Why Surface Pro X is my favorite laptop of 2019

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

For 2019 there was no shortage of amazing laptops released by all the major brands. I'd argue this the most exciting year for Ultrabooks ever. However, what I recommend for most people – Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, HP Spectre x360 13, Lenovo's outstanding Yoga C940, or Razer's groundbreaking new Stealth – are not my personal go-to laptops.

Instead, the one PC that I grab every time I head out or hit the couch is the Surface Pro X. It's everything I want in a mobile PC and does what I need for my job. Here's why.

It's about form-factor, display, 4G, and design

Surface Pro X LTE

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

One of the anecdotes I like to tell people about the Surface Pro line is that it was not until Surface Pro 5 (2017) that the form-factor, battery life, and processor started to click for me. I thought Surface Pros were cool, but they were not for me. Up until that point, I preferred a traditional laptop experience.

Surface Pro finally delivers that slim iPad Pro experience with good battery life and LTE.

That Surface Pro 5 deal was sweetened with the option for 4G LTE. Having an always-connected PC is essential when I travel. Wi-Fi is everywhere, but it is often terrible. At press events, everyone is clogging it up, making it more of a frustration than a benefit. Security concerns or having to watch an ad to subsidize a public Wi-Fi spot makes it that much worse. Tethering is OK in a pinch, but not when you use it dozens of times in cabs or in between flights, it's a pain (plus less efficient).

Unfortunately, there is no Surface Pro 6 or Surface Pro 7 with LTE. In some ways, that's OK as Intel's LTE game is weaker (and less reliable) compared to Qualcomm's with Surface Pro X.

Let's talk about screen size. Surface Pro X, with its larger 13-inch screen (up from 12.3-inches on Surface Pro), thin bezels, and smaller chassis, changes the game. For the first time, a Surface Pro delivers that slim iPad Pro experience that Apple provided a few years ago. I find 14-inch laptops ideal when at 16:9 aspect, but when you bump to 3:2 in the Surface line, 13-inches is functionally similar – and fantastic.

The same goes for that new Surface Slim Pen. I can't draw at all. The pen for me was always nice – but not required –when I travel. But with it built into the keyboard and tucked away, I don't need to see it until I need it. It's an ingenious design. While the Lenovo Yoga C940 does something similar, it's a toothpick of a pen compared to the Surface Slim, which feels like a real tool.

Other boxes Surface Pro X checks:

  • Excellent front-facing speakers.
  • The angled typing thanks to Surface Type Cover.
  • Pragmatic kickstand.
  • Flipping the keyboard around or removing it to watch a movie.
  • Type-C ports with Fast Charge.
  • High-resolution display that's not 4K overkill.
  • Eight or more hours of battery life.
  • No heat or fans.
  • Amazing cameras.

On paper, much of this seems like Surface Pro 7, but I can't stress how good Surface Pro X hardware feels to carry and use. It's a marvel of modern PC computing. Because of LTE and its slim profile, it goes everywhere I go. I haven't touched my Surface Pro 7 since I got the Pro X.

Surface Pro X performance (and games!?)

Surface Pro X

Source: Windows CentralMicrosoft's Surface Pro X with a dbrand skin. (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Finding the right laptop is about matching hardware abilities with your actual needs. While the Dell XPS 15 (7590) is a beast of a computer it is overkill in terms of size, power, and weight for my work. Do I need a Core i9 for email, Slack, web, and Skype? Of course not. Nobody does.

But Surface Pro X matches what I need for performance, battery, and app compatibility, including my most used:

  • Microsoft Office (Word, OneNote, Excel)
  • Microsoft Edge (ARM64)
  • Hulu
  • Netflix
  • Spotify
  • VUDU
  • Disney+
  • Twitter
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Slack
  • Mail (Outlook.com)
  • Flow Mail (Gmail)
  • Polarr Photo Editor Pro
  • Microsoft News
  • GroupMe
  • OneDrive
  • Skype
  • Microsoft To Do
  • myTube! (YouTube)
  • MobileDiscord PTB (Discord)
  • Unigram (Telegram)
  • ExpressVPN using manual configuration

I love watching movies or Hulu Live TV on it, working on an article, doing some email triage, banging out some tweets, or just using the web.

And when it comes to games, I can run all the ones I want mostly at native resolution (2880 x 1920) at 60 frames per second (FPS). Paired it with an Xbox wireless controller and it's a giant Nintendo Switch with a bigger, higher-resolution display. Blasting through Dead Cells, StarCraft II, Rocket League, or Furi is my kind of jam when I'm on a plane or just kicking back on the couch. When I need to do "serious" gaming, I use my Core i9/RTX 2080Ti rig or Xbox One X.

Surface Pro X is everything I need in a PC

Disney+ on Surface Pro X

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

One of the toughest parts of my job is separating what I want or need in a PC versus what others are looking for in an Ultrabook. Because of that, I'm not blind to the limited demographic for Surface Pro X – I went to painstaking length to explain that in the review.

I haven't been this enamored with a laptop in years.

But I'm also a fan of promoting cutting edge – and yes, niche – technology that resolves pain points for people. I wrote about this in 2018 and 2019 when framing our reluctance to see value in new technology, including those new foldables coming in 2020.

Surface Pro X solves big problems for many people in my – and similar – professions. All-day battery life, responsive UI, fast app launching, always-connected 4G LTE, and just beautiful hardware. And, no, an iPad Pro is not an option because I need a PC.

I haven't been this enamored with a laptop in years. Because of that, Surface Pro X is my personal laptop of 2019, and I couldn't be happier.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.