The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 felt like a side issue when Microsoft unveiled its latest fleet of Surface products. The lack of attention for this flagship was partly due to the more exciting products that Microsoft had at hand, such as the Surface Pro X and the Surface Laptop 3. Another reason is that Surface Pro 7 is almost identical to its predecessor, the Surface Pro 6. Today, we are here with our Microsoft Surface Pro 7 Review.
Yes, Microsoft has finally added a long-awaited USB-C port, but it’s not even the faster Thunderbolt 3 variety. And although Intel 10th generation chips give the Surface Pro 7 a nice performance improvement. But, it is at the expense of battery life. The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is still one of the best 2-in-1 laptops thanks to the premium design, the beautiful display, and the comfortable keyboard, but this latest convertible tablet is a non-exciting iteration that takes few small steps forward, and one large step back.
Microsoft Surface Pro 7 Review- Design
Surface Pro 7 retains the same aesthetic ingredients as its predecessors. Despite all the praise we have given the design over the years, it is time for a new recipe. Apart from the new USB-C port on the side, Surface Pro 7 has almost the same aesthetic as the Surface Pro 6. Being available in matte black and silver, the Surface Pro 7 is a slender magnesium slate with a glossy Microsoft logo on the backlog.
That standard goes out 165 degrees, and with this, you can put the Surface Pro 7 in laptop or studio mode. The cover is comfortable to expand and sturdy enough to hold the tablet upright. It is an excellent solution to turn a tablet into a laptop, but I hope that Microsoft can develop a more elegant mechanism in the coming years. For now, you have to extend the stand manually, which is not as simple as lifting the lid of a laptop. The Surface Pro 7 also bounces around when you use the stand on your lap.
Microsoft could at least have shortened the edges of the tablet, which would have been a long way off to modernize this outdated design. The unveiling of the Surface Pro 7 alongside the sleek Surface Pro X showed how dated the previous one looks. It is not a Thunderbolt 3, but we are happy to see the USB Pro port of the Surface Pro 7 regardless. Unlike that future-proof edition, Surface Pro 7 has the same connections as its predecessor.
You will find a USB 3.1 Type-A and magnetic Surface Connect port (for charging) next to the USB-C input on the right. On the left is a headphone jack, while a microSD card slot hides behind the Surface Pro 7 stand.
Keyboard and TouchPad
I am relieved that Microsoft has not made significant changes to the excellent (but expensive) characteristic Surface Type Cover keyboard of the Surface Pro 7 and am confident that this is the best detachable keyboard. The illuminated keys of the Type Cover are large, spacious, and offer a surprisingly deep journey. And if you spend a few more on the Signature version that Microsoft has sent us, you’ll also get a warm, soft Alcantara fabric surface on which you can rest your palms.
My favorite thing about the keyboard is how effortlessly my fingers bounced between the letters, thanks to the clickability of the keys. I am also a big fan of the Poppy Red version that Microsoft sent us and excited to see the new Ice Blue look in person.
I also never worried about the tablet’s disconnection. The accessory snaps into the bottom of the tablet, with strong magnets that hold it in place. The glass touchpad of the Type Cover keyboard is excellent for productivity and gives the tablet a head start on the iPad Pro. My fingers loved the smooth, soft coating on the 4 x 2.1-inch touchpad, and I had no trouble performing Windows 10 gestures, such as pinch to zoom or two-finger scrolling.
Microsoft Surface Pro 7 Review- Pen
Microsoft charges $99 for the optional Surface pen. We recommend using the accessory if you need to take handwritten notes, take photos, or perform precise video or photo editing. Of the styli we tested, the Surface Pen is one of the best. The loaded list of features of the Surface Pen includes 4,096 pressure points, tilt for shadows, a magnet attached to the side of the Surface Pro 7, and a rubber piece on the back to erase.
The thick stylus was very comfortable to hold, and I did not notice any delay in sketching a mysterious cat drawing. Again, Microsoft has nailed the metallic red color to the aluminum chassis of the pen. However, I would like the Surface Pen to use wireless charging technology such as the Apple Pencil instead of a non-rechargeable AAAA battery.
Microsoft Surface Pro 7 Review- Display
I enjoyed watching videos on the Surface Pro 7’s PixelSense touchscreen of the 12.3-inch, 2736 x 1824 resolution. The panel is not only detailed and relatively lively, but it also gets super bright. Christian Bale’s indigo blue GT40 racing car glistened on the saturated panel as he raced across a track chasing his blood-red Italian rival in the Ford v Ferrari trailer. In a high-speed crash scene, the high-resolution panel was so detailed that I could clearly see pieces of debris and chunks of soil flying into the air.
I am in favor of accurate white balance, so I was happy to see bright, clean white backgrounds when I visited my favorite websites. Those who do not intend to purchase the detachable keyboard or mouse will be relieved to hear that the touch screen of the Surface Pro 7 responds very quickly. There were no delays or missed ticks when I surfed the internet with my fingers and the optional Surface pen.
