Should I get the Surface Pro or the Macbook Pro? I know how challenging picking between the two laptops can be – that’s why I’ve prepared this Surface Pro vs Macbook Pro comparison just for you.
This article is packed with everything you will need to make an informed purchasing decision between both laptops. From their design and features down to their performance in every important aspect, I’ve got you covered.
I will be reviewing the CPU, RAM, GPU, storage, and battery life performance of both laptops. Essentially, the entire review and comparison of both laptops’ performance will be carried out with the use of real-world and benchmark performance tests.
The ultimate goal will be to identify which of the two laptops is the superior one. Of course, we will let you know which one we think is the better laptop between the two – based on our review.
To make things clear, we have the Microsoft Surface Pro 7+ representing the Surface family. Meanwhile, the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch of the Apple family boldly sits on the other end of this comparison.
Based on our comparison of the Surface Pro vs Macbook Pro, we recommend:
Surface Pro vs Macbook Pro: My Initial Thoughts
Since Microsoft released a video with content that directly emphasized the advantages of the Surface Pro over the Macbook Pro, I’ve been itching for a comparison. Here I am, getting to finally satisfy my long overdue hunger for a comparison.
I get that there has been a healthy rivalry between Microsoft and Apple, but Microsoft is actively reaching for a fight with their recent campaign ad for the Surface Pro 7+. In this particular ad, Microsoft boldly lays claims to the superiority of their Surface Pro 7 over the Macbook Pro.
One of the ways Microsoft backed up its argument was through the criticism of Apple’s inability to offer the same versatility they offer in their Surface Pro 7. Microsoft cited the detachable keyboard, touchscreen, and better portability as things that make the Surface Pro better.
Agreed, the Macbook Pro lacks a touch screen, but creatives mainly buy Apple’s notebook for its high-performance delivery capability. They don’t buy it for touchscreen or playing games.
In that case, we have arranged an epic head-to-head of both laptops from a subjective standpoint. Join us as we dissect what separates the two laptops.
Surface Pro vs Macbook Pro Design, Dimension & Weight Comparison
Apple has always been leading the line when it comes to design and style. The Macbook Pro continues to stand for Apple’s redefinition of what premium laptops should look and feel like.
Many laptops like the Surface Pro 7+ have taken their best shots at challenging the Macbook Pro, but this remarkably built laptop continues to hold a spot at the top for itself. To be honest, the overall look and feel of the Macbook Pro is exquisite.
Within eyesight, you can already feel the Macbook’s bold emanating aura filling up the air. While it looks like a rugged and sturdy laptop, the Macbook Pro is by far one of the neatest laptops you will come across.
Its neatly curved edges give it a refined and clean look. Besides, you will not find a single branding or pattern on the laptop aside from the Apple logo on its lid.
Like its previous generations, the Macbook Pro comes in a unibody enclosure cut from a single block of aluminum.
In its entirety, the Macbook Pro is the latest proof of Apple’s meticulous craftsmanship when it comes to laptop design. At this point, I’m forced to tag Apple’s designers as relentless perfectionists.
The Surface Pro is not bad either. The same way the Macbook Pro barely features new design features, the Surface Pro is still the same 2-in-1 laptop we have been seeing in past iterations.
The design has been the same in the past four versions anyway. Since they found their working formula in the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft hasn’t made any major design change to the follow-up versions.
The major noticeable change you will spot on the Surface Pro is the small rectangular compartment under the kickstand. This compartment makes it possible for you to remove and replace your storage drive in case you need an upgrade.
To open the compartment, all you need to do is insert the tip of a needle into its tiny hole and the compartment’s door will open up.
Asides from that, almost every other major design feature remains the same. The Surface Pro is still a stylish-looking laptop built with silver magnesium chassis.
Like the Macbook Pro, the Surface Pro doesn’t feature any design pattern on its exterior. The only notable design pattern you will see on the laptop’s body is the chrome Microsoft logo on its lid.
Similarly, the Surface Pro has also been built with the unibody construction approach that Apple used to build the Macbook Pro. To be a bit more specific, Microsoft narrowed down the construction theme of the Surface Pro.
According to Microsoft, the Surface Pro is built out of a “unibody magnesium design with hidden perimeter venting”. This unibody construction gives the laptop a sturdy feel since it feels like a single solid unit of block.
