Which Windows tablet is better?

There aren’t many tablets that can run Windows reliably. Unsurprisingly, two of the few good ones are engineered and produced by Microsoft itself. The Microsoft Surface Pro is widely regarded as the highest-performing Windows tablet, and the Surface Go is almost certainly the most portable Windows PC in existence. They both have their strengths and weaknesses, and the right one for you depends on what you plan to do with it.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8

Now in its 8th generation, the Microsoft Surface Pro contains a selection of powerful yet efficient hardware in a sleek, durable and finely engineered package. Released in October 2021, it sports an 11th-generation Intel Core CPU with two or four cores. You can choose from several combinations of RAM and storage, with up to 32 gigabytes of system memory offered alongside a maximum of a 1-terabyte solid-state drive.

Aside from the availability of premium hardware, the Surface Pro 8’s display really shines. Its 13-inch screen boasts an impressive 2880 by 1920 resolution, guaranteeing razor-sharp image quality and consistent scaling. The touchscreen is basically second to none when it comes to Windows laptops, too.

At the end of the day, both Surface sizes are technically tablets. Make no mistake, though  – they’re equipped with the same high-grade hardware that comes in many full-size laptops. A couple of the Surface Pro configurations even meet the requirements for Intel Evo certification, which promises convenience, long battery life and high-bandwidth connectivity on top of other nice-to-have features.

Take note, however, of the interesting yet barely useful Surface Pro X. It uses an entirely different type of processor from the x86 CPUs most Windows PCs rely on. The ARM chipset inside the Surface Pro X is essentially the same as one from a smartphone. In other words, it’s highly efficient but not very powerful. Since the ARM architecture is so radically different, Microsoft had to redesign Windows itself to run properly on the hardware.

Windows on ARM processors is still practically experimental, with little processing power and few helpful programs available on the platform. You should avoid the Surface Pro X and all ARM Windows tablets until the technology advances further.

Microsoft Surface Pro pros

  • Impressive performance: No other laptop or tablet packs so much firepower into such a small package.
  • High-end screen: The Surface Pro 8 has one of the highest resolutions and most accurate color profiles you could want. It’s even great for photo and video editing.
  • Premium fit and finish: Aside from performance, the Surface Pro sports a truly professional appearance. Its clean lines and top-of-the-line materials look great, and it’s as durable as a business tablet can be. 

Microsoft Surface Pro cons

  • High prices: The most useful configurations will set you back quite a bit of cash.
  • Poor thermal management: It tends to get hot quickly, and the CPU will throttle itself if it exceeds the preset temperature.
  • Subpar battery life: There’s simply not much space to fit a large battery inside the Surface Pro.

Best Microsoft Surface Pro versions

Best Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Core i5

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Core i5

It’s not the most affordable model, but it does provide the best balance of price and performance, with plenty of RAM and processing power to run Windows smoothly.

Sold by Amazon

Best Microsoft Surface Pro 8 1TB

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 1TB

If money is no object, this is the best Surface Pro you can buy, and it’s more powerful than most other full-size laptops.

Sold by Amazon

Best Microsoft Surface Pro Core i7

Microsoft Surface Pro Core i7

Its specs and performance are both hard to beat, yet it still costs well under $2,000.

Sold by Amazon

Microsoft Surface Go

While it looks almost exactly like a miniature version of the Surface Pro, the Surface Go is a very different beast on a very different mission. Instead of the powerful CPU and large amounts of storage offered by the Pro, the Go contains a comparatively paltry dual-core Intel i3 CPU and up to just 8 GB of RAM.

While it’s nowhere near as fast as the Pro, it wasn’t meant to be and doesn’t have to be such a high-powered piece of equipment. Instead, it was built to deliver a truly portable Windows experience, and it does a great job at that.

It ships with Windows 11 in what’s called S Mode, which restricts some important options such as software installation. Since S Mode limits you to preapproved programs found in the Microsoft Store, it’s more streamlined and secure than the fully expanded version of Windows 11 Home. The lightweight S Mode also makes up somewhat for the Surface Go’s hardware shortcomings.

Microsoft Surface Go pros

  • Relatively affordable: It’s actually a great deal, considering its versatility.
  • Highly portable: There aren’t any other Windows tablets this size that can perform anywhere near as well.
  • Optional LTE version: Robust 4G connectivity keeps the specialized LTE model connected wherever you have cell service.

Microsoft Surface Go cons

  • Middling performance: From time to time, you will run into slowdowns or long wait times, even when using Windows in S Mode.

Best Microsoft Surface Go models

Best Microsoft Surface Go Core i3

Microsoft Surface Go Core i3

Its laptop-grade dual-core CPU delivers a great combination of power and efficiency, and the 8 GB of RAM offers a relatively smooth Windows experience.

Sold by Amazon

Best Microsoft Surface Go LTE

Microsoft Surface Go LTE

Due to its 4G cellular connectivity, it’s the most portable Windows PC anywhere.

Sold by Amazon

Should you get The Microsoft Surface Pro or Microsoft Surface Go?

If you demand peak performance with no slowdowns and are willing to make an investment, you won’t regret getting the Surface Pro 8. The Surface Go 3, on the other hand, is ideal for anyone who wants a great Windows experience on the move.

 

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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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