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Microsoft Surface Pro 6 review: An already exceptional 2-in-1 gets even better

While the new Surface Pro 6 lacks any significant changes, the smaller ones add up to a lot.

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The Surface Pro is entering its sixth year in existence, so it seems relevant for a "Surface Pro 6 model" to match. While the older numbering system for the name has returned, the hardware remains mostly the same as 2017's Surface Pro, now dubbed the Surface Pro "fifth gen" by Microsoft.

Featuring a new jet-black color option and a bump to Intel quad-core processors, the Surface Pro 6 may not be revolutionary. But it's still the best at what it does.

About this Surface Pro 6 review

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Microsoft supplied a loaner Surface Pro 6 for this review. The unit tested is black with an Intel Core-i5 8250U, with 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage priced at $1,199. The package also included a black Surface Pro Type Cover ($129) and black Surface Pen ($99) for a total of $1,427. Starting price of the new Surface Pro 6 is $899 (platinum only) for a Core i5 with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and it maxes out with a Core i7, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of storage for $2,299 in platinum (plus Type Cover and Pen).

Microsoft Surface Pro 6: What's new?

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Surface Pro 6 (Image credit: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central)

Compared to the 2017 Surface Pro, there are only two notable changes in the Surface Pro 6.

  • New Intel 8th Gen processors – Jumping from dual-core to quad-core is a big deal for performance. With nearly double the multi-core executions, the new Surface Pro 6 is substantially faster (more than 67 percent faster, according to Microsoft) than last year's model. That's thanks to the Intel Core i5-8250U and Core i7-8650U processors now being used. Matching that is a new thermal solution to keep the heat at bay without running fans too loudly.
  • Black color scheme - If you're new to the Surface Pro, you may not know that the original Surface Pro (2012) and Surface Pro 2 (2013) were only available in black. Microsoft shifted to "Surface grey" for Surface Pro 3, but now, a new all-black model is back for Surface Pro 6. Everything is blacked-out on the new Surface Pro 6 However, the regular platinum color is still available.

There are some other small changes including no $799 option for an Intel Core m3 or 4GB model. Instead, Surface Pro 6's entry model starts at $899 but doubles the RAM to 8GB and jumps to a stronger Core i5 processor. That model still comes with 128GB of storage but is $100 cheaper than last year's similar configuration, which was $999. Likewise, all the configurations are $100 cheaper than last year's Surface Pro.

Microsoft offset the $100 price drop by switching to a standard Windows 10 Home license for all models (except for school or enterprise purchases, which remain on Windows 10 Pro). Users can still upgrade to Windows 10 Pro through the Microsoft Store for a $99 license purchase.

There also seem to be some slight lower-level tweaks to Surface Pro 6. For instance, the instant-on feature combined with Windows Hello facial recognition is notably faster. Likewise, the solid-state drive (SSD) speeds for storage have also been substantially improved. To accommodate the new quad-core processors, Microsoft also redesigned the thermal solutions for both the Core i5 and i7 versions. Despite the increased core count, the i5 version is still fanless and silent.

Due to Intel not making any Iris Plus option for 8th Gen 15W processors, the Core i7 Surface Pro 6 features Intel Graphics UHD 620 instead of the more powerful Iris Plus 640.

Finally, as of October 2018, Microsoft has not yet committed to a Surface Pro 6 with LTE support. For those who still want a Surface Pro with 4G LTE Advanced there is the Surface Pro (2017) with LTE, which became available in the spring of 2018.

Dual to quad

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 tech specs

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

While the specifications have remained mostly unchanged from the 2017 Surface Pro, the configuration options have shifted slightly.

CategorySpecification
ColorsPlatinum or black
MaterialMagnesium
Display12.3-inch Pixel Sense display
10 point multi-touch
Display resolution2736 x 1824 (267 PPI)
Aspect Ratio: 3:2
SoftwareWindows 10 Home
Processor8th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U (quad-core)
8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U (quad-core)
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB SSD
Memory8GB or 16GB RAM
LPDDR3
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 620
Rear camera8.0MP autofocus camera with 1080p HD video
Front camera5.0MP camera with 1080p HD video
Windows Hello face-authentication
Speakers1.6W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium
PortsOne full-size USB 3.0
Mini DisplayPort
Headset jack
Surface Connect
microSDXC card reader
SensorsAmbient light sensor
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
NetworkWi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac compatible
Bluetooth Wireless 4.1 technology
SecurityTPM 2.0
Battery life13.5 hours of use
PenSurface Pen
Weight1.7 lbs to 1.73 lbs (770 g to 784 g)
Dimensions11.50 inches x 7.9 inches x 0.33 inches (292 mm x 201 mm x 8.5 mm)

