New Surface Pro vs MacBook Pro: When you’re looking for a work laptop, you’ll probably consider the Microsoft Surface Pro or Apple MacBook Pro, but which is best?
The MacBook Pro has long been a staple of Apple’s computing roster, offering solid performance and an ever-attractive design for a generally high price.
Microsoft’s attempt to dethrone Apple as the go-to provider of work machines for hip professionals is the Surface Pro series. These laptop/tablet hybrids have proved popular with those looking for a versatile machine with decent power and a Windows operating system.
Choosing between the two is a difficult task, so read on to learn the key differences between the two devices.
Note that the new Surface Pro was only announced on May 23, and although it’s available for pre-order, it won’t begin shipping in the UK until June 15, 2017.
NEW SURFACE PRO 2017 VS MACBOOK PRO DESIGN: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
The MacBook Pro comes in two variants: 13-inch and 15-inch. This dictates the size of the screen (diameter), so you’ll want to work out whether paying a premium for those extra two inches is worth it.
On the newer MacBook Pro models, there’s an option to add a Touch Bar: an OLED strip that replaces the row of function keys on a standard MacBook Pro. The strip shows different function keys depending on the app you’re in. So if you’re using Photoshop, you’ll get relevant shortcut keys; listen to Spotify and you’ll be able to control music.
All-in-all, the MacBook Pro is a fairly conventional laptop, boasting a slim and stylish metal chassis and a large, accurate trackpad. The keyboard has Apple’s new shallow-actuation design for keys, so typing should be very low-effort compared to older models.
Importantly, despite the fact it has tonnes of power, the MacBook Pro is very slim and light. In fact, it weighs just 1.37kg and has a thickness of 14.9mm – that’s about two iPhone 7 handsets stacked on top of each other.
But the Surface Pro is also a slick piece of kit, featuring a swanky hybrid design. This means that it can be used like a tablet, or attached to a keyboard for a laptop-style experience.
The only screen size available for the Surface Pro is 12.3-inches, which some power users may find limiting. That said, the 12-inch to 13-inch mark is probably the safest size range for notebook devices, so it should suit the needs of most users.
Like the MacBook Pro, the Surface Pro is very attractive and svelte, and will look gorgeous sitting on almost any surface. That’s partly thanks to the fact it has an incredibly slim 8.5mm body, and weighs a feathery 768 grams (up to 784 grams, depending on your configuration). Bringing the Surface Pro in at under the 1kg mark is a real win for Microsoft, as it will woo those who regularly have to cart their notebook around.
There’s no clear winner in terms of design, rather two very different options that will require your personal judgement. The MacBook Pro is great for anyone who wants a sturdy, traditional laptop with a tried-and-tested design. If you’re looking for a more lightweight hybrid device, the Surface Pro is obviously the way to go.
NEW SURFACE PRO 2017 VS MACBOOK PRO SPECS: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Both the Surface Pro and MacBook Pro have high-resolution displays, but Microsoft’s hybrid is marginally superior with a display resolution of 2736 x 1824 pixels to Apple’s 2560 x 1600 pixels. Given the fact that MacBook Pro panels are slightly bigger, the Surface Pro comes in with a hefty 276ppi pixel density compared to the MacBook Pro’s 227ppi.
As far as processing goes, the Surface Pro and MacBook Pro are on relatively equal footing. They both use Intel’s latest 7th-generation Kaby Lake CPUs. What you get in terms of performance depends on how much you’re willing to spend on pricier configurations.
Storage is fairly equal between the two devices, as both come with 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB options. Surface Pro has a minor advantage however, in that there’s a 128GB configuration available too, for those who don’t need heaps of storage and want to keep costs down. The cloud is your friend, folks.
Memory is consistent again, with both devices featuring 8GB and 16GB RAM configurations. But once more, Microsoft’s Surface Pro edges out with a 4GB option. Both products use 1866MHz LPDDR3 memory, though this is upgradeable.
One of Surface Pro’s big wins over the MacBook Pro is its camera tech. The Surface Pro has two cameras (8-megapixel and 5-megapixel) on the back and front, both of which are capable of capturing 1080p (Full HD) video. By comparison, the MacBook Pro’s singular camera can only capture 720p (HD) footage, which means video calling won’t look as sharp.