Furthermore, the Surface Pro is structured to function effortlessly as a tablet. In fact, its design functionality is the biggest design feature that differentiates it from the Macbook Pro.
One of the parties that contributes to the Surface Pro’s effortless functionality is its display. Unlike the Macbook Pro’s, the Surface Pro’s display can be detached to be used as a tablet.
As a tablet, there’s hardly anything to moan about concerning the Surface Pro’s display. It does nearly everything right to uphold the standards the Surface range offer in terms of display quality.
The 12.3-inch display panel on the Surface Pro features a 2736 x 1824 resolution. It is bright, responsive, and beautiful as it has always been on other Surface laptops.
In addition, its 3:2 aspect ratio makes it an excellent fit for a laptop and especially as a tablet. My biggest complaints about this laptop’s display are its bezels.
The Surface Pro’s unattractive bezels make the equally ugly bezels on the Macbook look slightly better. One of those things that’s certainly common to both laptops is that they really need a trim on their bezels.
Although the Macbook Pro offers a beautiful 1280 x 800 resolution display, its bezels are a bit thick for a modern laptop. The good thing is that this display’s 16:10 aspect ratio tries to compensate for the large bezels.
Another party to the Surface Pro’s functionality is the kickstand I mentioned earlier. This kickstand can extend as far as 165 degrees, allowing you to adjust the Surface Pro’s positioning to whichever extent you need to get the perfect viewing angle.
Microsoft’s main act in their functionality show is the laptop’s hinge. This hinge enables the laptop to assume three different functions.
The Surface Pro can be used as a tablet, drawing pad, or a traditional laptop.
Moving to the lower part of both laptops, we have two completely different structures. While Apple employs the services of a regular island-style keyboard, Microsoft uses what it calls Surface Type Covers to offer the typing experience on the Surface Pro.
As usual, this keyboard (the Surface Type Cover) easily attaches to the bottom of the Surface Pro via a magnetic strip, making the transition from tablet to laptop mode seamless. For a keyboard as thin as the Surface Pro’s Type Cover, it offers a comfortable typing experience.
The Type Cover’s keys have good travel and a nice feel to them. Overall, the Surface Pro’s keyboard has good spacing and you only need very little actuation force to enter your inputs.
The keyboard’s soft-touch Alcantara fabric also makes the palm rest area gentle on the wrist. In addition, this Alcantara fabric also serves as a luxurious soft fabric covering when the laptop is closed.
Typing on the Macbook Pro’s chiclet keys will also give you an interesting experience. The laptop’s keys have an excellent tactile feel and good travel.
Below both laptops, there’s a 4-inch touchpad each. Both laptops’ touchpads are very smooth and responsive to multi-touch gestures like the three-finger swipe and two-finger pinch.
In terms of ports, neither of the two laptops delivers a variety of options. They are both quite limited in terms of ports.
With the Surface Pro, you only get 1 USB Type-A and 1 USB Type-C port. The Macbook Pro, on the other hand, offers 2 USB 3.0 ports and 1 Thunderbolt port.
Overall, both the Surface Pro and Macbook Pro are elegant laptops with commendable build quality. However, the Surface Pro is not as sturdy as the Macbook Pro, I guess it’s the price Microsoft had to pay for the flexibility of the Surface Pro’s design.
With that being said, the Surface Pro has a more functional design compared to the Macbook Pro that can only be used in the regular laptop mode. Asides from that, both laptops are as elegant as any premium laptop can be.
They are perfectly stylish without the need for excessive design patterns. Hence, I’m compelled to give both laptops an equal score of eight in this Surface Pro vs Macbook Pro design comparison.
Surface Pro vs Macbook Pro Processor (CPU) Performance Comparison
Both the Surface Pro and Macbook Pro offer a range of options each for their processor configuration. Microsoft offers potential buyers the privilege to buy the Surface Pro with a dual-core Intel Core i3-1115G4 processor or a quad-core Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor.
You can also buy the Surface Pro with a quad-core Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor. Before I move over to what Apple has in stock for you, let me quickly give more details concerning the Surface Pro’s processor configuration options.
To start with, the Intel Core i3-1115G4 processor has a base frequency of 3.0 GHz and a boost frequency of 4.10 GHz. It also comes with a 6 MB cache memory.
Secondly, the Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor operates at a base frequency of 2.40 GHz and a boost frequency of 4.20 GHz. Unlike the Core i3 configuration option, this Core i5 processor comes with a bigger 8 MB cache memory.