Jumping from dual- to quad-core processors for the i5 and i7 models has been a trend since late 2017, which is when Intel introduced the Core i5-8250U and Core i7-8650U processors. That makes these processors part of the "Coffee Lake" era of Intel chips and not the slightly improved "Whiskey Lake," which are just now hitting laptops. The uptick is the drivers used for these processors are very mature, giving users a stable experience. But the quad-core boost is massive, especially for such a thin device like Surface Pro.

The Core i5 Surface Pro 6 is fanless despite having a more significant processor, while the i7 version still needs one due to the increased performance.

The lack of Iris Plus graphics, which doubles the pipelines to 48 (compared to 24 in the UHD 620) is a bummer, but Microsoft had little choice here – Intel does not make Iris Plus graphics for its 8th Gen processors. Nonetheless, the Intel Graphics UHD 620 used is very good, especially at the i5 level.

black is back

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 design

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Nothing has changed for design when comparing the Surface Pro 6 to Surface Pro (2017). That is fine as Microsoft all but said the 2017 Surface Pro, which was rebuilt from the ground up, was perfect in its design. Those changes carry over to Surface Pro 6 including a restructured chassis with smoother and more rounded edges, thinner radial vents with a new "whisper quiet" thermal system, a kickstand that now tilts back a full 165 degrees, and blacked-out Windows Hello IR lenses that better blend into the bezel.

One new option though is the ability to get the Surface Pro 6 in black. The procedure to make the Surface Pro black does not involve anodizing, but instead, there is a "thin, tough" ceramic oxide layer that Microsoft tells us is "grown directly on the magnesium metal enclosure." On top of this ceramic layer, Microsoft adds multiple coats of black finish.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Surface Pro 6 ports (Image credit: Windows Central)

The finish makes Surface Pro 6 slightly thicker at the micron level (1 micron =0.001 millimeters) requiring a custom black enclosure to make sure all the parts fit together, but it's barely noticable. Additionally, all the ports and buttons are entirely blacked-out too. The result is stunning. The black is matte and is surprisingly very good at resisting fingerprints. While it's too early to tell if the black will scratch, Microsoft assures us the above process is meant to safeguard durability.

For ports, nothing has changed. Microsoft had been expected to jump to USB Type-C 3.1 instead of retaining its old mini DisplayPort, but that didn't happen. Users will have to make do with USB Type-A and mini DisplayPort. Microsoft cites ongoing confusion and enterprise reliance on Surface Connect as reasons to not go to USB Type-C – or the more powerful Thunderbolt 3 – but the excuse is starting to ring hollow in late 2018.

still brilliant

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 display

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Surface Pro 6 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft keeps the 12.3-inch, 2736 x 1824 (267 PPI) Pixel Sense display for the Surface Pro 6 with a 3:2 aspect ratio. It is an IPS LCD with ten-point multi-touch and glossy edge-to-edge glass.

There are two color profiles including Enhanced (default) and sRGB, which has less contrast but is more color accurate, making it ideal for photography and media editing. Color accuracy is excellent at 99 percent Adobe sRGB and 76 percent Adobe RGB according to a color calibration test under the sRGB color profile.

There is no unevenness for LED hot spots (or "edge bleed") in this review unit (while LCD will also suffer from some light leakage at the edge when in Windows 10 and daily use, there is nothing discernable). The display bezels are the same as the Surface Pro (2017) – not to0 thick, but not radically thin either.

Overall, the Surface Pro 6's screen is excellent. It's near-perfect for color accuracy, touch works well, and the display brightness is outstanding with a peak of about 470-nits in the display center.

apps are getting better

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 Pen inking

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Surface Pro 6 (Image credit: Microsoft)

If you want to use digital ink on the Surface Pro, you need to shell out an extra $99 for the Surface Pen (opens in new tab) (although there are cheaper alternatives.

The pen still has the same 4,096 levels of pressure, supports tilt, rotation, and Bluetooth. Activation force – the amount of pressure required before the pen activates – is nine grams. Microsoft also maintains just 2.1 milliseconds of inking latency from last year's model due to the inking co-processor that's part of the Surface Pro 6 display. That co-processor connects the GPU to the screen's digitizer and helps speed up pen calculations.

