Two-in-one device review – Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Last year, we published our Surface Pro 6 review, which found that the all-in-one 2-in-1 is just getting better. The same can be repeated this year for the Surface Pro 7, and while it may sound monotonous, it confirms how important the Surface Pro is to Microsoft after seven generations.

Now, with the latest version going on sale at the end of the year, the Surface Pro 7 has become one of the most exciting devices this year, despite all the great solutions on the market. The new 10th Gen Intel processor, Iris Plus graphics, and Intel Wi-Fi 6 modem are a major upgrade. And yes, the excellent universal USB Type-C port is worth noting.

Two-in-one device review - Microsoft Surface Pro 7

The Surface Pro 7 looks exactly like the Surface Pro 6 and Surface Pro 5, but it has some very significant internal changes that include:

  • USB Type-C 3.1 port (replaces Mini DisplayPort)
  • Wi-Fi 6, 802.11ax compliant
  • Bluetooth Wireless 5.0 technology
  • Switching from Marvel Modem to Intel Wireless
  • Instant On function
  • 10th Gen Intel processors (10nm “Ice Lake”)
  • Iris Plus GPU
  • RAM DDR4
  • Surface Connect + Fast Charging Port
  • Bipolar Studio Mic
  • New Alcantara Color for Surface Pro Type Cover Keyboards (Poppy Red and Ice Blue)

The new USB Type-C port replaces the legacy Mini DisplayPort. Microsoft is finally making these changes across the entire Surface lineup, including Surface Book 2, Surface Pro X, Surface Studio 2, and Surface Laptop 3.

While the new USB Type-C port is not Thunderbolt 3, it can support two 4K displays (with 60Hz refresh rates), act as a charging port, support hubs, and transfer data. It is now a universal port and is powerful enough even if it cannot support an external graphics processing unit (eGPU).

Two-in-one device review - Microsoft Surface Pro 7

For those who care about details, the Surface Pro 7’s USB Type-C port supports USB 3.1 Gen 10 (1.4 Gb / s) and DisplayPort 5. This also means it can handle powerful Type-C chargers, ranging from simple 65W smartphone chargers to at least 7W with fast charging support. The Surface Pro 100 can even use 7W Type-C chargers, although these are very rare and it’s unclear if the Surface Pro 65 will be able to use that extra power. At the very least, that means you can use the XNUMX-watt Type-C charger and get the same benefits as charging through the Surface Connect +.

Also noteworthy is the move from Marvel modem to Intel. Microsoft has used Marvel modems for the past six generations of Surface Pro, and while it has improved over time, it has also caused problems for many users. The latest Intel chip (AX201) that comes with the Surface Pro 7 now supports 2,4GHz, 5GHz (160MHz) and Wi-Fi 6, making it future-proof.

TECH SPECS
Operating system Windows 10 Home 
Microsoft Office Home – 30-Day Free Trial
dimensions 292 mm x 201 mm x 8.5 mm
The weight i3, i5: 775g 
i7: 790g
Display PixelSense ™ display 12.3 ”, 2736 x 1824 resolution (267 PPI) 
10-point multitouch 
Aspect ratio 3: 2
RAM 4 GB, 8 GB or 16 GB LPDDR4x RAM
Processor Dual-core 10th Gen Intel® Core ™ i3-1005G1 Processor 
Quad-core 10th Gen Intel® Core ™ i5-1035G4 Processor 
Quad-core 10th Gen Intel® Core ™ i7-1065G7 Processor
Security Enterprise Security TPM Chip, Windows Hello Camera Authentication
SENSORS Scattered light 
Accelerometer 
Gyroscope 
Magnetometer
Built-in Memory SSD: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB
Equipment Surface Pro 7, charger, manual and documentation
Battery life Up to 10,5 hours video playback
Graphics Processor Intel® UHD Graphics (i3) 
Intel® Iris ™ Plus Graphics (i5, i7)
Разъемы 1 x USB-C ™ 
1 x USB-A 
3.5 mm headphone jack 
mini DisplayPort 
1 x Surface Connect 
Surface Type Cover 
MicroSDXC card reader 
Compatible with Surface Dial
Cameras, video and audio Facial recognition for Windows Hello authentication 
5.0 MP front camera with support for 1080p Skype HD video 
8.0 MP main camera with autofocus and support for 1080p Full HD video 
Two microphones 
1.6W Dolby® Audio ™ Premium stereo speakers
Networks and connections Wi-Fi 6: 802.11ax 
Bluetooth Wireless 5.0

Two-in-one device review - Microsoft Surface Pro 7Two-in-one device review - Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Also, don’t miss out on the move to 10th Gen Intel processors. As tests show, this is a significant performance improvement that has not been seen for a long time. The same goes for the new Intel Iris Plus GPU, which is noticeably better than last year’s Intel UHD 620.

