Best Performance

Microsoft Surface Slim Pen

Best Versatility

Dell Premium Active Pen

The Microsoft Surface Slim Pen offers the strongest possible performance out of any stylus on the market, but it's expensive. It only works with Microsoft Pen Protocol (MPP) devices, too, which may disappoint some.

$145 at Microsoft

Pros

  • 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity
  • One programmable button (three inputs)
  • Tilt support
  • Eraser functionality
  • Rechargeable battery

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No support for other pen protocols

The Dell Premium Active Pen is a less pricey alternative to the Surface Slim Pen that works with more than one type of protocol but lacks the advantages of an eraser function and a rechargeable battery.

$100 at Dell

Pros

  • 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity
  • One programmable button (three inputs)
  • Tilt support
  • Works with both Wacom AES and MPP protocols
  • Less expensive

Cons

  • Non-rechargeable battery
  • No eraser function

Overall, the Microsoft Surface Slim Pen is the best choice if you only use a Surface device and want the benefits of eraser functionality and a rechargeable battery. However, the Dell Premium Active Pen should be your pick if you have a Wacom AES device instead of (or in addition to) a Surface, or if you simply want to save some money.

Surface Slim Pen vs. Premium Active Pen: Performance or versatility?

Surface Pro X Slim PenSource: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central

In many ways, these two devices are actually incredibly similar. Both of them feature 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity that allow for advanced inking, and they both also support tilting for inking in finer, more nuanced detail. They also both have buttons that can be customized to perform specific actions; the Microsoft Surface Slim Pen has one button that can be pressed in three ways for separate effects, while the Dell Premium Active Pen has individual buttons for each of these three actions. Lastly, both pens can magnetically attach to the side of devices.

Microsoft Surface Slim Pen Dell Premium Active Pen
Pressure levels 4,096 4,096
Programmable buttons 1 (three inputs) 3
Tilt support Yes Yes
Eraser Yes No
Magnetic Yes Yes
Protocol MPP Wacom AES, MPP
Battery Rechargable AAAA
Price $145 $100

The differences between the two, however, are significant. The Microsoft Surface Slim Pen uses a USB-C rechargeable battery as opposed to an AAAA battery that you have to swap out every so often, which will save you some money in the long run. On top of that, it has an eraser function, which is something that artists and notetakers alike will find very useful. The Dell Premium Active Pen, though, notably has multi-protocol compatibility as it works with both MPP and Wacom AES devices. It's also a lot less expensive than the Microsoft Surface Slim Pen, too.

It's also important to highlight the slimmer, flatter design of the Microsoft Surface Slim Pen. Some users may like this shape more than the traditional round-style stylus design that the Dell Premium Active Pen is modeled on, but it ultimately comes down to personal preference.

Surface Slim Pen vs. Premium Active Pen: Which should you buy?

The Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 with a Dell Premium Active PenSource: Windows Central

At the end of the day, neither of these pens is definitively better than the other. It entirely comes down to what you would prefer and/or find more useful.

Most of your choice will come down to what device or devices you need the stylus for. If you only have a Surface device, like the idea of using rechargeable batteries, want an eraser function, and want a slim, flat type of stylus, the Microsoft Surface Slim Pen will be perfect for you. However, if you want a stylus that will work with both MPP and Wacom AES protocols, has a traditional rounded design, and won't cost you as much, the Dell Premium Active Pen should be your choice.

Best Performance

Microsoft Surface Slim Pen

The most advanced Surface stylus

The Microsoft Surface Slim Pen offers the strongest possible performance out of any stylus on the market but is expensive. It only works with Microsoft Pen Protocol (MPP) devices, too, which may disappoint some.

Best Versatility

Dell Premium Active Pen

A fantastic alternative

The Dell Premium Active Pen is a less pricey alternative to the Surface Slim Pen that works with more than one type of protocol but lacks the advantages of an eraser function and a rechargeable battery.

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