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New Surface Pro 2017 vs MacBook Pro: What’s the difference?

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Surface pro vs macbook

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.

Related: Best laptops

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.

Related: New Surface Pro 2017 vs Surface Pro 4

MacBook Pro 13 2016 review

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.

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surface pro new

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?

Hardware

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.

MacBook Pro 13 2016 1

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.

Buy Now: Pre-order Surface Pro at Microsoft starting from £799

SURFACE PRO

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.

MacBook Pro 13 2016

Related: Best gaming PC

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

surface pro

Software

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.

MacBook Pro 13 2016 1

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 while the most expensive costs £2,699. By contract, the cheapest Surface Pro costs £799, with the top-end model also costing £2,699.

surface pro

For a good comparison, a 13-inch MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar costs £1,449. 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.

Buy Now: Pre-order Surface Pro at Microsoft starting from £799

MacBook Pro 13 2016

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, but both devices eventually work their way up to a similarly configured £2,699 beast.

What do you think of Microsoft’s new Surface Pro (2017)? Let us know in the comments.

Bernhard de Kok

May 25, 2017, 11:25 pm

The surface pros battery life won't be the same for the huge range of CPUs offered. Is the 13.5 hours for the m3, i5 or i7? I'm waging that it's for the m3, which is not comparable to the MacBook. Please clarify.

Aspegic

May 26, 2017, 9:48 am

A hardware comparison between these two products is as interesting as it is pointless. The Surface Pro runs Windows, the Macbook runs MacOS. That's the only relevant difference.

LeeTronix

May 26, 2017, 9:41 pm

SP4 hands down. Only thing mac has going for it is the OS which is wasted on a over rip off priced tin can.

Luay Marrow

May 27, 2017, 7:40 am

There is no way to compare MACOS and Windows 10. Windows 10 is still the same old dysfunctional operating system that crashes and installed on cheap PCs " to make do". The most toxic of combinations is obviously Dell and Windows, but any Windows PC is far inferior to any MACOS device.

Skatman

May 28, 2017, 5:07 pm

Absolutely all of your comment is absolute bull.

Garrett

June 6, 2017, 2:02 pm

I think it was unfair of you to judge the 2017 Macbook Pro before it had even come out. Either that, or this is the 2016 version and you have just confused details. The 2016 MBP does not have a Kaby Lake processor. The new 2017 update, however, does. The 2017 update also brought in a better graphics card and a lower price point for the base model. The new ones will start to run the new MacOS (not that a MacOS and a WindowsOS can really even be compared--they're too different, but not in a way that makes one superior outside of a person-to-person preference).

I also feel that the MacBook Pro was cheated on some of its selling points. One being the enhanced sub-woofer speakers. Infinitely better (and worlds louder) than the teeny bit of sound the SP puts out. You also made no mention of the MBP's screen's wider color gamut and enhanced contrast ratio. If someone is in digital media, such as myself, this is way more important than a marginally higher pixel density. Also, I think it is unfair to instantly mark the SP's tablet-to-computer ability as a win. Some people, myself included, prefer the stability of the traditional hinge. SP compromises this with the changing factor (and past gen SP's have had issues over time with it).

I think comparing the new 2017 MacBook Pro to the 2017 Surface Pro blurs the lines a lot more on which is better. I have only ever used windows, but even I am switching this line around. From what I have sampled at the store and tried of friends devices, the MBP is just so much crisper and smoother than the bugginess and lagginess of a windows device.

Srujay Parekh

June 10, 2017, 6:19 pm

wat a joke!

Luay Marrow

June 11, 2017, 5:46 am

Windows is the bins of OS

Ich Bins

June 16, 2017, 3:48 pm

I can use an eGPU on my MBPro and toast your surface in gaming performance…

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