De.Central Review | Microsoft Surface Pro X

 De.Central Review | Microsoft Surface Pro X

Microsoft’s Surface Pro X is not the first Windows 10 on ARM PC, the first ARM-powered PCs came from HP and ASUS back in 2017 when Microsoft launched Windows 10 on ARM. But Microsoft’s ARM-based Windows journey began way before 2017. Some could cite, Windows phone, and other would point to the original Surface. The original Surface was black and powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile SOC much like modern ARM PC’s. It is a technical feat, running the full Windows 10 OS on chips originally designed for Android phones was a major achievement in 2017. In 2019, Microsoft finally shipped a Surface powered by a custom Snapdragon SOC and they called it Surface Pro X. Now one year later, Microsoft launched a slightly improved Pro X with an upgraded Snapdragon chip and a new color option.

Hardware

The design is thin, modern and the most refined expression of a modern Surface Pro design. All Surface Pro models featured a chamfered edge, starting with the Surface Pro 5, the chamfer started to get softer and this trend continued with the Surface Pro X.

While Surface Pro X was not the first to get USB-C, Surface Pro X doubles down with two USB-C ports and a Surface Connect port. If you are not familiar with Surface Connect, think of it as a supped-up Mag Safe connecter that can magnetically connect and to a Surface Connect Dock and expand your connectivity options with multiple legacy data and display ports. Under neath of the kickstand is an access door to the upgradeable storage card and an internal SIM slot.

While the Pro X features eSIM, which means you can activate the device with a number of wireless providers, you can also use your own nano SIM.

The Keyboard options include one that comes with a Slim Pen and charging cradle built-in, the other is just the keyboard without the pen and charging cradle.

Performance

The Surface Pro X comes with two optional SOC’s, the first Generation 3.0GHz SQ1 and the second generation 3.15GHz SQ2. The SQ2 is an 8-core Snapdragon 855 based SOC and the integrated Adreno 690 GPU. Currently when you buy a Surface Pro X in Platinum, the only chip option is the SQ2; however, if you want Matte Black, you now have the choice to get the cheaper SQ1 equipped Surface Pro X or the more expensive SQ2 equipped Surface Pro X.

Cameras

Surface Pro X features the best camera sensors on a PC, thanks in part due to the thickness of the tablet and the technical hardware choices Microsoft made to upgrade this over the standard Intel-powered Surface Pro. While Apple continues to ships MacBook models with a 720p camera, Microsoft ships Surface Pro X with a 1080p Full HD 5MP front facing camera. On the back is a 1080p Full HD 10MP camera that takes surprisingly good pictures for a tablet not to mention it can record 4K video. The tablet also includes Dual far-field Studio Mics2W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio sound. The front facing camera is used for Windows Hello, Microsoft’s version of Face ID. Facial Recognition is so fast and accurate you often won’t even see your lock screen wallpaper. In use with Paint 3D, you can use Augmented Reality features and place your custom created creations in your home or place 3D objects from the curated library of objects.

Display

The display is the largest on any Surface Pro model, at a full 13 inches, it bests Apple iPad Pro. The 13″ PixelSense display with 2800 x 1920 pixels fills nearly eliminates the side bezels while leaving space above for the Windows Hello camera and space below for the pen charger. It has ten finger multi-touch and Surface Slim Pen and Surface Pen support.

Apps

Surface Pro X was able to run all UWP apps and 32-bit x86 apps as well. Recently Adobe released a beta of Photoshop, Lightroom and soon Illustrator for ARM PC’s. With so many other apps being web based, most of the average consumer’s computing needs can be served with the Surface Pro X’s capabilities.

We have tested 64-bit app emulation using Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo. The experience was better than expected. Both apps loaded in and we were able to do simple operations, anytime we tried something more intensive, the app would crash. We will go into more depth with a number of x64 bit apps and show how they work.

Web browsers such as the built-in Edge browser and Firefox have ARM PC support, while Google has yet to add support. One of the most private browsers available, Brave has also not released an ARM compatible Browser, so if you want to use Brave on an ARM PC, you will have to download the 32-bit version and emulate it.

Surface Pro X Specifications

Display13” PixelSense, Display Resolution: 2880×1920 (267 PPI) Aspect ratio: 3:2, Touch: 10-point multi-touch
Memory8GB or 16GB LPDDR4x RAM
ProcessorMicrosoft SQ1
Microsoft SQ2
Battery Life1Up to 15 hours of typical device usage1
GraphicsMicrosoft SQ1 Adreno 685 GPU
Microsoft SQ2 Adreno 690 GPU
Storage5Removable solid-state drive (SSD)options: 128, 256, or 512GB
Connections2 x USB-C, 1 x Surface Connect port, Surface Keyboard port1 x nano SIM, Compatible with Surface Dial off-screen interaction
SecurityFirmware TPM chip for enterprise security and BitLocker supportEnterprise-grade protection with Windows Hello face sign-in
Cameras, video and audioWindows Hello face authentication camera (front-facing)5.0MP front-facing camera with 1080p full HD video 10.0MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p HD and 4k video, Dual far-field Studio Mics2W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio sound
SoftwareWindows 10 Home on ARM4Microsoft 365 Family 30-day trial
WirelessWi-Fi 5: 802.11ac compatible, Bluetooth Wireless 5.0 technology, Qualcomm Snapdragon X24 LTE modem, Up to Gigabit LTE Advanced Pro with nanoSIM and eSIM support. LTE Bands supported: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 38, 39, 40, 41, 46, 66Assisted GPS and GLONASS support
SensorsAccelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer, Ambient light sensor
ExteriorCasing: Signature anodized aluminum with carbon composite fanless thermal cooling, Colors: Matte Black, Platinum6Physical buttons: Volume, Power
What’s in the boxSurface Pro X, Power Supply, SIM Card access tool, Quick Start Guide, Safety and warranty documents
Warranty1-year limited hardware warranty
Weight2 (not including Keyboard*)1.7 lbs (774g)
Dimensions11.3 in x 8.2 in x 0.28 in (287 mm x 208 mm x 7.3 mm)
ColorsMatte Black (SQ1 & SQ2), Platinum (SQ2 only)

Who is it for?

As with all PCs on the market, each one is designed for a particular audience, with price, features and capabilities being factors to consider. Some people need a PC for their job, some workers need to create videos, some need to do mechanical engineering and some need to compute massive amounts of data and for the average consumer a Surface Pro X is a perfect fit, certainly not the least expensive option but if you like the premium build of Apple’s MacBook, Microsoft’s Surface Pro X offers more features in a beautiful package. The Pro X is at home using web apps, apps from the Microsoft Store, Adobe’s Suite of creative apps optimized for ARM and now a growing number of x64-bit app too. If you want more Surface Pro X, check out our recent editorial, Dynamic Duo | Xbox Series X & Surface Pro X.

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