Research Hub > Microsoft Surface Family Buying Guide

September 09, 2021

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5 min

Microsoft Surface Family Buying Guide

To know which Microsoft Surface family product to buy, consider your computing needs. Learn more about Microsoft Surface devices below to decide what’s best for you.

The Microsoft Surface lineup runs the gamut of hardware types, including tablets, laptops, a desktop computer, an interactive whiteboard and a phone. To know which Surface family product buy, consider your computing needs. For example, while Surface tablets and laptops are all excellent mobile productivity machines, the tablets are more flexible and less costly, while the laptops offer wider screens and better performance and storage, albeit with a higher price tag. Learn more about Surface devices below to decide what’s best for you.

Choosing a Surface Tablet

These Surface 2-in-1 computers can serve either as a laptop or tablet. They vary in terms of their display size, processing power, storage capacities and more. The current lineup includes the Surface Go 2, Surface Pro 7 and Surface Pro X. If the flexibility of the 2-in-1 appeals to you, here are the major differences between the devices.

Surface Go 2

The Surface Go 2 has a 10” 1920 x 1280 (220 PPI) touchscreen display made with durable Corning Gorilla Glass and weighs 1.2lbs, making it the smallest and lightest of the 2-in-1 Surface devices. With up to 10 hours of battery life (depending on how you’re using it), the Go 2 is a great device for toting anywhere without having to worry too much about forgetting your charger at home.

Under the hood, it is powered by an Intel Pentium Gold or Core m3 CPU and equipped with 4GB or 8GB RAM. In terms of storage, it has either 64GB eMMC storage or 128GB SSD, and a microSD drive, allowing you to expand storage to whatever size microSD card you buy if need be.

Additionally, the Go 2 has a 5MP front-facing camera with 1080p HD video and a rear-facing auto-focus camera with 1080p HD video Dual Studio Mics. It has 2W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio in case you want to play audio without headphones.

The Go 2 is ideal for doing homework, streaming shows, managing your email, or using apps such as the Microsoft Office Suite. Optionally, you can purchase the Surface pen for drawing on the screen or easier use of the touchscreen. The keyboard is also sold separately.

While it may not be able to run the most intense computing tasks, it is a great budget solution that provides both portability and productivity.

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Surface Pro 7

The Surface Pro 7 can be thought of as the next step up in power and size from the Surface Go 2. With 12.3” display and weighing in at 1.7 pounds, it is slightly larger than the Go 2. It also has a USB-A port in addition to all the ports the Surface Go 2 has (USB-C port, headphone jack, microSD port), so you don’t have to worry about buying a dongle to accommodate older USB-A devices.

The CPU is available with 10th Gen Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, which allows this device to handle more CPU-intensive tasks such as gaming and video/audio content creation.  RAM options range from 4GB to 16GB, with internal SSD storage from 128GB to 1TB.

The Surface Pro 7 features the same front- and rear-facing 1080p HD cameras as the Surface Go 2 and the same speakers. In terms of battery life it’s no slouch—you can get up to 10.5 hours.

As for the Surface Pro 7+, there are some notable differences from the Surface Pro 7. The 7+ models use the latest Intel 11th Gen Tiger Lake processors and come with removable boot drives, upgradable SSD storage, optional 4G LTE, up to 32GB of RAM and up to 15 hours of battery life.

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Shop Surface Pro 7+

Surface Pro X

The Surface Pro X has a 13” touchscreen – even larger than the Surface Pro 7, with a similar form factor to the Surface Pro 7. This is due to the smaller display bezels on the sides of the Pro X, allowing for more screen space. The Pro X case is thinner than the Pro 7 at only 7.3mm vs. 8.38mm; however, the Pro X and Pro 7 both weigh in at 1.7lbs.

The Pro X has outstanding battery life—you can achieve up to 13 hours depending on what you’re doing. It comes with either 8GB or 16GB RAM and either 128, 256, or 512GB of storage. In terms of screen resolution, the Pro X has 2880 x 1920 vs. 2736 x 1824 for the Pro 7, but both have the same pixel density at 267 PPI.

