Which Surface Pro?

Discussion in 'What Tablet PC Should I Buy?' started by Freeman9090, Apr 22, 2020.

  1. Freeman9090

    Freeman9090 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Hi,
    I'm looking to get a surface pro to help whittle away the days while we're all in lockdown. I've got a bit of a creative flair going on at the minute and I'd really like to try digital drawing. Instantly I thought of Surface Pro, I tried on in a shop a few years ago and was amazed with how windows was running on a tablet. I don't have a laptop so it would be great to have a portable version of Windows to take with me wherever I go. I do have a desktop which I use for gaming/ intensive tasks. I'vebeen looking at used surface pros on eBay as people tend to bundle in a type cover and pen and I'll be making a saving. However looking at the different surface pro versions, I don't really know which to choose for my needs.
    I'll mainly be using it for drawing/making notes/using onenote to create design/mood boards, importing photos of things I like, adding text etc. Could I get away with a surface pro 2017? With an i5 and 8gb or RAM, or should I step up to the SP6?
    Just after some thoughts.
    Thanks
     
  2. JoeS

    JoeS I'm all ears Senior Member

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    Hi there, welcome to the forum. You’ve come to the right place!

    I’m thinking the SP 2017 is plenty powerful for what you want. People here tend to recommend 16GB if you can get it, but 8GB should be fine for most tasks. I also think if you do painting with huge (software) brushes, the CPU becomes more critical.

    If you’re interested in a compact device, you should hold off a few weeks, because MS is rumored to be close to launching their new Surface Go. People here love the portability of that device, but the battery life and CPU power of the first edition were on the low side. If the new version fixes that, you’d have a nice compact solution for under $1000. Speaking of which, what price range were you considering?
     
  3. Freeman9090

    Freeman9090 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Hi there! I only really wanted to spend £600-700 which is around $750-$850. I would spend more if I could ditch my desktop PC... It's a shame they don't introduce thunderbolt 3 so I could buy an external GPU. Thanks for the advice so far, much appreciated.
     
  4. darkmagistric

    darkmagistric Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I’d hold off on the Surface Go 2 for the moment....the original lacked a specific chip called the Pixel Sense Accelerator that improved Pen Performance significantly. This chip was introduced with the 2017 Pro (Pro 5) and the Surface Go was weirdly the only Surface Product since then released without that chip. Until we can get confirmation the Go 2 has that chip....I can’t recommend the Go line for anything art focused.

    as is....I’m using the Pro 5 currently and I love it for Art. previously I had a Pro 3 that I hated drawing on....the 2017/5th gen Surface made the biggest pen jump as far as performance.

    as far as which model....I wouldn’t recommend a Pro 5 at this time...the Pro 6 has a better CPU and better Battery life......the most recent Pro 7 had somewhat of a battery decrease over the Pro 6.....but Microsoft finally including a USB-C port in the Pro 7.....for that alone I think the Pro 7 is the overall better purchase going forward since that USB-C port could prove way more valuable down the line. And it’s really hard justifying in 2020 for anyone to get a device that doesn’t have a USB-C port. (Microsoft should have had that on the Pro 5).

    as far as specs....while normally I would recommend getting as much Ram as you can for any device.....but for Surface Pros it’s not really cost effective. For the Pro 5, 6, & 7.....Microsoft regularly has a sale bundle that includes the keyboard cover with the i5/8Gb/128Gb model for $799 (sometimes $899, and even rarer sometimes $699).......but usually $799 is the most common. Going the next step to 256GB of storage or 16GB of Ram usually has a $200 - $500 price markup.

    I know you said you would look at EBay....but given how the bundle model is the most sold....that’s probably the most common model on there as well. Unless you can get a substantial lower price there....I’d mostly still recommend buying from Microsoft.....the Type Covers have that alacatra crap that gets dirty very easily.....my Pro 5 cover not even 2 years old and it is disgusting even by my standards.....can’t say I’d recommend buying Used Type Covers unless they are new in the box.

    also buying thru a Microsoft you can get the Surface Protection Plan that’s an additional charge, but worth it in my opinion. It covers you for 2 years and up to 2 accidental breaks......I haven’t broken my Pro 5 (2 years this July)....but my old Pro 3 I ended up cracking the screen twice.
     
