Since its introduction in 2012, the Microsoft Surface been considered the ultimate tablet that can also be a laptop. While Microsoft may have ditched the numbering scheme with the last model, for the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 it’s back.
Is this refresh of the powerful Surface Pro enough to warrant the next generation numbering?
The Surface Pro 6 looks very similar to last year’s Surface Pro. The only big change to the exterior is a matte black finish, but it still features the dated design of the previous generations.
Surface products have traditionally had fantastic screens and the Surface Pro 6 doesn’t disappoint on this point. A 12.3-inch screen with a higher than QHD resolution (2,736 x 1,824 pixels) is bright, colorful and vivid. We particularly liked the 3:2 ratio which leaves plenty of room on screen for getting your work done.
Surprisingly, the bezels on the Surface Pro 6 haven’t been changed, and now look rather dated. While other manufacturers have competed to cut the most millimeters off their designs, you can’t help but notice how large the Microsoft bezels look.
What’s Included in the Box?
Although the Surface Pro retains the sturdy kickstand, it still doesn’t include a keyboard or touchpad. You will have to buy the Type Cover, the superb Microsoft attachable keyboard, separately.
Also not included is the best-in-class stylus, the Surface Pen. With 4,096 levels of sensitivity and a built-in eraser function, it’s an excellent add-on, just like the keyboard. It’s a shame Microsoft have not yet decided to include these with the device, without them you’re stuck with the less effective tablet mode.
Fortunately, Microsoft have updated the internals, with Surface Pro 6 now using Intel’s latest 8th-gen Core i5 or i7 processors. Both are faster and more power efficient. The Surface Pro is ideal for everyday tasks, like emails or word processing, and Photoshop will crunch through images much quicker than a MacBook Air.
The improved integrated Intel UHD 620 graphics offer a slight boost over the 7th-gen HD 620 graphics, but nothing noticeable for game playing. It will struggle with many of the latest triple-A titles, although games like Rocket League can be played at lower graphics settings.
With the Surface Pro 6, Microsoft has addressed battery life issues that plagued previous generations of the Surface. The Surface Pro 6 offers an impressive nine hours of productivity tasks or 13.5 hours of video playback. At last you have a device which can finally handle a full day at the office and have enough juice left to watch a movie in the evening.
Ports and Communications
While Microsoft may have improved the lackluster battery life of the predecessor, they have done little to change the port setup. The lack of USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports on the previous model may have looked outdated, now it simply looks prehistoric.
Microsoft’s reluctance to embrace USB-C means you can’t use your cellphone charger to charge the Surface Pro 6. Additionally, modern peripherals like an external GPU can’t be attached to transform it into a gaming rig. Even the USB 3.0 port doesn’t conform to the new faster 3.1 standard.
Wireless connectivity is well covered, with the standard WiFi a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.1 connections comparable to other tablets. A microSD card slot located underneath the kickstand allows for expanding the storage.
A Good 2-in-1 Which Could Have Been Better.
If you want to use Windows on a tablet, the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is still one of the best 2-in-1 devices you can buy. One small change has been the move to the Windows 10 Home operating system rather than Pro. If you want to use features like Remote Desktop or Bitlocker encryption, you’re going to have to pay to upgrade to Pro.
The changes you can’t physically see are the ones that make the Surface Pro 6 a valuable upgrade. Quad-core processors, faster SSD storage and improved battery life make this still the portable laptop and tablet hybrid for competitors to beat.
It’s just a shame that Microsoft haven’t seen fit to update the connections with USB-C or at least an HDMI output.
Introducing Microsoft Surface Pro 6 YouTube video from Microsoft: