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Microsoft Surface Pro 7: The Ultimate Business Machine

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Microsoft Surface Pro 7 The Ultimate Business Machine

The Surface Pro 7 is a tablet that lasts a long time. It has been improved this time around. It has an Intel 10th-gen, 10nm Ice Lake CPU for the future and it also has a USB-C connection. We gave it our Editor’s Choice award because of many reasons that will be clear in our review.

It is easier to be the best game in town when other Windows tablets are few and far between. The only tablets that exist now are Microsoft Surface Pro models, the Surface Pro X, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet, and the HP Zbook X2. Our favorite tablet is the Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 520.

There is a big difference between these and other tablets that cost $300ish. These are not as good as the Surface Pro 7, which I would recommend if you are looking for a serious computer that can also be a tablet.

Basic specs

The Surface Pro 7 is a laptop that can be taken anywhere. You will not find a graphic card in it, but you will have a choice of processors. These range from the Core i7 to the Core i5 and there are also options for RAM and storage space. The full specifications are:

  • Display: 12.3-inch, 2736 x 1824 (267 PPI) touchscreen, 3:2 aspect ratio
  • Dimensions: 292 mm x 201 mm x 8.5 mm
  • Weight: 1.7lbs (i3 and i5) 1.74lbs (i7)
  • Processor: Intel Core i3, i5, or i7
  • RAM: Up 16GB LPDDR4x (non-upgradable)
  • Storage: Up to 1TB SSD
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 6: 802.11ax compatible, Bluetooth 5.0. No LTE option.
  • Ports: 1 USB-C, 1 USB-A, 3.5mm headphone jack, Surface Connect
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The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is like any other Surface Pro tablet before it. It has a stand that you can prop it upon. Connect the “optional” Signature Keyboard (you need to if you want to type). The pen is also optional, as always. It is portable but not as mobile-forward as some had hoped for so that duty falls to the $900 Surface Pro X ($900 on Amazon) which has its challenges too.

The Surface Pro 7 has a new type of processor. It is better than the previous one. That is what has made this device different from the others.

The bezels on the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 are big. They’re about half an inch along each side of the computer and smaller across the top and bottom. This will make it look like an old-fashioned tablet, but this is how you can use it.

The Surface Pro’s display is not as good as the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet. The Surface Pro has a 2736×1824 display, but the Lenovo has a 3,000×2,000 resolution. Microsoft also does not use OLED technology yet. The brightness of the screen is still high with 396 nits and is comparable to other tablets and notebooks.

It is hard to use the Surface Pro 7 in the day. There is a reflection on it that makes it hard for me to see because I have sunglasses on. When I work in my basement, it’s not so bad because there is a little bit of light.

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Some people can open their Surface Laptop 3 and upgrade their SSD. Other people cannot open their Surface Pro 7 and upgrade the SSD.

Pros

  • Quad-core performance is great inside this lightweight tablet
  • Cool and quiet with a quick resume
  • USB-C, finally!

Cons

  • Still no Thunderbolt 3
  • Dated design that looks old next to a Surface Pro X
  • Lack of built-in LTE / removable SSDs

Price and availability

On October 22, the Surface Pro 7 was unveiled. The base model starts at $749 and is without a Type Cover ($129) or a Surface Pen ($99). This is about what you would expect to pay for this type of computer.

An Acer Aspire E15 comes pre-installed with a Core i3 CPU (CPU), 4GB of memory (RAM), and a 128GB solid-state drive (SSD). The latter points are upgradeable to 16GB and 1TB, respectively. Here’s how those increases are broken down:

  • Intel Core i3 (4GB, 128GB) – $749/£799/AU$1,249
  • Intel Core i5 (8GB, 128GB) – $899/£899/AU$1,499
  • Intel Core i5 (8GB, 256GB) – $1,199/£1,169/AU$1,999
  • Intel Core i5 (16GB, 128GB) – $1,399/£1,399/AU$2,349
  • Intel Core i7 (16GB, 256GB) – $1,499/£1,449/AU$2,449
  • Intel Core i7 (16GB, 512GB) – $1,899/£1,849/AU$3,149
  • Intel Core i7 (16GB, 1TB) – $2,299/£2,249/AU$3,749

The accessories are not included in the price for this set, so you will need to buy them. The total cost for everything is $1,000 or £900.

