Microsoft's Surface Pro 6 is the best laptop replacement — no ifs, ands, or buts
All hail, Microsoft!
Look at all those Chrome tabs.Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLEThe most notable changes to the Surface Pro 6 are the updated 8th-gen Intel Core i5 and i7 processors.Both processors have quad-cores for faster single- and multi-core performance. Performance like this is rare on a tablet and in thin-and-light laptops, and they usually cost a significant premium. Look at the 2018 13-inch MacBook Pro: macOS aside, Apple charges $1,799 for quad-cores. Sure, the clock speed is faster on the MacBook Pro, and the integrated Intel graphics slightly better, but the Surface Pro 6 is the better value for anyone not looking to do really pro-level stuff like editing 4K video (it can do it, for sure, but not as fast as laptop with a beefier GPU).
OnGeekbench 4, the Surface Pro 6 scored 4,245 on the single-core and 13,795 on the multi-core tests — 5.97 percent faster on single-core and 87.5 faster on multi-core, respectively, compared to the Surface Pro (2017) with a 7th-gen Intel Core i5 chip. That's a 59.62 percent performance boost in multi-core performance. Microsoft promises"up to 85 percent" faster performance depending on the task.
The Surface Pro 6's performance is comparable to the Surface Laptop 2... for multi-core performance. It scored 9.63 percent faster on single-core and 0.5 percent faster on multi-core.Nobody does the kickstand better than Microsoft.Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE
Even with a faster clock speed, the 2018 13-inch MacBook MacBook Pro wasn't a match for Microsoft's tablet. The Surface Pro 6 performed 3.99 percent faster on the single-core (about 6.25 percent faster), but was 20.29 percent faster on multi-core.
Compared to the 2018 MacBook Air, the Surface Pro 6 was 14.08 percent faster on single-core and 95.71 percent faster on multi-core. No surprise since the Surface Pro's processor has two more cores than the Air.These benchmarks give you a sense of where the Surface Pro 6's power slots in and how much value you're getting per dollar.
While my black Surface Pro 6 costs $1,199, performance on the the $899 Surface Pro 6 should be the same since the only difference on my unit is more storage and a black color.The keyboard is excellent and so is the trackpad.Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE
At the end of the day, however, unless you're pushing the Surface Pro 6's multi-core performance to the extreme, the 2-in-1 flies.As I'm writing this, I have Chrome open with 27 tabs, the Spotify app streaming music, and the Netflix app streaming an episode of
House of Cardsand there's no signs of the Surface Pro 6 buckling.No stutters as I hop between tabs. No lag as when I alt-tab between apps. Windows 10 Home sings on the Surface Pro 6 and I didn't even realize it at first until I started writing this review. With most thin-and-light laptops I've tested this year, I end up dealing with a fan kicking up, the OS slowing down, or a quickly depleting battery.
But not with the Surface Pro 6. I've gone eight-hour work days using the Surface Pro 6 on-and-off throughout the day (consisting of Chrome, Slack, email, Twitter, Microsoft Word, and Spotify) and didn't need to plug in until I got home. The screen's bright enough that I rarely needed to have it set beyond around 70 percent.
To pick a 2-in-1 or a laptop?This little detail where the keyboard clips onto the display makes all the difference for lapability.Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLEThis has been my dilemma. Having reviewed the Surface Laptop 2 a month earlier, I felt sure at the time it was the better deal at $999.
But now I'm not so sure. The Surface Pro 6 starts at $899 — $100 less than the Laptop 2 — but doesn't come with a keyboard. So with a keyboard, at the least, you'd have to spend $1,028.Both machines have the same exact ports. But the Laptop 2 has a larger touchscreen: 13.5 inches versus 12.3 inches.
On the other hand, the Surface Pro 6 is lighter. It's 1.7 pounds without a keyboard and 2.4 pounds with a keyboard. Regardless, it's lighter than the 2.7-pound Laptop 2, 3.02-pound 13-inch MacBook Pro, and 2.75-pound MacBook Air.To decide if the Surface Pro 6 is the machine for you, you gotta ask yourself a few questions:
1. Do you want macOS or Windows?If you answered macOS, then you should close this review right now. But if you said Windows, then the next question to ask is...2. Do you want a larger touchscreen?If you do, then you should go with the Laptop 2. If not, then the Surface Pro 6 is your guy. But it's not so simple...
3. Do you want to use your device to draw or take notes? Read more: Mashable »
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