Rather than using one of the Intel 10th Gen processors, the Pro X has either a Qualcomm SQ1 or SQ2 ARM processor. This gives users smartphone-like quickness combined with everything Windows 10 has to offer. Certain apps are specially compiled for ARM processors (ARM32/64), while x86 apps run via emulation on the Surface Pro X.

The ports are slightly different than with the Pro 7 or Go 2, opting for 2 USB-C ports rather than a USB-A and USB-C. Nor does it have a headphone jack and microSD slot like the Surface 7 and Go 2. However, Pro X does have removable SSD storage and SIM slot for LTE, which are not features of its cousins. LTE allows you to connect to Gigabit-speed 4G bands anywhere, a fantastic plus if you’re looking to be productive and internet-connected anywhere.

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The Sleek Design and High Performance of Surface Laptops

Surface laptops come in both standard clamshell and hybrid models. The current clamshell units are the Surface Laptop Go and the Surface Laptop 4, while the hybrid model is the Surface Book 3. The Surface family laptop you choose depends on the performance you need.

Surface Laptop Go

The Surface Laptop Go is the entry-level machine in this lineup. This ultra-portable machine has a 12.4-inch PixelSense display with a resolution 1536 x 1024 (148 PPI) and 3:2 aspect ratio.  All the models of the Laptop Go use a 10th Generation Intel Core i5 CPU; memory options available with the Laptop Go include 4GB, 8GB and 16GB, while internal storage options are 64GB (eMMC), 128GB and 256GB (both SSD). It weighs only 2.44lbs, making it the lightest Surface laptop ever.

Like the Surface Pro 7, it has both a USB-C, USB-A port and headphone jack as well as a Surface Connect port. Most models also have a Fingerprint Power Button and Windows Hello facial recognition sign-in for an extra layer of device security. It has a built-in, front-facing HD camera with 720p resolution and external, boomy Omnisonic speakers with Dolby Audio.

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Surface Laptop 4

Available in 13.5” and 15” models, the Surface Laptop 4 has a touchscreen (although not a 2-in-1 laptop), with the 13.5” model having 2256 x 1504 screen resolution (201 PPI) and the 15” model with 2496 x 1664 (also 201 PPI).

These laptops come equipped with either an 11th Gen Intel Core i5/i7 or an AMD Ryzen 5 4000-series CPU and are available with three RAM options (8GB, 16GB and 32GB) and three internal storage options (256GB, 512GB and 1TB).

Surface Laptop 4 models with Intel Core i5/i7 processors also have Intel Iris Xe graphics, while those with AMD Ryzen 5/7 processors use Radeon™ graphic These powerful GPUs can handle most tasks you throw at it, from gaming to graphic design.

The Surface Laptop 4 weighs 2.79lbs and the same ports as the Laptop Go (USB-A, USB-C and a headphone jack, and Surface Connect port). It boasts upwards of 19 hours of battery life, depending on the model of Laptop 4 you get and what you’re running. It has the same speakers, camera and Windows Hello as the Laptop Go, but does not have the Fingerprint Power Button.

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Surface Book 3

The Surface Book 3 is a powerful 2-in-1 laptop suited for professionals that need power and flexibility wherever they are. You can purchase either the 13.5” or 15” screen, with the 13.5” model having 3000 x 2000 (267 PPI) resolution and the 15” with 3240 x 2160 (260 PPI) resolution and a 3:2 aspect ratio.

You can choose from a 10th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processor along with 8GB, 16GB or 32GB RAM. Available internal storage options include 256GB, 512GB, 1TB and 2TB SSD. The 1 and 2 TB models, with M.2 2280 SSDs, have the fastest storage in any Microsoft hardware made up to this point.

