The Microsoft Surface Pro 7, is it finally the perfect Windows tablet?
It was during its conference last October that Microsoft unveiled the Surface Pro 7. This new generation tablet did not really get the attention it deserved at this event, overshadowed by the Surface Laptop 3 13 and Laptop 3 15 inches and, above all,the Surface Duo and Neo concepts . This seventh version, however, brings its share of new features, mainly concentrated behind the touch screen.
It is immediately clear that the Surface Pro 7 (SP7) that we received for testing is the model sold around 1670 euros, in black version. It is out of stock at the time of this writing but the platinum version is available at around 1600 euros.
As usual, the keyboard is not sold with the tablet. It is therefore necessary to spend between 150 and 180 euros additional depending on the color for which you choose. Note, however, that if you’ve had a Surface Pro 3 or later in the past, its keyboard is normally compatible with this brand new model.
If you don’t know the Microsoft Surface Pro family, we will quickly introduce you. This is the range of 12.3 inch tablets developed by the father of Windows. Their main features? The first is their configuration, which is capable of handling all everyday tasks whether on the move or in the office. The second particularity is the kick stand foot integrated into the housing. Thanks to it, you can vary the inclination of the tablet when it is placed on a coffee table, a desk or … your knees. It is very practical to adapt the viewing angle and increase the comfort of use.
The foot provides (also and above all) enough stability to the SP7 so that you can put your fingers on the touch screen without risking seeing it tilt backwards. Because make no mistake, in the event of a fall, the beautiful black case will quickly be scratched and the glass protecting the screen probably broken.
Besides, it would not have taken more than two transports in a backpack for the black back of the tablet to be scratched. However, there was nothing likely to damage it in this bag (key, metal buckle, etc.). Simply its charger, but that will have been enough to scratch the case. The “premium” side takes a hit.
Surface Pro 7 = Surface Pro 6 + 1 USB Type-C
The Surface Pro 7 case, still made of magnesium alloy, retains its robustness and excellent finish. Its thickness is 0.85 cm without keyboard, like the previous model. The weight remains the same: 780 grams (always without keyboard). However, the AC adapter has become heavier. It now weighs 286 grams compared to 210 before. The Footprint and Mobility rating is affected: we go from a good 8 to only 6.9 / 10.
What also changes a little is the connectivity. Microsoft has finally understood that a USB Type-C socket would be welcome on its tablet. He therefore added one that takes place alongside the historic full-size USB 3.0 port. Another evolution, the transition from Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) to Wi-Fi 6, and from Bluetooth 4.1 to version 5.
The jack is always present, as is the microSD card reader, hidden on the back and accessible only when the tablet base is extended.
Finally, the magnetic and proprietary power connector remains faithful to the position. We would have liked Microsoft to abandon it in favor of a second USB Type-C socket dedicated to charging.
The power and volume control buttons are always in the same place, on the top of Surface Pro 7, at your fingertips.
Finally, the comfortable keyboard (backlit) continues to magnetize and communicate with the slate via proprietary connectors located under its lower edge.
A quality screen with a slightly outdated look
The Surface Pro 7 continues to have large black bands all around its slab. It has been in fashion for a long time, but the trend is now for thin edges, like on the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1. At least on the sides, to widen the display area a little.
This improvement would not do him any harm and would neither harm his image ratio (3/2), nor the conservation of a slightly new image definition. As a reminder, the 12.3 inch panel displays Windows 10 in 2736 by 1824 pixels, which is not common at all and may give a little trouble to the interfaces of somewhat old applications, rather optimized for 4/3 or 16/9.
Let’s immediately get away from the questions of precision and the time it takes for touch controls to affect the panel. Microsoft is not at its first attempt therefore, on this, nothing to say. With your fingertip or the tip of the Surface Pen, you can control the tablet without any difficulty.
Technically, the Surface Pro have always bet a lot on their screens. And for good reason, we only see them when we have the tablet in front of us.
Between the generation 6 and generation 7 models tested by us, we note that the differences in terms of average maximum brightness are in a pocket handkerchief: 427 cd / m² for the 6 against 405 cd / m² for the version 7. It is on the top of the slab that the lighting is the most intense, as on the previous model.
