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Microsoft announced the Surface Pro 7 back in October of 2019. The new Surface Pro 7 replaces the last year’s Surface Pro 6. While we have seen Surface Pro make huge design and hardware leaps in the past, Surface Pro 7 felt more like an incremental upgrade to Microsoft’s 2-in-1 laptop. That being said, the device is pretty solid and packs an impressive spec sheet but doesn’t look much different than its predecessor.
For the review, we used the Surface Pro 7 with the Intel Core i5-1035G4 CPU along with Intel Iris Plus Graphics and 8GB DDR4x RAM. The device features the same 12.3-inch display with a resolution of 2736 x 1824. For storage, the device came with 256 GB SSD which can’t be replaced or upgraded.
We are kicking things off at a disappointing note as Surface Pro 7 saw no major design changes when compared to the Surface Pro 6. Microsoft has gone with more of an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude with the Pro 7. Nevertheless, the device feels solid and gives the same premium vibe as the other Surface products.
Moving on to the physical design, Surface Pro 7 features the same hinge at the back along with the Microsoft logo and the rear camera. On the front, we have a 12.3-inch Pixel Sense display along with the front speakers and the Windows Hello sensors coupled with the front camera. The display is sharp and is bright even in the direct sunlight. One thing I personally hate about the display was the thick bezels on the sides. The Surface Pro X has slimmer bezels and Microsoft could have carried the same design onto the Surface Pro 7 but unfortunately, the thick bezels don’t look good in 2019.
Moving on to the type cover, it looks the same as Surface Pro 6. I don’t think Microsoft has made any changes to the type cover and the one coming with Surface Pro 7 should work with Pro 6 and vice-versa.
One thing that impressed me was the new microphones. Microsoft said on stage that the company has added studio microphone and boy are they awesome.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much to talk about in the I/O department. However, Microsoft did add a USB-C port instead of display port which is a welcomed addition, but they forgot to add support for Thunderbolt. The USB Type-C port does support charging, but it’s slower compared to the Surface Charger which uses Surface Connect port. Apart from that, Microsoft has also included a USB-A port which is great for connecting accessories. Moreover, Surface Pro 7 also has a 3.5mm headphone jack which is great for content consumption.
The new Surface Pro 7 is powered by Intel’s latest 10-gen processors and are coupled with DDR4x RAM for better performance. While the performance boost is not impressive when compared to the Pro 6, it still feels better especially when you have multiple apps open. The ink and pen support is great and the device pairs up with the Surface Pen.
The laptop can easily handle your day to day tasks like using Microsoft Office, Emails and even Photoshop. Microsoft’s new studio microphones are also worth the praise. They made ditch my headphones during Skype calls and the voice was crisp without any interference. The front speakers are also loud enough to clearly hear the other person without any problems. The device also supports Windows Hello and the experience is smooth. After the initial setup, Windows Hello worked for me every time and even worked in a dark room. Another nifty feature included with the new Surface lineup is the instant on. This allows Surface to wake up from sleep in a second and it worked perfectly. At times, the device woke up even before I could put the type keyboard down completely. And as you might have guessed, as soon as the display is turned on, Windows Hello also starts up making the wake-up and sign-in process a breeze.
While I personally expected Surface Pro 7 to handle the day-to-day tasks, what I didn’t expect was the impressive gaming performance. Surface Pro 7 comes with Intel’s Iris Plus GPU which is not even close to Nvidia or AMD. However, it can easily handle light gaming. We were able to run Halo: Reach at a constant 45-50 fps without any visible stutter. Not only that, the device even managed to run Fortnite at medium settings without any problems. In both the games, you could push the settings to high, but you will have to sacrifice the frames.
Moving on to another area where the Surface Pro 7 aced: thermal performance. The device does get a bit loud when gaming but it’s quiet as a mouse while doing things like Office or Emails. Even though the device remains quiet for the most part, it doesn’t heat up to a point where you can’t use it. We tried to push it to the maximum by running Halo: Reach immediately after completing a stress test and the most we recorded with 90°C on the CPU and 88°C on the GPU. During the normal workloads, the CPU averages around 55°C and the GPU averages around 48°C. One thing to note here is that we performed all our testing at an ambient room temperature of 24°C. Your mileage may vary depending on the external environmental conditions.
Microsoft Surface Pro 7 does offer decent battery life but it’s not impressive compared to the different options available from the manufacturers. In our battery benchmark test, the battery lasted for 5 hours 50 minutes. However, the number drops to 5 hours 30 minutes when we tested the battery while using the device. Do note that the time included 3 hours 30 minutes of YouTube in full screen with full brightness and 2 hours of usage under normal workload (we used Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Microsoft Office to simulate normal workload).
Unfortunately, this is less than the 7 hours 45 minutes I get on average while using the Surface Pro 6. This, however, can change as Microsoft will release multiple patches and firmware updates to optimize the software for Surface Pro 7.
So should you get the Surface Pro 7? The short answer is well it depends. Don’t get me wrong, Microsoft did a fabulous job with Surface Pro 7. The design is perfect, and the software is snappy. To Microsoft’s credit, the device doesn’t come with any bloatware or unwanted apps (as long as you don’t count Candy Crush). However, Microsoft did get a few things wrong as well. While I loved the design and the feel of Surface Pro 7, it carries over the same design as Surface Pro 6 which similar to the Surface Pro 5. It would have been great if Microsoft had improved the design a little bit. They didn’t even have to look far away. The Surface Pro X is a perfect example of what Microsoft should have done with the Surface Pro 7. A slimmer design and thinner bezels would have made it look like the flagship product of 2019.
That being said, if you’re a kind of person who doesn’t care about the design and want just the performance then Surface Pro 7 is perfect for you. For others, we might suggest going for Surface Laptop 3. Stay tuned as the Laptop 3 review will be going live soon.