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2022 marks a decade since Microsoft released the first ever Surface hardware. That first-gen device, a tablet running stripped-back software known as Windows RT, did little to convince people to ditch their traditional laptop.
But the Surface range has come on leaps and bounds since then. The original Surface morphed into the Surface Pro, joined by an affordable alternative in the Surface Go. Both are compatible with an optional Type Cover, as is the ARM-based Surface Pro X, introduced in 2019.
That same year saw the debut of the Surface Duo, although it was almost 12 months before the device went on sale and another year for the second generation.
Microsoft also makes traditional clamshell laptops, with the thin-and-light Surface Laptop and budget alternative in the Surface Laptop Go. This is also where we see the company expand into different form factors, with the Surface Book’s detachable display retired in favour of 3-in-1 functionality from the Surface Laptop Studio.
With all these devices being updated regularly, there’s a wealth of choice when considering a new Surface computer. Of course, Microsoft contributes only a small fraction of the total Windows devices released every year – there are loads of great laptops to choose from. We also have separate guides covering 2-in-1s, student laptops and business laptops.
But if you’re set on Microsoft hardware, you’ve come to the right place. This guide runs through the best Surface device for specific use cases, also linking out to our full reviews. While they can be expensive, Microsoft and other retailers often have great deals on Surface products throughout the year.
Some may be running Windows 10 out of the box, but all are already eligible for the free upgrade to Windows 11. Microsoft’s new OS is available to download on most devices via Settings, but anyone with a compatible device can install it right now.
Microsoft launched its most recent Surface devices at a dedicated event in September 2021, although one of the devices announced doesn’t appear here. The 2021 Pro X (2021) has barely any upgrades compared to the original model, which also doesn’t make our top 10.
The Surface Pro 8 has been years in the making, but it’s the ultimate 2-in-1 for many people.
Microsoft has finally updated the design, with a larger 13in display within almost the same footprint. The screen itself is now 120Hz, meaning the great viewing experience has a super-smooth refresh rate.
Performance from 12th-gen Intel chips is impressive, while both cameras are solid and speakers are excellent. However, a lack of ports means you’ll probably need to connect adapter or hub.
It’s also worth highlighting the accessories, which transform the Pro 8 into a laptop replacement for many. The new Signature Keyboard and Slim Pen 2 stylus are the best they’ve ever been, but they’re also quite expensive.
Given Windows 11’s continued limitations as a pure tablet, you’ll want to pay extra for the accessories. But with the Pro 8 itself already significantly more expensive than it’s predecessor, this isn’t something everyone will be able to justify.
However, if you’re willing to pay a premium for the full Surface Pro 8 experience, you won’t be disappointed.
The Surface Laptop 4 is a cautious upgrade over its predecessor, but there are still a few reasons to buy it over the Surface Laptop 3.
The big one here is processor – you can now choose between Intel’s latest and powerful AMD Ryzen chips across both 13.5in and 15in models. These chips deliver a significant improvement to power efficiency, and it shows – battery life is very solid, even when playing 4K videos.
Many of the reasons why the Laptop 3 was so good still apply. The displays offer a compelling viewing experience, continuing to support touch and pen input. There’s also a solid keyboard and lightweight, premium design.
However, it’s not perfect. This tried and tested design could do with a refresh, while noisy fans regularly kick in during everyday use. It can also get expensive, particularly if you need.
Despite these shortcomings, the Surface Laptop 4 still offers the best traditional laptop experience if you’re set on Microsoft hardware.
The Surface Go 3 was one of Microsoft’s more cautious 2021 updates, but it did get a useful performance boost. Despite being a 10th-gen chip, the new Intel Core i3 processor makes everyday use much smoother and more reliable.
Aside from that, this is essentially the Go 2 from 2020. The 10.5in LCD display is still a highlight, despite sticking at a 60Hz refresh rate. The fairly chunky bezels mean it’s starting to look dated, while battery life is underwhelming.
However, it does retain that premium build quality, with an excellent built-in kickstand. The combination of 1080p webcam and dual mics also makes for a great video calling experience.
Combining the i3 model with a Type Cover and mouse makes the full Go 3 experience relatively expensive. Pentium Gold performance is still an unknown, but that’s where you’ll find better value for money.
Either way, it’s still a capable yet ultra-portable Windows tablet, running a full version of Windows 11 out of the box.
Microsoft took a risk in ditching the popular Surface Book design for a very different form factor, but the Surface Laptop Studio gets plenty of things right.
A gorgeous 120Hz display is housed within some slim bezels, although there’s still room for an excellent webcam and IR sensor for Windows Hello face unlock. The screen’s refresh rate is adaptive, meaning it can dynamically adjust to help prolong the excellent battery life. You also get solid performance from 11th-gen Intel chips and an RTX 3050 Ti GPU on more expensive models.
