The recently released Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is the 6th generation of the successful tablet lineup for pro users. Compared to the predecessor, not that much has changed. Microsoft is finally using the 8th generation Intel Core processor. In addition to that, you can get it not only in grey but also in black. Well, is this Windows tablet a good one even though not that much is changing? I’m Andrzej for MyNextTablet.com and this is my Microsoft Surface Pro 6 review.
Let’s quickly look at pricing. My review unit is the cheapest one with an Intel Core i5, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. In the US, that one starts at 899 US Dollars. If you want the black option, you have to opt for the 256GB SSD which sets you back additional 300 Dollars. You have to pay 1899 Dollars for 16GB of RAM, the Core i7 and a 512GB SSD. To get 1TB, you have to pay 2299 Dollars. In Europe, prices start at 1049 Euros.
Design & Build Quality
Regarding the design of the Microsoft Surface Pro 6, nothing has changed. Well, except for the black color option. However, it is not bad that the design did not change. I still think that the Surface Pro series has one of the best designs out there and it is worth keeping. As with its predecessors, the Surface Pro 6 has a magnesium-alloy body, is just 8.5mm thin and weighs 770g. That is pretty good for a Windows device.
The Surface Pro 6 feel very high-end. If you are holding it in your hands you get the feeling of holding something expensive. Well, that is what it is. I really like how elegantly Microsoft is covering up the fans at the top. Since we are getting Core i5 and Core i7 quad-core chips, these must be actively cooled. Anyways, most of the time you won’t hear those fans.
On the right side, we get a DisplayPort, a standard USB 3.0 port and a magnetic Surface Connector. Yes, there is no USB C port and that is the only downside of keeping this design. If you need USB C by now, you have to use an adapter. The Surface connector itself is quite nice though because it is magnetic. If you are tripping over the cable you won’t destroy the whole tablet.
There are the power button and volume controls on the top. On the left side, we get a standard headphone jack. We also get a microSD card slot underneath the kickstand. And there is a connector for a keyboard cover on the bottom.
We get two speakers in total which are located on the sides. Considering this is a Windows tablet, the sound quality is pretty good. But most premium notebooks offer better speakers. There is a 5-megapixel front-facing camera above the screen and the one on the back has a resolution of 8 megapixels. And again: For a tablet, the picture quality is pretty good. Most smartphones have better cameras though.
As with all Surface tablets, you can unlock the Surface Pro 6 using Windows Hello and facial recognition. That works great most of the time.
Microsoft Type Cover
I think the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is only really interesting if you are getting the keyboard cover too. That one is called Type Cover and you must buy it separately. Since it is the same one from the predecessor, you might be able to get it a bit cheaper. The Type Cover is connected using a magnetic connector underneath the tablet. Folded up, it is protecting the display. There also is a magnetic bar so that you can angle the keyboard up a bit.
Well, nothing has changed with the Type Cover. So… it is as awesome as it has been. The cover is much more premium-feeling than the ones from most competitors. I’ve been able to type on it very nicely and without any issues at all.
Underneath the keyboard, we get a precision touchpad. That works just as it should but is smaller than on most notebooks.
Display & Pen
Let’s get to the display of the Microsoft Surface Pro 6. It has a diagonal of 12.3 inches and an aspect ratio of 3:2. Because of that, it is nicer to work with and surf the web because you’ve got more space towards the bottom. However, when watching videos, you will see black bezels on the top and bottom.
It has a resolution of 2736 x 1824 pixels. Since it is such a high-resolution screen, texts and icons look very sharp. The display is excellent overall and I’ve got nothing bad to say about it. Viewing angles are wide, colors look accurate and it certainly is bright enough. The screen is laminated too but it has to be at this price point anyways.
You can use the touchscreen with your fingers, well, obviously. But if you want, you can also use an active pen. That one is called Microsoft Surface Pen. It is the same pen that works with the predecessor and with the Surface Go. While it is quite pricey at 100 US Dollars, often you can get it a bit cheaper because the pen is over a year old already.