Microsoft has also added fast charging support to its Surface Connect port (now called Surface Connect +). It uses the same 65W charger as previous Surface Pros, but now charges the battery faster.

A new feature that has been highlighted by Microsoft is “Instant On”, thanks to a combination of a 10th Gen Intel processor and additions from Microsoft. Surface Pro 7 never goes into hibernation like any other Windows computer or Surface device. Instead, it is always in Instant On mode, so when you open the Surface Type Cover, you never have to wait for it to turn on. If you leave Surface Pro 7 for two minutes or seven hours, it will always be ready to use, just like computers based on Qualcomm ARM processors. This change is an unusual feature that makes the Surface Pro 7 look like the Apple iPad Pro.

The RAM upgrade to DDR4 (over DDR3 in the previous version), improved dual studio microphones for Skype or Microsoft Teams calls, and the addition of two new colors to the Surface Pro Type Cover range are minor but positive changes.

Microsoft Surface Pro 7 design

Overall, the design of the new Surface Pro 7 is the same as the Surface Pro 6 and Surface Pro 5. The Surface Pro’s body colors are still matte black, introduced last year, or the traditional platinum color.

Two-in-one device review - Microsoft Surface Pro 7

The power and volume keys are located in the upper left corner of Surface Pro. The Type-C, Type-A, and Surface Connect + ports are located on the right side, while the Surface Pen is magnetically attached to the left side.

Interestingly, the new Surface Pro X, which is built from the ground up with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx processor, beats the Surface Pro 7 a lot in design. Microsoft is rumored to be making similar design changes to the entire Surface Pro line in late 2020. While thinner bezels around the display would be fine for the Surface Pro, it’s tough to part with a design that works well even in 2020.

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Microsoft Surface Pro 7 display

Of all the changes to the Surface Pro 7, the lack of a change in display quality – especially compared to other models this year – is the biggest disappointment. It’s still a great screen that’s a pleasure to use, but Microsoft is lagging behind the competition, not leading it. The display is pretty much the same as the Surface Pro 6. There have probably been some improvements in power consumption and minor tweaks, but there are no obvious differences.

The 12,3-inch LCD screen has a resolution of 2736 x 1824 (267 PPI) with an aspect ratio of 3: 2. Microsoft still offers two color gamut presets, including sRGB for accurate color reproduction (photo editing) and “enhanced”, which provides sharper colors and greater contrast, ideal for movies or everyday use.

Two-in-one device review - Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Brightness measurements recorded the Surface Pro 7’s display maximum brightness (100 percent) at 410 nits, and its barely visible minimum (zero percent) at 2,8 nits. Despite its solid performance, the Surface Pro is starting to lag behind the competition, which peaks at over 500 nits. It also means no HDR400 (which requires 500 nits) and no Dolby Vision certification.

Color accuracy is a respectable 98% for sRGB, 73% for AdobeRGB and 72% for DCI-P3. While these are good results, they are lower than the new Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, which provided 100% sRGB, 76% AdobeRGB and 3% DCI-P81.

The Surface Pro 7’s display is also still glossy with no anti-glare layer. Companies like HP, Dell and Lenovo are investing heavily in anti-glare technology. The technology retains the advantages of glossy displays, such as accurate color reproduction and wide color gamut, and reduces reflectivity. It helps to reduce eye fatigue, but unfortunately Microsoft cannot contribute here yet.

Two-in-one device review - Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Another trend that Microsoft is missing is the move towards OLED displays. However, many users prefer a more natural looking LCD.

If you want to use digital ink technology on your Surface Pro, you’ll need to buy a Surface Pen. For 2019, the Surface Pen received two new colors to match the new Surface Pro Type Cover, Poppy Red and Ice Blue.