The Surface Pro 7 that we are evaluating costs $1,199 in the US. You can get it without the pen or keyboard for this price. If you want to buy the full experience, then it will cost around $1,460 in the US.

A 12.9-inch iPad Pro that is the same as yours, but has more storage and comes with a keyboard and a pen, would cost about $1,480 in the United States. The problem is that Apple sells other things separately like keyboards and pens which are important to use.

Microsoft’s new tablet is not so bad. You get a full computer with it. But it still seems expensive, which is out of the ordinary.

A solid keyboard and typing experience

If you are planning on buying a new Surface Pro 7, be sure to buy the Type Cover. It costs $160 from Microsoft. You can also buy it for cheaper if you find it elsewhere:

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I attached the $100 Surface Pro Type Cover to the Surface Pro 7 and wrote a few paragraphs with it. It is different than newer Signature Type Covers because it starts with the Surface Pro 4. But it’s cheaper.

The older keyboards have bigger keys. But they have less key travel and resistance. I prefer older type covers because they have a good balance of the need to press down on the keys and how fast you can move your fingers over them. Newer keyboards are bigger, so there is more space for the keys.

It depends on what you like best about a keyboard when it comes to which one you want to use, just as it does with any other product or piece of equipment that somebody buys.

The Type Cover also protects the Surface Pro’s screen. The more recent Type Covers appear to be somewhat stiffer and more robust, suggesting that they may protect the display even better. They also have three levels of backlighting or no light at all.

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The Charcoal color of the Signature Type Cover is a new color for a Surface Pro 7. Other colors include poppy red and ice blue. All three have Alcantara, which may seem less fuzzy than previous versions.

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The Type Cover has a special touchpad that can handle taps and other gestures. It is more difficult at the top of the touchpad, but it does not matter because you will be using it on the bottom.

Microsoft made a lot of mistakes. But now, they have found their footing with the inking experience. You just need to buy a Surface Pen. It will be easy to install and it will work great–just follow the instructions from the Surface app.

Whiteboard software isn’t my favorite for drawing, but it’s still a lot of fun to use. The Pen glides over the screen smoothly when you move it around and if you connect it magnetically on one side of your tablet, then you can start drawing right away!

The built-in camera can take still images, video clips that are either standard or wide and panoramic videos. It also activates the camera that is on the front, but you do not need to use it if you don’t want to. The Camera app offers choices for scanning documents and whiteboarding with the rear-facing camera. The Surface Pro 7 is focused on productivity.

Ports

The new Touch Cover 2 for the Surface Pro is backward compatible. You can use it with old models of this tablet, or old chargers. The connector on the new model is the same as on past models of this tablet.

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The Surface Pro 7 is the first Surface device with a USB-C port. It has replaced the miniDisplayPort. This is good because there are lots of different cables for this type of connection and it will make it easier to use cables.

The addition of an SD card reader is the highlight of this update. Low-end tablets like Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 have offered more adaptable ports, but now the Surface Pro X has two USB-C ports. The Surface Pro 7 only has one.

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The primary distinction between USB-C Type C and Thunderbolt is the amount of bandwidth available. Some firms improve on this by including a USB-C connector that supports Thunderbolt, allowing for faster connections to extra monitors and peripherals. The Surface Pro 7’s USB-C port (specifically USB 3.1 Gen 2 at 10Gbps using DisplayPort 1.4) can drive two external 4K displays at 60Hz, while the Surface Pro X’s ports can join up to two 4096×2304 displays.

The Surface Pro 7 can be charged with a USB-C connection. The charger that comes with the tablet is like other chargers that come with other Surface Laptops.

We talked about this before, but I will mention it again: You would have two high-speed I/O interfaces if the Surface Pro series had Thunderbolt as well as the Surface Connector. The Surface Dock may still be connected to. But there is a missed opportunity here.

You should not forget about the card slot in the back. It is like previous versions. Microsoft wants you to upload pictures to the cloud, but if there are still cameras, then you can put pictures on your phone with a card from the camera. A lot of USB-C hubs have an SD card slot.

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Microsoft has not yet announced a Surface Pro 7 with a SIM card. But this is okay because the Surface Pro X is really good.

Unexpectedly nice audio

Microsoft wanted its tablets to be used for music. The Surface Pro 7 from Microsoft has a wide spectrum of sound. It has lows and highs, but it cannot produce the low sounds that you might like.

