I traded in my MacBook Air and all I got was this Core i7 Surface Pro 3

Okay, that headline is a tad misleading as trading in a MacBook Air for a Surface Pro 3, especially one with the coveted Core i7 processor, is far from 1:1 value. Still, I did bring in my MacBook Air (2011) to see how the process went, and I managed to pick up that Core i7 Surface Pro 3 with 256 GB of storage.

Here is how it all went.

Why I had a MacBook Air

Even though it is tangential to this article, I am sure a few of you are wondering why I even have a MacBook Air laying around. The story goes ex-CrackBerry editor in chief Kevin Michaluk gave me his old one back in 2012, mostly because he was upset that I was running this site from a then underpowered Windows Netbook (remember those?). Being interested in technology and never owning a Mac laptop or computer, I figured this would be an excellent chance to see what Apple can do.

Long story short, I learned OSX a bit but within a few months those Windows 8 Ultrabooks hit the scene and to the shelf went to the MBA. I last time turned on the MacBook Air in December 2012, so I had little use for it in 2014. Although the MBA is nice in terms of hardware, OSX provided no advantages over Windows that I could discern. Since then, I have owned five different Ultrabooks.

Microsoft's trade-in program

Let us be clear: trade in programs are rarely about maximizing value. They are about one thing: convenience. 'I have this old thing; I want a new thing, and I want to keep it simple.' Because of this, the idea that you are "only" getting a particular value should be a secondary concern. If you want the most for your old wares, sell it yourself and hope you find some rube with some cash. It is like when a car dealer offers to take your old car. You are not going to get squat for it, but hey, at least you do not have to list and sell it yourself, which could take weeks.

Microsoft's MacBook Air trade in program advertises that you can get "up to $650" in store credit. However, as should be expected, the devil is in the details and Microsoft determines the maximum value of your old MacBook Air. I was never under the impression that a 2011 MBA would fetch that maximum $650 mark – after all, what would happen if you brought in a brand new edition?

As expected, Microsoft has a rolling chart based on year, model and configuration that determines the trade in value. My 2011 Core i7 MacBook Air with a 256 GB SSD drive procured $337.50 in Store credit for a $1,549 Surface Pro 3.

I cannot say I was disappointed. You may have a differing opinion. All I know is when compared to modern hardware, the 2011 MBA is slow, sluggish and not really up to my standards in 2014. Microsoft did me a favor by taking it off my hands.

Overall though, the process was quick, efficient and fun.

Microsoft's MacBook Air trade in program is valid until November 2, and the store credit can only be applied to a Surface Pro 3. More information can be found on their site.

Surface Pro 3 with a Core i7

For my review, I used the Surface Pro 3 with a Core i5 (1.9 – 2.5 GHz) and 256 GB of storage versus the newer Core i7 (1.7 – 2.3 GHz). There are two main differences between the two. One of them is Turbo mode, where the i5 maxes out at 2.9 GHz; the Core i7 goes up to a higher 3.3 GHz. The additional difference lies in the built-in graphics chipset, as the Core i5 is an Intel HD4400; the Core i7 features a faster Intel HD5000. Roughly speaking, you are looking at a 20% difference in CPU performance and some estimates put the graphics chipset with a 13% advantage for the Core i7.

Neither system should impress gamers, but then again if you are a gamer I am not sure why you are looking at a Surface Pro 3. Instead, the Core i7 is ideal for professionals who need that extra oomph for substantial applications. For gamers, I suggest you look at the new Razer laptops.

There is also a small – and in my opinion overblown – controversy that has to do with thermal-throttling. The gist is the Surface Pro 3 on a Core i5 ramps down to 1 GHz when it hits a certain internal temperature. This reduction is typical on PCs and laptops, but the Surface Pro 3's threshold is lower than that of the Surface Pro 2. The reason? The Surface Pro 3 is stupid thin, so less heat dissipation. The result is when playing intensive PC games for extended duration the Surface Pro 3 can get choppy due to the speed reduction. Your mileage may vary; I have never seen it myself, so maybe I'm 'computering' wrong.

Initial feedback via Reddit about the Core i7 version is that it does not throttle as much as the Core i5, resulting in less frequent lowering of processor speed. From user's experience, including my own, these situations appear to be rare instances anyway where high-performance gaming is being attempted. For people who do not play high-end PC games for an extended period, this is a non-issue.

Do you need a Core i7?

