Surface 3 vs. Surface Pro 3: Which tablet should you buy?

Here how to decide if you should buy a Surface 3 or Surface Pro 3.

Surface 3 vs. Surface Pro 3

Microsoft just introduced the new “Surface 3”, the Surface Pro 3’s little brother, on a new effort to bring a more affordable device to the market that continues to combine the elements of tablets and laptops without affecting premium materials and design.

Although, the hardware is now in the low-end side, compared to the Surface Pro 3, you’ll still get a non-Pro device that maintains many of the features of the older brother, the idea of what a Surface is about, but on a device that is less expensive. However, now we have four different models to choose from, and finding the right Surface just got a little more confusing.

Like its sibling, the Surface 3 offers all day battery life, even with a high-resolution display. It’s powered by an x86 Intel processor, which allows the device to ditch Windows RT in favor of the full version of the operating system. Storage is acceptable, and both tablets require you to buy an optional Type Cover keyboard.

So, what’s the real difference between the new Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3? And which model should you buy? Short answer: It depends on what you want to do with the device. Let’s look at the tech specs of both tablets to see how they both stack up against each other and a few other aspects you should consider before making the choice.

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On the tech specs side of things, there is no doubt that the Surface Pro 3 always comes at the top. The Intel Core i3/i5/i7, the amount of RAM and storage capacity makes it the perfect choice for those who need a device that can take on any task. However, if you look closely, the Surface 3 has low-end hardware, but it also offer a few extra features, such as a better back-facing camera, universal USB charging port, 4G LTE support, and proximity sensor. Also thanks to the Atom processor, Microsoft was able to manage to make the device fanless, thinner and lighter, and with a smaller display, and the company claims up to 10 hours of video playback with a smaller battery capacity.

However, the tradeoff is performance and that is one of the reasons the new Surface 3 does not carry the word “Pro” as part of the name.

Surface 3 with Type Cover, Pen

The Surface Pro 3 includes more powerful processors, which are specifically designed to heavy-duty tasks, while the Surface 3 has a low-power Atom processor design for light-weight tasks and to conserve power instead of offering better performance.

Furthermore, the Surface Pro 3 can be configured to up to 8GB of RAM, which is up to twice the capacity in the new Surface 3. Having said that, the new Surface 3 can easily handle all your everyday tasks, such as web browsing using Google Chrome, playing music with iTunes, working with Office, email, and even Photoshop, that is of course, if you’re only doing some light photo editing.

Another thing you should consider is pricing. Yes, the Surface 3 starts at $499, but this is for the basic model that includes 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. If you like the model with the most RAM (4GB) and storage capacity (128Gb), you’ll have to pay $599.

Also, keep in mind that these prices will only get you the tablet and a free one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal; in order to make the Surface 3 useful, you’ll need to purchase the Type Cover keyboard that cost $129.99. Unlike the Surface Pro 3, the Surface 3 does not include the Surface Pen, which cost $49.99. Furthermore, if you like a docking station, this accessory will cost $199.99. So you’re looking to spend around $679 for the basic model with a Surface Pen and Type Cover.

Surface 3 Type Covers

In comparison to a Surface Pro 3 featuring an Intel Core i5, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 12-inch display with higher resolution costs around $894 with the Surface Pen included, plus $104 for a Type Cover, which brings up a total of $998; and of course, the price goes higher if you want more RAM and more processing power (or lower if you go with the Core i3 model). So, you’ll basically be saving $319 if you go with a Surface 3.

Surace 3 Pens

Now going back to the original question: Should you buy a Surface 3 or a Surface Pro 3? If you’re a student or a regular user that only needs web browsing, work with Office, watch movies and listen to music, then you can consider buying a Surface 3. If you need to work on more demanding applications, such as image and video editing, encoding, gaming, and other power-hungry tasks, you should consider one of the high-end models of Surface Pro 3.

Microsoft has already open the pre-orders in the following markets: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Also customers can pre-order the tablet in Amazon and Best Buy in United States. Microsoft will begin shipping the tablet on May 5.

Are you planning to get a Surface 3? Let us know in the comments below.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 15 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 21 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].