Even if you’re not that into tech trends, you’ve probably aware of the Apple-Microsoft rivalry that’s been going on for decades. The two tech giants have long competed for the top space on the operating system front, but they’ve also delved into the same hardware technology niches in recent years.
The MacBook Pro and Surface Pro are perfect examples of how this rivalry transcended the laptop market. Looking at the numbers in this tremendous head-to-head comparison, both laptop models have their strengths and weaknesses, so choosing one over the other can be challenging. That said, to help you determine which model is right for you, we’ve done a comprehensive Surface Pro vs MacBook Pro comparison.
Surface Pro vs MacBook Pro – Quick Comparison
Although the Surface Pro received generally mixed reviews from computer critics, it has become a prevalent choice in the 2-in-1 laptop niche. It’s particularly notable for its great convertibility, solid design, and near-perfect pressure-sensitive pen. As this device can work both as a tablet and a laptop, the Surface Pro enjoys significant popularity on the consumer market.
Contrary to the Surface Pro, the Macbook Pro was lauded upon release, primarily because of its impressive speeds and quick load times. Moreover, MacBook Pro models have built up a reputation of offering impressive horizontal viewing angles, bright and crisp colors, and virtually silent performance.
Microsoft Surface Pro Overview
The Surface Pro is a 2-in-1 detachable laptop designed and manufactured entirely in-house by Microsoft. The first-generation Surface Pro came out in 2013, boasting a full 1920x1080p screen and great performance features at the time, all while weighing just two pounds. Today, the Surface Pro laptop line includes various models, with the Surface Pro 7+ being the latest to come out.
While Microsoft has made changes over the years and adapted its Surface Pro line with each new version, Surface Pro models share some critical similarities across all central features. We’ll discuss this in more detail, focusing on each important section separately:
Surface Pro Design
It’s safe to say that the Surface Pro’s design won’t turn too many heads, especially in a direct comparison with the Apple MacBook Pro. It’s uninspiringly designed, featuring a design closer to the laptops of the 1990s than something you can expect nowadays. Its thick bezels make the Surface Pro look ancient next to today’s thin laptops.
Looking at the Surface Pro keyboard, it’s better-designed than the one on the MacBook Pro models. You can even opt for the Type Cover for an additional cost, which makes typing very enjoyable and eases the strain of typing over more extended periods. The laptop’s touchpad is equally impressive and is easily among the top ones on the market. Visual design aside, from the user experience perspective, the Surface Pro is first-class.
Surface Pro Performance
Surface Pro models are competent and speedy performers, as they come with up to 32GB RAM. Storage-wise, Surface Pro models are very flexible. They offer great internal storage and the ability to upgrade your storage through an additional SSD or microSD. Additionally, we should mention that these laptops come with an integrated graphics card, meaning that they’re not among the best options for users searching for a gaming laptop.
Surface Pro Processors
Microsoft has been very consistent when it comes to its Surface Pro processors. Since the first and latest Surface Pro 7+ models, all laptops in this series have used Intel processors. Users can choose between i3, i5, and i7 Intel Core processors, depending on the model and price tier.
Surface Pro Ports
Surface Pro is very adaptable and provides you with a good lineup of ports. This includes both USB-A and USB-C ports. In addition, there’s also a charging port, audio port, microSD card port (available on non-LTE models), and a Surface Connect port. Surface Pro models generally offer fewer USB ports than MacBook Pro notebooks.
Surface Pro Display & Audio
Surface Pro notebooks come with a slightly smaller display than MacBook Pro models. The only available display size is 12.3’’. The resolution is 2736x1824p, and the display utilizes Microsoft’s 267ppi PixelSense platform. Overall, while Surface Pro models can provide you with some stunning visuals, they aren’t entirely on par with the impeccable displays Apple’s MacBook Pro notebooks are known for.
The Surface Pro notebook offers good sound quality, and you can get quite a bit of volume at max levels. Bass levels are also fairly decent but slightly less powerful than those on the MacBook Pro. Still, this is more than enough to give you an immersive experience when watching content on the laptop-tablet hybrid.
Surface Pro Battery
The Surface Pro advertises having an “all-day battery.” This is a bit of a marketing gimmick, as the fine print reads that this includes up to 10.5 hours of battery life. Through our tests, we’ve found this number to be reasonably close to the real-life performance. By comparison, Surface Pro’s battery is noticeably better and longer-lasting than the one on the MacBook Pro. Naturally, the battery life can significantly fluctuate based on the type of activity you use the laptop for.
Surface Pro Models
Recommended: Microsoft Surface Pro 7
The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is an outstanding next-gen laptop with very well-rounded features. At its tempting price point, this laptop provides you with the versatility of being both a laptop and a tablet. Great for personal use, this model boasts a 12.3’’ screen compatible with the Microsoft Surface Pen.
It has a reasonably small 128GB SSD, although it comes in several more expensive variations that support up to 1TB of storage space. In terms of processing power, the laptop employs an Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB RAM. The laptop comes with a very flexible kickstand that allows you to easily switch between Laptop Mode, Studio Mode, and Tablet Mode.
Other Popular Surface Pro Models
Microsoft Surface Pro 6
Slightly older but equally as versatile, the Surface Pro 6 model is even more affordable than its successor. It’s an excellent laptop for basic work use and personal laptop needs. With an Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB RAM, it’s fast enough for smooth performance under a medium processing load. The laptop has an integrated graphics card and a 128GB SSD. The average battery life is respectable, as you can expect around five hours during general usage.
