Is the Surface Pro 7 good for gaming?
Surface Pro 7 for light, or cloud-based gaming
While we haven't yet gone hands-on and tested the Pro 7 for ourselves, previous Surface Pro generations and Intel i7 10th-generation benchmarks give us an idea of what to expect. The Surface Pro series is generally held back by its form factor, which makes it very susceptible to heat under load, and thus, thermal throttling. We have no idea how the new Pro 7 will handle thermals, but there's a scientific limit that contemporary engineering has yet to circumvent in any meaningful way, as of yet.
In any case, the Pro 7 comes with 10th-generation Intel i7 chips, which offer meaningful performance gains over the previous generation. The lower-end Pro 7 has Intel UHD graphics, while the higher end sports Iris Plus. Iris Plus will provide the best graphical performance, but we still expect it to fall short for all but the most-optimized, moderately intensive games. You won't be playing games like Gears 5 or Forza Horizon 4 on maximum settings, at decent frame rates. For Forza Horizon 4, typical 10th Gen benchmarks suggest it might run at around 20 FPS at maximum, even while making compromises in the resolution and visuals. This device simply isn't designed for gaming.
However, thanks to the vast legacy and diversity of gaming content on Windows, there are still thousands of less-intensive games you could play. Games from previous generations with lower-end graphics like Half Life 2, F.E.A.R., Bioshock, or DOOM 3 will run pretty well on the Pro 7, and be more than playable. Even some modern games with less-intensive visuals like Fortnite, Overwatch, and Minecraft will perform decently enough on the Pro 7.
Things get interesting when you throw in cloud-based streaming services like PlayStation Now and Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass Cloud Gaming, which allows you to stream modern games over your internet connection. Xbox Game Pass's cloud gaming platform, also known as Project xCloud, is available now for Android, and is in beta testing for the web for PCs and iOS devices. It should roll out more broadly later in 2021. PlayStation Now is already available for PC, however, and works incredibly well for streaming games at 1080p. Since it's streaming over your internet connection, it doesn't need to use anywhere near as much processing power as a game running natively. You could confidently run PlayStation's God of War at 1080p on even the lowest-end Pro 7 if your internet connection is stable enough, with 5GHz Wi-Fi.
For any serious contemporary PC gaming, you're going to need something with a dedicated GPU, such as the Razer Blade 15 or above. Still, you'd have to sacrifice the Pro 7's sleek, highly portable 2-in-1 form factor for the privilege.
For light portable gaming
For the classics
The Surface Pro 7 might not be powerful enough to run this year's Call of Duty, but you'll be able to experience thousands of older, less-graphically intensive games thanks to Windows' colossal back catalog.
For more serious PC gaming
Far more expensive, but the Razer Blade 15 is the best on the market for serious PC gaming on a device you can take with you.
Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!
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