Probably not. The Core i5 is more than enough for everyday tasks, Modern games and running PC apps like Photoshop. In fact, the Core i3 version is also ideal for those who use Modern apps the majority of the time. If I had to break it down, it would be like this:

  • Core i3 – You need a tablet that can act like a PC. You spend 70% in Modern apps, 30% running desktop apps
  • Core i5 – You want the best of both worlds. 50/50 between Modern and desktop apps, but you occasionally need that extra horsepower
  • Core i7 – You need a desktop replacement. You are a future docking station owner. You are a professional engineer, artist, architect or programmer who needs this device every day to perform at peak performance. Alternatively, you have money and just want the best out there.

Do I need a Core i7?

Absolutely not, but for the sake of this site and your curiosity, I am making the supreme sacrifice!

So, uh, how is it?

It seems faster.

You saw that coming from a mile away; I know. Seriously though, it screams. Between loading apps, downloading them over Wi-Fi and app switching, the Core i7 is a beast. Sure, it can get warm with the occasional graphic-intensive game, but nothing out of the ordinary. As I mentioned above, the Core i7's base speed is clocked lower than the Core i5, so in theory with Modern apps the Core i7 should get near the same battery life as the Core i5 – in fact that is what Microsoft claims.

I need a few days really to see the differences between the two. I am not sure if specific benchmarks are on the horizon though I may consider doing some basic ones. Instead, I prefer to re-review the Core i7 variant as a Joe-schmoe computer owner just trying to use it for work, life and fun.

As a side note, my Core i7 did have a single dead pixel on the display. With that display resolution, you have to look for it, and it is barely noticeable. However, the Microsoft Store though took it back without any hesitation, and replaced it with a brand new one, which I inspected before leaving the Store. So far, no other complaints. Although being able to shop at a physical Microsoft Store is not possible for many of you, if it is an option, always shop there as you cannot beat their service.

Anecdotally, the fine folks at the Microsoft Store told me the Surface Pro 3 is selling very well, with most people opting for the Core i5 or Core i7 256 GB versions, which makes sense.

Do you have questions about the Core i7 version or are you on the fence about which to get? Sound off in comments or jump into our Surface Pro 3 forums and let us know. I can try to answer a few questions if you have them.


Reader comments

I traded in my MacBook Air and all I got was this Core i7 Surface Pro 3



Whoosh. Right over his head. < golf clap >

Instead of posting 15 seconds after my posting, and just reacting to the tongue-in-cheek title, reading the actual article can help! :)

Read the article? What is this some kind of 12th dimension you're in?.... You mean you expect us to actually download the app AND read the content within??...... Crazy Daniel Rubino... Just wow❗❗❗
Anyways, this should've spawned another contest to give Rodney a chance to win a SP3...

Love the article but I do not agree with most of it.

Getting less than $350 for your 2011 Macbook air is akin to robbery. With a 256gb SSD, an i7, and (probably) 8GBs of RAM, you should be able to flip it for nearly double the price on eBay or through Amazon Fulfillment. Macs hold their value a lot better than any Windows PC, even the Surface Pro.

Second issue I have with the article are you processor recommendations. I have never used an i3 before, but you made it sound like its on par with an atom processor. Meanwhile, I strongly believe that an i5 processor should be enough for most users, if you need more power than what an i5 can deliver you should probably look at a difference computer because the difference between the i5 vs the i7 is miniscule.

The main reason to get an i7 is to get that extra hard drive, RAM, and a little extra graphics power.

My biggest problem with the Surface Pro is that MS dropped the ball when picking the correct processor. Right now it sits between the Macbook Air and the Macbook Pro in terms of processor power, but its behind both of them in terms of graphics.  MS should have gone with the same i5 processors that the Airs use, and kept the same i7 that they are using right now.

This combination would give around a 20% speed boost on the i5's graphics, and would make the processing difference worth the upgrade.

How can it be robbery when nobody is forcing you to do it at gunpoint?!!! Sorry but didn't read the rest of your comment, just not interested.

 difference between the i5 vs the i7 is miniscule.

Have to disagree here, hyperthreading etc. as well as being the 'U' versions, any upgrade is significant.  

but its behind both of them in terms of graphics.  MS should have gone with the same i5 processors that the Airs use, and kept the same i7 that they are using right now.

No idea what you meant here. Also SP3 has much higher resolution that the Macbook Air, not sure why you suddenly divert to talking about the Macbook Pro.  

combination would give around a 20% speed boost on the i5's graphics, and would make the processing difference worth the upgrade.

Boost in graphics has nothing to do with CPU processing performance.  

