try games like Fortnite or Cuphead, and if they don’t run, usually Asphalt 9 does.
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 me on Twitter.
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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