According to our colorimeter, the display of the Surface Pro 7 covers 102% of the sRGB color range, which surprised me considering the saturated colors of the colors. Competing devices have more vibrant panels, including the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (128.4%) and the XPS 13 2-in-1 (113%). Even the screens on the Surface Pro 6 (136%) and the average premium laptop (130%) offer a more comprehensive range of colors.
It is possible that the exceptional brightness of the panel, with 395 nits, makes the colors stand out. Still, the screens on the Surface Pro 6 (408 nits), the Apple iPad Pro (484 nits), and the XPS 13 2-in-1 (516 nits) become even brighter. Positive is that the surface of the Surface Pro 7 is brighter than the category average (347 nits).
The double front-firing speakers on the Surface tablet can fill a medium-sized room with detailed, undistorted sound. The “Mr. Brightside” from The Killers gave nice energy, whereby the speakers worked well when separating the electric guitar so that the voice of Brandon Flowers could be central. I was also impressed by the booming bass line in “No Church in the Wild” by Jay-Z, even though it lacked the low rumbling that I hoped optimistically for. For that deep bass sound, consider buying good headphones with noise reduction.
The integrated Intel’s iris Plus graphics Ice Lake processors promise improved performance compared to what we have seen in 8th generation chips. Our benchmarks have not been able to prove that claim. Surface Pro 7 could not use the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark that we usually use to test graphics performance. There seems to be a compatibility issue with the chip because the Ice Lake CPU equipped XPS 13 2-in-1 also had problems performing this test. Our real-world gaming evaluation was not much better.
The racing game Dirt 3 ran at only 36 fps on the Surface Pro 7. Although that exceeds our playing threshold of 30 fps, the Surface Pro 6 (81 fps) and the category average (61 fps) can play the game at much higher frame rates. There may be some optimization issues for Dirt 3, as the XPS 13 2-in-1 (42 fps) also struggled with the benchmark so that we would take these results with a pinch of salt for the time being.
Microsoft Surface Pro 7 Review- Performance
Apart from a few minor changes, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is essentially a Surface Pro 6 with updated 10th-generation Intel Core chips. Our review unit was equipped with an Intel’s Core i5-1035G4 CPU and 8 GB RAM. If you are unfamiliar with the confusing new processor naming system from Intel, Microsoft uses the new 10-nanometer Ice Lake chips, not the 14-nanometer Comet Lake variant. The judgment is not yet known about which processor family offers better performance.
Anyway, the Surface Pro 7 loaded 16 Google Chrome tabs without the slightest hint of delay, even when I was streaming four 1080p videos. The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 scored an impressive 17,225 on the Geekbench 4.1 overall performance test, just like the iPad Pro (17,995, A12X Bionic). As we had hoped, the Surface Pro 7 is noticeably faster than the Surface Pro 6 (13.761, Core i5-8250U), although the XPS 13 2-in-1 (18.684) could not run on a Core i7-1065G7 CPU.
Microsoft must use faster hard drives in Surface products or at least stop charging to improve storage capacity. The 256 GB SSD of the Surface Pro 7 took 19 seconds to duplicate 4.97 GB of multimedia files, representing a transfer rate of 267.9 megabytes per second. That’s just a little bit faster than the slow SSD of the Surface Pro 6 (203 MBps) and is far behind the XPS 13 2-in-1 (463 MBps) and the category average (500.4 MBps).
Well, this is disappointing. The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 lasted only 7 hours and 52 minutes during our battery test, where you constantly had to surf the internet via WiFi with a brightness of 150 nits. That is almost 1.5 hours shorter than the running time of the Surface Pro 6 (9:20) and even worse than the iPad Pro (13:14) and the XPS 13 2-in-1 (10:57). Surface Pro 7 could not also match the category average (8:14).
Microsoft Surface Pro 7 Review- Conclusion
The Microsoft convertible remains the best option on the market for those who want to combine the portability of a tablet with the convenience of a laptop. But the Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7 does little to move the needle. The few new things it brings – USB-C and 10th generation processors – are undoubtedly welcome, but not enough to make the device a required upgrade if you already own the Surface Pro 6. In some respects, the Surface Pro 7 is even a downgrade from its predecessor in terms of the battery life as the tablet is about 1.5 hours worse than that of the Surface Pro 6, and the screen of the newer model is also not as lively.
If these disadvantages bother you, Apple’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro offers comparable performance to the Surface Pro 7, and also a longer battery life in a slimmer chassis. You can also find a deal on the Surface Pro 6, which gives you almost everything that the Surface Pro 7 has to offer, but an even longer battery life. If you want a hybrid, but are not committed to the tablets, the Dell XPS 2-in-1 is our favorite convertible laptop.
All in all, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 remains at the top of its class, but it is too late for a good overhaul.
The Surface Pro 7 from Microsoft adds USB-C and 10th generation CPUs, but those welcome additions are expensive.
- Premium metal chassis
- Fast overall performance
- Bright, vivid display
- Comfortable keyboard
- Now with USB-C
- Keyboard and stylus sold separately
- Slow, expensive SSD
- Worse battery life than last year's model