Macbook airs use the intel HD5000 for their i5 models, while the Surface Pro uses an intel HD4400. The difference between the two approaches is that Apple delivers better graphics at the cost of lower processing power.


This is a worth while tradeoff because the graphics card will likely be the bottleneck for most people going for an i5 processor.

No it won't be a bottle neck because 'most' users don't use professional intensive graphics on the most portable Laptops! For that they get an ultrabook!

I never mentioned the iPad. I said that the Surface 3's processor sits between the MBA and the MBP (its faster than the MBA but slower than the MBP), however the i5 version has worse graphics (SP3 has the intel HD4400, MBA has the HD5000, MBP has the HD5100).

Duh... slower than a MBP is like saying SP3 is slower than a top Ultrabook Mr. Obvious! Yet SP3 is thinner than Mac Barbie Air, so indirectly you admit SP3 blows MBA & MBP, with almost the size of an iPad! Thanks.

I imagine that being a purchaser of apple merchandise would mean that you were already well versed in dropping your pants.

He said in the article that he wasn't very concerned about how much he got for his Mac. If he wanted maximum value for it, he would've put it up for sale somewhere. He wanted it to be an easy process that gives him at least a little value, and that's exactly what he got.

This guy doesn't understand how trade-in programs work, even though it was explained in the article above. If you want maximum value for your old devices: sell them yourself.

Exactly, you put it up on ebay or craigslist, you wait for while. You deal with goofy questions, some lame ebay users that never pays, or meet some sketchy dude in a parking lot one night. A month later, you get an extra $100 by selling it yourself. This is for people who want to walk in and walk out with a new thing and not deal with all that crap. 

Don't forget Daniel's Mac Barbie Air was inherited too! For the benefits of an SP3, getting rid of Air and get 350 discount was great deal!

What got me was the Windows Netbook.  Talk about "roughing it". Man oh man.That thing was why disk clean up was created. lol.

I got an i5 device last fall. It's good, but now I regret not spending the few extra hundred for the i7. This article reaffirms that. I didn't realize how big of a performane gap that was. I thought it was just going to be a performance gap of 2, but it seems to be much more than that. Misleading labels by Intel. I'm going with AMD next time because of this nonsense. Intel doesn't even know how to properly name their chips.

"I'd love to know what a performance gap of 2 means in your head."

This is why I read comments sections... Good form Sir... 

Reboot, hit Command + R, wipe it. Now connect to the internet and reinstall OSX. Drive to the Store and drop it off. Alternatively, the MS Store will wipe it for you.

According to apple, it is an issue with the logic board which is causing it to perform as it is on battery (random freezes, lag during games, etc etc). Not that simple, however I wish it was.

I have estimates above $650 on my MPB, same year, and the process is just as simple. MS would have to beat that for me to get rid of it. I agree, it is a bit of a ripoff.

Like I said though, if you think trade in programs are about value, you don't get it. So I find this discussion kind of moot. Trade ins are never about getting the maximum value, it's about convenience.

Yep, convenience. I'll be throwing my mint ATIV SE onto the trade in pile when the new HTC gets here barring a release announcement on the 1525 unicorn.

Amusingly this tradin value thing has been repeated a few times... some people I guess will never get it. Explains the cult of mac. Wait till they try to sell their first car daddy gave them.

No need to respond to stuff like this Daniel... You stated that it was convenience... Or you could get more and spend more time and take a risk meeting someone etc... Sometimes time is worth so much more than money...

Actually, when you think about it he did not.

  • The MBA was given to him for free, so there was no loss experienced.
  • It had no value to him, therefore his realized value was zero.
  • The $337.50 he dd get was actually free money he was able to put toward his SP3.
  • The difference of what he "could" have received for the MBA could jsut be considered a convienence fee. A trade in value of anythign will always be less thna selling direct. Its a choice many peole make, think of taking your car to a dealer vs selling direct... oh yeah he already said that.

I have a box of old routers and WAPS that I got for free from upgradign clients. If I get $1 each for them, I still come out ahead. Yeah I could ebay them but my time is wirth far more than that.

BTW nice article, and you are spot on about the service quality at the Microsoft Store. Theyre the best.


Well said...realized value is something that others aren't quite seeing. Also, the opportunity cost of selling it through other means. Oh and nevermind that Daniel writes for a tech blog and wanted to be able to comment on the trade-in program from first hand experience.

Daniel keep up the good work!

You want to compare a core proceessor to an ARM processor? The I3 will obviously run circles around the ARM processor.

