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Surface Pro 3 vs. Surface 2 vs. Surface Pro 2

Surface 2

Today Microsoft announced the Surface Pro 3, a new tablet joining the Surface family of devices. Last September, Microsoft announced the Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2. Here we are, over half a year later and there’s a new device. How does it stack up against its siblings?

The Surface Pro 3 is really some impressive tech combined into a sleek, sexy package. To be fair, the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 are just as hot, but in their own, unique way. The devices come in at different price points, have different specs and will appeal to different users. That said, we can’t help but put sibling up against sibling up against sibling. Let’s see how these three machines compare.

SP3 vs S2 vs Sp2

Thinking of picking up one of these devices? Which would you go for? 

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Reader comments

Surface Pro 3 vs. Surface 2 vs. Surface Pro 2

147 Comments

I wouldn't hold your breath for a sale or discount. I honestly don't think I've seen discounts yet for 2nd Gen surfaces.

Yup, SP3 with i7, 8GB and 256GBand black type cover. Sweet! Now I have to figure out how I am possibly going to survive until August. Is it here yet?

Haven't you learnt yet? Day 1 releases always, always have issues and you'll be waiting around for fixes. Also, the deals (free games, free covers etc) come out a few weeks after release. Day 1 buyers always pay more and get less. I always wait minimum 3-6 months to buy anything new

I disagree. I bought the SP1 on the day it was released, still use it daily, and have had zero issues due to the fact that it was bought on the release date. I have installed the beta versions of Win 98, ME, XP, Vista, 7, and 8 with few, if any issues. I'm also a day one buyer of the iPad 1 and 2, the iPhone 3GS and 4S, and the Nokia 1020. All have been excellent, more or less, and well worth taking the risk that something could go wrong, and I would have been better off to wait 3 to 6 months until the bugs were worked out. I love the new features and abilities, and have had almost no cause to regret this pattern in the last 34 years since I bought my Radio Shack Color Computer on the release date. Everyone is entitled to make their own choices. 

doesn't need to try it. It's a matter of the technology behind the digitizer. The Surface Pro 1&2 both use Wacom technology. The new Pro 3 uses N-Trig technology. They are incompatible from my understanding.

Not likely. The normal Surface is more aimed at entertainment with some productivity unlike the Surface Pro which is aimed at productivity with some entertainment ;) So the form factor of the current Surfaces is better. It would be very stupid from Microsoft to change what's good as it is.

There's no reason to release another Surface so soon. Specially one with Windows RT. Those get recycled yearly. And as for discontinuing...If anything, they'll replace the normal Surface with the Lumia tablets.

No. RT is where everything is going eventually. In time, everything will be available in Store and we wouldn't need to run any x86 software.

wrong. rt the"clean" version of windows is the future.store apps only, self patching windows. its just on arm right now,but rt and cpu arent linked.

 

 

RT = tablets

Pros = laptops

as you can see the high prices of the Pros and the spec downgrades, RTs are key.

 

It does seem so considering the news they canned the Mini late in the game because it "wasn't different enough".

I figured a Mini Surface would show that they hadn't given up on RT. Guess they have, if anything, at least for now.

Sam, you forgot to mention that the Surface 2 has an LTE option.  That's a BIG deal to some of us.  I'm really torn on what to buy now.  I really need LTE... but I really WANT the Pro 3.

I'm thinking of ditching my Surface 2 to get the one with LTE. My cellphone's data isn't good enough to use as a router now and then. I already make good use of it on the phone itself.

OMG.. lol I just found it.. except its not between the kickstand.. its like on the side with the charging port, above it..

I have a Surface Pro 2 and would love to upgrade. I use mine every day and the 3 would make it even better. Perhaps a trade in program??? Please?

Same here, but I wouldn't hold my breath for a trade in, other than a DIY one via ebay. So far their trade ins have been for iDevices to get people to switch to Windows.

Indeed. This device looks very promising. A few concerns, especially in regards to the wallet, but I'm still very trigger happy. I'll have to see what Nokia has up its sleeve for the rumored 1030 this summer, assuming the 1020 successor does come out over the summer.

Still, looks juicy. Hope to try one soon.

As a former user of the original Surface RT I thought the Surface 2 was for me because I didn't mind not having full windows if I were getting a lighter and longlasting device, but the Pro 3 is really a no compromise device with a lightness and thickness similar to the RT one

I don't really think the Pro 2 vs Pro 3 matters much.  Microsoft is clearly going to be phasing it out (just try and find it on Surface.com now).  Still, I personally dislike that the smaller 10.6" version isn't going to continue to be an option.