Microsoft has steadily improved both the firmware for Surface Pen and made better apps with more significant support, such as Microsoft To Do, OneNote, and Sticky Notes 3.0.

In black but cheaper

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 Type Cover

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Unless you want a pure tablet experience with Surface Pro 6, which is not recommended, buyers will need to grab a Surface Pro Type Cover.

Again, nothing is new here compared to last year. If users want the black Surface Pro Type Cover, it will cost $129 extra. That's not cheap, but it is less expensive than the Surface Pro Signature Type Covers that feature the soft Alcantara fabric. Those $159 keyboards come in cobalt, platinum, or burgundy colors and all look great with the black Surface Pro 6. To be clear, the black Type Cover does not have Alcantara fabric.

Everything you need to know about Alcantara

The keys are three-stage backlit with 1.3mm of travel. The trackpad is Microsoft Precision and still one of the best found on any Windows 10 PC. Those upgrading from Surface Pro 4 can reuse their current Type Cover, but the redesigned ones from 2017 feature dedicated keys for the display brightness.

Seems faster

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 Windows Hello and resume

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Microsoft is still king of the onboard camera for tablets and laptops. The 8.0MP rear camera is good enough for snapping a pic of a whiteboard or presentation. The front-facing 5.0 MP camera is easily the best on the market for any laptop or PC. It's sharp, colorful, and is perfect for Skype.

Flanking the front-facing camera are the Windows Hello infrared sensors for facial recognition. The technology remains the same, but Microsoft must have tweaked the performance and resume times for Surface Pro 6. It takes just two seconds now from the moment you hit the power button until you are logged into Windows 10 – which is remarkably fast.

Photo taken with the Surface Pro 6's front-facing camera.

Photo taken with the Surface Pro 6's front-facing camera.

Qualcomm and its ARM-based Windows PCs have touted the instant-on feature, but it's clear Microsoft is making huge strides with Intel-based systems. This speed improvement is worth mentioning because I found it extraordinarily noticeable compared to the Surface Pro (2017), or any other Windows 10 PC.

quad-core is here

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 benchmarks

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

The big deal about the Surface Pro 6 is the jump to quad-core processors from the previous dual-core ones in prior Surfaces. Intel bumped its dual U-series processors (found in Ultrabooks) in late 2017, and Microsoft is now just getting on board.

*We have since added the Surface Pro Core i7 Geekbench scores to this review.

CPU

For synthetic benchmarks, the Core i5-8250U is outstanding, nearly beating last year's similar Core i7 model for single-core and obliterating the i7's multi-core performance.

Geekbench 4.0 benchmarks (higher is better)

DeviceCPUSingle coreMulti core
Surface Pro 6i5-8250U4,28714,031
Surface Pro 6i7-8650U5,03713,864
Surface Pro 5i5-7300U4,3028,482
Surface Pro 5i7-7660U4,5139,346
Surface Pro 4i5-6300U3,3196,950
Dell XPS 15 (9570)i5-8300H4,82216,203
Dell XPS 15 (9560)i7-7700HQ4,50313,587
Surface Laptopi5-7200U3,7257,523
Surface Laptop 2i5-8250U4,20313,233

A reasonable conclusion is that this year's 15W Core i5 Surface Pro 6 is close to 2017's 45W Core i7-7700HQ – a remarkable achievement.

GPU

While not as powerful as the Iris Plus 640 , the Intel Graphics UHD 620 is admirable.

Geekbench 4.0 OpenCL (higher is better)

DeviceGPUCompute score
Surface Pro 6 i5UHD 62036,516
Surface Pro 6 i7UHD 62035,074
Surface Pro 5HD 62020,688
Surface Pro 5Iris 64030,678
Surface Pro 4HD 52017,395
Surface LaptopHD 62019,256
Surface LaptopIris 64031,010
Surface Laptop 2UHD 62035,473
Surface BookHD 52018,197
Surface BookGTX 965M64,108
Surface Book 2GTX 1060138,758

The results may be surprising, but at least on Geekbench's OpenCL test, the Surface Pro 6 UHD 620 outperforms the Iris Plus 640 from last year.

SSD

Raw SSD speeds have never been a strength of the Surface line, and they tend to fall in the above average range but are never top performers. That's still the case in 2018, but the Surface Pro 6 does notably improve upon last year's model.