Exactly, a Core i3 is designed for performance not battery life. If you want to compare the RT to the i3 then compare them on battery life, the RT will run circles around the i3.

But you said the i3 is designed for performance not battery life. Conversely, the ARM processor is designed for battery life not performance. Thus you can't compare the two. It all comes down to the weightings of his needs in terms of performance and battery life.

Depends what you are looking for. It has i7 8gb Ram 256 GB ssd. Ssd and ram could be upgraded easily. It also has Geforce Nvidia 640m LE. It is not the looker, and it weights 3.2 pounds. It wont turn heads...but it is the tablet,with decent battery life, several accessories (controller+extended battery, docking station,laptop attachment+extended battery). But most importantly I could play Anything on it, all the latest PC titles...Wolfenstein, Dishonored, Bioshock Infinity...you name it. And support is exceptional, no kidding, those guys on the other end of the line, actually know what they are talking about...

WAIT...  I'm not getting into an arguement, I like the Razer Edge Pro, it is nice (though I was always slightly disappointed with it), I like Razer products, but...  The negatives to consider against the postives vladfrenkel mentioned are:

It doesn't have full HD, being only 1366x768 native resolution. The Surface Pro 2 was full HD 1080p resolution. The Surface Pro 3 is beyond full HD and actually 2K resolution too. 

The i7 processor in the Razer is 3rd Generation i7, whereas the SP3 is 4th Generation.

Whilst it has a discrete Nvidia GPU, it is otherwise using a much older Intel 4000 GPU, so likely for non-gaming activities it is using that (unless you can set the Nvidia to be used all the time?).

The battery life tests when the Razer Edge Pro came out came behind the original Surface Pro.  Can't overlook that the original SP got slammed again and agian in the press for poor battery life.  The SP 2 imrpoved on that greatly and the i7 SP3 is said to best the SP3 i5 which imrpoved on the SP2.

The Razer I don't believe has bluetooth? Double checked the spec sheet and can't see it there.

The Razer is substancially heavier than the SP3.

The Razer has a 10.1 screen so is smaller.  The SP3 screen is not only better visual-real-estate wise, but also the 3:2 aspect ratio is the ratio professional photography is typically shot at.

I'm a photographer and whilst I love games, ultimately I get little time to play the graphic intensive games and should I find myself in that position, I'd be pretty convinced I'd run a PS4, Xbox One or under TV gaming PC.

I've had a SP2 since launch (256GB/8GB model) and have the SP3 i7 512GB on order.

Not only does the SP3 resolution and performance work massively in my favour as a photographer, the Surface Pen on my SP2 has been incredible for my digital photo developing and editing.

The weight saving whilst increasing the screen size on the SP3 is also WOW for me as again, I find myself developing my photos in Lightroom with my Surface Pen in one hand and the SP3 in the other.  I rip the Surface type cover off and it truly is a wonderful way to work.  I also look forward to the relocation of the Windows bezel button as I have been midway through a touch up and caught that with my thumb.

I'm glad the Razer Edge Pro exists, has a customer base and plays games you mention well, but for me the Surface Pro 2 won hands down and now the Surface Pro 3 has gone to an all new level.

Correct. It is better for Word docs I do understand, but for movies/books I do prefer something like 16x9/10 a little less Ipad like.

And I thought Microsoft's offer of only giving my amazing condition and less than a year old SP2 offer of $500 was bad. Then again, my SP2 is newer. This is why I like to sell it to other people rather than companies that try and give you a dime for trade ins, like Gamestop. :P

Game stops trade in program doesn't even compare to what Microsoft give you..... Games stop should be ashamed of themselves for string arming innocent people

And Daniel, I've had my SP2 since launch, but I'm considering switching back to Mac OS X (I originally owned a mac), and putting windows on it for some programs. I'm thinking of the 13 inch MBP retina. What do you think?

It's all relative. I think the Samsung or Dell XPS laptops are as good if not better than a MBA, especially for higher resolution and a touch display. But if you really like the MBA hardware, go for it.

There is only so much the eye can see on a display of that size. The retina on the 13" MBP is pretty good, although not the highest resolution compared to others.

Another question, do you know how windows 8.1 update 1 (newest) runs on Mac? Or is it still very not friendly for non -touch?

Simple question. I have a MacBook Pro (13") as well as a Lenovo T440S and a Surface Pro 2. Run both OSX and Windows on the MBP with VMWare (like that I can run the OS's simultaneously - don't have to choose at boot). But I cannot stand the keyboard on the Mac. Not having both backspace and delete keys is frustrating but how do you navigate without the end, home, page-up and page-down keys? Even the SP2 keyboard has them all.


