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Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Pro 7: still a good buy in 2022?

Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Pro 7 - images of the devices on a template
(Image credit: Future / Microsoft)
Surface Pro 6 vs 7

Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Pro 7 is a battle between the two past generations of Microsoft's hybrid laptop compare, which is currently in its 8th incarnation. In this guide, we'll compare the two devices and also consider whether they're still worth considering now that Microsoft's released the Surface Pro 8. so read on to see how the three laptops compare and which is best for you.

The Surface Pro 8 was released in October 2021 offers some big improvements over the previous Surface Pro tablet-cum-laptops. With there being a big gap in time between the release of the Surface Pro 7 and Surface Pro 8, the latter offers significantly improved performance and screen quality, making it the clear winner if money's no object. That said, the release of a newer device means we're more likely to see discounts on Surface Pro 7 and Surface Pro 6 as retailers look to offload them.  And the difference in time between the Surface Pro 7 vs Surface Pro 6 was much shorter. 

But how do these devices measure up today in terms of performance, design, display and battery life? All three offer some advantages over other tablets due to the fact that they run Windows. This gives you the portability of a tablet, with a touchscreen for quick navigation, drawing and note-taking, but also the advantage of being able to use full desktop software packages rather than the mobile apps run by Apple or Android tablets (for more tablet options, see our ranking of the best tablets with a stylus).

This is particularly useful for things like photo editing, since it means we can use the full desktop versions of programs like Adobe's Lightroom or Photoshop with a stylus for more precise masking. Add in the Surface Pro Type Cover (sold separately, although you may find bundle deals), and the Surface Pro becomes an ultra-portable laptop setup with a built-in keyboard and trackpad. 

For more on the latest Surface Pro, see our full Surface Pro 8 review and our roundup of the best Surface Pro 8 prices. But if you're looking to save money and don't need the latest model, then it could still come down to Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Pro 7 (see our dedicated page on the best Surface Pro 6 prices). So let's jump in and compare the two tablets.

Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Pro 7: are they still a good buy in 2022?

Surface Pro 6 vs 7: Display

Surface Pro 7 product shot

Disappointingly, the Surface Pro 6 and Surface Pro 7 have exactly the same display (Image credit: Microsoft)

Comparing Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Pro 7 uncovers more similarities than differences. They were released only a year apart and anyone who was expecting the Surface Pro 7 to offer a big step up from the previous generation would have been disappointed on the tablet's release – certainly in terms of physical appearance. When we consider the screens in Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Pro 7 we're basically looking at the same display: 12.3-inches, both with resolutions of 2,736 x 1,824.

That's no bad thing, since the high-resolution screens (Microsoft calls them ‘PixelSense’) offer impressive image quality, with a pixel density of 267 pixels per inch (PPI). We found they both offer very sharp, clear images. The slightly odd aspect ratio of 3:2 is a little taller than the usual widescreen aspect ratio of 16:9, but this gives you a bit more space to work on vertically.

So in terms of screen at least, Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Pro 7 is effectively a draw, and if you can still find a Surface Pro 6 in stock at a cheaper price than the Surface Pro 7, you might want to go for that. If we turn to the Surface Pro 8, it's perhaps not surprising that it offers more of an upgrade since it came a full two years after the Surace Pro 7. The newer device comes with a slightly larger 13-inch screen and has a new ambient colour sense that adjusts to the light in the room. That may be a big enough upgrade to convince some to pay the extra money.

Verdict: It's a draw

Surface Pro 6 vs 7: Performance

While on the surface (sorry), the two devices look identical, there are some differences inside, and these come out when we compare Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Pro 7 for performance. The latter does better here with improved performance and a more varied choice of configurations, so you can choose the right level of power for your needs and budget. 

