Microsoft Surface Pro X vs. Samsung Galaxy Book S: Which is a better buy?

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

These two PCs have similar hardware inside, but they differ in form factor, display, and some features. Let's break down the specs you can find on each laptop before moving on to a closer look to help you decide which is a better buy.

Surface Pro X vs. Galaxy Book S tech specs

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Header Cell - Column 0 Surface Pro XGalaxy Book S
ProcessorMicrosoft SQ1
Up to 3,000MHz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx
Up to 2,840MHz
RAM8GB, 16GB LPDDR4x8GB LPDDR4x
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB SSD256GB SSD
Display size13 inches
Touch
13.3 inches
Touch
Display resolution2880x19201920x1080
Aspect ratio3:216:9
GraphicsSQ1 Adreno 685Adreno 680
PortsTwo USB-C
Surface Connect
Two USB-C
3.5mm audio
microSD card reader
ConnectivityWi-Fi 5
LTE
Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi 5
LTE
Bluetooth 5.0
CameraFront-facing 5MP (1080p)
Rear-facing 11MP (1080p)
Front-facing 720p
BiometricsIR cameraFingerprint reader
Battery38.2Wh42Wh
Dimensions11.3 x 8.2 x 0.28 inches
(287mm x 208mm x 7.3mm)
12 x 8 x 0.24-0.46 inches
(305.2mm x 203.2mm x 6.2-11.8mm)
WeightFrom 1.7 pounds (0.78kg)2.12 pounds (0.96kg)

Design and features

The Surface Pro X is a bit of a deviation from the standard Pro lineup, but it's still a 2-in-1 device with an attachable keyboard and rear stand to prop it up on flat surfaces. You can treat the Pro X like a tablet — it weighs just 1.7 pounds (0.78kg) — for casual use, then snap the keyboard and touchpad onto the bottom and handle productivity work. You do have to pay extra for the keyboard, though, which adds about $105 (opens in new tab) to the total price.

The Galaxy Book S sticks with a more traditional clamshell notebook design. If you're not big on tablets and don't want to deal with a stand and attachable accessories, it's likely going to be a better fit. It weighs in at 2.12 pounds (0.96kg), which is actually less heavy than the Pro X with the keyboard attached. At just 0.24 inches (6.2mm) at its thinnest point, the Galaxy Book S can easily be the laptop you choose as a travel partner. Both devices are built to a high standard, and the price reflects the build quality. You're getting a premium PC capable of fitting in anywhere no matter which you choose.

There's not a lot of room for ports on either device, though the Book S offers slightly better connectivity. Alongside dual USB-C ports (like the Pro X), it offers a 3.5mm audio jack and a microSD card reader capable of expanding storage up to 1TB. However, keep in mind that one USB-C port on the Book S is used for charging, whereas the Pro X includes Surface Connect that keeps both USB-C ports open for use even when the battery is depleted. The Pro X does not have a card reader for expandable storage, but the internal solid-state drive (SSD) can be accessed for DIY upgrades.

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

Both devices have a webcam above the display — the Book S sits at 720p while the Pro X has full 1080p — but only the Surface device includes a rear-facing 1080p camera as well. The Pro X also offers IR facial recognition for Windows Hello, whereas the Book S sticks with a fingerprint reader built into the power button. Camera quality will be far better with the Pro X, but as far as biometrics go, you should feel secure with either device.

The typing experience on the Pro X is quite similar to that of the standard Pro lineup of PCs. There's enough travel to remain comfortable, and a Precision touchpad allows for accurate pointing. You get a three-stage backlight and a special slot that holds the Surface Slim Pen (opens in new tab). The biggest issue you'll experience is "lapability." The Pro X's kickstand is sturdy on a flat desk, but in your lap, it's not nearly as comfortable or stable as a notebook design. If you foresee a lot of hours with a PC directly on your lap, the Book S should prove to be a lot less frustrating.

Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central)

However, the slim design of the Book S doesn't exactly allow for a lot of key travel. You'll no doubt want to (if possible) try both keyboards in person before making a final decision. In any case, you do get a rather large Precision touchpad well-suited for productivity work with the Book S.