I haven't had any use for having both a backspace and a delete button, and page up and keys down keys. The latter two seem more useful though than the former.

I use 8.1 for my desktop without touch, its fine for non-touch. I am gathering you are a reasably intelligent person, so the steep gesture "learning curve" that people talk about in regards to some gestures, should be easily scaled. 8.1 does add some nice changes to non-touch. You can boot to desktop and pretty much use the desktop a great majority of the time. All Windows 8 really is, is essentially windows 7 layered with the modern UI. It is also It is also more responsive and efficient in resource use.

I for one, will never pay the apple "tax" to join their club, but they do put out some quality products - but to each his own. However, i  guess that there is some element of that in the Surface. I am writing this on my surface 2, which Iove. I built my own gaming PC, and have a windows phone, so it makes sense in the ecosystem.



Also using 8.1 in my non-touch desktop and I love it. Sure, there was a period of adjustment in the beginning but it's not as if it was useless from the get go - so the shift was no big deal for me.

Same with me. 8.1 on a non-touch PC works fine. I've got Start8 installed for convenience but I can get by without it. I also don't dislike Apple products, but I agree about the "apple tax", especially with the retina MacBook Pro, since it's over $2,000 and you can't upgrade shit in it. I'd rather get a ThinkPad or a Dell Latitude for a cheaper price with the same specs and have upgradable components.

As for me I have a custom-built desktop as my daily driver. (Xeon E3, 8GB of RAM, Radeon 7850, 3x 1TB HDDs). It's a brilliant PC and runs all my games and applications well. Runs 8.1 Update 1 like a champ, even without an SSD. I've got a Lenovo ThinkPad T420 for when I'm not at home (i7 2640M, 6GB RAM, HD 3000 GPU, 750GB HDD). It too runs WIndows 8.1 Update 1 very well and does everything except games fine, but I don't need it to run games anyways since I mostly use it for schoolwork. I've got a Surface RT for my "bedside computer" with WinRT 8.1 Update 1. I just use that to watch YouTube videos and stuff like that when I'm a lazy ass, and I've got a Lumia 520 with WP 8.1 Update 1, and even though it's low end, it works very well as my daily driver.

I like the way everything integrates together. The only current MS product I don't use is an Xbox One, and the only reason for that is that I don't actually need one. All of the games I want are on PC and the ones that are exclusives that aren't on the Xbox or PC.

Well it's been a while since I looked into anything Apple. When the first retina one came out it was $2000 for the 15" model, at least in Australia.

This. I have no issues with Windows 8.x on my non-touch laptop. I am completely used to dragging from the top to close, opening either the taskbar or the running apps on the side. I hover over the bottom edge using the mouse any windows and the program restarts (great for clearing all those tabs on IE).


However, my next machine will be touch enabled. You watch. Apple will invent tough in a year or two (like they invented larger screens and color) and the world will go mad. Thanks for the update on this unit. I am leaning towards a Surface Pro 3 i7 with 256gb and holding out for the Dock. Sweet.

Geez, you people still do that with Apple? Many say what we have Apple will "invent", and sometimes they do and they don't. So what? Everyone takes ideas from others. If no one stole the iPhone idea, windows phones would still be those ugly keyboard phones running Windows Mobile.

And with the specs I want, it's a better deal for me to get the 13" MBP than the SP3. The MBP, not the MBA.

Geez, The thing is Apple mostly has Not Invented, more like copied, yet they market it as their:

Steve Jobs’ own words:
“We have been ‘ShameLESS’ about stealing great ideas”.

Panorama + Folders = Android
Notification Bar = Maemo
The name "Apple" = The Beatles
Slide to Unlock = Neonode N1m
Mouse GUI = Xerox
Reject calls with SMS = Symbian
iMaps = Google Maps (Opps)
Fingerprint sensor (Cracked) = PCs (Safe)
Multitasking = webOS
Copy/paste = WinMobile
Ping = Facebook, Twitter
iPad = Samsung´s Photoframe
iPad Mini = Dell Streak
iPod = Creative Technology and Walkman
‘iPhone’ the name = Linksys’ iPhone®
‘iOS’ the name = Cisco’s Internet OS (ios)
Original iPhone = Samsung’s S700 Mp3 Player
iPhone 4 & 4S = LG’s Prada
iPhone 5c = Lumia 620
Pinch to zoom = Samsung
iMessage = BlackBerry Messenger
iCloud = Dropbox + Onedrive
iOS Minimalistic = Windows Phone.
Smartphone Optical Stabilization = Nokia
Siri (Clippy) = Xiaoi Bot + Nuance
App Store = Ubuntu Software Center
Multitouch Smartphone = Bought another company
Bigger Screen smartphone = Everybody else
MacBook Air = HP’s Sojourn
Macsafe = Asian Crockery
Thunderbolt = Intel
OSX, iOS = Unix
Newton = Psion Series 3, HP 95LX
Apple Logo = Genesis 1:6, 3:6
Aluminum = Cheapest Metal
Plastic = ($$$ Reinforced Polymers)
Security = Buy a new one...

