Microsoft Surface Pro is the world's best Windows tablet

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review is still the best tablet on the market:

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is the latest tablet in the Surface Pro 2-in-1 series. This configuration includes 12th Gen Intel processors, Qualcomm's own Microsoft SQ3 ARM chip, a gorgeous 13-inch 120Hz display, a removable SSD, and these color options. Our test will tell you if it's worth buying.

Did Microsoft, with a facelift, make this year's flagship tablet with Windows 11  the best in its class?  

Microsoft Surface Pro is the world's best Windows tablet

Surface Pro 9 specifications

  • System: Windows 11 Home;
  • Display: 13-inch PixelSense Flow, resolution: 2880 x 1920 pixels, 3:2 aspect ratio, 10-point touch, 120Hz refresh rate;
  • RAM: Surface Pro 9: 8GB, 16GB, 32GB (LPDDR5 RAM), Surface Pro 9 with 5G: 8GB or 16GB LPDDR4x RAM;
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-1235U / Intel Core i7-1255U or Microsoft SQ 3 + NPU;
  • Graphics Card: Intel Iris Xᵉ or Adreno 8CX 3rd generation in 5G model;
  • Storage: SSD 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB (Intel only);
  • Connectors: 2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4, 1 x Surface Connect port;
  • Wireless connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1, Wi-Fi 6: 802.11ax compatible, Surface Pro 9 (SQ 3 / 5G) additionally offers GPS navigation, Glonass, Galileo, Beidou, 5G modem, nanoSIM + eSIM slot;
  • Security: Windows Hello;
  • Camera 5MP (front), 10MP (rear);
  • Audio: Dual studio microphones, stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos support;
  • Battery: 47.7 Wh;
  • Dimensions and weight: 287 x 209 x 9.3 mm, 879 grams.

Nice design changes

The Surface Pro 9 is still top shelf, though that shouldn't surprise anyone. Microsoft simply got us used to premium materials, because this isn't the first gear I've tested from this Redmond behemoth. Fortunately, in the case made of anodized recycled aluminum, some changes have been made compared to its predecessor, which are described below. Corning Gorilla Glass 5 is present on the front.

The buttons and ports have moved over, but the custom accessories in the form of Microsoft Signature keyboards are the same, the screen is the same, and the front and rear cameras are unchanged, either.

However, the latest tablet is lighter, but not so much that you can feel it (only 12g and 1mm wider). The Surface Pro 9 is available in colors other than Graphite and Platinum, with an option for Forest Green and a Sapphire Blue finish (my test model is a Foresti and it looks interesting, although blue looks better). The default Windows 11 Bloom wallpaper matches your chosen colors, which is a nice touch.

Another change that may not necessarily be met with enthusiasm is the headphone jack, which is  gone (for some strange reason, they stopped being compatible with mobile devices)However, the Surface Pro 9 is not an isolated case, because over the past few years a large number of mobile devices have been presented without this solution, and if I had to list them all here, you would surely fall asleep with boredom. However, I switched to Bluetooth headphones a long time ago, so it's not an issue for me.

Returning to the arrangement of the elements in the housing, I must admit that their new arrangement is definitely more convenientOn the left side we now have two USB Type-C connectors with Thunderbolt 4 support (you can connect accessories and peripherals, including external graphics cards), and on the right side only the Surface Connect magnetic port for charging.

The volume control bar has been moved to the top frame and is now accompanied by a key. Now I will add that the Kickstand hinge does not change position when changing volume (applying pressure), which is a huge plus. Competing devices with Windows on board unfortunately suffer from this affliction.

Under the support is a magnetic plug, after opening we get free access to the SSD, thanks to which we can easily replace it with a new one.

Working time is sufficient

Microsoft assumes the Surface Pro 9 can run for up to 15.5 hours in mixed-use mode, which includes browsing the web on Microsoft Edge, using productivity apps in Office, and leaving the device on standby.

I haven't yet found a way to match any computer manufacturer's very specific battery parameters, so it's no wonder I've never been able to get through three-quarters of a day with this device.

Doing basic word processing in Google Docs, browsing the web via Google Chrome, messaging in Slack and Discord, and streaming music via the Spotify app, I was able to work on this device for about 10 hours  on a single charge without much trouble. It's very good, but I would like to see the shelf life claimed by the manufacturer.

I will add that I achieved the above time with a standard screen refresh, because using 120Hz would reduce the working time by about 2 hours. And although this is much less than advertised, I still think that these eight working hours are enough, although far from what the direct competitor of the MacBook Air offers with its proprietary layout.

However, this is due to the fact that 12th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processors are still not as power efficient as Apple's M1 or any other ARM chip when doing the job. So you cannot blame Microsoft for this situation.

If you decide to run a more demanding program or game, boot times will drop dramatically. It is enough to play Minecraft for an hour to notice a drop in energy of about 20 percent. The same goes for watching movies via services like Netflix or HBO Max with brightness set to around 90% and volume at 50%.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 9, like its predecessors, can be charged in two ways. - Using an AC adapter with the Surface Connect plug, or through a USB Type-C port using a USB-C cable connected to a power outlet. There is still a 5W USB Type A port on the power supply that can be used to charge other devices.

Very good screen.

Microsoft did not decide to make major changes to the display of the latest Surface Pro 9 compared to its predecessor, although it did  add one important functionality.

Therefore, it is equipped with a 13-inch  PixelSense Flow touchscreen display with a resolution of 2880 x 1920 pixels and a refresh rate of 120Hz. It also comes with Dolby Vision and Adaptive Color technology. Of course, we have an aspect ratio of 3: 2, but this should no longer surprise anyone.

Surface Pro 9 is able to independently adjust the color profile to the surrounding environment, thanks to  Adaptive ColorAnd although I somehow did not really notice the differences, I am sure that this function works - it is enough to turn it off and see for yourself.

The screen refreshes at a maximum of 120 Hz, and most importantly, support for dynamic refresh has been added, which was clearly missing in the predecessor.

The touchpad is very responsive and sensitive. The screen can be operated with the Surface Slim Pen 2, which, combined with the screen's 120Hz refresh rate, translates into instant feedback.

Writing with this pen is a lot of fun, but it certainly cannot be compared to writing with a traditional ballpoint pen on a piece of paper. However, this is not part of the device, but an optional accessory that can be purchased along with the Surface Pro's Signature Keyboard with Slim Pen 2.

The screen provides the appropriate peak brightness, and the backlighting is even, which is very good information. As for color palette coverage, the screen has been calibrated in sRGB and Vivid. Colors are properly saturated and at the same time natural, which makes the Surface Pro 9 suitable for graphic processing.

Great speakers

The Surface Pro 9 seems to use the exact same speakers as the Surface Pro 8, but I want to highlight them again because they're so goodSurface Pro 9's 2W speakers are Dolby Atmos-compatible and impressively loud. The sound is clear, deep and, dare I say, one of the best on a Windows tablet. Two long-range studio microphones are also provided.

As security, Microsoft suggests using  authentication by facial recognition using Windows Hello, a service that works with the camera on the top bezel. I had no problem with it, although it could be a little faster.

The Surface Pro 9 has one of the best webcams  (5MP with 1080p video recording) I've ever had the pleasure of using in a laptop or tablet with Windows on board. The image is clear, distortion-free, and always sharp.

The voice detected by the two microphones is also at a very good level and always clear. The microphones also have no problems isolating ambient noise, so there's no need to use headphones during calls.

Given the fact that it is a tablet, of course, there was also a camera on the back panel. It has a resolution of 10 megapixels and allows you to record video in up to 4K resolution. According to the manufacturer, it has been improved, which translates into better photo and video quality. Among other things, there is dynamic color adjustment depending on the lighting of the room, improved low-light performance, and improved sharpness.

In addition to the wired connection already mentioned in the build, wireless connectivity is provided through Bluetooth 5.1 and WiFi 6 in the 802.11a / b / g / n / ac / ax standard. During the testing period, I had no reason to complain, as the components involved work very well, always ensuring good and uninterrupted signal quality.

Great performance in a compact package

As I mentioned at the beginning of the tests, I received a model with an Intel Core i5-1235U processor, belonging to the 12th generation (based on the Alder Lake architecture) presented at the beginning of 2022.

It is a mid-range mobile processor for thin and light laptops with 2 powerful cores (Performance cores, Golden Cove architecture) and 8 high-performance cores (Efficient cores, Gracemont architecture).

P-cores support Hyper-Threading technology, which provides 12 threads in conjunction with electronic cores. The clock frequency of the main core ranges from 1.3 to 4.4 GHz and from 0.9 to 3.3 GHz for the weaker core.

Added to this are 8GB of LPDDR5x RAM, integrated Intel Iris Xᵉ graphics, and a 256GB SSDSo how does this set perform in everyday use?

Quite good, given the fact that the processor used is not the most powerful, although it is still about 25% more efficient compared to the Intel Core i7-1185G7 of  last year's test model  . We simply get more than enough power to handle many daily tasks, as well as when playing less complex titles, as more demanding titles with less graphics and detail have to be played.

The obvious alternative to playing games on your device (or not being able to use Iris Xᵉ graphics)  is to simply stream them using a service like Xbox Cloud Streaming  .

The software comes preinstalled on the Surface Pro 9. The Windows 11 Game Bar feature makes it easy to switch to your latest streaming game using just an Xbox controller, and I've never had a problem, even with my poor network.

However, I had no problems with the number of tabs open in the browser or Slack running in the background, although several tabs (15+) and Slack and Spotify made the Surface Pro 9 heat up and start to cool down.

The Surface Pro 9 uses an active cooling system, which is a fancy way of saying it has a fan (in addition to a vapor chamber, three heat pipes, and three graphite heat spreaders).

In normal operation, the mode is almost silent - the cooling system accelerates only at high and prolonged CPU load, as well as during charging. Then the noise level rises and becomes audible, although it does not affect the comfort of working at home or in the office.

A high load causes the Surface Pro 9 to get warm and sometimes hot, and this is most noticeable on the top of it.

Summary | Is it worth buying the Surface Pro 9?

This year's Microsoft Surface Pro 9 at first glance offers a few changes compared to the previous generation,  though it's still the best 2-in-1 device on the market  .

Its design has actually been improved so much that Microsoft basically just tried to place  the elements on the frame more preciselyAnd while it didn't add any new USB Type-C connector, it left out Surface Connect, making the existing two free. New color versions are also a good trend, because this model can be more suitable for you.

The increased performance, thanks to the presence of the twelfth generation processors from Intel, and in principle not at the expense of energy requirements, might be enough to consider buying the latest Surface Pro 9, right?. However, that is not what makes this device worth its price.

Simply put, the Surface Pro is the Surface Pro, and everyone who is interested in buying it won't care at all that devices other than the Surface Pro are simply cheaper and have similar or better performance. However, none of them will give you much fun to use, thanks to the Surface Slim Pen 2 and other Surface Pro accessories that complement it perfectly.  

And if you do not have the right price to buy Surface Pro 9, and you value Microsoft equipment, be sure to buy Surface Laptop 5 13.5 inch, which has similar main components and at the same time is at least PLN 1500 (including Surface Pro 9 and a tablet keys without a stylus) are cheaper. We have a test of a variant with a 15-inch screen. 

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