Sadly, pro 3 is a substantial downgrade for digital artists. Pro 2 has 400% more levels of pressure sensitivity than Pro 3. going ntrig was a mistake.

I have the SP2 but I'd prefer the SP3. The only thing I don't like is the new stylus is not Wacom and has 1/4 the pressure sensitivity resolution. But maybe it will work accurately within a centimeter of the edge of the screen, unlike the Wacom. Photoshop wouldn't need big buttons if the pen would work on the menus.

While I was skeptical after first seeing it, but after seeing the hands-on video: I now REALLY want a SP3. I mean, I love my SP2, but the 3 is just... Wow!

I think the silver color and that new kickstand is what had me sold. The silver just looks absolutely stunning and gorgeous, and that new kickstand will be infinitely useful.

However, a few concerns:
* Part of why I love my SP2 (and one of the things Microsoft advertises) is the 16:9 aspect ratio. It's perfect for watching movies and snapping apps. How does a 3:2 aspect ratio compare?
* Speaking of the screen: While the device is overall thinner, lighter and less bulky, I still feel like that larger display might get in the way and be less convenient portability-wise when compared to my 10.1 inch SP2. I'll have to see it in person to know for sure, but I don't feel I'd be able to fit it in my backpack as easily for school.
* Finally: I've already got a SP2. These devices certainly don't come cheap, and I feel like Microsoft will end up releasing a SP4 this fall. While I realize this is mostly a personal decision: Is it worth upgrading?

Looks likes solid device. I'm definitely headed to my local Microsoft Store soon to try it out.

I really want to upgrade from my SP1 to a SP3 but ya they arent cheap...Really want one though and it looks like it is a worth upgrade. Going to have to play with one in store to find out. I think the main things to determine if you want to upgrade are:
1) Size. Do you like the larger size
a. Yes
b. No

2) Thickness. Do you like the thinner tablet
a. Yes
b. No

3) Kickstand. Do you like the new kickstand?
a. Yes
b. No

If you answered yes to the majority of the questions then you should get the Surface Pro 3. If you answered no to the majority of the questions then you should stick with your Surface Pro 2.

:P

I wanted to Surface 2 for months but waiting for the price tag to drop. I was hoping for an Surface 3 announcement so that can happen sooner but no luck.

How is rt with IE plugins? I really want something light, small, great battery, cheap... But I'm a student. Some online classes require stupid crap plugins... I really wanted a mini!!!! Maybe the mini will be a surface nook...?

Atom has always been underpowered, especially in the graphics arena. It just can't handle the video/image editing (not to mention gaming) that the core I series does quite well.

Microsoft have lost the plot and have been focused on the MacBook air way too long. No one but a tiny few need a core processor. They have this stupid arm fixation on the other hand. Give me an amazing 10 inch super light weight 64bit 4gb Atom with 4gb ram, mini HDMI, full USB 3 a high rez screen and call it a day. This is all I want. Thank god Lenovo is about to give it to me. I don't want to be tethered to my keyboard. I like to set up away from the office like my office.

Actually the new BayTrail series are 64bit capable, so yes we have a 64bit Atom. The problem is that noone has used them with 64bit OS yet. Look at Asus Transformer T100, if they put more RAM in it, you could easily have a 64bit WIndows 8.1 on it. The problem with such a device is that you would have a nice cheap machine but very low performance in CPU heavy apps and games. Atoms come with slow Intel GPU Gen7 which are way slower than the HD4xxx and Iris.

Do we know the particular specs on the hardware yet? Like what model versions of the CPUs? What's the speed and latency on the ram used? And what about the ssd's being used? Those are what I want to know. If anyone has a link I'd appreciate it. Thanks!

I'm a bit confused at the naming scheme; what will be the next device? Surface 4? If that's so, what will Surface 4 pro be, 12" or 10.6? Is the 10.6 pros replaced by the 12" pros? Will there be a Surface Pro 2.1? I say this because I kind of like the 10.6" size but wish the pro 2 was thinner... And what happens to all those 10.6" covers? Hands on will help me decide if the sp3 is a must have

Surface Pro 4 will be 12inch. The next device "Surface 3" will be 10.6 as usual. And will likely still run RT.

You can't have Surface 4 without a Surface 3.

They basically changed the Pro line to better fit the name.