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  5. JoeS

    JoeS I'm all ears Senior Member

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    @darkmagistric Fantastic response! :thumbsup: Now let’s hope @Freeman9090 actually returns here to see it. :)

    Edit: oh, he did, I guess his post needed to be approved first. Or maybe I overlooked it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2020
  6. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Surface Pro line's chassis is practically begging for switch to Ryzen 4000U...
     
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  7. Lilawyn

    Lilawyn Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Just wanted to throw my two cents into the ring, as a Surface Pro 6 owner. I have the fanless i5 Surface Pro 6 model with 8GB RAM/256GB HDD, and my number one regret is not having 16 GB of memory to do more than one creative task at a time. My Surface Pro 6 chokes when I have some chrome tabs open for reference + Photoshop at the dimensions I need it to be to work (2000x2000 pixels, so we're not even talking huge canvases).

    If you're planning to draw in a lightweight sketching program like Autodesk Sketchbook or Sketchable, 8GB should be fine! But damn, do I kick myself every time I try to open Photoshop on it for not opting in to 16GB.

    (There might also be some graphical limiting happening with Photoshop and the integrated graphics chip on the SP6, but I can't personally untangle how integrated graphics interacts with Photoshop at the SP6's native resolution.

    All I know is that brush lag in Photoshop can be pretty severe on the SP6, whereas some people don't experience it at all. What it probably means is that I'll highly recommend programs other than Photoshop for drawing when you do get your Surface! :D)
     
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  8. daddyfish

    daddyfish Pen Pal - Newbie

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    , I would personally ditch Chrome since it's a memory hog and I read that new Edge (the beta one I believe) can sync Chrome bookmarks etc and supports Chrome addons).

    Personally on my 8gb ram quadcore laptop with Samsung Evo ssd I can use Firefox together with Edge (old one), VStudio, Office and Corel Psp x7/8 and never run into ram issues. Only time when I run into ram issues was on my previous laptop (6gb ram, dual core and a sshd :vbrolleyes:) with Corel PSP x open and Unity project.
    (in Corel Psp I usually have photos open of 4000x3000 pixels)

    Also in Task Manager (ctrl+shift+esc) you can check ram + cpu usage of programs but also per browser page :vbsmile: (press on the arrow before the browser).
     
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  9. Lilawyn

    Lilawyn Pen Pal - Newbie

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    That sounds like it works for you! I already know plenty about RAM/CPU usage, and unfortunately, my bugbear is always and forever Photoshop. It's become such a bloated, laggy program. I finally experienced the lack of brush lag on my Surface Studio (32GB RAM, discrete graphics), but it's so bad as to be unpleasurable to draw on my Surface Pro 6 outside of light sketch programs.

    So my advice to people who are mainly buying Surface products for illustration/art purposes is always: max your RAM, best graphics possible (and preferably not integrated graphic) that you can get within your budget. It'll save you some heartache down the road if you decide to move from light sketching programs into professional-level art applications.
     
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  10. darkmagistric

    darkmagistric Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I think the problem is just Photoshop.....I shifted primarily to Clip Studio Paint over the past few years....and it works great on the Pro 5 with 8GB of Ram....even 4GB with my Galaxy Book 10.6 can hold its own with some rather large clip studio files (like 300-400MB saved files at 4096x4096). Don't forget, so long as you have decent storage space free, you can rely on Windows scratch disks to help out.

    However the problem with choosing the best graphics and storage/ram options is the unfortunate price markup. As I said before the common sale bundle of included Keyboard/i5/8GB/128GB is usually only $799 (not offered at this moment fyi).....the i5/256GB/16GB model is $1399.00......and since thats not the bundle it doesn't include the keyboard....so add on another $130....pushing the final price past the $1500 mark.

    That's literally just $700 extra for double the SSD and Ram.....I mean if you got the money....but its just hard justifying shelling that much extra money for relatively so little. Literally for that much money you could build a decent desktop computer with that much ram and storage.

    What Microsoft should do.....make the upgrade prices more affordable. Like upgrading the SSD from 128 to 256 is by itself $200.....the rest of that markup is the ram.....like a Keyboard Bundle with i5/256GB/16GB for like $1099......would be way easier justify up from the $799.
     
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