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Microsoft Surface Pro 6 Review: Same Design But With More Power Under The Hood

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For many years, the Microsoft Surface Pro series has been the best 2-in-1 detachable solution. Surface Pro 6 continues this trend but without much effort. The tablet (starting from $899/£879, $1,428.98/$1,373.98 our review unit) has a new black color that makes it thinner than ever, but otherwise, nothing has changed externally. In particular, this means the absence of modern ports. But, after all, it has a quad-core performance and its screen still stops.

Pros:

  • Bright display
  • Great battery life
  • Black color looks smooth

Cons:

  • No Thunderbolt 3 or USB Type-C
  • Storage is more backward than competitors
  • Type Cover requires extra money

Specifications

Display 12.3-inch, 2736 x 1824 PixelSense display
CPU Intel Core i5-8250U
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620 (integrated)
Memory 8GB 1,867MHz LPDDR3
SSD 256GB SSD
Networking 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1
Video Ports 1x Mini DisplayPort
USB Ports 1x USB 3.0 Type-A
Audio 1.6W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio PremiumHeadphone jack
Camera 720p camera with Windows Hello
Battery 45WHr
Power Adapter 44W
Operating System Windows 10 Home
Dimensions (WxDxH) 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.3 inches (292 x 201 x 8.5 mm)
Weight 1.7 pounds / 0.77 kg
Other Windows Hello Surface Connect Port
Price (as configured) $1,428.98/£1,373.98

Design

The Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is black again, but it is the only new thing in its design. If you look at the alternative color, plain platinum, it looks just like last year’s model.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 Review: Same Design But With More Power Under The Hood 1


Okay, it’s still a pretty good design. It has a single-body aluminum case, and if you have a black version like mine, it looks very stylish. It’s spartan except for the reflective Microsoft logo on the bottom. By the way, this is still one of the best, most flexible, and firmest detachable 2-in-1s available.

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The 12.3-inch 2736×1824 pixel display has a 3: 2 aspect ratio, which I think is ideal for productivity (seriously, why don’t all non-gaming laptops have a 3: 2 display?), But it is surrounded by thick frames. These Windows Hello Face Detection Cameras provide a place to use your hand as a tablet but are still a bit ugly.

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There is only one connector on the left: the headphone jack. Below, the optional pen picks up the magnets. On the right are one USB 3.0 Type-A connector, Mini DisplayPort and a patented Surface Connect connector. Like Microsoft Surface Laptop 2, these connections are questionable. It is strange to see Microsoft pursuing the view that other 2-in-1 suppliers are fighting and should not include USB Type-C or Thunderbolt 3 in the price. A dedicated port works with the Microsoft Surface Connect port, but there are many Type C and Thunderbolt 3 ports that may provide similar functionality.

Measuring 292x201x8.5 mm (11.5×7.9×0.3 inches) 1.7 pounds, the surface is extremely portable. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 2-pound tablet is a larger 12×8.9×0.4 inch tablet, and Samsung’s 9-pin pen weighs 2.2 pounds and 12.2×8.1×0.7 inches.

Performance

With an Intel Core i5-8250U CPU, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD, Surface Pro 6 is a competent ultraportable. The switch to quad-core is a good leap over the latest generation of Surface Pros.

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In Geekbench 4, Surface Pro 6 scored 13,025, exceeding the ultraportable average (12,945) and the ThinkPad X1 tablet (12,772, Core i5-8250U), but not the Notebook 9 Pen (Core i7-8550U).

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The Surface Pro 6 took 22 seconds to copy a 4.97 GB file at a speed of 231 MBps. That is slower than all of its competitors, as well as from the average category.

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The Microsoft tablet combined 65,000 names and addresses in our Excel test in 1 minute and 12 seconds, exceeding the average of 1:27 and its two competitors.

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In our Handbrake test, the Surface took 23 minutes and 22 seconds to convert a 4K video to 1080p, which is slower than average (20:34) but faster than the ThinkPad X1 Tablet and the Notebook 9 Pen.

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To do a tablet stress test, I ran Cinebench R15 in a loop 10 times. It ran smoothly until execution 5 when it submerged, it increased until execution 8 and the pattern began to begin again. The CPU operated at an average clock speed of 2.6GHz; It normally ran around 2.7GHz but had many drops at 2.4GHz and 2.5GHz that reduced the average. The CPU measured an average of 66.1 degrees Celsius (151 degrees Fahrenheit) during the stress test.

