The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is the best Windows tablet you can buy right now. Thanks to the 10th generation Intel processors the performance is excellent. While the design with its integrated kickstand is old, it looks good and works great. Other aspects like the 12.3-inch screen, keyboard and Surface Pen haven’t changed but continue to be fantastic. However, it’s a pricey tablet. Including accessories, you can spend over 2500 US Dollars.
Well, in this Microsoft Surface Pro 7 review, you’ll learn all the important details.
Hardware & Performance
Let’s start this review with the hardware and performance because that’s the only major change compared to the Surface Pro 6. Microsoft is using Intel’s 10th generation processors now. You can choose between an Intel Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 CPU. While the Core i3 is a dual-core chip, the other two have four cores.
You can select versions with 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB of RAM. The SSD can be 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB in size. There’s no cellular LTE version right now. Depending on the version you’re getting, you’ll have to pay between 749 and 2299 US Dollars. Yes, that’s without the pen and keyboard.
My Surface Pro 7 is the one with an Intel Core i5 and 8GB of RAM. You can see in my benchmark comparison that the 10th generation Intel processors are quite a bit faster than the Surface Pro 6. Last year I reviewed the Core i5 version too.
It’s also important to know that the graphics performance of the Intel Iris Plus graphics chip is much better than last year. However, you get those Iris Plus graphics with the Core i5 and Core i7 versions only. The Core i3 one has an Intel UHD GPU.
The performance is fantastic in real life. Especially office work with Word, Excel and lots of multitasking runs super smooth. That’s what I can say about Chrome as well. I often use many tabs including at least one with YouTube at the same time and the performance is good. That’s the case for note-taking apps, Netflix and Windows in general too.
I also worked with Adobe Photoshop CC. My camera is taking 24-megapixel RAW files and Photoshop handled them very well. I don’t think you’ll run into problems with Photoshop as long as you do normal photography work. However, I’m sure that huge documents with tons of layers can be too demanding. And I don’t think that you’ll have much fun with 4GB of RAM. Usually, you should get at least 8GB for Photoshop.
Video Editing & Gaming
Video editing apps like Adobe Premiere Pro and Premiere Rush run too. Editing full HD videos work great. And you can edit 4K videos too – but not too demanding projects. I did that and it runs okay. But if you really want to edit tons of 4K footage, change the color and add effects, I suggest you get the Core i7 version with 16GB of RAM. For heavy work, a dedicated graphics card is usually the best choice. You don’t get that with a tablet.
That also means it’s not an amazing gaming machine. You need a dedicated graphics card for that too. With that being said, I did install and play Fortnite. With the lowest settings that game runs very well. The framerate varies between 35 and 60 frames per second, depending on the scene.
Now, Fortnite does run with medium graphics too. But with those settings, you’ll see some stuttering in between. And while the framerate is at around 30 frames per second when just walking a bit, it can quickly drop to around 20 or so. That’s not good enough for most gamers.
Older and simpler games run great of course. I tried the platformer The Messenger and it ran fine.
By the way, the Core i7 version is the only one with active fans. The Surface Pro 7 with a Core i3 and Core i5 are both passively cooled which means you won’t hear any noise at all. Yes, they still have those air vents, but they’re well hidden. I like that a lot. However, the body does get warm, especially when using demanding apps. I noticed that when working in Photoshop with the pen and holding the tablet. It does not get super-hot, but it does get quite warm. You’ll notice it.
Design & Build Quality
Let’s get to its design. Surface Pro 7 has the exact same design as the Surface Pro 6. And like its predecessor. Basically, not much has changed since the Surface Pro 3. Sure, for the end of 2019 the screen bezels could be thinner. But still, I like that design overall. It just works and has proved to be very useful.
The magnesium body continues to feel very high-end. It’s 8.5mm thin and weighs 775g without the keyboard. On its back, there’s an integrated kickstand that’s made of magnesium too. You can open and close it very wide and very smoothly at every angle.
Now, let’s get to a new feature that no Surface Pro had until now. Instead of the Mini-DisplayPort, the Pro 7 features a USB C connector. Thunderbolt 3 is not supported but you can connect USB C hubs and external monitors anyways. There’s a standard USB 3.0 type A port underneath the C one.
Even though you can use that USB C port to charge the tablet, Microsoft continues to use the magnetic Surface Connector from the previous versions. That also means there’s no USB C charger included. Instead, we get a Surface Connect one with 64W. During my review, I only used the USB C charger. However, the Surface Connector can be useful because it’s magnetic. And it also means you’ll be able to use old accessories like the Surface Dock.
On its left side, there’s a headphone jack and the power button and volume rocker are located on the top. As usual, there’s a microSD card slot underneath the kickstand.
Read: The Best Windows Tablets
Cameras, Speakers & Windows Hello
The camera on the back has a resolution of 8 megapixels. Photos and videos look fine. I used it to scan a couple of documents and that works great. For Skype, the 5-megapixel front-facing camera is great too. While you can record full HD videos with both, 4K is not supported. Overall, the cameras are very good for a Windows device. The webcam is much better than the ones from many notebooks. However, tablets like the iPad Pro and Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 offer better cameras.
Next to the webcam sits an infrared camera. Thanks to that one you can unlock the Surface Pro using the facial recognition of Windows Hello. That works surprisingly well. I didn’t have any issues with it at all.
The stereo speakers are pretty good for a tablet as well. I watched lots of YouTube and a little bit Netflix and the sound quality is fine for that. Bigger high-end notebooks usually have better speakers though.