Two-in-one device review - Microsoft Surface Pro 7

The Surface Pen hasn’t received any new features this year, so those buying the new Surface Pro 7 can easily use their old Surface Pen and Surface Type Cover.

Surface Pen supports the same 4096 pressure levels, tilt, rotation, and connects via Bluetooth. The activation force – the amount of pressure required to activate the handle – is nine grams. Microsoft is also accelerating handwriting display by 2,1 milliseconds over last year’s handwriting coprocessor, which is part of the Surface Pro 7 display. This coprocessor connects the GPU to the screen digitizer and helps speed up the computation of stylus movements.

Two-in-one device review - Microsoft Surface Pro 7Two-in-one device review - Microsoft Surface Pro 7Two-in-one device review - Microsoft Surface Pro 7Two-in-one device review - Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Microsoft is steadily improving both the software that supports the Surface Pen and its advanced applications such as Microsoft To Do, OneNote, and Sticky Notes 3.0.

Microsoft has also released a new Surface Slim Pen designed for the Surface Pro X. While this pen works with the Surface Pro as well, it doesn’t seem to be worth spending extra money on over the regular Surface Pen. The changes are mainly in the design.

Microsoft Surface Pro 7 keyboard and Windows Hello

Typing on the Surface Pro 7 is still as good as it has been in the past few years. The keys are backlit and have 1,3mm travel.

The new Surface Type Covers don’t have any new features or improvements. The trackpad, using Microsoft Precision drivers, is the same physical size as last year and still works great given the size limits.

Two-in-one device review - Microsoft Surface Pro 7

As with the Surface Pro 5 and Surface Pro 6 keyboards, the new Surface Type Cover Pro 7 also has dedicated keys for changing the display brightness.

The new Surface Type Covers are also covered with Alcantara fabric, making them very comfortable. However, they are also not included with the Surface Pro, making them an optional but necessary purchase for most users. For those looking to save money or prefer a black case without Alcantara, Microsoft still offers a cheaper version of the microfiber keyboard.

Two-in-one device review - Microsoft Surface Pro 7Two-in-one device review - Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Windows Hello facial recognition still works thanks to the 8MP (1080p) front camera and sensors. This system now has two microphone holes on the left and right for what Microsoft calls the Studio Mic. These microphones provide a significant improvement for video conferencing.

Two-in-one device review - Microsoft Surface Pro 7

The Surface Pro 7 also features a 5-megapixel camera (1080p), which is perfect for use with WhiteBoard and OneNote. Both the main camera and the front camera are among the best compared to any computer on the market.

Two-in-one device review - Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Windows Hello activation is now even faster than last year’s model. These small details set the Surface Pro apart from all other devices. By the time you open Surface Type Cover and activate Windows Hello, Surface Pro 7 will recognize you even after hours of inactivity. This is a fantastic experience and arguably the fastest system I have tested.

Microsoft Surface Pro 7 benchmarks and battery

Microsoft is one of the first to introduce the new 10nm Intel 10th Gen Core U-series processors. There is always a lot of hype around new Intel products, but the 10th Gen series is worth it. The Surface Pro 7 with a fanless Core i5-1035G4 will outperform last year’s Surface Pro 6 with an actively cooled Core i7- 8650U. This is an amazing result.

Both Geekbench 4, Geekbench 5, and PCMark 10 show the 10th Gen Intel series brings major performance boosts. The fact that you can now buy a fanless Core i5-based Surface Pro and get more performance than last year’s Core i7, all at a lower price point, is a huge plus for consumers.

In terms of battery life, Microsoft is now promising 10,5 hours of “typical use”. The company is adjusting its estimates of battery drain, moving from a misleading video loop test to a more real-world experience. This test now describes a Surface Pro 7 running a web browser with 10 tabs open and all Microsoft Office applications at the same time.

The new Intel Iris Plus graphics also provide a nice performance boost. Iris Plus sits between last year’s Intel UHD 620 and NVIDIA GeForce MX150. This means the Surface Pro 7’s Core i5-powered performance will be sufficient for photo editing, occasional video editing, and arcade-style gaming.