Lastly, the Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor runs at a base frequency of 2.80 GHz and a boost frequency of 4.70 GHz. It has the largest cache memory amongst the other configuration options.
The Core i7 processor has a cache memory of 12 MB.
With the details of the Surface Pro’s processor configuration out of the way, let move over to what Apple offers for the Macbook Pro.
The Macbook Pro can either be shipped with a dual-core Intel Core i5-3210M processor or a dual-core Intel Core i7-3520M processor. Once again, I will give you a breakdown of this laptop’s processor configuration options.
When you equip your Macbook Pro with the Intel Core i5-3210M processor, you get a base speed of 2.50 GHz and a boost speed of 3.10 GHz. The processor also comes with a 3 MB cache memory.
On the other hand, the Core i7-3520M processor has a base frequency of 2.90 GHz and a boost frequency of 3.60 GHz. It comes with a 4 MB cache memory.
Amongst the Tiger Lake CPUs that Microsoft offers for the Surface Pro 7+, our Surface Pro review unit came equipped with the Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor. Meanwhile, our Macbook Pro review unit features the Intel Core i5-3210M configuration option.
In terms of performance, I will be accessing both laptops’ performance levels by carrying out a real-world and a benchmark test. During my real-world performance test, the Surface Pro performed efficiently well.
The Surface Pro offers a substantial amount of computing power that is enough to handle office and basic Internet tasks. It carries out regular computing operations with ease.
Likewise, the Macbook Pro is a very capable laptop. After all, Apple built the Pro series for more demanding tasks than what the ordinary Ultrabook would normally face.
To measure both laptops’ specific processor performance levels, I made use of Primate Labs’ Geekbench 5 benchmark. The Geekbench 5 assesses a laptop’s performance through a series of tests that simulate real-world tasks and applications.
The Surface Pro scored an impressive 4,825 points when I carried out the Geekbench test on its processor. Meanwhile, the Macbook Pro scored a more impressive 6817 points.
With the clear difference in their benchmark performance score, we can conclude that the Macbook Pro offers a better processor performance. Hence, the Macbook Pro scores an eight in this Surface Pro vs Macbook Pro processor performance comparison.
As for the Surface Pro, it scores a seven for its impressive performance.
Surface Pro vs Macbook Pro Memory (RAM) Performance Comparison
In terms of their memory configuration, the Surface Pro and Macbook Pro are different in many ways. They offer different memory types and capacities.
For more details, the Surface Pro 7+ comes with an 8 GB LPDDR4X memory. Although it has a single memory slot, you can get the laptop with memory to a maximum capacity of 32 GB.
The Macbook Pro, on the other hand, features a 4 GB DDR3 memory. Unlike the Surface Pro, the Macbook Pro has two memory slots on its motherboard.
Unfortunately, you can’t upgrade the laptop’s memory beyond a maximum capacity of 8 GB. It is quite disappointing, especially when you consider the Surface Pro that comes with only one memory slot but can accommodate up to 32 GB of RAM.
On the performance front, both laptops eased through my real-world performance test. I didn’t observe any major slow down in the Surface Pro‘s performance as I switched between 11 Google Chrome tabs while streaming two YouTube videos.
Even when I started interacting and streaming on Twitch while I juggled through activities on Slack, the laptop continued to operate smoothly.
The same applies to the Macbook Pro. Like the Surface Pro, the Macbook Pro didn’t have any issue while it handled all the simultaneous operations stated above.
For the next test, I made use of the PCMark 8 benchmark. PCMark 8 tests a laptop’s performance by replicating various real-world productivity and content-creation work sessions.
It helps to evaluate the overall system performance for office-related operations including word processing, spreadsheet work, online surfing, and videoconferencing. The test provides a numerical score; the greater the number, the better.
On this test, the Surface Pro 7+ scored 2473 points. Unfortunately, the Macbook Pro could not outscore the Surface Pro in this test.
For this reason, I concluded that the Surface Pro 7& performs slightly better than the Macbook Pro 13-inch in terms of memory performance. Besides, the Surface Pro also offers a better memory configuration compared to the Macbook Pro’s.
Therefore, the Surface Pro scores an eight in this Surface Pro vs Macbook Pro memory performance comparison. Meanwhile, the Macbook Pro settles for a score of seven.