CrystalDiskMark (higher is better)

DeviceReadWrite
Surface Pro 61,632 MB/s814 MB/s
Surface Pro 5847MB/s801 MB/s
Surface Laptop486 MB/s244 MB/s
Surface Laptop 21,509 MB/s811 MB/s
Surface Book1,018 MB/s967 MB/s

Note that the speeds for Surface Pro 6 were with a 256GB SSD which was model SK Hynix BC501. The 512GB and 1TB models are likely to have better results due to having more channels (NAND flash chips) that run in parallel.

Testing the 512GB option for Surface Pro 6 yields similar read speeds as the 256GB model, but write did go up from 814 MB/s to 1,095 MB/s.

PCMark

Looking at PCMark Home Accelerated (where it uses the GPU) – which is an overall performance test - the new Surface Pro 6 also does well.

PCMark (Home Accelerated 3.0)

DeviceScore
Surface Pro 6 (i5)2,522
Surface Pro 5 (i5)2,351
Surface Pro 6 (i7)3,451
Surface Pro 5 (i7)3,746
Surface Laptop 2 (i5)3,451
Surface Laptop (i5)2,720

As expected, this year's Core i5 Surface Pro 6 beats out last year's Core i5 model for PCMark Home Accelerated. But, due to the lack of Iris Plus the new Core i7 (3,451) falls behind last year's i7 (3,746).

For casual gaming, the Surface Pro 5 with Iris Plus gets around 52 frames per second (FPS) versus the Surface Pro 6 (Core i5) at 33 FPS. Still, comparing this year's Core i5 Surface Pro (33 FPS) to last year's Core i5 (25FPS), we can see a notable improvement. Finally, the new Core i7 Surface Pro 6 managed 42 FPS, which is a big bump from the i5's 33 FPS, but still behind last year's i7 at 52 FPS.

Overall, the Surface Pro 6 – even at the Core i5 level – is a substantial performer. The quad-core boost is considerable coming close to what the Dell XPS 15 Core i7 achieved just 18 months ago. Graphics are improved as well over last year's model, and the SSD is much faster.

All these improvements add up to a very fast, lag-free, and enjoyable experience with the Surface Pro 6.

all day use?

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 battery and thermals

Despite the doubling of cores and a massive increase in performance, we can conclude two things about the Surface Pro 6 when directly comparing to the same configuration in Surface Pro (2017):

  1. Battery life is substantially better.
  2. Temperatures are slightly cooler.

PCMark's battery rundown test aggressively loops through multiple tasks using the CPU and GPU including video conferencing, casual gaming, web browsing, and word processing. Display brightness was kept at fifty percent for both Surface Pros:

PCMark 8 Home Battery Accelerated

DeviceTime
Surface Pro 6 (i5)5 hours and 25 minutes
Surface Pro 5 (i5)4 hours and 30 minutes

For those concerned that these numbers seem low, keep in mind that the PCMark test is very assertive at using the CPU and GPU. Casual usage with word processing, web browsing, and watching movies will yield significantly longer results. An initial conclusion is that the Surface Pro 6 should yield an extra 60 minutes of battery compared to last year's model. That should put casual usage well past the eight-hour mark depending on screen brightness.

For thermals during the PCMark battery rundown test, the Surface Pro 6 was consistently around four degrees Fahrenheit (F) cooler than the Surface Pro (2017). The Surface Pro 6 never felt hot with a peak temperature of 84 degrees F (29 degrees C) on the back, versus 89 degrees F (32 degrees C) for the Surface Pro (2017).

Considering both machines are fanless and rely on passive cooling it is evident Microsoft did an excellent job at reworking the thermals for Surface Pro 6.

Better than expected

The bottom on line on Microsoft's Surface Pro 6

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (Image credit: Windows Central)

For fans of the Surface Pro, it is easy to dismiss the sixth generation as a rehash of last year's model with an option in black. That's a fair assessment, but it also misses the larger point that the CPU and GPU performance in the Surface Pro 6, combined with the improved battery life and faster resume times, result in a marvelous experience.

But let's call out the elephant in the room: those ports. Microsoft missed an opportunity to bring the Surface Pro 6 into the future with USB Type-C. Putting aside the more powerful Thunderbolt 3 controversy, a Type-C port would just have been more useful than mini DisplayPort as it can handle charging, data, and display. Microsoft even used the port on the Surface Go and Surface Studio 2.