I dual boot with 8.1 on my mac mini. There's nothing wrong with using a mouse (or in my case, magic trackpad) with it.

Never has been. Windows is Windows. It just looks different when you click Start and there's new software options through the store.

All in all a net positive. I rather enjoy getting to use the gestures in 8. Swiping down to kill metro apps is way cooler than clicking some wimpy X.

Hackintosh (Mac on a PC) doesn't work as well as Boot Camp (PC on a Mac). It is a lot easier with boot camp, and since windows is more open, it's fine, as putting the closed Mac OS on a PC, will have issues.

Regardless, both ways work. What I have found, 99% of the time that business people run out to get their shiny MBP only to realize that it wont run their software... so they go get VMWARE plus a Win OS and install that. Works like a dream. I rarely see people using boot camp, mostly VM or parallels. So whats that tell me about MACs? Pretty, expensive, and a geat platform for running MS Windows.

Those that dont use VMWARE/MS OS are usually doing web based stuff, programming or graphics. You dotn really see them used in larger enterprises either, dificult to globally admin.

Well good thing I'm not a business or enterprise person, lol. Tbh, I don't really need Windows on my mac unless I want to play PC games, but I can always use boot camp. I would use boot camp because it takes advantage of the full power, while VMware or parallels doesn't. I make IOS apps, so I need xcode. I need both softwares, which is why I'm getting a Mac, because I need 90% Mac OS, 10% Windows. Hackintosh is horrid on a PC, so don't even dare saying I should do that and get a "ripoff Mac".

Im using a Samsung series 7 i7 w 12 GB RAM and have done many "side by side fun races" with my friends on MBA and MBPs. This is close or faster than most MBPs, except the screamng 17". Its very quick in everythign it does. I love it when I tell them Im waiting for them... haha.

For over $1k less I say I got a danmed great deal. I will say it is not as shiny, but brushed alum is still pretty sexy.

Is this the newest retina MacBook pro, as I'm pretty sure those are faster than a Samsung ultrabook. The MacBook air I understand, but I seriously doubt that the Sammy ultrabook is faster than the retina MacBook pro. You know, the one without the disc drive and better screen? And just to let you know, they stopped making the 17" model years ago. The best MBP is the 15" retina, and DAMN that's fast, but too expensive for me, lol.

Haven't been able to really test gaming and that much in my i7, but I will say the display is messed up (lines go across the top if the screen occasionally). Not a diver issue, so I'll get it replaced, but other than that it seems awesome!

Heading to the closest MS Store (1hr away) and buying the SPro 3.

in my dreams....

still hanging onto my SPro 1 for a while until either the price drops to my affordability level (maybe Spring '15?) or I get some extra cash somehow.

Until then I keep dreaming. I tried it at BB and boy do I love the craftsmanship.


I really want one to replace my desktop at work. All the devs at work are rocking MacBook Pros and I need something portable while powerful as well. An i7 SP3 would be ideal as it would be both and have touch screen for testing my UI development/design.

Good article Daniel.

Just picked up an i5 this weekend, lovin it compared to my surface 2. It does cost quite a bit more when you add keyboard, office, etc.

Yeah, MS are definitely trying to have their cake and eat it. They're on the back foot, trying to break into a new market, but they refuse to invest enough to get a foot in the door. Office should be free, with 3 years of Office 365, and your choice of keyboard should come with it as well.

It's as though they don't want anyone to buy from their app store.

I'm still not quite convinced by batt life/thermals of the pro line. Although thickness has been improved. Lovely hardware though and would love it to replace my work notebook, but not quite hitting batt/thermal perf to dislodge my Surface 2 4G for tablet use. I actually prefer 16:9 for consumption maybe Surface 3 Is my next, hope they don't make that 3:2 AR.