Anything related to gaming or heavy GPU usage is subject to battery tax. For example, the arcade scroller “Brofors” ran out of battery by as much as 10 percent within 10 minutes. This means many games will kill Surface Pro after 90 minutes of battery life.

Fortunately, the new Quick Charge feature for Surface Connect + and Type-C ports partially addresses this issue with Surface Pro 7. Microsoft claims to charge between 0% and 80% in an hour, but in my experience, the battery can be recharged from 0 to 70%. It’s still awesome, and even after charging for 30 minutes, the Surface Pro 7 jumped from 56 percent battery to 86 percent.

Thanks to the Type-C port, users are now also free to use portable Type-C batteries with the Surface Pro 7, which is a great option for those without access to a power outlet.

Two-in-one device review - Microsoft Surface Pro 7Two-in-one device review - Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Battery drain when the new Surface is not in use seems to be nonexistent or very minimal. Left overnight for seven hours, the Surface Pro 7 only lost three to four percent of its battery.

Surface SSDs have always been of the best quality. The 256GB model delivers 2000MB / s read, while the write speed is just 800MB / s, slightly below the industry average. However, most people are demanding on reading speed, and this is where the Surface Pro 7 is closer to typical laptops. It’s also an improvement over the Surface Pro 5 (847 MB ​​/ s) and Surface Pro 6 (1600 MB / s). It should be noted that the 512GB and 1TB variants are likely to get a speed boost as well.

Should I buy Microsoft Surface Pro 7 or not?

The Surface Pro 7 may not be underwhelming. But the reason for this frustration is that Microsoft has effectively figured out what the Surface Pro should be like with the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Pro 5 (2017). Since then, the company has simply adjusted the specifications of this device. The Surface Pro 7 is a continuation of this trend.

No other manufacturer has been able to make such an attractive 2-in-1 device.

Previous issues like fan noise, inadequate performance, or poor battery life made the Surface Pro not the best choice. However, the Surface Pro 7 is pretty much everything I want in a laptop. Excellent performance, typing and audio are still the best of all, and I have enough battery life for a whole day.

The new Type-C port dramatically increases the capabilities of the Pro. Now I can use portable displays, mobile batteries, port expansion hubs, or use a car or phone charger as a last resort.

Windows Hello (Instant On) logins and resumes are so fast that it could be mistaken for a Qualcomm ARM-based device. This is important when you open and close Surface Pro dozens of times a day.

My only disappointment is the display. Don’t get me wrong, it’s gorgeous and looks fantastic. But the rest of the industry is developing HDR400 / Dolby Vision and anti-glare technology, and Microsoft isn’t in the race. Windows 10 now supports playing HDR games and apps, as well as wide color gamut apps, but Surface Pro hardware doesn’t. This is a bad decision. If the Surface Pro is supposed to offer the best of Windows 10, that’s a serious lag.

The lack of LTE support is also disappointing, but it is clear that Microsoft is interested in positioning the new Surface Pro X for this use case.

While the Surface Pro 7’s design looks a little dated, many people don’t care, and it doesn’t distract from use. That said, if wide display bezels really bother you, consider the Surface Pro X or put your hopes on the Surface Pro 8, which will likely be introduced in 2020.

Two-in-one device review - Microsoft Surface Pro 7

For most users, the Surface Pro 7 with Core i5 is the perfect choice. From benchmarks, the Core i3-based model should also perform well enough, although it still packs a dual-core chip compared to the i5 and i7, which are both quad-cores. SSD and RAM are non-upgradeable, so buy what you need.

The Core i7, which is probably extremely powerful, also has a fan, so keep that in mind if you don’t like the idea of ​​an actively cooled system. This model is probably perfect for those looking to use a desktop docking station in which the Surface Pro doubles as a laptop and desktop computer.

Overall, the Surface Pro 7 made a bigger impression on me than I expected when I started this review. This proves that the Surface Pro design is not only not dated, but it is the best design. While the Surface Pro’s price tag is still high (around 100k for the Core i5, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, not including Type Cover and Pen), this Surface tax is justified. No other manufacturer has been able to make a 2-in-1 device as attractive as the Surface Pro 7, despite numerous attempts.

We thank surface-pro.ru for the provided device.

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Valery Yakovenko (store@surface-pro.ru)

Published – 28 May 2020

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