Surface FamilySource: Microsoft

Best Microsoft Surface PCs Windows Central 2020

Are you interested in buying your first Surface but aren't sure which one to get? Well, we've got you covered with our ultimate round-up of the best Surface PCs available today, whether that be a thin and light computer like the Surface Pro X or something with epic performance and versatility like the Surface Book 3. Here's our round-up.

Best Overall: Surface Laptop 3

Surface Laptop 3 15Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central

We think the Surface Laptop 3 is the best overall Surface PC on the market right now. We think it targets the largest demographic and is the most approachable for new or existing Surface PC owners. The Surface Laptop 3 is a straight-up laptop, no quirks, or gimmicks in form factor, just a beautiful, premium laptop with touch, a large trackpad, and a first-class keyboard.

The Surface Laptop 3 features 10th Generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors in the 13.5-inch models, and AMD Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 processors in the 15-inch models. The 13.5-inch variants come in a handful of colors and even include the option for an Alcantara-covered keyboard base.

Surface Laptop 3 also includes Microsoft's excellent front-facing web camera, 1x USB-A port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB-C port in addition to the Surface Connect port for charging.

Pros

  • Thin and light.
  • 10th gen Intel processors.
  • 13.5-inch and 15-inch options.
  • USB-C.

Cons

  • AMD variants are last gen.
  • Battery life on 15-inch could be better.
  • No Thunderbolt 3.

Best Overall

Surface Laptop 3

The best all-round Surface for your money

Featuring an excellent laptop design, a best-in-class keyboard and trackpad combination, beautiful 13.5-inch or 15-inch displays and plenty of power under the hood, you can't go wrong with the Laptop 3.

Best Performance: Surface Book 3

Surface Book 3 HeroSource: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

If you're looking for something with a bit of power under the hood, your best Surface offering in this area is the Surface Book 3. This is Microsoft's laptop for professionals and power users who frequent professional-grade software like Photoshop, Premiere Pro, AutoCAD, or crunching raw data.

The Surface Book 3 is a laptop that can also turn into a tablet at the press of a button, featuring Intel 10th-generation processors, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and pen support for drawing and note-taking. In the keyboard base, you can find 2x USB-A ports, one USB-C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a full-size SD card reader. The keyboard base is also available with dedicated NVIDIA graphics in either GTX 1650, 1660, or Quadro 3000 card options.

Like the Surface Laptop 3, the Surface Book 3 is available in either 13.5-inch or 15-inch variants, with the NVIDIA 1660 and Quadro options being exclusive to the 15-inch models. Dedicated graphics is what propels the Surface Book 3 into performance territory for us, and makes it the most powerful Surface on the market today.

Pros

  • 2-in-1 form factor.
  • 10th gen processors.
  • Dedicated NVIDIA graphics.
  • USB-C.

Cons

  • Only one color.
  • 15W CPU.
  • No Thunderbolt 3.

Best Performance

Surface Book 3

The most powerful Surface

If you need a Surface PC with power under the hood, the Surface Book 3 is your best choice. With dedicated NVIDIA graphics, the latest Intel processors, plus the versatility of a laptop, that can be a tablet too.

Best Portability: Surface Pro X

Surface Pro XSource: Windows Central

If you're looking for a Surface designed for on-the-go working, the Surface Pro X is your best choice. Featuring Microsoft's thinnest Surface design yet, LTE built right-in for always-connected data, and Microsoft's ARM-powered SQ1 chip for excellent battery life when out and about. It's a real Surface offering for mobile computing, followed closely by the Surface Go 2 with LTE.

The Surface Pro X is a 2-in-1 tablet that can also replace your laptop with an optional keyboard accessory with built-in pen charging capabilities. Surface Pro X features the new Surface Slim Pen and charges magnetically in the keyboard cover, a first for a Surface PC. It also has an edge-to-edge 13-inch display, which makes it feel much bigger than it is, especially compared to the Surface Pro 7.

The Microsoft SQ1 chip on the inside is an interesting choice. On the one hand, it enables the slim profile of the Surface Pro X, but on the other hand, it means there are some compatibility constraints with apps. Any x86-64 bit apps will not run on Surface Pro X, meaning you're limited to ARM32, ARM64, or x86 apps only.

Surface Pro X features two USB-C ports, a SIM slot for LTE, and a user-upgradable SSD under the kickstand in addition to the Surface Connect port for charging.

Pros

  • Super thin.
  • Good battery life.
  • LTE built-in.
  • Edge-to-edge display.

Cons

  • Only one color.
  • ARM CPU means some programs won't work.
  • No Thunderbolt 3.
  • No headphone jack.

Best Portability

Surface Pro X

The Surface for working on the go

If you need a Surface PC that makes it easy to work when out and about, the Surface Pro X is a must buy. With built-in LTE, a battery-sipping ARM processor, and a beautiful 13-inch edge-to-edge display.