I don’t have that much to say about the Surface Pen because nothing has changed. The stylus is great and works great on the Surface Pro 6. As with Samsung’s S Pen, it supports 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity and is very precise. There’s a button on the top and one on the side. On the top, you have to insert a battery which you have to change from time to time.
Personally, I mostly use pens like this for Photoshop and the Surface Pen works great for that. But you can also use it to take down handwritten notes in apps like OneNote or draw something artistically.
Hardware & Performance
The only major new feature of the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 are the new processors. You can get this tablet with 8th generation Intel Core i5 or Core i7 chips. Those are quad-core chips now, so we get four cores in total. The predecessor had dual-core chips only. Depending on the version, you can get it with 8GB or 16GB of RAM and a 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB SSD.
It is not always the case, but because we get quad-core chips now, the performance actually improved a lot compared to the previous version. As you can see in my benchmark comparison, the tablet gets excellent results in the Geekbench 4 and Cinebench benchmarks. However, Microsoft is a bit late to the game. Tablets like the Lenovo MIIX 520 feature those 8th generation chips too and are available since January already. So, if you don’t care that much about build quality and just want a great performance, you can get that at cheaper prices with the competition.
As I said, the performance of the Surface Pro 6 is excellent. My review unit has the Core i5 and 8GB of RAM and apps like Adobe Photoshop run very smoothly. And you can also run office apps or Chrome without any issues, but that is to be expected anyways. It is the same hardware we know already form a lot of premium notebooks.
Because the tablet has no dedicated graphics card, it is not perfect for apps that would benefit from one. You can edit full HD videos nicely and even some 4k videos in programs like Premiere Pro. However, you will have to deal with longer rendering times. And it is not perfect for demanding games either.
I tried Fortnite on the Surface Pro 6 and it does run. But because there is no dedicated graphics card, it is not great for very demanding games. Well, as I said, Fortnite certainly does run though. When playing it at medium settings I got a framerate of about 20 on average. With lowest settings, I was able to play it quite smoothly at around 30 to 35 frames per second. However, I did see some lagging from time to time. And Fortnite does not look that great at lowest settings.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 6 got excellent results in my battery test. In fact, it got a runtime of around 12 hours. For this test, I’m looping an HD video at medium brightness for all of my reviews.
As you can see in my comparison chart, that is a great result. Especially for a Windows tablet.
Well, you will only get those 12 hours when watching a video locally at medium brightness. In real life, the runtime is shorter. With standard office work, you can get it running for around 8 hours though. But if you are using a lot of Photoshop or are playing Fortnite the battery will drain much faster.
Microsoft Surface Pro 6 Review: Final Verdict
Alright, that’s my Microsoft Surface Pro 6 review. Yes, I obviously can recommend it. Even though not much has changed compared to the previous version, the Surface Pro 6 is an outstanding tablet. I really love the Surface design. You always have the feeling of holding a premium device. However, it would have been nice to get a USB C port.
Besides that, the display, the Type Cover and the Surface Pen are excellent. The performance is better than the predecessor too due to the 8th generation quad-core chips. At the same time, the battery lasts longer than with all Windows tablets I reviewed.
I think there is only one real downside to the Microsoft Surface Pro 6. And that is the price. While the 899 Dollars in the United States are not that bad, it is quite pricey starting at over 1000 Euros in Europe. And it gets pricey everywhere if you include the keyboard and pen. Because of that, I can only recommend the Surface Pro 6 if you are willing to pay a bit more for a premium tablet.
Let’s take a look at a couple of alternatives.
A direct and very interesting competitor is the Lenovo MIIX 520 (review). While the build quality and display are not as good, it features very similar hardware options. And it is much cheaper. In the US, you can get it starting at under 800 Dollars for the Core i5 version including the keyboard and pen.
If you can live with much lower-end hardware but want the same Surface experience in a 10-inch format, you could also check out the Microsoft Surface Go (review). Yes, it is much weaker but also much cheaper. And it does feature a similar Type Cover and supports the same excellent Surface Pen.
- Premium design
- Great display
- Powerful hardware
- Good Type Cover
- Excellent Surface Pen
- Long battery life
- Very pricey
- No USB C port
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