Microsoft Surface Pro full review

Microsoft Surface Pro vs Surface RT

Microsoft's Surface is its own-brand tablet, but there are two models, the Surface RT and Surface Pro. So what are the differences between the two and which one is the right one for you? We take a look in our Surface Pro vs Surface RT comparison review. UPDATE: see our full Surface Pro 3 review.

On the, er, surface, both tablets seem pretty similar. While they have an almost identical design, they vary wildly in specification and come with different versions of Windows 8.

We'll compare to two Surface tablets section-by-section to highlight the differences between them.

See also: Microsoft Surface RT review.

Microsoft Surface Pro vs Surface RT: Dimensions

It's hard to tell the difference between the Surface Pro and the Surface RT since they share similar dimensions – both are 275 x 172mm. However, with a beefier spec packed in, the Surface Pro is thicker at 13.5mm compared to 9.5mm.

It's not a surprise that the Pro is also heavier at 903g while the RT is 686g.

See also: Microsoft Surface RT vs Apple iPad comparison review.

Microsoft Surface tablet

Microsoft Surface Pro vs Surface RT: Price

The Surface RT starts at £399 and goes up to £559. Microsoft has only announced US pricing for the Surface Pro which will start at $899 and launch in January 2013. See also: Microsoft Surface Pro price in the UK.

Microsoft Surface Pro vs Surface RT: Screen

Both of Microsoft's tablets use a 10.6in 'ClearType' screen, designed to be used predominantly in landscape mode. Each has an aspect ratio of 16:9 but there are a couple of differences to mention.

The main one is resolution – the Surface RT uses 1366x768-pixels while the Surface Pro has a full HD resolution of 1920x1080. This means the Pro's pixel density of 208ppi is greater than the 148ppi on offer from the RT.

Another difference is that the Surface RT supports up to 5-point multi-touch, but the Surface Pro offers double with 10-point input.

Microsoft Surface Pro

Microsoft Surface Pro vs Surface RT: Processor

Running on the tablet-specific version of Windows 8, the Surface RT has the popular nVidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM.

However, Microsoft has given the Surface Pro the kind of hardware line-up you'd typically find in an Ultrabook laptop. It uses a third generation Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 processors and 4GB of RAM.

See also: What is an Ultrabook?

We don’t know the exact Core i5 model but at the least this will be dual-core with a clock speed of 1.7GHz and integrated Intel HD4000 graphics.

Microsoft Surface Pro vs Surface RT: Storage

Both Surface tablets come with two storage capacities to choose from. The Surface RT has 32GB or 64GB while the Surface Pro has 64GB or 128GB.

All models come with a microSDXC card slot for additional capacity and the full-size USB port on each can be used to attach an external hard drive.

Microsoft Surface kickstand

Microsoft Surface Pro vs Surface RT: Cameras

There's no difference when it comes to cameras. Both the Surface Pro and Surface RT have 720p front and rear cameras. The rear camera is angled such that it's level when the tablet is on its kick stand.

Microsoft Surface Pro vs Surface RT: Connectivity

Connectivity is very close to identical between the Surface Pro and Surface RT. Both have a full-size USB, Bluetooth 4.0, headphone jack, microSDXC card slot and a 2x2 multiple input multiple output (MIMO) antennae for 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi.

The differences are that the RT's USB port is version 2.0 and it has a micro-HDMI port while the Pro has USB 3.0 and Mini DisplayPort.

Microsoft Surface Pro vs Surface RT: Software

As we’ve mentioned, the two Surface tablets run different versions of Windows 8. You can guess which version based on the name of each Surface model.

Microsoft Surface with Windows 8

While in the tiled Modern UI, the tablets are no different, apps for this part of Windows 8 can be downloaded from the Windows Store.

However, the desktop mode is drastically divergent. For the Surface RT it's merely a place to use Office, Internet Explorer and not much else beyond control panel and file explorer.

The Surface Pro, on the other hand, doesn't come with Office pre-installed but, importantly, you can install use regular x86 Windows 7 programs.

Microsoft Surface Pro vs Surface RT: Battery

The Surface RT has a 31.5Wh battery while the Surface Pro has a proportionately larger 42Wh battery. However, Microsoft has confirmed on Twitter that the Pro will only offer half the battery life of the RT – amounting to about 4 hours.

Follow Chris Martin and @PCAdvisor on Twitter.


Microsoft Surface Pro: Specs

  • Windows 8 Pro
  • 275x173x13.5mm
  • 900g
  • VaporMg casing
  • Dark Titanium color
  • Volume and Power buttons
  • Storage: 64GB, 128GB
  • 10.6in ClearType Full HD Display
  • 1920x1080 pixels
  • 16:9 (widescreen)
  • 10-point multi-touch
  • Pen Input
  • 3rd Gen Intel Core i5 Processor with Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • 4GB RAM—Dual Channel Memory
  • Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
  • Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy technology
  • 42 W-h battery
  • Two 720p HD LifeCams, front- and rear-facing with TruColor
  • Microphone, Stereo speakers
  • Full-size USB 3.0
  • microSDXC card slot
  • Headset jack
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • Cover port
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Accelerometer
  • Gyroscope
  • Compass
  • 48W power supply (including 5W USB for accessory charging)
  • 1-year limited hardware warranty