Right off the bat, we have to tell you that the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is the best Surface Pro model that we have tested yet. The core motive of the Surface Pro series has always been to replace the much bulkier laptops with these portable hybrids, and Microsoft has achieved a mixed bag of success up till now. This time around, the Surface Pro 4 looks to change that and up till now, they have made quite a case for themselves. For the folks who are currently using already impressive Surface Pro 3, is it enough to warrant an upgrade? This is exactly what we will be looking at in this review.
The Surface Pro 4 looks and feels like a premium product from the outset whether you opt to buy one of the Core i5/i7 models or the less costly Core M3 ones, both range anything from $899 to $2199 depending on their specs.
- The look and feel of a Premium device
- Stellar specs and solid performance, even from the lower end models
- Windows 10 is the best platform for the series yet
- Starting from $799, the price tag is hefty
- Mediocre Battery life
- Accessories have to be bought separately.
Design and Aesthetics:
At first glance, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 looks almost exactly the same as its predecessor with the changes coming in a subtler manner with the sharper screen with almost no borderlines and a snappier feeling Type cover that has to be bought separately for $129. The good news for Surface Pro 3 owners is that Microsoft decided to make it compatible for it as well, a gesture of goodwill for the older customers. I personally felt that the Type cover should have been included in the package anyway, as it acts as both the keyboard and a protective cover to give the device the feel of a laptop on demand. The newly improved surface pen feels more like a real pen this time around. At around 1.7 pounds, the device is a lot lighter than its predecessor which is also an impressive feat considering the more powerful hardware installed into it.
Speaking of hardware, the specifications are top- notch. The first thing to watch out for is the 12.3-inch bezel less display, which is quite a joy to look at. The display comes with a resolution of 2736 x 1824 pixels, on par with today’s standards. The upgraded version of the signature keyboard comes with a fingerprint sensor, which is useful but also sort of unnecessary as there is also a very accurate face sensor in the device accompanying its 5 megapixel front camera. The device is available with 4, 8 or 16 gigabytes of RAM and with storages from 128, 256 and 512 SSDs. Keep in mind that there are six models of the Surface Pro 4 altogether, five of them running on the Sixth Generation of Intel’s Core i5/i7 CPUs. What disappointed me a little, however, was the fact that it still uses onboard HD graphics. Microsoft claims the Surface Pro 4 to be 50% faster than the MacBook Air, a statement we find difficult to substantiate. On paper, the company holds up its claim pretty well with the specs but it is difficult to substantiate the claim in real world usage because of the various models the device has.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 runs on Windows 10, which is a welcome upgrade from the Surface Pro 3’s Windows 8. That has to do with the fact that Windows 10 lets you switch between desktop and tablet mode on demand, a feature that a lot of users will be happy with. Windows 10 is snappy and responsive, and it finally feels like Microsoft has hit a right note on its tablet when it comes to software.
Performance and Battery:
I had the Core i5 with 8 GB RAM variant of the Surface Pro 4 for the purpose of this review. The battery lasted 5 hours with browsing, twitter, taking pictures and moderate gaming. Although not a bad SOT, it is not an improvement over the Surface Pro 3 which was surprisingly better than its successor. However, the actual performance of the device is quite noticeable, as there were no stutters or performance issues even when playing somewhat demanding games like FIFA 15 and Payday 2 (See the gameplay footage here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Uej9UGff-4). However, it did seem to heat up during gameplay, which is understandable because gaming is not the Surface Pro 4’s primary purpose. Do not expect it to run high end games at a good frame rate, as the onboard HD graphics can only go so far. I faced a lot of color shifts while browsing on Microsoft Edge, mostly due to the bugs on the browser that are yet to be kinked out by Microsoft. However, this problem is not limited to the Surface Pro 4, as other Microsoft tablets have also suffered due to this rebranding of Internet Explorer (Yes, Its Internet Explorer in disguise). I do hope Microsoft releases a patch for this as soon as possible. Overall, I was satisfied by the performance of the Surface Pro 4 but felt that the battery life could have improved a little more.
If the hefty price tag isn’t a problem, you can’t really go wrong with the Microsoft Surface Pro 4. If you do decide to buy it, be sure to pick up all the accessories for optimal experience.
With wonderful aesthetics and stellar performance, the Surface Pro 4 finally takes a step towards fulfilling Microsoft’s promise to provide a more portable workstation and browsing solution to their faithful consumers.