The Surface Book 3’s are the only computers in this lineup to feature either an NVIDIA GeForce GTX or Quadro RTX GPU. This provides outstanding graphic performance suited for creative professionals working with 3D rendering software like Autodesk or running the latest games at 60fps in 1080p.

Two USB-A ports, a single USB-C port with USB 3.0 Power Delivery support, a UHS-II SD card reader, and a Surface Connect port come standard with the Surface Book 3.

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Surface Desktop Computers and Whiteboards

Looking to improve both creativity and collaboration at work? Read below to learn more about how the Surface Studio and Surface Hub would be the right choices for you.

Surface Studio 2

The Surface Studio 2 is an all-in-one desktop and digital drafting table ideal for content creators, with a 28”, 4500 x 3000 (192 PPI) display and a 3:2 aspect ratio. It has two extendable arms hinged to the back of the base unit (aka the “Zero Gravity” hinge) which allow you to set the display horizontally as you may with a tablet or in the familiar vertical position of a desktop, which is not limited to any preset angles.  The Surface Studio 2 comes with the stylus, the same one that’s compatible with the other members of the Surface device family, as well as the Surface Keyboard and Mouse.

The base unit houses the CPU, GPU, RAM, SSD and the rest of the components, which allows for an exceptionally thin display at only 0.5”. Every model comes with a 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7820HQ processor; however, you are given the option of graphics cards (either the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB or 1070 8GB) as well as RAM (16GB or 32GB) and SSD (1TB or 2TB).

When it comes to connectivity, the Surface Studio 2 includes 4 USB 3.0 ports, with one of them being a high-power port, a full-size SD card reader (SDXC), a USB-C port, 3.5mm headphone jack and a 1 Gigabit Ethernet port.

The Surface Studio 2 has a front-facing, 5.0MP camera with 1080p HD video and Windows Hello Face authentication.

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Surface Hub 2S

The Surface Hub® 2S is an interactive 4K (3840 x 2160) whiteboard meant for bringing far-flung teams together, appealing to the hybrid model of work many teams are beginning to adopt. It comes in two sizes: 50” for huddle rooms (61.6lbs) and 85” (185lbs) for larger meeting spaces. The 50” display has a 3:2 aspect ratio and the 85” display has 16:9.

The Surface Hub 2 4K camera with 90 degree HFOV can capture both the room and meeting participants with its wide-angle lens. The far-field mics, a full band 8-element MEMS microphone array serve to capture voices and block out extraneous noise.

It features a 4K 50-inch multitouch display with a 120Hz refresh rate and supports multiple pen inputs. Offices can mount the Surface Hub 2S on the wall or keep their units on the included rolling stands.

Inside both models of the Surface Hub 2S is a Quad-core 8th Gen Intel Core i5 processor paired with 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD. Connections include 1 USB-A port, mini-DisplayPort output, RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI input, USB-C with DisplayPort Input and 4 USB-C ports. The 85” display has one fewer USB-C port.

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Surface Duo Smartphone

Looking for a tablet that will help you stay productive, while on the go? Read more below about the Surface Duo and how it could be just what you're looking for.

Surface Duo

With the Surface Duo, Microsoft introduces a foldable smartphone built for multitasking to the market. The Duo, with dual 5.6” displays that fold out to 8.1”, allows you to view an app on each screen, drag and drop across screens, type on one screen and research on the other and other useful tasks only possible with 2 screens.

The Duo weighs 250g (roughly 0.55lbs), with a battery life of 15.5 hours of local video playback, 10 days of standby time, and up to 27 hours of talk time with 3577mAh dual battery capacity. If you’re looking to get creative, the Duo comes with a adaptive 11MP camera with super zoom up to 7x, both 1080p and 4K video recording at 30/60fps.

This is the only Surface device not running a Windows operating system. The Duo is an Android device with a Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB RAM and 128GB or 256GB internal memory. Although it runs Android and supports every app in the Google Play Store, Microsoft preinstalled many of its mobile apps like M365 and tweaked the user interface to deliver a similar experience as the rest of its Surface lineup.

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