Does the lack of Type-C matter? For some users, it is a deal breaker. For others, it's much ado about nothing. Ultimately, that's up to you

However, using the Surface Pro 6 is fantastic. The battery life, performance, and overall experience – like instant-on and no fan – are excellent. Plus, the black color looks tremendous.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Those with a Surface Pro (2017) will have very little reason to upgrade, but if you did you would appreciate the performance and battery improvements. Of course, rumors are that Microsoft will do a more substantial revision to Surface Pro sometime in late 2019 – likely including Type-C and more – making this year's purchase a tougher sell.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is a minor upgrade, but the entire package is a major winner.

For most users, your best bet is to buy the model tested here ($1,450 with pen and keyboard). The Core i5 is perfect, and 8GB of RAM with 256GB of storage is fine for most people (there's microSD for expansion). Students, casual-to-moderate users, businesses, and even pros will be very pleased with the fanless Core i5 choice.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

For $899, Microsoft sells the Surface Pro 6, but only in platinum, not black. If you want black, you need to get the $1,199 model, which doubles storage from 128GB to 256GB. That's a $300 premium for an extra 128GB of storage, which is crazy. Also, if you like the black Surface Pro 6, you can only get up to 512GB of storage – there's no 1TB option (right now).

You could also lament the downgrade to Windows 10 Home for Windows 10 Pro, but I don't think that's a big deal. Users who need Windows 10 Pro should pay for the license instead of Microsoft making everyone else subsidize the cost.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is a minor upgrade, but the entire package is a major winner. Those who want the most flexible, powerful, and frankly fun PC around will be hard pressed to find anything better. Last year, I said the Surface "is the culmination of the previous releases with nothing but improvements all around. It's astonishingly beautiful, reliable, and delightful to use." That statement is more true than ever.

Give me a Type-C port and add LTE next time, and the Pro will be perfect.

Pros

  • New CPU is substantially more powerful.
  • Improved battery life; runs cooler.
  • Black is awesome.
  • Excellent build quality and design.

Cons

  • No Type-C or Thunderbolt 3.
  • No LTE option (yet).
  • Odd pricing levels.