The Surface Pro 7 has a Dolby Audio default setting. It is balanced so you can enjoy music on the tablet’s speakers. You cannot change the settings but it does not need to be changed.

DTS Sound Unbound is a paid app that comes preinstalled on the tablet. It requests you to pay $15 to gain surround sound from both your speakers and headphones. I think it sounds better than THX, which provides the same feature for free with Walmart’s Motile laptop. DTS’ solution sounded better than what I have heard in years, and its positional audio was really good so far.

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Performance

We want to make the Surface Pro 7’s performance standards better. But we cannot do this because it might be too hard for it to compete with a $500 computer. So instead, we should test the Surface Go and see what happens. It is a little less expensive than our $1200 machine and maybe even better in some ways!

The Surface Pro 7 is different than the current Surface Pro X. The Surface Pro 7 uses an Intel chip and the Surface Pro X uses a Qualcomm chip. This means we can’t compare them in most benchmarks. But sometimes we can because they overlap and use the same tests.

There is only one other computer that is like ours. It has the same CPU and GPU. It also runs at the same speed. We ran a test to see which computer was better called Cinebench.

The Surface Pro 7 is a good computer. It works well for everyday things like office work, web surfing, and things like that. It has fast features which make it work even faster and allow it to wake up quickly because of the internal SSD and the camera which is Windows Hello-enabled.

In our first test, we tested a few years of tablets. It assesses light gaming, photo and video editing, and web surfing. The Surface Pro 7’s performance is no surprise.

The Surface Laptop 3 and the Surface Pro 7 have longer battery life. You can choose this option, but it will make your laptop less fast. If you are not using your laptop for anything important, it is OK to use this option.

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In terms of pure CPU workloads, we employ the Cinebench benchmark. This is a computer-generated imagery (CGI) scenario that uses the full power of the CPU. The Core i7-1065G7 is a 4-core, 8-thread processor that is essentially identical to Lenovo IdeaPad Miix and ThinkPad X1 Tablets’ chips. But this one is made from 10nm instead of 14nm so it has a performance advantage.

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This next CPU test is a special one. To do this job, you need to use the open-source HandBrake program. It tests how well your CPU can work and how cool your computer stays while it does the job. You can tell that our Surface Pro 7 performs well in this test because it does not slow down much. But you might also think that some of its power has been taken away by other things happening with the computer, like making sure it stays cool.

The Cinebench testing suite that is used to measure computer performance shows similar results. The Microsoft Surface Go’s slow performance makes the chart bad, but the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is still better. The cool-down on the Surface Laptop 3 helps it during its competition with the others.

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This passage is about graphics testing. In our 3DMark Sky Diver test, we saw that the GPU frame rate was different according to UL. They have a reference for gaming machines.

This is a test that we do. It tells how fast the computer can be. We found that the Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro 7 are different, but there is also a big difference in speed.

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The results of the Surface Laptop 3 for Business and the Surface Pro 7 are different because we used Intel’s Power Gadget to track how much power was used when it ran. The GPU was severely throttled on the Surface Pro 7.

Despite sometimes going up to 3.7GHz, the SP7’s GPU is most often at 267MHz. The Surface Laptop 3 goes up to 283MHz and it has extreme spikes of up to 3.35GHz-3.75GHz which means improved graphics performance with less time in between quick changes in speed from low to high.

Grand Theft Auto V will play, but you’ll have to turn down the graphics. The Iris Plus GPU in Intel’s Core i7-1065G7 provides good graphics, but not as good as a low-end discrete GPU.

We found that the Surface Laptop 3 has throttling. This means it is slower than other laptops. But you should look at the big issue: The Surface Pro 7 is better than all other tablets we have looked at.

Finally, we look at how long the battery lasts. We charge it to 100% and then unplug it as we watch a 4K video with the volume around 50% until it dies. It is smaller than the Surface Pro 6’s 45Wh battery (46.4Wh on the SP7).

The Core i5-8250U offers good performance. It also draws less power than some other processors. It is important for laptops because they use batteries. The battery lasts about 9 hours, which is good enough.

The Surface Pro 7 has a battery life of around 9 hours. This is what you would expect from a prosumer-level tablet.

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The best Windows tablet right now

The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 won the prize in its small category. We did not see this Windows tablet with Intel Ice Lake before.

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The Surface Pro design has a few advantages. Some people like having a USB-C and an older USB Type-A port, even if we would have preferred Thunderbolt. No kickstand is needed when doing office work. Even the chunky bezels make it easier to move from room to room while watching Spotify or Netflix, thanks to the big bezels.