Display

The 12.3 inches, 2736 x 1824 PixelSense display is bright and sharp, making it ideal for creating content or consuming. When I saw the trailer of Aquaman on FHD in the Surface Pro, the sunset behind the hero of the title that emerged from the sea was a beautiful series of pink, blue and orange.

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The Microsoft tablet covers 136 percent of the sRGB color palette. It is higher than the average of 130% for ultraportables and ThinkPad and Notebook 9 Pen.

It measured the brightness at an average of 408 nits, just below the ThinkPad X1 (415 nits), but above the average in Notebook 9.

Keyboard, Touchpad, and Surface Pen

The Surface Pro’s most enduring sin was that you had to buy the Type Cover keyboard and the Surface Pen separately. This is still the case, the type cover costs $129.99 (£124.99) and the pen costs $ 99.99 (£99.99).

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Even with just a 0.6mm keystroke, I reached 110 words per minute on 10fastfingers.com, which is average for me, including my standard error rate of 2%. The type cover bent slightly as I was typing, but not enough to bother me.

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As expected, the glass touch panel uses Microsoft’s Windows precision controls, so all my navigation and gestures were simple.

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The pen is now also available in black but otherwise has not changed. The pen has 4,096 pressure points and responds to the tendency to get a shadow. The flat edge, which also has a housing key, is connected to the side of the tablet for storage. The pen is one of the few styles that use the back of the pen as an eraser.

Audio

The Surface Pro 6 stereo speakers are decent. They were loud enough to fill the sound of our lab when I heard “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk. The voice and the guitars were clear and the drums were snappy. But I could only clearly and apply the bass and bass that the icon deserves.

Upgradeability

The Surface Pro 6 cannot be upgraded. It is glued together and not screwed. So if you think you need more RAM or memory, make sure you have the right configurations (see below). Based on the teardowns, these parts are also soldered down.

Battery Life

In our battery test, in which we constantly surf the Internet, we transmit videos and perform OpenGL tests at 150 nits, the surface lasted 9 hours and 20 minutes. It is just below the 9:28 average, but it is longer than the ThinkPad X1 Tablet and the Notebook 9 pen.

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Heat

15 minutes after streaming HD video from YouTube, the back of the surface was at 32.4 degrees hottest. Most stayed close to 30 and much cooler. This is definitely not too hot to be used as a tablet.

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Webcam

The Surface Pro 2560×1440 camera is crisp and precise in color. My burgundy shirt looked perfect, and every part of my hair that slid under my headphones was so visible that I felt I had to brush my hair. I would love that for video conferencing.

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Software and Warranty

Microsoft is lightweight with its preinstalled software. The only add-on for Windows is the Surface program, which lets you adjust pen settings, check the battery level of your peripheral, and learn more about your computer.

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But Microsoft Surface devices also suffer from the swelling that comes with every copy of Windows 10, such as PDF Table, Sketch, Facebook and Netflix.

Microsoft sells Surface Pro 6 with a year warranty.

Configurations & Price

The reviewed Surface Pro 6 came in black color with a 256 GB SSD, 8 GB RAM, and an Intel Core i5-8250U processor. It costs $ 1199.00 (£ 1,149). If you add a Surface Pencil and Type Cover, you get $ 1,488.98 (£ 1,373.98).

Another model with a 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM, and Core i7 costs $1,899 (£1,599) before adding a pen and keyboard. The maximized version costs $2,299 (£ 1,949) and has 16 GB of storage but is available in platinum.

The base model, priced at 899 USD (879 GBP), is the same as the one we tested, but has 128 GB of memory and is also available in black for platinum.

Final Verdict

If you want to get a detachable 2-in-1, we can hardly recommend anything over the Surface Pro 6. Sure, we found some limitations in the test, but the battery life is better than other removable devices and the display is excellent. It’s just a great experience. The biggest problem is that the keyboard is not included and does not have a USB Type-C or Thunderbolt 3 device.

The best option is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 tablet for $1,395, which comes with a keyboard and pen. Two Thunderbolt 3 ports and microSD card slots, but without USB Type A, another extreme connection is possible.

However, Microsoft wins the ThinkPad X1 in terms of design, display and battery life, which makes it more practical to use in general. If you are looking for a separate removable device that is compatible with existing accessories, Surface Pro 6 is a better option.

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