Apple MacBook Pro Overview
The first MacBook Pro models came out in 2006, with Apple introducing this product line as the higher-end model of the comprehensive MacBook family. Sold with 13’’ or 16’’ screens, these models are the more expensive alternative to the consumer-focused MacBook Air notebook computers.
Apple has significantly altered and modified the MacBook Pro with each new version, introducing revolutionary changes over the years. Given this, let’s take a closer look at the specific features of MacBook Pro models.
MacBook Pro Design
MacBook Pro laptops have always stood as the epitome of elegant and premium design. Although a few equally impressive laptops are out there, they can’t quite match the flowing and graceful design MacBook Pro models are known for.
However, all models from this line surprisingly suffer from the same design fault. The keyboard is average at best, as MacBook Pro users encounter a handful of annoying issues daily. This includes overly stiff and shallow keys that often tend to stick.
That said, the touch board is very responsive and easy to control. This makes MacBook Pro laptops excellent for browsing the Internet or editing content, but not a great choice for users primarily looking for a laptop for typing.
MacBook Pro Performance
There’s not much to say when discussing the words “MacBook Pro” and “performance” in the same sentence. This is because it’s evident that these notebooks offer some of the best performance characteristics of all laptops on the market. MacBook Pro notebooks are ideal for personal, business, or gaming needs. They’re always packed with a strong processor and graphics card, enough RAM, and super-fast SSD storage.
MacBook Pro Processors
Much like the Surface Pro, the MacBook Pro laptop line has exclusively featured Intel processors for the better part of its existence. However, Apple changed this in November 2020, when it released its first MacBook Pro model to feature an Apple-designed system on a chip called the Apple M1.
According to the company’s claims, the M1 is the world’s fastest CPU core in “low power silicon” and the world’s best CPU in performance per watt. While we leave this up to debate, the latest MacBook Pro models’ smooth and fast processing performance is a clear testament to the Apple M1’s quality.
MacBook Pro Ports
MacBook Pro notebooks have a very intuitive port layout, offering you a lot of connectivity options. Although the availability and layout of specific ports can differ from model to model, all MacBook Pro models come with similar expansion features. This includes several Thunderbolt USB-C ports (usually from three to four), a USB 3.1 port, a charging port, and DisplayPort.
MacBook Pro Display & Audio
Besides their slim and stunning design, MacBook models are also known for their fantastic displays. And, the visual capabilities of this series only seem to get more impressive with each new model. With that in mind, you can expect high-contrast performance with solid resolutions of up to 2560x1600p. The MacBook Pro’s wide-ranging color gamut will display wonderful images in very vivid colors.
MacBook Pro models also come with very impressive audio capabilities for a laptop of its size. The laptop’s side speakers can get reasonably loud, as these models have top-quality amps. Plus, according to Apple’s words, MacBook Pro models have speakers specifically designed for “maximum air displacement.”
MacBook Pro Battery
While all MacBook Pro notebooks are certainly very visually appealing and offer strong performance characteristics, battery life has been a prevalent issue for many models over the previous decade and a half.
MacBook Pro notebooks often have inconsistent and unpredictable battery life, which can be annoying, especially if you’re frequently on the road and need a reliable laptop. Even the best and latest MacBook Pro notebooks can’t offer the same battery life as Surface Pro models. Moreover, since the battery is glued to the case, repairs are often impractical and costly.
MacBook Pro Models
Recommended: Apple MacBook Pro M1 (2020) 13’’
The 2020 MacBook Pro is the first to feature the new M1 chip. This eight-core processor promises up to 2.8 times faster performance across the board. It also includes a sophisticated sixteen-core Neural Engine for advanced machine learning. The 8GB of unified RAM it comes with is enough to provide a fast and smooth workflow.
The notebook has an eight-core graphics card, allowing users to run even the most graphically demanding games. Furthermore, the 256 SSD storage is a bit smaller for a laptop of its price but enough to get you by. Lastly, the impeccable design makes it a pleasure to work or spend free time on this laptop.
Other Popular MacBook Pro Models
MacBook Pro 13’’ With Intel Processor
If the latest M1 model is too far out of your budget, this version with the Intel processor is an excellent alternative. It comes with a 10th Generation Intel Core i5 processor and a fantastic 16GB RAM. This model lacks a dedicated graphics card, but the Intel Iris Plus Graphics is still very capable. Additionally, the laptop has a 512GB SSD that guarantees ultrafast performance and quick load times.
MacBook Pro 16’’
If the 13’’ display seems insufficient, the 2019 Apple MacBook Pro 16’’ model is a phenomenal option. Its 16’’ Retina Display with 3072x1920p resolution provides for some of the most stunning visuals you can find on any laptop. This model comes with an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. Additionally, it also has a great AMD Radeon Pro 5300M graphics card.
With all of the information, we’ve discussed on this page, choosing between the two options shouldn’t be difficult. But, to conclude Surface Pro vs MacBook Pro, we want to highlight a few fundamental traits you should keep in mind.
If you’re looking for a sleek and well-designed laptop, the MacBook Pro is undoubtedly the better pick. It’s user-friendly and features a diverse selection of models, some of which come with very powerful performance characteristics.
On the other hand, if you’d prefer a 2-in-1 laptop that differs from most options on the market, the Surface Pro is an appealing option. The Surface Pro line generally offers more storage space and a more balanced set of features than the MacBook Pro models. Of course, it’s worth mentioning that even with additional options and added costs, a Surface Pro will almost always be significantly cheaper than an Apple MacBook Pro model.