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

61 Comments
  • Lifting forward a color option as a Pro feels a bit strange as there is already a line on "Excellent build quality and design". Not that option in it self is bad but it feels not as important compared to battery life, cooler running and such, specially as it should be part of the design pros. There have been a lot of focus on color in the last couple of WC comparisons and it feels a little desperate to have that as a main pro, there is so much other good things to mention and color option should be covered by design. That is at list my 2 cents, otherwise a good run down.
  • SP6 is a giant leap forward.
  • no USB-C and no latest intel CPU … I pass
  • So and tell me which tablet currently has the latest Intel CPU?
  • Why should Microsoft do exactly the same as everyone else? Wouldn't you rather they innovate and push the envelope than play it safe?
  • Is a tablet the best option for you if performance is the number one indicator? You're better off with a laptop which will offer better battery etc...
  • The processor update really is not that important but leaving off USB-C lightning is just... O_o
  • With the iGPU actually being weaker, it's not an all around improvement, even if it's Intel's fault and not Microsoft's. It would be a tremendous improvement if they would switch to Ryzen for SP7.
  • Ryzen 5 2500U and Ryzen 7 2700U would be much better than intel i5 and i7. The intel's CPU is margely better however AMD's iGPU is MUCH MUCH better than intel's, AMD's GPU is actually enough to run modern games at 720p.
  • The move from i5 to i5 is a huge upgrade. But yeah, maybe for an i7 to an i7, that's not so great.
  • Yes, spare your words, Daniel. Photoshop came to iPad - gigantic slap in MS' face and everybody knows that. Let me sum it up for you:
    - 2018 and not a single USB type-C, not even 1. What's left for TB3 (Yes, I know they plan a complete redesign for 2019 therefore I and I suggest everyone that considers buying this should wait!!!)
    - thick *ss brick with ventilation holes (a.k.a. dust collectors) compared to the iPad's sleekness and lightness
    But we all know the hardware will be addressed in 2019 (wait, people, don't buy this now!). The biggest problem is the software:
    - 40+ years of legacy Windows UI is an inconsistent mess for a modern device like the Surface and its "touch-friendly" parts and apps are complete joke
    - the Store is full of rolling thumbleweeds when we need modern apps and not legacy programs for mouse with tiny buttons Overall the Surface is great, with a few hardware exceptions. It's software (also by MicroSOFT) is a complete joke. I'll pass this Windows Desktop legacy crap and wait for WCOS, but then again the app content...
  • Why are you here? I have a Surface Pro (2017) i5 and an iPad pro (1st gen) 12.5". For general light web browsing I'll use the iPad, also for crappy pay to win gaming. I like it, it's fun. But, when it comes to anything else, it's time for the Surface. I can, nearly, use either for most tasks but the Surface is just basically easier to use. That's my real world opinion. So glad that I have nearly 40+ years of legacy software to get stuff done.
  • Sorry you are in the wrong spot here for Mickey Mouse devices you need to search the Apple websites
  • That is also where you find devices that will still be relevant in 5 years.
  • Windows generally has a longer update support so it will stay relevant even longer ;P
  • And here you find devices that are decades old and still supported. I had hp laptop which is 11 year old and has latest version of windows 10.
    And there are millions of us like that. So next time try harder or stop trolling. And btw you are the one to talk about relevancy cause android life is usually 1 to 2 years max.
  • That post only proves what an idiot you are.
  • If you need a consumption device or an "appliance" for an application like POS then iPad maybe the better choice. For productivity, heck, even web browsing, I would go with a full Windows 10 tablet every single time. You get a full browser of your choice with all the extensions and such. And that "legacy crap" is crap I need now and then. And frankly I HATE iOS interface. I just loath it.
  • Ipad pro is almost as heavy as the Surface Pro at 700 gram... and the design is rather boring I think. Port selection is even worse than the Surface.
  • I may consider waiting for next year's model actually. Been wanting to get a Surface Pro but if next year's model will have Thunderbolt 3, I'd be wanting that instead (but please make it available on the i5/128GB/8GB model Microsoft), as that would open up more options for me. So the question is do I go for the Surface Pro 5 i5/128/8GB model now, or just simply wait for the new model next year?
  • You either need it or you don't. Being prepared to wait a YEAR suggests you don't, so just save your money. Or Dell already make a Surface clone with Thunderbolt 3 so go with that.
  • What you need now and what you need in the life of a device are two different things. Getting a port that is the new standard future proofs your device.
  • Here's the crux though. The Dell clone (as far as I know) doesn't support the Surface Dial on screen. Thus making it a no go for me. If it does, then I'll consider it. But from what I know that's exclusive to the Surface family only. I already have the Dial so yeah... And yes I know it works off screen on any Windows 10 device with Bluetooth 4.0 LE and Anniversary Update (or later), but the point is I want on screen support specifically.
  • more interested in the Go LTE. My SP5 is good enough for my needs.
  • Daniel Rubino, what exactly did you mean by "...the Intel Graphics UHD 620 used is very good, especially at the i5 level."? What are you saying when it comes to the i7 models? I know you had the i5, but wasn't sure if there were more to the statement between the lines.