I'd put it up on CL long before I took what Microsoft was offering. You couldn't buy your MBA on CL for what they paid you for it. Not even close. 

Daniel!!! No you didn't :-)...it seems faster?!?!?!?!?!?!? People get killed for that :-).. Anyway, great you have the i7 256 to, I have it since last Friday and I am totally in love with this machine. My only complaint is that it is not syncing well between my devices, it synced parts from my pro 2 and desktop but not the background, screensaver and internet history, also not after a clean install.. I am still figuring out what the issue is so if anybody has a suggestion please let me know. This pro 3 is awesome!!!!

According to "windowsRTSource", you may get your wish. They reported from another source that a 10.6 SP3 is expected to launch in October 2014. I'm not sure how much weight this holds, but it would be good news.

This. I could even settle for a 10.6 inch Surface 3 with the new aspect ratio and pen. Been super tempted by the €280 price on the Surface 2 but trying to hold on if they announce the new one within the next month.

Thanks very nice article. Just ordered the i7 256GB Version. It was almost not available here in Germany. I'm curious to know how it compares to my surface pro 2 :)

I'm a developer (VS2013, Photoshop CC and other IDEs are part of my primary software usuage.) and want to replace my current Windows laptop based on 3rd gen Core i5. Everything seems good, but I want to know about Type Cover 3 experience. Will it affect developer's habits who often plays with keyboard only?

I really like the Pro 3 keyboard as a developer and image editor myself. A huge improvement over the Pro 2 honestly, but as many others here have echoed... Keyboards are subjective and you should try and get hands on with one

I use my Pro 3 for like 85% of work right now and I highly approve

I wanted a surface pro 3... In fact, I almost bought one. The only reason why I didn't is because Sp3 lacks of thunderbolt input, I need that port for my audio interface. So... Without it, sp3 is useless for me. I think im going to wait for the new mac book pro, later this year

There are rumors that the power jack is also a Thunderbolt port, but they need drivers, etc. It came out of the Reddit Q&A with the Surface team and they hinted at the possibility.

Please remember that Surface Pro 3 comes with MicroSD card slot. You can extend the storage of your SP3 more cheaply. IMO, 256 GB option would be more reasonable.

Also, SP3 has a USB port; you can easily add external ultraportable hard disk if required.

Just found a store that sells it in Brazil. The cheapest one is priced U$ 1,500.

Looks like I will need wait my current gear break.

Nokia is already selling the 2520, don't know why Microsoft didn't start here after so many years.

Agreed on OSx doesn't offer much more than Windows as a PC OS, I've got a 2013 MBPro i7 for work and while the hw is exceptional, its a requirement for me to install windows to get things rubbing right for me.

I REALLY wanted that i7 maxed out memory one ... but I knew that I didn't really NEED it.  I probably didn't really NEED the i5/256 that I got, but I REALLY, REALLY wanted it, and I LOVE it!  I'm totally amazed at what this thing can do, compared to my XP desktop, which constantly frustrates me by not loading pages, etc.  I'm really enjoying learning Windows 8.1, and discovering all of the helpful articles and videos on Microsoft's website.


And I would really like to thank WPCentral for all of their helpful articles, both for the Surface Pro 3 and my Nokia Lumia Icon.  I did the Preview for Developers program, and was very pleased with the results.  You have been VERY helpful in keeping this old lady's brain engaged and up to date!

"And I would really like to thank WPCentral for all of their helpful articles, both for the Surface Pro 3 and my Nokia Lumia Icon. "

+1 Then we're doing our jobs ;) Congrats on the purchase!

Thats a cool compliment to say. I agree with you also.

Using the ICON here also w Win8.1... heres a fun hint... Set your camera settings to take RAW photos (DNG) vs JPG... you can export them and use them  for better photo editing on your SP3. Enjoy!

Okay ... just changed Nokia camera in settings to DNG.  Do I need to physically connect the phone to the SP3 to export them (I sorta think that I might need to)?  I'm still not familiar with what all the camera does, as I've not been much of a picture taker in the past.  But one of the reasons I got the Icon was to start taking more pictures ... and I have.  Just not super good ones yet!! 

I'm still undecided between the 256GB i7 or i5. I would really appreciate a more detailed battery life and thermal management comparison.

I really wish this was available in Australia, I would trade my Macbook Pro in a heartbeat for a Surface Pro 3.


Unfortunately no such thing exsits.

"Although the MBA is nice in terms of hardware, OSX provided no advantages over Windows that I could discern." My thoughts exactly.