What is true for brightness is also true for the contrast ratio. It rises to 1405: 1 on the old model against 1388: 1 on the new. Two very good values and, contrary to what one might think, the balance tilts in favor of the Pro 7 model. It is true that its two technical benefits are a little lower, but it offers a much better homogeneity at the level of l display than its big sister (0.008 versus 0.018).
Finally, in terms of color fidelity, Microsoft has done a lot of work on the Pro 7. The Delta E peaks at 1.58: it’s very good. The average is usually around 3.22 on hybrids and it will be recalled that the closer the delta E is to 0, the better. Red is the only color that dominates a little more than the others, but it remains very light, however. Moreover, the color temperature is 6700K on average and the gamma, finally, never exceeds 2.2.
Microsoft Surface Pro gains in versatility
For 1670 euros, Microsoft offers to get your hands on a tablet that runs on the Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor – a tenth generation chip, 16 GB of memory and 256 GB of storage.
For comparison, the Surface Pro 6 we had in test was equipped with eighth generation Core i5, 8 GB and 256 GB. Its price was 1370 euros.
Twelve months later and for 300 euros more, Microsoft offers to change the chip category, but also to double the RAM. And by the way, to go from LPDDR3 memory to DDR4, on paper, it’s a good deal.
To compare the performance between the two generations, we put the Surface Pro 6 and the Surface Pro 7 face to face. We remind in passing that the Core i5 of the Pro 6 just like the Core i7 of the Pro 7 have 4 cores and 8 threads and that the first even offers a higher base frequency (1.6 against 1.3 GHz).
As standard meters, and because they are sold at close price levels, the Surface Laptop 3 13 (Microsoft’s ultraportable) sold for 1,750 euros and the Lenovo Yoga C940 hybrid sold for 1,550 euros.
We also chose them because they are both equipped with the same processor as the Pro 7. It is a way, for us, to guide you well during a possible purchase and to help you at the time of choice : are a tablet, a hybrid and a classic ultraportable equal to equivalent platform?
In PC Mark 10 , we reproduce classic machine usage scenarios. As we can see on the far left, the Intel Core i7-10G platforms offer close results, and the Surface Pro 7 (in green) is often neck and neck, even slightly behind with its competitors. The Pro 6 is behind, it was predictable.
The video game is not at all the thing of the Surface Pro 7. It is however interesting to see that between the two generations of integrated graphics controllers Intel (UHD 620 and Iris Plus Graphics), there is a severe performance gap. If you doubted it, the graph above is the proof.
However, do not expect to run the last Call of Duty in native definition, it is impossible. And for good reason: the game just doesn’t launch.
However, to play a part of Fortnite , without too many details and in 1080p, it works. However, you may blow the fan trapped in the housing (35.3 dB measured) but do not worry, the processor does not throttle (no drop in frequency due to the heat). It even manages to stay up to 100 MHz above its initial frequency of 1.3 GHz.
The only notable hot spot is in the center of the back of the tablet, a few centimeters below the webcam (we note 44.3 ° C). It’s not annoying when you use the Surface Pro 7 as a laptop, it’s already more so in tablet mode where you risk placing a hand on the back of the case to keep it within reach view.
In fact, the best thing to play with the Surface Pro is to use a cloud gaming service like GeForce NOW or Shadow. The power of the platform will not matter. all you need is a good Internet connection within range of the Wi-Fi antennas 6.
Surface Pro 7 runs out of steam quickly
The Surface Pro 7 has been on a good streak so far. Fragility of the black finish and increasing weight of the food aside, it was all good. But the endurance test was (almost) fatal for him.
So much so that we repeated our tests several times to be sure. We even looked to see if Windows 10 options were playing spoilers. In vain.
It is not very surprising that it is the Core i5 platform released at the end of 2018 which is more enduring here because as, as we have seen, its graphic part much less efficient than that of the SP7. However, compared to the 13-inch Surface Laptop or even the Lenovo Yoga C940, it’s a disaster.
Only 6 hours 18 minutes in a multi-use scenario, with Wi-Fi activated and the screen brightness reduced by more than half. Likewise for streaming video streaming, the Pro 7 can only last 5.30 hours, two hours less than the Surface Laptop 13 or …. endurance half the size of the Yoga C940.
For a tablet supposed to accompany you everywhere and make sure that you can work for hours without charger, it is really too little. Especially at this price. Note, however, that the battery is capable of filling up in 2 hours and recharging to 50% in less than 45 minutes.