  • i7 model arrives today, I can say more about it then. But the benchmarks are clear as this year's UHD 620 overpowers last year's.
  • Re. the ports: Let's keep in mind that Surface Connect provides all the capabilities of USB-C, albeit with a proprietary connector. For desktop expansion I would choose the Surface Dock over a generic USB-C hub any day, but if you must use your Surface with one, Microsoft offers the Surface Connect to USB-C Adapter.
  • Have you seen how expensive the dock is though? Personally I've not bothered as I can plug a monitor into the MiniDisplay Port and USB TYpe A is fine for keyboards/mice.
  • Great review. The pen supports rotation? That's new, isn't it?
  • That was introduced in 2017.
  • An hour extra isn't what I'd call substantial. This is a pretty poor upgrade over the Surface Pro 5 which saw lots of improvements. "That is fine as Microsoft all but said the 2017 Surface Pro, which was rebuilt from the ground up, was perfect in its design. " No it wasn't rebuilt from the ground up. The Surface Pro was last redesigned with the Surface Pro 4 in 2015. I'll stick with my Surface Pro 4 for now. It's known a proper upgrade is coming next year.
  • They haven't changed anything since the Pro 3. Honestly there isn't much they can do other than decrease the bezels. The hardware is quite good. It is the software that needs an overhaul.
  • "No it wasn't rebuilt from the ground up. "
    But it was. I toured Building 87, talked the the engineers, interviewed Panos about what went into SP5.
  • So you fell for marketing. It is basically the same device as the Pro 3. They should've had substantial overhauls since four years ago, instead they just release the same thing with more expensive accessories (pen went from 50 to 100, keyboard went from 120 to 150, dock went from 160 to 200). Yes, you get a better CPU. Which you can't use if you want to keep your run time. I've been a Pro user since the 3 and been waiting for a device that is worthy of upgrading, but there is none. Not from Microsoft, at least.
  • "So you fell for marketing."
    No, I talked to the people who built it, saw the insides, components, and what was new vs. you looking at pictures on the internet. I also have all the devies and use them vs, again, looking at pictures on the internet.
  • Maybe you are thinking about rebuilding it in terms of design/aesthetics? I think they mean rebuilding more in terms of cooling etc.
  • Glad to see black is back. Looks way better than platinum, IMO. Not sure why, I've never liked my devices to have that platinum/silvery gray look. Gives a device a feeling of a lesser quality cheapness.
  • My Surface Pro 3 i7 8GB still going strong.
    I think I'll skip the new 6 and wait for the major 2019 overhaul!
  • I currently have a launch day Pro 4 i5. If it gives up the ghost in the near future I'll probably upgrade to a 6 and I'm sure I'll be happy with it, but I think as long as it keeps going I'll probably hold onto it until the 7 which should be a more substantial revision. If I'm being honest, I'd love for them to switch to Ryzen but there's complications there because thunderbolt is an Intel property and I have no idea what the current situation is with implementing it on AMD systems.
  • Stop with the USB-C whining already! If I want to plug anything into a USB-C port (my SGO has one) I have to use an adapter. PITA, I wish it was not USB-C.
  • Kindly on the whining part, On the Pro absolutely Nobody wants to remove the legacy USB-A port, everybody wants to replace the display port by a USB-C (not even TB3) port that makes much more sense today...Even Daniel says so in this review and acknowledge that Microsoft excuse for not putting usb-c is very thin in 2018. especially since this device ships with Windows Home.
    For me, this Pro 6 is a no go...also because i Don't need it since I already have a 12" Galaxy Book 256BGB LTEthat is very enjoyable for a fraction of the cost of the surface Pro
  • Does MS follow the "tic-tock" hardware updates like other companies? This year seemed like a refresh. Will we see more innovation next year?
  • That seems to be the case.
  • More like tic, tic, tic, tic, toc.
  • TBF, what really needs changing on Surface Pro? It's kinda perfect imo except for the things I point out like Type-C. Things can be improved, but it's not clear why or how it can be overhauled in a major way. If they did, I bet more users would comlain and want the old design.
  • The big one from me is a convergence of formats into a modular design. Since Surface Book was first announced I've thought it should just an accessory/portable dock for the Surface Pro. I can't see a technical reason why this isn't possible. I don't always need a dedicated gpu but I want my tablet to last more than a few hours and have all the ports I need for stand alone use. This also ties in with other formats like the Studio. Again, this can have the dGPU and further ports in it. There are hints that this could go even further. Surface Hub 2 has modular CPU so you could forsee having a single dGPU that you switch between your Surface Book, Surface Studio, simple desktop Dock, games console... Need 2? Then buy 2! That's how you get down to a single device you can carry in your pocket that adapts to any use case. I still hold out that this is the end game of Core OS...
  • I pass -- not because I don't like it... -- but more because I bought a Surface Book 2/13.5" in January 2018. For my next laptop down he road, I may well go back to Surface Pro 7 or Surface Pro 8... for a next version of Surface Pro, I'd like to see:
    * thinner bezel -- this should make it possible with a 13.5" screen in the same form factor,
    * better battery life -- I'd like to see 20 hours. To achieve this, a slightly thicker/heavier Pro is acceptable for me, e.g., 1.3 kg instead of 1.1 kg with Type Cover.
    * alternative ways of increasing battery life: more energy efficient screen (intel has some ideas) or ARM type of processor.
