Microsoft Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Pro 5: Worth an upgrade?

Microsoft has just launched a fresh new Surface Pro 6 convertible tablet, releasing worldwide in October 2018. So what's actually new, and should Surface Pro 5 owners consider throwing cash at Microsoft for this new device?

If you weren’t paying attention, you might have missed the fact that Microsoft pulled back the curtain on some shiny new Surface machines today. The US-based launch wasn’t streamed online and here in the UK there was no kind of press fanfare at all. All the same, a revamped and upgraded version of the Surface Pro 6 will hit stores on October 16th, offering a number of improvements over the previous Surface Pro 5.

So what’s new?

Or rather, what’s old – some Surface fans were left a little underwhelmed by the absence of Type-C USB, which is presumably being held back for the Surface Pro 7. However, there was still plenty of excitement at the prospect of a more powerful model appearing before 2018’s end. And with a slick new paint job and other design improvements, and the promise of powerful new Intel CPUs, there’s enough reason to check out the Surface Pro 6 if you’re after a  stylish and capable hybrid laptop/tablet convertible.

Related: Surface Go Review

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Pro 5 – Overview

The Surface Pro is Microsoft’s premium hybrid machine, offering the convenience of a tablet and the performance of a laptop in a sleek all-in-one form factor. The slate body can be propped up using a slick pull-out stand, while the Type Cover keyboard converts it into a serviceable notebook, similar to the iPad Pro. And like Apple’s tablet, you’ll need to stump up more cash if you want that cover.

By adding the Surface Pen stylus (again, an optional extra), the Surface Pro suddenly becomes a very desirable and flexible machine. This super-accurate creative tool allows you to sketch up a storm, crafting gorgeous artworks or simply editing documents with precision and ease.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Pro 5 – Specs

The latest version of the Surface Pro boosts the specs in a couple of key areas.

For one, you now have Intel’s latest 8th-gen processors on board – backed by up to 16GB of RAM just like last year’s version. While Microsoft hasn’t confirmed the exact specs yet, we’re expecting to see the newest Whiskey Lake Core i5-8265U and Core i7-8565U as options.

In comparison, the older Surface Pro 5 uses 7th-gen Kaby Lake chipsets, again with up to 16GB RAM.

At the launch event, we were told that the new Surface Pro 6 was 67% more powerful than the last version. Of course, we’re not entirely sure which SKUs are being compared here, or what kind of benchmark tests they’re using. Stay tuned for a full review to see if this new Pro really is a big step up for performance.

Microsoft is quoting 13.5-hours of battery life when streaming video. That’s the safe estimate as last year’s Surface Pro, so we’re expecting roughly eight hours of mixed use per charge, if past performance is anything to go by, which is a solid if typical result.

Related: Intel Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Pro 5 – Features

In terms of design, the Surface Pro 6 looks much the same as the older Pro 5. That said, the hybrid is now available in black and platinum, and appears as sleek as ever. The 784g (1.7lb) weight hasn’t changed up either, so portability should still be excellent.

The 12.3-inch PixelSense touchscreen display remains the same size and the 2736×1824 resolution is also the same as before, offering 267ppi visuals. There’s plenty of buzz around the improved contrast levels however, and we’re hoping that colour accuracy has also improved over the disappointing Surface Pro 5.

Likewise, storage still tops out at 1TB, just like before. Plenty of space for all of your files, as long as your budget stretches that far.

Much to our chagrin, there’s still no Type-C USB support on the latest Surface Pro. This 6th-gen model uses Type-A again, and while fitting one of these ports on a tablet-style device is commendable, we’d have preferred a more modern connection.

Slapped on the back of the Surface Pro 6 is another 8-megapixel autofocus HD camera, just like before. Plus you have a front-facing lens for Skyping your buddies, and unlocking the device with facial recognition using Windows Hello. So again, no changes.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Pro 5 – Price

Last year’s ‘All-New’ Surface Pro started at a rather meaty £799, yet the top-end models could set you back around two grand in total.

We don’t yet have a UK price at the time of writing for the new Surface Pro 6, although the device will cost from $899 over in the US. This converted to around £690 at the time of writing.

We would expect the latest model to begin at around the same asking price as before here in the UK.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Pro 5 – Release date

The ‘All-New’ Surface Pro will likely be retired with the launch of this Surface Pro 6, which is going to be available worldwide from October 16th.