The Surface Pro 6 only offers the choice between an 8th generation Intel Core i5-8250U or Intel Core i7-8650U, and a choice of 8GB or 16GB LPDDR3 RAM. This hardware is more than capable of running Windows 10 and its creative applications and it can be upgraded to Windows 11. But the Surface Pro 7 offers a clear advantage here with a choice of 10th generation Intel processors: the Intel Core i3-1005G1, Core i5-1035G4 or Core i7-1065G7. These aren’t only more powerful than 8th generation processors; they're more power-efficient as well, which means you’re getting better performance and longer battery life. Meanwhile, the inclusion of a Core i3 variant gives you a more affordable option if you don’t need the power of an i5 or i7 processor.

The Surface Pro 7 also features the choice of 4GB, 8GB or 16GB LPDDR4x memory, which is slightly newer and faster than the RAM in the Pro 6. Microsoft claims that the Surface Pro 7 is 2.3 times faster than the Surface Pro 6, and while we don’t think the difference is quite that noticeable, if you care about performance, the Surface Pro 7 does offer an improvement – though note that Microsoft says that the Surface Pro 8 is 46 per cent faster than the 7.

For those who require a device with powerful graphics-handling capabilities, for example video editors or those working with 3D models, it’s important to point out that when looking at Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Pro 7, neither have dedicated graphics cards. Instead, they rely on their processors' integrated GPUs: the Intel UHD Graphics 620 of the Surface Pro 6, and the more powerful Intel Iris Plus in the i5 and i7 versions of the Surface Pro 7.

Verdict: the Surface Pro 7 is the winner here

Surface Pro 6 vs 7: Design and ports

Surface pro 6 product shot from the back

The two models look very similar (Image credit: Microsoft)

We've mentioned that there's little in the battle between Surface Pro 6 vs 7 when it comes to design. The two devices look very similar (the same goes for the Surface Pro 7 Plus). The dimensions are the same (11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 inches / 292 x 201 x 8.5mm). This was a bit of a disappointment on the release of the Surface Pro 7 since it means you get the same thick bezels around the display making it immediately look a little dated while competitors were slimming down their bezels and offering a more stylish design. Again, the Surface Pro 8 has improved on this, introducing thinner bezels and a larger display.

The Surface Pro 6 and 7 also weigh roughly the same – 1.7 pounds (771g) for the Surface Pro 6 and very slightly heavier 1.73 pounds (784g) for the Pro 7. The two devices also feature detachable Type Covers for use as laptops (sold separately, though you can sometimes save money if you find a bundle with the Type Cover included) and both work with the Surface Pen stylus. 

When it comes to ports, the two devices offer largely the same selection, with a full-size USB-A port (for plugging in older peripherals), a 3.5mm audio port and microSD card reader. This is a welcome addition for photographers, as it allows you to plug in memory cards without needing an adapter. Both offer Bluetooth wireless connectivity as well.

Where they differ is that the Surface Pro 6 has a mini DisplayPort. The Surface Pro 7 lacks that, but instead offers a USB-C 3.1 port. This allows you to connect modern peripherals and offers much faster data transfer speeds. If we had to choose, we’d pick the USB-C over the Mini DisplayPort every time. The Surface Pro 7 Plus still had no Thunderbolt ports, while the Surface Pro 8 has introduced two Thunderbolt 4 ports.

Verdict: the Surface Pro 7 wins again in Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Pro 7, but the Surface Pro 8 is better still.

Surface Pro 6 vs 7: Battery life

Surface Pro 8 product shot

The Surface Pro 8 offers a much better battery than Surface Pro 6 and Surface Pro 7 (Image credit: Microsoft)

With the newer hardware in the Surface Pro 7, you’d think that its better power efficiency would lead to longer battery life. Strangely, Microsoft actually lists the battery life of the Surface Pro 6 as longer, although it measures the two devices in different ways. According to Microsoft, the Surface Pro 6 offers 13.5 hours of 'video playback', while the Surface Pro 7 is capable of 10.5 hours of 'typical device usage'. 

However, playing videos and 'typical device usage' are two different things so we'd take Microsoft’s comparisons with a pinch of salt. In our own tests when we reviewed the devices, the Surface Pro 6 scored 8 hours and 45 minutes running a looped 1080p video. Meanwhile, the PC Mark 8 battery life test, which replicates day-to-day usage such as video calling, lasted just 4 hours.