    * if ARM type processor, a reasonably fast emulation of 32 and 64 bit Windows/applications must be supported.
    * should come with 5G connection/LTE + "terminal" program making it possible to log into another computer, run the programs on this other computer (e.g., job desktop, server, etc.), and use the Pro as input-output advanced terminal.
    * with a slightly thicker "brick", I'd like to see SD card reader (for those of us who use cameras...; please support the new SD Express standard with speeds up to 985 MB/s + SDUC cards...) + more USB-C, etc. ports.
  • Thanks for this excellent and thorough review! I'm wondering about the accuracy of the new pen on the screen with the new co-processor. The pen on my Surface Pro 4 isn't super accurate and even less so after I rotate it from landscape to portrait mode. For example if I draw a line with the pen on lined virtual paper, the ink will the slightly off from the paper's line. I've tried to calibrate it many time, but that just makes it worse. I am curious if they've improved this with the new pen / screen. Thanks!
  • I'm not an aritst, but the co-processor helps a lot with latency. I think there are mixed reports on the pen for Surface Pro, or rather, differing opinions depending on art style and approach. All I can really say is SP5/6 is better than SP4.
  • The black with red and black with blue/coral does look very nice.
    I wish that an oem would release such a device but a bit larger and with an AMD ryzen U proc, that would be a beast I think. Only cooling and battery might still be an issue. Perhaps doable with newer generations of AMD procs.
  • from the benchmark results seems i7 throttles. The review should run tests like surface go one and see if it has throttle effect on both configs.
  • I really, really wished the I5 would come in a 16GB RAM option.
  • The tests do show the Surface Pro 6 is better than the previous model which is good.
    I think Microsoft waited to see if the New intel CPU's had bugs but will include them
    in the Surface Pro 7 which will probably have a USB "C" Thunderbolt port. as well as
    other improvements
  • Can't wait to see the new surface book 3 oct in 2019. I good to Buy Surface laptop 2 and Surface studio 2 wait to Surface Go with LTE Come out then replace Surface Pro 4. I will give my surface pro 4 to my dad to use.
  • “...while LCD will also suffer from some light leakage at the edge when in Windows 10 and daily use, there is nothing discernable.” This sentence in the review assumes your “daily use” doesn’t include taking notes in Portrait Mode (sorry students). When used in this mode (I.e., OneNote in Portrait Mode) the SP6 has obvious light bleed coming off the left edge of the screen. It’s no better, at all, from last year’s model. I’ve seen this issue on the demo units at the MS store near me also. I hate how reviewers (not just WC) aren’t more critical on this issue. I’ve been waiting paitiently for Microsoft to take my money, and they refuse to give me a device that has *reasonable* light bleed that doesn’t distract when using the device in Portrait Mode. Oh well. I’ll wait another year.
  • I'm curious how well this can play Steam games. I've tried with my Surface 4, but as soon as I kick on a Steam game, even if it's pretty low-spec, the fans start up and everything warms up. I'd love to be able to take some basic card-type games with me and not run out of power after a short game. (in addition to everything else, of course)
  • I can't speak for every steam game obviously. However it will run FF XIV, MTG Arena (open beta), a few other F2P MMO's that I've tested, and several games from my library such as Legend of Grimrock 1 and 2, etc. with no issues at all. For reference I have the i7 with 8 GB, and haven't wished for 16 GB yet.
  • So I recently replaced my Gen 1 Surface Book with a Surface Pro 6 (i5/8GB/256). I had to replace because of my spring saga. My wife dumped a cup of coffee on my Surface Book Base. Microsoft couldn't locate my receipt (neither could I). The SB was flakey after the assault, but it worked. Over the past six months, the Surface Book has become more and more unstable. A couple weeks ago went to the MS Store to get my SB fixed. They found the original receipt, offered a refurbished replacement or a trade in. The result I got a Surface Pro 6 Black. The spec is not at the same level (i5 Vs i7, 8GB Vs 16Gb etc...), But I am happy with the performance. Your review is dead on as are the disappointments.
  • MS Surface Pro 6... This thing is packed! plus I'm glad they've decided to introduce the black variant.
  • Wow, quite a read, Dan! My compliments for this extensive and, from my point of view at least, unbiased review. The only thing I could not find is how quickly the Accu is being loaded. Maybe I did overlook. Except for this you did not left a stone unturned. For me, as a non surface user, the introduction and the continuous comparison with the former models offered me the necessary frame of reference. These model changes are not revolutionary but instead a continuous evolution. Less disruptive, and an indication Microsoft is already in the sweet spot with this device. About the omission of the USB-C port I feel neutral. No deal breaker at least. Making the W10 pro an option is pragmatic as well. It doesn't make me question however what audience this device is targeting. Pro suggest to me an device with down to earth choices. Hardware wise this Surface Pro 6 meets that expectation. That it at the same time defaults the OS for private use I find remarkable. This choose is clearly costs driven. For the point of view of product positioning this choose is less logical.
  • So wait...according to Geekbench, the i7 actually scores lower than the i5 in multicore performance? What is happening there? I bought the i7 thinking it would have better performance...not the same performance for double the price.