For now though I'll be stickng with my original SurfaceRT (so slow) and my Asus ROG 17" Gaming Laptop. I'll wait for the Surface 3 or Mini most likely (or see if there's a new Lumia one to come out with LTE (Wi-FI hotspots are not prevalent in Australia)

Next time list your old hardware on this forum :) I'm sure you'd get a pretty good deal for it! 

That's probably against company policy though I'm sure!

Dan, having  both the surface 2 and pro 3, what device do you use more? i've always loved my surface rt but i wished it was bigger, the pro 3 somewhat fixes that, and i see you love the 6" lumia 1520 so maybe you want a giant tablet(non intel core) just like me :P

I did this with my 2011 i5 MBA when the Pro 3 came out and got $637.21 for it. I traded my i5/4GB Surface Pro 2 in at the same for $581.89 and went ahead and upgraded to the i5/8GB Pro 3 with Complete. After a student discount, I walked out of there with store credit. Woohoo :)

Oh my gosh, I want one so badly D: Can't afford it though. I loved your article, Daniel. You're so good at writing. I laughed when you said it seems faster xD

Not good enough for gaming thats why I bought an Alienware laptop instead of a SP3. I will wait for the SP4 before replacing my Surface RT. Plus I bought a DVP8 at the same time so I think I am good for tech purchases for now.

Surface 3 is so great that the next gen model won't be much different, so perfect that there's simply nothing to improve except (less) weight and (more) battery life. And since Intel's Broadwell chips will be even more power efficient I bet that there won't be a need for a fan in 2014 so that's take care off. Maybe we will get a Surface One accompanied with Windows One next May (instead of S4 and Win9), minimum 10h and 670g already sounds amazing.

Daniel, I got my i7 last Friday and it was working great. I loaded all the Windows updates and it bricked. My replacement is coming tomorrow. Did you load all of the updates?

2 updates error at this point on my i7 SP3. kb2962409 & kb2967917. Other than those 2 everything else installed without a hitch and the i7 SP3 is fantastic.

I really appreciate the response. My replacement unit shows up in a few hours (according to the wonderful app, Package Tracker) so this gives me the confidence to go through the update cycle again.

I'm a computer software professional and this is why I bought the i7. I use an i7 Ultrabook already and I would rather not downgrade my processor. Of course, that is not the only component that can make a difference, but I think it is an important one for the type of work I do and you will likely be doing.

I got mine (i7) but I returned the same day. Overheating and terrible fan noise. The i5 also has a lot of flaws: Lost the wifi connection, low memory messages and freezes, blue screens. A complete disaster.

Hey Daniel,

I'm going to the US in a couple of weeks to study for a whole year... So, I will have to buy a new computer this month. This device, of course, it's going to be my primary device for a long, long time. I'm going to study Computer Science at Rensselaer (Troy, NY), but I have no idea of what laptop to buy!

I have U$1.000 do buy my new device and I actually did some search about Surface Pro 3 and MacBook Air. As you know, Microsoft is giving $150 cash discount to students and I can get more 5% through Bing Rewards.

  • Surface Pro 3 128GB i3 + Type Cover: $727,69
  • Surface Pro 3 128GB i5 + Type Cover: $917,69
  • Macbook Air 13" 128GB: $949

The Surface line are very interesting because it has touchscreen and a pen, which is amazing to make notes (I use OneNote and OneDrive a lot!). On the other side, MBA has a better battery life!

What do you think I should take? Surface? MacBook Air? Another Ultrabook?

I played around with Surface Pro 3 at Fry's and that is one great device, and I rather have that than any ultrabook or Mac products. I am also majoring in Computure Science and it's very handy to take notes using OneNote and record your video or audio of your instructors.

That is some very sound analysis. If I were you, I would base my decision on which device is more likely to help you get laid. If you are trying to appeal to hipster chicks, go for the MBA. However, you can always put the stylus behind your ear to maintain cross platform appeal for hipsters. That could also incite stylus envy for everyone with a Mac product but the risk is worth it because you can use the stylus to make all the Samsung Galaxy Tab guys feel inadequate. If you really think about it, the SP3 is not only a great value with fantastic build quality but it is also more likely to increase your sex appeal. It's the only form factor that can perform while standing erect without using specialized attachments. It also supports touch sensitivity that will help you optimize pleasure. I think the choice is clear. Get the SP3 i5 with 128 GB. Last time I checked, the i3 only comes with the 64 GB SSD.