Surface Pro vs Macbook Pro Storage Options & Performance Comparison
The Surface Pro 7+ and Macbook Pro 13-inch are slightly different when it comes to the storage options they offer. In the case of the Surface Pro, Microsoft equips the laptop with a 1 TB SSD which is always accompanied by a MicroSDXC Card reader.
You can use the SD card reader for external file storage. Although the Macbook Pro also offers an SD card storage option – an SDXC card slot – its storage options are quite different compared to what Microsoft offers for the Surface Pro.
Apple ships the Macbook Pro with either a 1 TB SATA HDD storage or a 512 GB SSD storage. Our review unit is equipped with a 512 GB SSD.
SSDs are very fast storage drives, so I automatically expect both the Surface Pro and Macbook Pro to be fast in terms of their storage performance. Our storage benchmark test backs up this notion.
On the CrystalDiskMark test I ran on both laptops, the Surface Pro’s offered a sequential read speed of 867.3 MBps and a sequential write speed of 954.7 MBps. Meanwhile, the Macbook Pro offered faster speeds.
The Macbook Pro produced sequential read and write speeds of 1839.6 MBps and 1858.9 MBps respectively. However, the reverse became the order when I carried out the real-world file transfer test.
On this file transfer test, the Surface Pro performed better than the Macbook Pro. It took the Macbook Pro 25 seconds to copy a 4.97 GB file.
The Macbook Pro copied the file at a transfer rate of 196.6 MBps. Meanwhile, the Surface Pro copied the file at a faster rate of 348.4 MBps.
As a result, the Surface Pro 7+ was able to copy the file within a much shorter time. It copied the file within 14 seconds.
At this stage, the varying performance level of both laptops in the real world and benchmark tests makes it unclear to identify the better performer. If we were to judge based on their storage options, the Surface Pro offers a fast storage drive with a bigger capacity.
Although the Macbook Pro also offers a fast storage drive, it has a lower capacity compared to the Surface Pro’s. However, the Macbook Pro offers two configurations, which is a plus.
For these reasons, I choose to rate both laptops an eight in this Surface Pro vs Macbook Pro storage performance comparison.
Surface Pro vs Macbook Graphics Card Performance Comparison
In the graphics card aspect, we have two sets of configurations for the Surface Pro 7+. Microsoft equips the Surface Pro 7+ with either an integrated Intel UHD Graphics card or an integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics card.
The Intel UHD Graphics card offers a base frequency of 400 MHz and a boost frequency of 1250 MHz. Meanwhile, the Intel Iris Xe Graphics card runs at a base frequency of 400 MHz and a boost frequency of 1300 MHz.
For the record, our Surface Pro review unit features the Intel Iris Xe Graphics card.
In the case of the Macbook Pro, Apple ships the laptop with only one GPU configuration option. The Macbook Pro 13-inch features an integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 graphics card.
Without wasting any more time, let’s take a look at how these laptops hold up in terms of graphics performance.
Even though the Surface Pro is not a gaming laptop, it is capable of running many games smoothly. However, you would have to play these games at low screen resolution and gaming settings.
Also, the laptop cannot continue to smoothly run graphically demanding games over an extended period of time. As a result, I would advise that you don’t play graphically demanding games on the Surface Pro 7+.
On the Macbook Pro, I observed nearly the same issues. I was able to play many games smoothly as long as I maintained low game settings and low resolution.
Like with the Surface Pro, I wouldn’t advise you to play graphically intensive games on the Macbook Pro too. Even at the lowest gaming setting, I couldn’t enjoy playing the Risen 2 on the Macbook Pro.
I will give you a clearer picture of how both laptops performed during my gaming sessions.
The Surface Pro was able to run The Witcher 3 at 81.9 fps, while the Macbook Pro offered a much lower frame rate. The Macbook Pro played the game at 32.5 fps.
When I ran Dota 2 Reborn on the Surface Pro, I was able to enjoy smooth frame rates of 80.4 fps. The Macbook Pro also put in much effort.
It was able to play the game at 40.6 fps.
Before I moved on from both laptops’ graphics card performance, I also ran a 3DMark 11 benchmark test. 3DMark 11 is a DirectX 11 video card benchmark test that evaluates the gaming capabilities of your PC.
It examines your PC’s DirectX 11 performance under game-like workloads in a consistent and reliable manner. The higher the score your laptop acquires the better.
