Which is better, Microsoft’s Surface Pro or Apple’s MacBook Pro? We compare to help you decide.
If you’re in the market for a new laptop, you might find yourself trying to decide between Microsoft’s Surface Pro and Apple’s MacBook Pro. Their names may sound similar, but there are numerous differences between these laptops. Both, however, are designed to satisfy all of your school, work, and family needs.
So, what are the main differences between the Surface Pro and MacBook Pro? In this article we compare these two popular laptops according to their specifications, build quality, software, battery life, and more.
Surface Pro vs. MacBook Pro: Features Comparison
- Hardware & Specs
- Design & Build
For this comparison, we had a look at the Microsoft Surface Pro 12.3″ and the Apple MacBook Pro 13″. Both laptops have similar cost, display size, and 128GB of SSD storage as a standard. Now, let’s lift up the lid to compare the specs between these two devices.
|Surface Pro||MacBook Pro||Advantage|
|CPU||2.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor||2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor||Surface Pro|
|GPU||Intel HD Graphics 620||Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640||MacBook Pro|
|Display||12.3″ Multi-Touch Display, 2736×1824 resolution||13″ Retina Display, 2560×1600 resolution||Surface Pro|
|Storage||128GB SSD||128GB SSD||Tied|
|Battery Life||up to 13.5 hours||up to 10 hours||Surface Pro|
|Camera||Front- and rear-facing cameras||Single front-facing||Surface Pro|
|Keyboard||Detachable Type Cover||Full-size backlit keyboard||Tied|
|Ports||3.5mm Headphone jack
Dual integrated mics
1 x Full-Size USB 3.0
1 x Mini DisplayPort
Surface Connect, Cover port
|3.5mm Headphone jack
2 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C)
Looking over the spec list, the Surface Pro ties or edges out the MacBook Pro in all categories, with the sole exception being the GPU. From a pure performance perspective, the Surface Pro is the clear winner here.
The hardware of the Surface Pro is packed inside a magnesium casing with a metallic finish. The MacBook Pro has a unibody design made from a single block of aluminum. As far as dimensions go, these two laptops are close in size:
|Surface Pro||11.50″ x 7.90″ x 0.33″|
|MacBook Pro||11.97″ x 8.36″ x 0.59″|
While the dimensions are similar, the Surface Pro and MacBook Pro offer vastly different experiences. The Surface Pro is an ultralight 2-in-1 laptop plus tablet, whereas the MacBook Pro is a traditional, ultralight laptop. So if you’re looking for a more versatile laptop with the capability of transforming into a touchscreen tablet, the Surface is what we recommend.
Both the Surface Pro and MacBook Pro are very lightweight.
* 2.39lbs with the Type Cover/keyboard attached
Taking hardware and weight into consideration: for ultimate portability and versatility, the Surface Pro again has an advantage over the MacBook Pro.
As mentioned, the Surface Pro is a highly versatile laptop. Here are the three ways it can be configured:
- Laptop Mode: You can transform the Surface Pro into a laptop by opening the built-in kickstand and adding a Surface Pro Type Cover for a full keyboard experience.
- Studio Mode: By lowering the kickstand you can convert the Surface Pro into Studio Mode, which offers the ideal angle for writing and drawing. Microsoft’s Surface Pen (sold separately) is a great add-on for those wanting precision notetaking and drawing with a natural feel.
- Tablet Mode: Closing the kickstand entirely, and removing the Type Cover puts the Surface Pro in Tablet Mode. This mode is perfect for browsing the internet, watching online videos, or streaming your favourite movies.
Wi-Fi & Bluetooth
Both the Surface Pro and MacBook Pro are compatible with current Wi-Fi standards, specifically
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac. In other words, both of these laptops can connect to just about any router, including most older models.
Turning our attention to Bluetooth capabilities, the MacBook Pro has a slight edge. The laptop features Bluetooth 4.2, compared to the Surface Pro’s Bluetooth 4.1. The advantages 4.2 has over 4.1 includes faster communication speeds and privacy upgrades.
Here’s a look at the sensors both laptops have:
|Ambient Light Sensor||Accelerometer||Gyroscope|
As you can see, the Surface Pro and MacBook Pro have an Ambient Light Sensor, which adjusts the screen’s brightness based on the amount of light in the room. The Surface Pro also includes an accelerometer and gyroscope, sensory devices used to measure the laptop’s movement and orientation.
Where the MacBook Pro does have an advantage in this area is its Force Touch trackpad. This high-tech trackpad can distinguish between different levels of pressure to give you a greater degree of control. For example, when watching a movie, the trackpad can adjust the speed of fast-forwarding depending on how hard you press.
One of the main feature differences between the Surface Pro and MacBook Pro are the operating systems (OS) they use. The Surface Pro runs on Windows 10, while the MacBook Pro is powered by MacOS.
Windows 10 Pro is the OS used in Microsoft’s Surface Pro. Like MacOS, Windows 10 Pro has universal apps designed to run across multiple Microsoft products. That means your app activity on the Surface Pro can be synched with other Windows 10 devices, such as Windows PCs, smartphones, and Xbox One.
Because Windows 10 is used by approximately 90% of desktops and laptops worldwide, it boasts the most software and compatibility of any OS. Simply put, nearly all software and accessories will run on a Surface Pro, aside from those made by Apple for MacOS, specifically. Microsoft’s Office Suite (sold separately), which includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, all run seamlessly on a Surface Pro. For working professionals or students heading back to school, the Surface Pro is an ideal choice.
The MacBook Pro uses MacOS High Sierra, the latest version of this OS featuring a suite of apps of features designed by Apple. These include Apple’s iCloud online storage, Apple Maps, and native Siri integration.
The MacBook Pro can also connect seamlessly with your other Apple devices. Examples include:
- If you receive a call on your iPhone, you can take that call on your MacBook Pro
- If you have an Apple Watch, you can unlock your MacBook by walking up to it; no need to type in a password
- Easily share your school work, contacts, files, photos, and other data across all of your Apple products
So if you own other Apple products, you may want to consider the MacBook Pro to keep all your apps and files under one ecosystem.
For superior versatility, battery life, and portability, the Microsoft Surface Pro comes out on top. Its combination of a multi-touch screen, ability to convert between a laptop and a tablet, and large software library gives it a strong edge over a MacBook Pro.
Don’t rule out the MacBook Pro though. It offers its own set of unique features such as a sturdy unified case, seamless integration with other Apple products and the pressure-sensitive Force Touch trackpad.
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