Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 performed very well throughout our entire battery of tests. In every benchmark we ran, the Surface Pro 3 performed on-par with similarly-equipped Ultrabooks and it had no trouble dispatching any of the lower-power (and lower-priced) tablet platforms. Overall system performance is helped by the device's fast Haswell-based processor, DDR3-1600MHz memory, and speedy SSD. Display performance is also top-notch, touch input was fast and fluid, and battery life was very good too. The Surface Pro 3 even boots and shuts down in a blink--we timed boot-up from press of the power button to the sign-in screen at about 6 seconds.
The Surface Pro 3 with Type Cover Attached - Find It @ Amazon.Com
We really like the Surface Pro 3--for the most part. The device's form factor and accessories make it somewhat different to work with than a standard laptop or more rigid convertible device, but Microsoft clearly has a tablet on their hands that can replace a laptop, for some users. With that said, we're hesitant to call the Surface Pro 3 a tablet. In our opinion, it is more accurate to classify the Surface Pro 3 as a convertible or 2-in-1 device, since it offers all of the performance and most of the features of a Haswell-based Ultrabook, but in a smaller form factor that requires the use of a snap-on keyboard to make it a truly productive device. If portability is your number one concern, pen input is appealing, and you'll use the device in tablet mode often, the Surface Pro 3 will likely serve you very well.
You will have to pay to play, though. The least expensive Surface Pro 3 variant lands at $799, but that's for a Core i3, with only 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The rest of the line-up is as follows:
- Intel Core i3, 64 GB SSD and 4 GB of RAM - $799
- Intel Core i5, 128 GB SSD and 4 GB of RAM - $999
- Intel Core i5, 256 GB SSD and 8 GB of RAM - $1,299
- Intel Core i7, 256 GB SSD and 8 GB of RAM - $1,549
- Intel Core i7, 512 GB SSD and 8 GB of RAM - $1,949
And keep in mind, the Touch Cover will set you back another $130. At those prices, the Surface Pro 3 demands a premium, but it's not out-of-line with other multi-touch Ultrabooks equipped with 2K (or better) displays. However, step back to a full HD display and Ultrabook prices drop considerably, to the point where you can find Core i7 based machines with 8GB of RAM for under $1000.
In our introduction, we said that performance, build-quality, and the user experience all matter when evaluating a product. Well, the Surface Pro 3 has the performance and build-quality to easily earn a recommendation. Microsoft has also nailed the user experience--everything the Surface Pro 3 was designed to do, it does well, and it is easily one of the more attractive portable devices we have used. However, if you're not a fan of Windows 8.1 and all that it entails, the Surface Pro 3 may not change your mind. We, however, think Windows 8.1 is ideal on a device of this type and think the Surface Pro 3 is a compelling, worthwhile update to the Surface line-up.