Type Cover: The Keyboard
A couple of words about the Microsoft Type Cover: The Surface Pro 7 supports the same keyboard they also sold for the Pro 5 and Pro 6. So, if you owned one of its predecessors, you don’t have to get a new one.
The Type Cover continues to be fantastic. I still think it’s the best official keyboard cover for a tablet. The keyboards from Apple and Samsung are much worse.
I really like that it’s a full-size keyboard with keys that you can really press down. There’s even a background light. I was able to type on it smoothly immediately and didn’t feel any urge to switch to a desktop keyboard.
There’s a touchpad underneath the keyboard which is very precise, and it supports all the Windows 10 multitouch gestures. I think it’s a good touchpad but it’s not as big as the ones from many premium notebooks. While that is totally fine for when you’re traveling, I’m connecting a real mouse when using it at my desk.
Microsoft’s Type Cover is connected magnetically to the tablet. When closed, the display is protected but the body is not. It has a magnetic bar at the top which means you can use it at an angle. Because of that, it feels like writing with a notebook.
Overall, the keyboard is very premium-feeling but is made of plastic. The cover material is some kind of fabric. I’ve gotten the cheapest black version which costs around 130 US Dollars. For around 160 US Dollars you can get the Signature Type Cover in several colors and with an Alcantara fabric. You can get one with an integrated fingerprint scanner too.
The display is the same one we got with the Pro 6 already. It continues to be a 12.3-inch PixelSense display with a high resolution of 2736 x 1824 pixels. Texts and photos look very sharp. Viewing angles are wide, color reproduction is good, and it’s bright for a Windows tablet. However, it’s not as bright as the iPad Pro.
I like that its aspect ratio is 3:2. That means you’ve got more room in the vertical and you won’t have to scroll that much when using the browser or working with Microsoft Word. But yes, that also means you’ll see black bezels on the top and bottom when watching movies.
Microsoft Surface Pen
It’s time to talk about the Microsoft Surface Pen. Nothing has changed here because it’s exactly the same pen they sold for the previous generations. If you owned a Surface in the last couple of years, you don’t have to get a new one. While you still have to pay around 100 US Dollars when buying it from Microsoft, you can often get it cheaper or used from other retailers.
Like last year, I like the Surface Pen a lot. It’s made of metal, feels high-end, and is comfortable to hold. Just like a normal pen. On the back, you can open it and insert or change the battery. You’ve got to do that sometimes because unlike the Apple Pencil, it’s not rechargeable. However, you can connect it magnetically to the side of the tablet.
Just like Apple’s and Samsung’s pen, the Surface Pen is pressure sensitive. It supports 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity. That means you can draw a thin line by pressing slightly and a thicker line by pressing harder. Apps like Photoshop support this feature too. In Photoshop, you can use the Surface Pen with its pressure sensitivity just like a Wacom graphics tablet.
I used the Surface Pen for handwritten notes and I also used it to remove sensor dust in Photoshop or to work with layer masks. That works very well. Overall, I think the Surface Pen is a fantastic stylus.
In my battery test, the Surface got a runtime of 11 hours. For this test, I’m always looping an HD video at medium brightness and turned-on Wi-Fi. As you can see in my comparison, that’s a very good result for a Windows tablet. However, the iPad Pro and many Android tablets last longer.
Keep in mind, that this is an artificial test. When playing Fortnite or working with Photoshop, the battery will be drained much faster. With simple office apps, it might last you a working day when you’re doing your best to conserve energy. But I think most should take a charger with them.
Microsoft Surface Pro 7 Review: My Final Verdict
Well, that’s the end of my Microsoft Surface Pro 7 review. As I said, I think it’s the best Windows tablet you can buy right now. While the design is old, I think it’s an excellent one. It’s well made, and the kickstand is super useful. I also like that we’re getting a USB C port – finally. Sure, the screen bezels could be thinner. But that’s not that big of a deal.
The display, Surface Pen and Type Cover are as good as last year. And the performance of those new Intel processors is noticeably better. Not better enough to justify an upgrade if you own a Surface Pro 6, but you will notice it a lot when upgrading from a Surface Pro 5.
I can recommend the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 if you’re looking for the best Windows tablet and don’t care much about the costs. It’s a great laptop replacement. I did replace my notebook with it for this review and it works just like any other Windows computer. At the same time, it’s also great to watch Netflix with and to use it as a pure tablet. However, if you’re just looking for a tablet to watch Netflix and play games with, I think an Android or iPadOS device is better suited for you.
Now, let’s take a closer look at some competitors.
A cheaper alternative is the Microsoft Surface Pro 6, of course. While it’s a bit slower, the basic design and accessories are the same. If you want to save a bit of money and can find a good deal, I think you’ll be very happy with the Pro 6 too.
I got my Surface Pro X a couple of days ago, but I didn’t finish reviewing it yet. With that being said, I don’t think it’ll be a great alternative for most.
For some, the iPad Pro might be a fantastic alternative though. The tablet from Apple is much thinner, has a brighter screen, and the performance is good enough for apps like Photoshop and video editing. Thanks to its keyboard, Apple Pencil and iPadOS, it’s a good working machine. And it certainly is a better gaming tablet. I think Surface Pro 7 is the best tablet if you’re looking for a tablet and a notebook replacement. But if you don’t need to replace a laptop and if you don’t need Windows, the iPad Pro is the better pure tablet.
- Fast Intel Core processors
- Excellent design with kickstand
- Great keyboard cover
- Long battery life
- Good Surface Pen
- Pretty display
- Big screen bezels
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