Surface Pen vs. Renaisser Raphael 520: Which is a better digital stylus?

Surface Pen
Surface Pen (Image credit: Windows Central)

Overall, the Renaisser Raphael 520's very affordable price and top-tier performance will make it the better choice for most people. However, people who want the absolute best of the best should go with the Surface Pen, as the bonuses Microsoft's stylus provides may be worth the heightened cost.

Surface Pen vs. Raphael 520: Luxury or affordability?

In terms of the basics, both the Surface Pen and the Raphael 520 are identical. Both styluses have 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and support for tilting, meaning that both will provide a fantastic experience for artists. Also, they both have eraser functionality as well; the back of the Surface Pen functions as an always-active eraser that you rub on the screen, while you hold the top button on the Raphael 520 to activate its eraser mode to use with the tip.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Surface PenRenaisser Raphael 520
ProtocolMPPMPP
Pressure levels4,0964,096
TiltYesYes
EraserYesYes
Magnetic connectionYesYes
Programmable buttonsOne (three functions)No
Always onYesNo
Battery9 months, AAAA100 hours, micro-USB rechargable
Price$100$40

There are, however, some more advanced things that the Surface Pen has that the Raphael 520 lacks. The Surface Pen has a button that can be programmed to have three separate functions when pressed in three distinct ways, allowing the user to turn on programs or execute specific functions instantly with a shortcut. Also, the Surface Pen is also always on, as opposed to the Raphael 520 which has to be reconnected with a button press after it goes into sleep mode during inactivity. This only takes a few seconds to do, admittedly, but it's worth noting nonetheless. The only other difference between the two styluses is their batteries. The Surface Pen uses a single AAAA battery that you'll need to replace after nine months, while the Raphael 520 has a rechargeable battery that lasts 100 hours. Ultimately, rechargeable vs. replacement is something that comes down to personal preference.

The extra bonuses offered by the Surface Pen are excellent, but for the average person, they won't be worth paying an additional $60 for. As impressive as the heavily-programmable button is, it's essentially just a timesaver, and the fact you have to don't have to deal with a sleep mode with the Surface Pen isn't really that big of an advantage. At the end of the day, the incredible price of the Raphael 520 is simply the ultimate deal-maker.

Surface Pen vs. Raphael 520: Which should you buy?

Surface Pen

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Ultimately, the Renaisser Raphael 520 is going to be the best option for the vast majority of users due to its excellent performance and very affordable price. Sure, it lacks a few of the things that the Surface Pen can do, but when you consider that you pay less than half of what the Surface Pen costs to get it in the first place, the trade-off will be more than worth it.

That being said, the Surface Pen's programmable button and always-on functionality are useful and convenient. If you have the money to spend, a Surface Pen is an excellent choice if you want to save as much time as you can while working.

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.