I don't know! I had my heart set on the Surface Mini! Yes there are other choices at that size, but none have the cool kickstand or the nice keyboard option. No other 8 inch tablet can live up to that. 

I love my Surface RT and I also have a Surface Pro 2 on loan that I will need to pay for or return. But they do not make great reading devices. I thought a Surface mini with the cool stuff I mentioned above PLUS pen support would be my perfect device. Now I just don't know. 

I like to use the Surface for pen input. The coolest thing I saw at the event today was the innovations to one note -- the straight to the cloud ability, and the ability to write directly on it and it change to typeface. Those things seem like software upgrades to OneNote. Won't we be able to get those abilities with the earlier tablets?

 

 

 

I wonder if they really did kill the Surface Mini... Sad if true. Was really looking forward to combining it with a SP3. I guess I'll wait it out till its confirmed. If it's confirmed I'll get a Thinkpad 8 or its successor. It is also very nice but I wish it ran RT instead.
I don't want to deal with X86 apps on an 8inch device.

Office (Desktop, that is) OneNote already converts written to text. It's a bit of a pain and not very good with my chicken scratch I call writing. I assume you're talking about the RT/Metro OneNote which doesn't do as such. So, yeah, I think it's a software thing that should be coming down the pipe.

Just like most Office apps will get a Metro app. Which I look forward to. I have a Pro 1 and Office 365 but I use Metro OneNote almost exclusively because it works better on a tablet for written notes. I bust out Office 2013 OneNote just for the power features of managing my notebooks.

I saw it convert text to type immediately in that crosswords app. I guess it wasn't onenote. But yeah the way one note does it now is kind of annoying. 

I have a surface pro 2 and love it! The only reason I'd go to a pro 3 is for the i7... Other than that the specs on the pro3 won't be really a big needed upgrade besides maybe the battery life.

Surface rocks overall!!

I am an early adopter of the original Surface Pro and system peripheral's. I love what I have seen from the Surface 3 presentation however I am not sure I can afford Microsoft and their hardware products. My Surface Pro completely out of date and two docking station that can not be used for the new Surface 3 in less than 1.5 years. Staying with the Surface Pro is not a good investment for my business. Love the product but the true cost of ownership is fare from the pricing they market. Microsoft Surface Pro family...not sure I can justify being part of. Question...will Microsoft launch Surface Pro 4 with all new peripherals for Christmas? It's been there track record.

They've done an amazing job trimming this down.  When I think of slick, high end, thin laptops my mind of course goes to the MacBook Air- 17mm thick for both 11 and 13 inch versions.  The surface pro 3 is an amazing 9.1mm thick- whoa!  Almost twice as thin as a Macbook.  Of course, you would need to add a 5mm typecover or 3mm touchcover to make it a functional laptop, still making the surface pro 3-5mm thinner than the premium apple product.

Also the weight... 800 grams.  What a slap in the face to apples 1,340g and 1,080g air line.  Even with touch cover the 12" surface pro 3 weighs less than the 12" apple air.

Of course, when looking up the weight I found an article that says the surface pro 3 weighs more than apples ipad.  DOH.

 

Of course, it is not in the same category as an iPad. And while it weighs more, it dwarfs the iPad for features and application base of real-world computing applications.

People who don't really understand what they're writing about will always compare it to such devices like the iPad and Android tablets. Or they just want something to write and the facts be damned.

well preorders are up. ordered i5/256. I REALLY wish they had a 128GB/8GB model because honestly I felt raped by paying 300 bucks to achieve what I consider the bare minimum for a pro device: 8GB.

Ugh why are these things so expensive. If they were around iPad prices or cheaper these things would be among the best selling

the annoying part is that they COULD release a surface 3 with the core i3 priced to ipad levels or even with broadwell.

I almost almost got a Surface Pro 2, just couple of days ago.

Been researching options for some months already.

Went from ultrabooks to convertibles to high powered tablets. Gone through all brands, tons of reviews and comparisons.

Ultimately, it came down to availability - here, a tip for brazilian fellows.

Unfortunately, Microsoft doesn't sell Surface in Brazil. Kinda like their hated competing corporation - Google, who for the longest time also refused to sell Nexus products here. They just now brought the Nexus 4, and that's about it.

I managed to find an online import shop (which I never bought anything from, so I had no reliability and no reason to trust) which sold Surface Pro 2, but I decided not to get it because another essencial part that I absolutely needed was a docking station. And specialized accessories like those are simply impossible to get here.

