Surface Pro 3 vs Surface Pro 4

Posted on 07 October 2015 by

The Surface Pro 4 follows the Surface Pro 3 in very much the same style but includes some subtle upgrades that we’ve listed for you below.

The first thing to be aware of is that although the external dimensions are largely unchanged the screen size has increased to 12.3-inches (from 12.0 inches) and now accommodates 2736 x 1824 pixels and a new co-processor from Microsoft that handles touch and pen input. At this stage we don’t have data on maximum brightness, color accuracy or color space coverage.

There’s a new stylus that now includes 6+ months of battery life, can be magnetically attached to the frame of the Surface Pro 4 and has 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity (up from 256.) The pen also has interchangeable tips for different styles of usage and friction feedback and an electronic ‘eraser’ on the top. The digitizer technology is made by N-trig, as on the Surface Pro 3.

Inside the Surface Pro there are a range up changes. The processor range now includes a Core M3 option at the entry-level which could bring longer battery life along with cooler and quieter, possibly silent in most use cases. The Core i5 CPU, an Intel Core i5-6300U with HD 520 graphics and Intel Core i7-6650U with HD 540 graphics are from the Skylake generation – two generations on from the Haswell generation in the Surface Pro 3. Higher efficiency and clock rates, an improved GPU architecture and other features such as hardware audio processing, an imaging processor and real-time video encoder will enhance the multimedia features.

The battery capacity has been reduced from 42 Wh to 38.2 Wh – a 10% reduction – which should leave the Core i5 and Core i7 with very similar battery life to the previous models. It’s possible that the Core M3 version will offer improved battery life in some scenarios. Video playback, for example.

The port selection hasn’t changed between the two models and the Surface Pro 3 dock works, as promised, with the Surface Pro 4.

There’s no NFC, wireless charging, WiGig or USB-C / 3.1 support on either models. Both models include active cooling using a fan although the Core m3 variant of the Surface Pro 4 has it removed for totally silent operation. There’s a new thermal solution in the Surface Pro 4 which reduces performance degradation under load.

There’s a new Type Cover with mechanical keys and 40% larger trackpad but this is backward compatible with the Surface Pro 3 so it can’t be considered as an advantage for the Pro 4. The same is true for the new Surface dock that also works with both models.

Type Cover 2015
Surface Dock 2015

Weight is slightly reduced to 766 gm on the Surface Pro 4 with Core M CPU and 786 grams with the Core i5 and Core i7 processors. (It was 800 grams on the Surface Pro 3.) That lower weight on the Core M model indicdate that the fan is removed but that is yet to be confirmed.

Both Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 4 run Windows 10 but as the Pro 4 was designed with Windows 10 there’s a possibility that components and drivers were configured to be better optimized with the new OS. That’s only something that will be seen in tests.

No technical details are available for the SSD and Memory speeds but we’ll add that below when we have it. Maximum storage available on the Surface Pro 4 is 1 TB. (512 GB on the Surface Pro 3) and the entry-level model comes with 128 GB storage (was 64 GB on the Surface Pro 3.)

The rear camera gets a boost to  8 MP auto-focus and the front is now a 5 MP model that can be used with Windows Hello security.

Finally the pricing is slightly higher than the Surface Pro 3 with a starting price of $899 for the Core M with 128 GB SSD, 4 GB RAM and Windows 10 Pro. The stylus is included.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 highlights

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 highlights

  • Lower starting price
  • Bigger battery capacity (but may not equate to better battery life.)
  • Bigger frame (can be better for hand-holding)
  • 4th-gen Intel Core processor
  • HD / 5 MP cameras
  • 512 GB max storage
  • 8 GB max RAM
  • 799 grams minimum weight
  • New Type Cover and Surface Dock compatible.
  • Thickness: 9.14 mm
  • Larger screen (12.3-inches) in same fram size
  • Higher resolution
  • 6th-gen Intel Core processor includes new multimedia co-processors.
  • 5 MP Hello / 8 MP AF cameras
  • Improved digitizer and pen technology.
  • 1 TB maximum SSD storage.
  • SSD is PCIe connected and very fast.
  • 16 GB maximum RAM
  • 766 grams minimum weight
  • New Type Cover and Surface Dock compatible.
  • Core m3 version is fanless.
  • Improved screen color coverage and accuracy.
  • Thickness: 8.45 mm
Full specifications and more information in our database.  Full specifications and more information in our database.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Vs Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Editors Evaluation

Use our editors ratings to find a solution. By rating each criteria based on your requirements you'll find a 'Winner' shown at the bottom of the table. Ratings below based on editor experience. Some ratings may be provisional.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Microsoft Surface Pro 4
CRITERIA Adjust your
requirements below
Editors rating Editors Rating
Battery LifeNot important
Very Important
ConnectivityNot important
Very Important
Screen qualityNot important
Very Important
PortabilityNot important
Very Important
SensorsNot important
Very Important
ProductivityNot important
Very Important
A/V/P experienceNot important
Very Important
GamingNot important
Very Important
Build QualityNot important
Very Important
Click images for product information
Result TBC TBC
Latest pricing 1198.99649.00
Editors Comparison Version: Alpha V3.0 - 29 Feb 2014 (Alpha - Features may change)
Ratings shown are the latest entries entered by an expert/admin
Thanks to Bryan Cryer and Steve Litchfield for interactive code.

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