In the case of these two laptops, there was an alarming gap between their performance results. This wide gap falls in favor of the Surface Pro.
While the Macbook Pro achieved a meager score of 643 points in the 3DMark 11 benchmark test, the Surface Pro had an impressive 6343 score. The Surface Pro leaves no room for doubts as it clearly surpasses the Macbook Pro in terms of graphics card performance.
Hence, the Surface Pro scores a nine in this Surface Pro vs Macbook Pro graphics card performance comparison. The Macbook Pro, on the other hand, scores a seven.
Surface Pro vs Macbook Pro Battery Life & Performance Comparison
The Surface Pro 7+ is powered by a 50.4 Wh Lithium-ion battery. Meanwhile, the Macbook Pro features a 63.5 Whr lithium-polymer battery.
Since the Macbook Pro is equipped with a bigger battery, you would expect it to last longer. However, that may not be the case.
Let’s proceed with the review to find out if the battery capacity logic would hold up here.
For the Surface Pro, Microsoft promises a 15 hours battery life. However, our battery test tells us something different.
When I carried out our continuous web surfing test on the Surface Pro, the laptop ran out of power after exactly 8 hours and 5 minutes. Under a more intensive workload, the laptop wasn’t able to offer beyond 3 hours and 55 minutes battery runtime.
The Macbook Pro, on the other hand, couldn’t last longer than 6 hours and 10 minutes when I ran our continuous web surfing test. When I carried out the more intensive workload test, the Macbook Pro didn’t last beyond 1 hour and 40 minutes.
From the results of our tests, the Surface Pro offers a longer battery runtime compared to the Macbook Pro. As a result, the Surface Pro scores an eight in this Surface Pro vs Macbook Pro battery performance comparison.
Surface Pro vs Macbook Pro: Our Rating Summary
Surface Pro vs Macbook Pro: Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely. The Surface Pro 7 Plus is one of the best Windows tablet you can get currently. It is a 2-in-1 that offers both the functionality and performance you will get on most traditional laptops.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro is a workhorse that you can definitely rely on to carry out most of your processor-intensive workloads. If you are in need of a compact macOS laptop that still has enough power to handle heavy computing tasks, you can consider the Macbook Pro.
As at the time of writing this article (October 7, 2021), you can get this laptop on Itechguides.com through one of our affiliates at the price of $1,299.00.
As at the time this article was written (7th of October), the Macbook Pro 13 inches is sold at $434.99 through one of our affiliates on Itechguides.com
If you want a macOS laptop with better overall performance, I would suggest you go for the Macbook Air. However, if you can get the Macbook Pro for less than $500, then you can buy the laptop.
Based on our test, the Surface Pro 7 Plus will last for as long as 8 hours and 5 minutes.
This largely depends on what you intend to use your laptop for. If you will be writing most of the time or browsing the web, the 13-inch laptop is okay. Even for watching movies, the 13-inch laptop is good enough. Besides, the laptop’s 13-inch display size makes it portable.
Thanks to its ultra-portable form, the Surface laptop is great for high school and college students. It also has enough hardware power to handle any school-related computing task.
Yes. it does. The Macbook Pro 13-inch comes with a 720p FaceTime HD camera.
Surface Pro vs Macbook Pro: My Final Thoughts
Most people often prefer regular laptops to 2-in-1 laptops because regular laptops have been tried and tested to be excellent portable choices over tablets. However, this 2-in-1 here is a game-changer.
I was surprised to see that the Surface Pro 7+ 2-in-1 laptop matched up to the Macbook Pro. It held up well with the Macbook Pro in most of the performance tests I carried out and it even surpassed the Macbook Pro’s performance on some occasions.
Truly, the Surface Pro 7 does have some flaws, such as its annoyingly thick bezels and its lack of Thunderbolt ports. However, its major benefits, like its comfortable keyboard, portable form, ease of use, and longer battery life, far exceed its downsides.
All of this makes the Surface Pro a superior laptop over the MacBook Pro. The fact that it can be used on a portable tablet is the cherry on top.
When it comes to overall performance, the Surface Pro 7 is the better of the two laptops.
Hence, based on our comprehensive comparison of the Surface Pro vs Macbook Pro, we recommend:
If you won’t be carrying out graphically intensive tasks and you need a laptop with sleek aesthetics and better port choices, the MacBook Pro is absolutely worth considering.
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References And Further Reading