Microsoft is a company that was already known for making quality products. This has not changed since the Surface first came out. The Surface Pro 7 is the best Windows tablet you can buy.

How we compared the Surface Pro 7 and Surface Pro 7 Plus

We are comparing the two most recent versions of the Surface Pro. They both have Intel Core i7 processors in them, but our review unit has a Core i7 in it while our test device has a Core i5 processor. The performance will be better if you buy the Surface Pro 7+ with the Core i7 inside.

There are two different types of computers. There is one with a processor and one without. The main difference between them is how much power they have. Intel’s latest processors are called Ice Lake, but Intel used to call its Tiger Lake tablets “UP4” chips.

Surface Pro 7:

  • Display: 12.3-inch PixelSense display (2736×1824)
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-1065G7
  • Graphics: Iris Plus 940
  • Memory: 16GB LPDDR4x (as tested)
  • Storage: 256GB SSD

Surface Pro 7+:

  • Display: 12.3-inch PixelSense display (2736×1824)
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-1135G7
  • Graphics: Iris Xe Graphics
  • Memory: 16GB
  • Storage: 256GB SSD

We are not sure if the Surface Pro 7 is worth upgrading. But when we reviewed Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7, we were more concerned with whether it was a better buy than the Surface Pro X. Even though we used several different tests for that assessment, however, the two tablets and their chips are visible.

Tablets have a setting for the best battery life even when they are plugged in. The CPU gets slower. When you change the power/performance switch to “best performance,” the CPU speeds up and runs faster. Some tablets have a fan, but others don’t.

Cinebench R15: Up to 22-percent improvement

In the Cinebench R15, we can see how fast this new processor is. It requires a lot of power. The higher the boost clock, the faster it will be.

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The tablets take about six minutes to go the distance. The new Surface Pro 7+ and it is Tiger Lake CPU has a small advantage over the new Surface Pro 7 with 10th-gen Core i7 and 11th-gen Core i5. In a single thread, 3% better than Surface Pro 7+.

We thought the Surface Pro 7+ would be like the original Surface Pro 7, but it was better. When we increased the performance bar on the original Surface Pro 7, nothing happened. But when we did it with the Surface Pro 7+, everything worked well.

In our tests, we found that increasing the power slider from 50% to 100% made a difference in how fast Cinebench ran. In the graph below, you can see that it improved from a 6% improvement over the Surface Pro 7 to about 22%. This is a big change.

PCMark 8 Creative: Up to a 15 percent improvement

The Surface Pro series is work and creative tool. The tablet shape makes it easy to do both drawing and creative work. We tested PCMark 8 Creative Suite (which includes web surfing, photo editing, light gaming, and more) to assess this aspect of performance. The Surface Pro 7+ outperforms its competitors while also performing better when we increased the performance slider.

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HandBrake: Up to 10-percent improvement

We did a test for this laptop with Handbrake and we wanted to see if the CPU was being pushed. We found out it wasn’t as good as the other one, even though it has a better Windows performance slider setting.

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3DMark Sky Diver: Up to 91 percent improvement

Intel changed the way they make their graphics in Tiger Lake. Intel promises that the new graphics will be faster. But we won’t know for sure until we test it.

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The Surface Pro 7+ is better than its predecessors. It can be even better if you turn up the performance bar. Graphics performance nearly doubles!

Conclusions

We are still figuring out how to review the Microsoft Surface Pro 7+ because it is new. We will keep testing and finding out what the new features are, including LTE.

We can’t say if the performance boost is typical to all Tiger Lake chips. But we do think that having Intel’s 11th generation CPU would make a difference in speed. It makes sense to upgrade your Surface Pro 7+ with this CPU.

Microsoft Surface Pro 7
Microsoft Surface Pro 7 The Ultimate Business Machine | Microsoft Surface Pro 7: The Ultimate Business Machine

You can select from "10th Gen Intel Core i5 - 8GB Memory - 128GB SSD (Latest Model)" to "10th Gen Core i7-1065G7 IRIS 512GB SSD 16GB RAM 2736X1834 12.3" Touch Win 10 Pro PVU-00015" Depending on your budget.Price Range: $819.99 - $1,719.00

Product Brand: Microsoft

Product Currency: USD

Product Price: 819.99

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:
4.6

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