But whether you buy this laptop will come down to the 3-in-1 functionality. The device works well as a traditional laptop and with the display pulled forward or laid flat, but those are your only options here.
Many people may prefer a convertible laptop or tablet with detachable keyboard, especially given the Laptop Studio’s high asking price and limited port selection. But in some creative industries or work scenarios, this design really can’t be beaten.
The second-gen Surface Laptop Go 2 is a modest upgrade over the original, but that has a big effect on the overall experience.
Performance is much improved thanks to 11th-gen Intel CPUs, which also helps significantly improve battery life. A 12.4in screen will be too small for most people, but it means the Laptop Go 2 a compelling, compact computer that weighs just 1.16kg. The keyboard is great aside from missing backlighting, especially when combined with a reliable fingerprint sensor built into the power button.
However, the Laptop Go 2 is prone to overheating, and charging is slower than many rivals. If you can look beyond these things, it’s certainly worth considering.
Despite sporting only minimal upgrades over its predecessor, the Book 3 is a solid final iteration of this unique form factor – the Surface Laptop Studio has now replaced it in Microsoft’s lineup.
A gorgeous display, excellent keyboard and solid port selection provide the foundation for a great laptop experience.
However, performance is seriously mixed. The Book 3 copes just fine in most situations but is a serious letdown when it comes to gaming performance. That wouldn’t usually be much of an issue, but Microsoft has specifically advertised its suitability for gaming.
That’s far from the only drawback, with chunky bezels, mediocre speakers and lack of fingerprint scanner among the most prominent.
At this price point, these shortcomings are hard to look beyond. However, if a fully detachable laptop screen appeals to you, this is the device to go for. It’ll work with Windows 11 just fine, and remains relatively well future-proofed.
Despite being aimed at business and education customers, the Surface Pro 7+ is an excellent option for consumers.
The upgraded 11th-gen Intel processors help deliver great all-round performance, while the addition of a removable SSD and LTE connectivity will genuinely for a lot of people. Battery life has also had a big upgrade – it’s now more than capable of lasting a full eight-hour workday.
However, it’s not perfect. The five-year-old design is looking very dated, while you’ll pay well over £1000 if you want to bundle any configuration with a Type Cover.
The Pro 7+ has been the best all-round Microsoft PC for most people for a while, but the Pro 8‘s new design means it could soon be replaced at the top of this chart.
The original Surface Duo was a bit of a disaster, but its successor is a huge improvement.
Microsoft has almost nailed the hardware here, with a premium build and two gorgeous 90Hz OLED displays connected via a tough hinge. A new triple rear camera system delivers impressive results in good lighting, while battery life has also been upgraded. Performance and stereo speakers are among the other highlights.
But its the software side that really lets the Duo 2 down. Android simply isn’t optimised to work on this dual-screen device – many apps either crash or stutter when you try to open them full-screen. Microsoft’s apps are designed to take advantage of both displays, but few third-party options are. There’s also the issue of content between the screens being obscured.
At this price, it’s a dealbreaker for most people. It’s the best smartphone Microsoft makes right now by far, but that’s not saying much.
However, there are signs Microsoft has made significant progress following software updates. That should make the Surface Duo 3 a significantly better buy once it arrives.
The Surface Laptop 3 was compelling new PC at the time of its launch, and it still holds up well today.
As well as four distinct finishes, you can also choose between regular metal and soft Alcantara interiors on the 13.5in model.
A new 15in model made its debut here too, and it’s the only once to offer custom AMD Ryzen 5 and 7 chips alongside Intel models. The 13.5in variant is limited to Core i5 or i7 processors, although its SSD can be configured up to 1TB (15in maxes out at 512GB).
USB-C also made its Surface Laptop debut here, but power users might struggle with that fact that there’s only a single Type-C port and it tops out at USB 3.1, not Thunderbolt 3.
The recent release of the Surface Laptop 4 means you can get a great deal on the Laptop 3, although you may prefer to opt for Microsoft’s latest device.
The strength of its successor means the original Surface Laptop Go isn’t what we’d recommend for most people, although there are some big discounts around.
However, you’ll need to pay significantly more than the starting price for a model that’s worth buying. Battery life is also a concern, with the device struggling to make it through a full working day on a single charge.
Nonetheless, there’s still plenty to like about the Surface Laptop Go. Performance on the top-spec model is solid, while including a great keyboard and display in such a slimline body is really impressive. The Dolby Audio speakers and dual studio mics also make for a great audio experience.
There are plenty of laptop that also excel in these areas though, many of which are more affordable or offer a better all-round experience.
As the resident expert on Windows, Senior Staff Writer Anyron’s main focus is PCs and laptops. Much of the rest of his time is split between smartphones, tablets and audio, with a particular focus on Android devices.
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