Both laptops include LTE connectivity by default, making either one a great traveling companion. The Book S has a Nano-SIM slot alongside the microSD card reader but does not offer eSIM. The Pro X has a Nano-SIM slot as well, but it also offers support for eSIM. Users can switch dynamically between the two, making the Pro X a more suitable device for frequent international travelers. Both devices also sport Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.

Display and inking

As a straight-up comparison of display specs, the Surface Pro X easily wins. It's sized at 13 inches, it's touch-enabled, and it has a 2880x1920 resolution with 3:2 aspect ratio. That's a much boxier format than the Book S, and it's much better suited to the tablet form factor. Combined with an active pen — either the Surface Slim Pen or standard Surface Pen (opens in new tab) — you're getting a powerful creativity tool with excellent color and up to 450 nits brightness. Note that you can bundle a Pro X with keyboard and pen for about $1,295 (opens in new tab) or buy the keyboard and pen separately for about $208 (opens in new tab).

The Galaxy Book S sticks with a more traditional 16:9 aspect ratio with 1920x1080 resolution. It's sized at 13.3 inches and includes touch, but according to Samsung does not support an active pen for inking. That's not as big of a deal considering the display on the Book S doesn't fold back to sit flat on a table, but if you do want inking support, you'll have to go with the Pro X. In any case, the Samsung display brings vivid color and excellent contrast, though the lower resolution is noticeable.

Performance and price

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

The Pro X and Book S have similar hardware inside that emphasizes battery life and mobility rather than high-end performance. The Pro X uses a suped-up Snapdragon 8cx CPU with a clock speed up to 3.0GHz, whereas the Book S utilizes a standard Snapdragon 8cx with a clock speed up to 2.84GHz. Both have integrated graphics, though the Pro X will slightly edge out the Book S thanks to Microsoft's customization to the Adreno 685. Both devices are fanless and offer near-instant wake speeds.

These are two ARM-powered devices, so running 32-bit x86 apps requires a bit of emulation. There's going to be a slight performance hit compared to running native ARM64 apps, but for the most part, everything should be stable. Performance hovers somewhere around an 8th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU, which is easily capable of handling daily productivity work. The Book S is currently only available with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, whereas there are numerous Pro X configurations. Baseline models have 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, while the top model has 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.

Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central)

Battery life is a hot topic. While Microsoft claims 13 hours of life from the 38.2Wh battery, you can expect closer to 10 hours when using ARM64 and UWP apps. If you're emulating 32-bit x86 apps, battery life falls to about seven hours. We haven't been able to personally test battery life in the Book S yet, but its larger 42Wh battery and lower-res display will no doubt positively affect longevity. Samsung claims up to 25 hours of video playback time, though real performance numbers will undoubtedly be different.

Baseline Pro X models with 8GB of RAM and 128GB SSD start at about $990 (opens in new tab), and that's not including a keyboard and pen. A Pro X model to match the Galaxy Book S, with 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD, costs about $1,295 (opens in new tab), and that's with they keyboard and pen included. Still, that's $300 more than the Book S, which goes for about $1,000 (opens in new tab).

The Surface Pro X is an outstanding 2-in-1 device

For those always on the move, the Surface Pro X is an ideal 2-in-1 laptop. It's certainly not for everyone, but if you need something portable with long-lasting battery life, instant-on, inking, and LTE connectivity, it should be near the top of your list. The display easily beats out that in the Book S, and its design makes it far more flexible. You can use it as a tablet, then connect the keyboard for a full laptop experience.

Samsung's Galaxy Book S is an ideal notebook for those on the move

The Galaxy Book S sticks with a clamshell design, yet is incredibly thin and light for easy transportation. It has similar performance hardware (though not as many configuration options), impressive battery life, LTE connectivity, and better port selection. Still, its touch display won't quite match up to that in the Pro X. It is, however, less expensive than a full Pro X setup with keyboard and touchpad.