Apple’s controversial port strategy also causes some problems for the MacBook Pro: there’s no SD card slot. There are two (or four) Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports though, as well as a headphone jack. The Surface Pro, meanwhile, features a full-size USB 3.0 port, a headphone jack, Surface Connect support, a MicroSDXC card reader, and a Mini DisplayPort.
And finally, thanks to a number of enhancements, Microsoft’s Surface Pro promises an incredible 13.5-hour battery life. That’s compared to Apple’s 10-hour charge cycle claim for the MacBook Pro. Ouch.
For a full spec comparison, check out the table below:
|Microsoft Surface Pro (2017)||Apple MacBook Pro|
|Screen||12.3 inches (Touch)||13 inches / 15 inches|
|Display Resolution||2736 x 1824 pixels (267ppi)||2560 x 1600 pixels (227ppi)|
|CPU||Intel Core m3 / i5 / i7 (7th-gen)||Intel Core i5 / i7 (7th-gen)|
|GPU||Intel HD Graphics 620 / Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640||Intel Iris Graphics 540/550|
|Storage||128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB||256GB / 512GB / 1TB|
|Memory||4GB / 8GB / 16GB||8GB / 16GB|
|Camera||Full HD video (rear) / Full HD video (front)||HD video (front)|
|Battery Life||13.5 hours (standard usage)||10 hours (standard usage)|
|OS||Windows 10||MacOS Sierra|
|Dimensions||292 x 201 x 8.5mm||149 x 304.1 x 212.4mm|
|Weight||768 grams / 784 grams||1,370 grams|
It’s tough to say whether Microsoft’s Windows is better or worse than MacOS X – and that’s brilliant. This is because both companies have crafted exceptional operating systems, and you’ll probably get along fine with either.
If you’re already used to one, then the obvious advice is to just stick with the OS you’ve become familiar with. You’ll work much faster on a machine that you know the ins and outs of.
Both Windows and MacOS support workflow continuity to their respective smartphones, so if you’ve got an iPhone then you might want to invest in a MacBook Pro. Similarly, if you’re one of the very few people using a Windows 10 phone, maybe a Windows machine is for you.
Apple MacBooks have a reputation for being safer in terms of cybersecurity, if only because they have a very locked-down software setup i.e. the App Store. But you’ll find that Microsoft – although arguably more vulnerable – still has a wider selection of software available to it, particularly when it comes to niche apps.
In any case, whichever OS you choose, you won’t be disappointed.
NEW SURFACE PRO 2017 VS MACBOOK PRO PRICE: WHICH LAPTOP IS BETTER VALUE?
The issue of value is difficult because both devices come in so many different configurations.
The cheapest MacBook Pro will set you back £1,449/$2,174 while the most expensive costs £2,699/$4,049. By contract, the cheapest Surface Pro costs £799/$1198.5, with the top-end model also costing £2,699/$4,409.
For a good comparison, a 13-inch MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar costs £1,449/$2,174. That gets you 256GB of storage, 8GB of RAM, and an Intel Core i5 processor.
The closest two Surface Pro models to that price point are as follows:
- Option 1 (£1,249): Intel Core i5 / 8GB RAM / 256GB storage
- Option 2 (£1,549): Intel Core i7 / 8GB RAM / 256GB storage
So in both cases, it’s a fairly similar proposition. What it will probably come down to is your preference in terms of design and usability. However, it’s worth noting that the Surface Pro arguably has a better array of ports, and offers some advantages, including better battery life, a more pixel dense screen, and a better camera setup.
Still, you’re likely to find similar value for money from both devices at a similar price point – after all, they’re designed to compete with each other.
NEW SURFACE PRO 2017 VS MACBOOK PRO SUMMARY: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Here’s a quick breakdown of the key differences between the new Surface Pro and MacBook Pro.
Design: Both devices are very attractive, but the key difference is the MacBook Pro is a laptop, while the Surface Pro is a tablet/laptop hybrid.
Specs: Both devices offer basically the same configuration options, although the Surface Pro seems to be a more complete offering.
Price: The MacBook Pro starts at £1,449, while Microsoft undercuts Apple with a lower-configuration option at £799/$1198.5, but both devices eventually work their way up to a similarly configured £2,699/$4,049 beast.