Best Budget: Surface Go 2

Surface Go 2 HeroSource: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

If you're on a budget, the Surface Go 2 is your best choice right now. Starting at just $399, the Surface Go 2 is a quintessential Surface experience. It's a 2-in-1 tablet that can also act as a laptop, just like the Surface Pro X and Surface Pro 7, but at a fraction of the cost. It's also the smallest Surface PC available today, featuring a 10.5-inch display, which makes it super easy to carry with you in a bag.

For $399, you're getting a super premium PC too. It's not plastic, with cheap materials making the PC look and feel budget. Instead, Microsoft has essentially shrunk down the Surface Pro 7 from a design perspective, meaning this thing looks premium. Where Microsoft has cut costs is in processing power. For $399, you're only getting an Intel Pentium GOLD 4425Y with 4GB RAM.

This configuration is passable for those who do only light computing, which involves nothing more than browsing the web, checking email, and writing documents in Word or creating a simple PowerPoint presentation. Anything more than that, and you'll want to splash out for the 8GB RAM option, or spend a little more than that for the Intel Core m3 variant.

Surface Go 2 features 1x USB-C port, a microSD card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack in addition to the Surface Connect port for charging.

Pros

  • Low starting price.
  • Premium build quality.
  • Thin(ish) bezels.
  • Intel Core M3 option available.

Cons

  • Entry-level model is underpowered.
  • Small keyboard.
  • No Thunderbolt 3.

Best Budget

Surface Go 2

Surface on the cheap

Not looking to break the bank? You can still get a brand new Surface with the Surface Go 2, featuring an Intel Pentium GOLD 4425Y processor and 4GB RAM for just $399.

Best 2-in-1: Surface Pro 7

Microsoft Surface Pro 7Source: Windows Central

Many of Microsoft's Surface PCs are 2-in-1's, but nothing beats the Surface Pro 7 when it comes to the form factor. It's the defacto Surface 2-in-1, the tablet that can replace your laptop, and it does it incredibly well. Featuring a staple design that's admittedly a little old now, yet still does the job amazingly well.

Surface Pro 7 is rocking Intel 10th-Generation Core i5 and i7 processors, along with a 12.3-inch display, 1x USB-C port, 1x USB-A port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, along with Surface Connect and expandable microSD card storage. It also has colorful Type Cover accessories available, which turns the Surface Pro 7 into an excellent laptop replacement PC.

It has Surface Pen support too for inking onto the display. Unlike the Surface Pro X, the Surface Pro 7 is compatible with all your Windows apps and games thanks to its Intel processor.

Pros

  • 2-in-1 form factor.
  • Colorful accessories.
  • USB-C.
  • Built-in Kickstand.

Cons

  • Dated design.
  • No Thunderbolt 3.

Best 2-in-1

Surface Pro 7

The OG

If you're looking for a versatile 2-in-1 PC, the Surface Pro 7 is something you just can't beat. With its staple 2-in-1 design, kickstand, and Type Cover support, it's the best 2-in-1 choice here.

Best Desktop: Surface Studio 2

Surface Studio 2Source: Windows Central

Are you looking for a Surface PC that can live on your desktop? Microsoft's only offering in this department is the Surface Studio 2, which is pretty old at this point. Still, it features an incredible design with a weightless hinge mechanism that allows you to turn its 28-inch display into a virtual draft board with touch and pen support.

On the inside, Surface Studio 2 features Intel 7th-Generation Core i5 and Core i7 processors, up to 2TB storage and 32GB RAM. It also comes configured with either an NVIDIA GTX 1060 or 1070 for graphics power. Around the back, we have 4x USB-A ports, 1x USB-C port, Gigabit Ethernet, a full-size SD card reader, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Even though the Surface Studio 2 is a couple of years old at this point, it still starts at an incredibly high $3,499 for the entry-level model. The highest-end model is even more expensive, so although the Surface Studio 2 is the best desktop PC Surface on the market today, there will likely be a new one coming shortly.

Pros

  • Incredible design.
  • Large touchscreen.
  • Pen support.
  • Dedicated graphics.

Cons

  • Outdated specs.

Best Desktop

Surface Studio 2

A beautiful desktop PC

Microsoft's only desktop PC offering is one of beauty, with dedicated graphics, a crazy 28-inch touchscreen display that also doubles as a draft board for digital ink.

Summing up

Microsoft makes many different Surface PCs these days, and it can be hard to choose which one to buy if you're not sure what exactly you're looking for. If you need the best performance, we think the Surface Book 3 is your best bet. If you're looking for something great for working on the go, the Surface Pro X is an excellent choice.

But, if you're looking for the most well rounded, approachable, and easy to use Surface, we think the Surface Laptop 3 is the best overall choice. It's beautifully crafted, easy to use, and has no form factor gimmicks or anomalies to get used to. It's plenty powerful, with a best-in-class keyboard and trackpad combo to boot.

Those on a budget can also check out the Surface Go 2, which we think is a great mini-PC to compliment your main one.

Credits

Zac Bowden is a senior editor at Windows Central, which means he covers a wide array of software and hardware here at Windows Central. Joining Mobile Nations in 2016, you can usually find him playing with new Windows 10 builds or secret unreleased prototype devices. Hit him up on Twitter: @zacbowden.

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