Docking stations for specific tablets or laptops just don't reach Brazil. You won't find it in retailer stores, you won't find it online, you won't find it anywhere.

So, in the end, I went for a Dell Venue 11 Pro. It's a bit less powerful than Surface Pro 2, but it fits my needs. And Dell has the docking station (the official brazilian online store that is). Plus, I already have a Dell desktop and had a top line laptop from them in the past. Costumer support works well in my city, and they are about the only big brand with official presence in Brazil which brings the latest products relatively fast.

Pick any other brand - Sony, Lenovo, HP, Acer and several others - and you are bound to find, in official brazilian stores, the stuff that's past gen in the US. I guess Apple is relatively fast too, but I use Windows.

In any case, be it Surface Pro 2, 3, this Dell Venue 11, among few other brands, it's quite impressive how much power they are managing to shove into a tablet form factor. It's like we finally got to the technological point I dreamed about a long time before the iPad even came into existence: Something very close to a full high end desktop.

It was this video I watched on YouTube with a guy using a Surface Pro 2 to edit an HD video with Adobe Premiere that made me realize how much they can handle - something that was borderline impossible not too long ago.

Admitedly, you can also do it with a Macbook Air, which is quite a feat in itself. But for my needs, the tablet+dock combo fits better.

In any case, by the end of this week or perhaps next week I'll have my hands on it. Hopefully, my expectations will be right this time.

Came here to say just that. I haven't seen thickness comparison side-by-side on any of my regular tech sites. Its crazy how sp3 is only a tiny amount thicker (something like 0.26 mm) than my surface 2!

I have an original Surface Pro with type cover, 128 GB SSD. How much do you think I could trade it in for and get a Surface Pro 3 w/ i3? Or do you think it's not worth it? Absolutely love my Surface Pro, plenty fast, great battery life, great screen color, only thing I want is a bigger screen.

Okay, now we have Surface Pro 3 coming in, so is there any news for the next generation of
Surface 2, or what it might be called Surface 3, that runs Windows RT?

SP3 i5, 216, Type Cover (black), pre-ordered... have loved my Surfi so far and am looking forward to this new gen. The new pen stuff made me all tingly.

Calling it Surface Pro 3 is interesting as it makes you wonder if they would make another pro at the Pro 2 screen size. I hope so as for me the Pro 3 is just to big. I like it, but it is to much of a laptop size and I like the fact my Pro 2 is a really powerful device that fits in a really small bag.

I'm going to wait until the surface pro 2 goes on sale as a old model, then snag one. I'm also waiting for the surface mini.... Was that just a rumor?

Wish these stuff com in India as well. The only good windows tab in India is dell venue 8 pro. The others r Dum. Sometimes i feel that what r Microsoft ppl doing instead of sending new tabs. Even nokia r the same. Id be very happy if nokia Lumia 2520 comes to India

I don't think people who are unfamiliar with Surface Pro are going to be willing to pay those prices for a windows tablet.

Bigger screen and an i7 would be nice, but down grading to a NTrig pen with only 256 pressure points is a deal breaker. I'll stick with the SP2 and 1024 pressure points with a legit Wacom pen. Very disappointed that the digital art community got the middle figure with this release. Sorry SP3 but you need to try harder.

They announced it too early. I hope they update it soon with 14nm processors and then I will buy the i5 with 8gb ram for sure. Everything I wanted is already there except the processor and battery life should be better with broadwell.... Maybe around Christmas ? Microsoft ? Please ? or should I say Intel ?

Just purchased the Surface Pro 2 on Friday from BestBuy.  This will be going back.  I'll pre-order the new one!  Darn you Microsoft!  ;-)

Great hardware specs. Still have only had my surfac pro one for only a year now. I think I'll wait a bit longer as I believe the experience of the surface pro 3 is not quite there yet. Would shell out 2000 dollars for the surface pro three if they hit the right familiar and seamless epxiernce buttons on the writing, inking and ink-to-text recogntion (notetaking) experiences across the windows 8 OS as also in the office, onenote and onedrive. They almost, there not quite. Maybe surface pro 4?

Just traded my surface pro 1 with keyboard for a pro 3 for 212.00 at Ms store in maine. My wife traded her surface for a surface 2 also. Great deal.

And for the record I don't expect a surface 3 till there is a tegra 5 chipset. So maybe a mini or surface max in August with a new 1030,1530/surface and surface pro phones what ever they call them. And for the record. Please call them surface and make them look that way.