However, the Surface Pro 7 fared worse, with just 6 hours and 2 minutes in our video test, and 3 hours and 12 minutes in PCMark 8. So, rather surprisingly, the Surface Pro 6 is the clear winner when it comes to battery life. Yet again, the Surface Pro 8 has made an improvement here, increasing the battery to 50.4WHr up from 43.2WHr. In our own tests, we got over eight hours of medium to heavy use, including photo editing and video calling.

Verdict: The Surface Pro 6 won in our tests, and actually stands up to the Surface Pro 8

Surface Pro 6 vs 7: Price

Surface Pro 6 with type cover

The Type Cover and Pen – seen here with the Surface Pro 6 – are sold separately, but you may find them in bundles (Image credit: Microsoft)

Both the Surface Pro 6 and Surface Pro 7 come in a variety of configurations, which means you can choose the hardware you want to match your needs – and budget. So, if you’re on a budget, you can tweak either Surface to come with less powerful processors, or less storage space, to keep the price down.

When the Surface Pro 6 first launched, its base configuration was $899 / £879. That’s a hefty asking price, but prices have dropped since then following the releases of the Surface Pro 7, Pro 7 Plus and now the Surface Pro 8. It's now usually the most affordable choice by some way and you may find it on offer for as low as $600 / £650 if you find it still in stock (see a rundown of the best current prices further below).

The Surface Pro 7 launched with a lower base configuration price of $749 / £799, making it better value on launch, and it does offer some extra power. The Surface Pro 7+ starts from $899.99 / £879, although it's available for education and business customers only. See our guide to the best Surface Pro 7 deals to find the best prices.

And the Surface Pro 8? It starts from $1,099 / £999. That's quite a lot more than its predecessors, but if you want the latest specs, it may be worth the extra outlay. It’s worth noting that none of the devices come with the Type Cover or Surface Pen, which means they are an additional $149 / £149 and $99 / £99 respectively, so you’ll need to factor those into the overall cost. Take a look at the best prices on all of the current Surface Pro models in your region in the widgets below – or scroll down for our overall verdict.

Verdict: The Surface Pro 6 may win here if you can still find a deal. 

Surface Pro 6 vs 7: Deals

Surface Pro 6 vs 7: Our verdict

Is the Surface Pro 7 a big enough leap over the Surface Pro 6? Not really. While the Surface Pro 7 does have newer, more powerful components, the leap in performance isn't great. And from a design perspective, the Surface Pro 7 is pretty much exactly the same as the Surface Pro 6. The older tablet even offers better battery life. If you find it significantly cheaper than the Surface Pro 7, then we'd take advantage to save some money and go for it.

The Surface Pro 7 felt like a bit of a wasted opportunity and if you want something more revolutionary, then we'd recommend considering paying that little bit more for the Surface Pro 8. The newest Surface Pro represents a much bigger leap forward from Microsoft – and there was a much greater time interval in between, after all. It really offers an improved device across the board, with better specs, a larger display and a removable SSD.

How old are Surface Pro 6 and Surface Pro 7?

If we compare Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Pro 7 on a timeline, they weren't very far apart compared with the subsequent generations. The Surface Pro 6 was released in October 2018, so it is getting on a bit now, and it's starting to become harder to find deals. The Surface Pro 7 came out just a year later, in October 2019.

It wasn't until January 2021 that the family spawned a new generation in the form of the Surface Pro 7 Plus, an upgraded model aimed only at business customers. That was followed just nine months later by the Surface Pro 8 in October 2021. See how that compares in our comparison of Surface Pro 7 vs Surface Pro 8. Just to make things more confusing, there's also the Surface Pro X – you can read about that in our Surface Pro X review.

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Matt has been a technology journalist for well over a decade, writing for publications such as T3, MacFormat and Creative Bloq. He's a senior editor of TechRadar, Creative Bloq's sister site, where he can be found writing about and reviewing laptops, computers, monitors and more. He often writes for Creative Bloq, helping creatives find their perfect laptop or PC.