Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 review: The Surface that got it right

Third time lucky, Microsoft strikes gold with the Surface Pro 3 – this was the device that saw the Surface come of age

Price when reviewed 

The Surface Pro 3 was a great tablet, but now that the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 has taken its place, its reign is at an end. The new Surface Pro has a slightly larger 12.3in display with a higher resolution of 2,736 x 1,824, and includes the latest Intel Skylake processors, so it runs cooler and very slightly quicker, too.

The Surface Pro 3 is still on sale, but as stocks are running low there aren't many bargains to be had – in many cases you'll find it selling for the same price as the new Surface Pro 4. If you find it going for a song, or second-hand, then the Surface Pro 3 is still a great device, but the Surface Pro 4 is now a far better bet. Click here to read our Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review, or read on to find out why we loved the Surface Pro 3 so much. 

The Surface Pro 3 is the flagship of Microsoft’s Surface family, the big, pricier brother to the recently released Surface 3. The Pro ups the ante with a larger 12in display, a vastly more potent Intel Core processor and a nippy SSD. But is all that enough to back up Microsoft’s claims that this is "the tablet that can replace your laptop?" After all, not only does the machine have competition from Windows tablets, it now also faces the iPad Pro (and we've written a direct comparison if you're interested in how they compare). So it is still the hybrid to beat?

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 review: Specifications

The Surface Pro 3 comes in a wide variety of specifications. You can choose from Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs, as well as a spectrum of SSD capacities ranging from 64GB right up to 512GB. Pricing varies dramatically as a result, with the low-end model starting at a very tempting £639. We’d avoid this one, though: its Core i3 CPU and 4GB of RAM may do everything you need, but a 64GB SSD is too tiny these days.

Surface Pro 3 review specifications 128GB

A slightly better bet is the £849 version, which gets you a Core i5, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, but ideally we’d pick the 256GB model, which also doubles the RAM, at £1,079. If nothing but the best will do, you’ll have to dig deep: the Core i7 versions are both equipped with 8GB of RAM, and the 256GB or 512GB SSD options come in at £1,299 and £1,549 respectively. In the US, but unfortunately not available here yet, Microsoft also has a 128GB i7 model available for $1,149 (~£739). Bear in mind that none of these prices include the Type Cover, which adds another £110 on top.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 review: Design

The Surface Pro 3 makes a great first impression – it’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from Microsoft hardware. The clean, unfussy design oozes luxury, and while we prefer the moody, all-black exterior of the Surface Pro 2, there is something rather alluring about the Surface Pro 3. Light grey metal reaches all around the back and along the tapered edges, and a slight sparkle shimmers under the matte finish.

And while the the Surface Pro 3 is substantially wider and taller than what’s come before, Microsoft has used the extra surface area to spread the components more thinly and slash the overall weight – the chassis now measures a dainty 9.1mm thick and weighs 800g.

Surface Pro 3 review design

The 12in, 2,160 x 1,440 screen (protected by a glossy panel of Gorilla Glass 3) is a big step up from the 10.6in, 1,920 x 1,080 panels of previous Pro generations. It’s also a different shape, forsaking the Surface Pro 2’s widescreen 16:9 format in favour of a 3:2 ratio. This may not sound like a revolutionary change, but the ergonomic impact is huge. In laptop mode, the display’s extra height brings back happy memories of 4:3, square-screened laptops from the 1990s; held vertically in tablet mode, with the Surface Pen in hand, the extra width gives the feel of a slightly shrunken A4 page. No matter how you use it, the Surface Pro 3 feels like a more natural fit than previous models.

Continues on page 2: Features, Type Cover & Kickstand

Price when reviewed 
929inc VAT



Warranty 2 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 292 x 201 x 9.1mm (WDH)
Weight 798g

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-4300U
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 0

Screen and video

Screen size 12.0in
Resolution screen horizontal 2,160
Resolution screen vertical 1,440
Resolution 2160 x 1440
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics
DisplayPort outputs 1


Capacity 128GB
Hard disk usable capacity 96GB
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0


Wired adapter speed N/A
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchscreen, Stylus
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 5.0mp
TPM yes

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 10hr 33min
Battery life, heavy use 2hr 20min
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.62
Responsiveness score 0.73
Media score 0.69
Multitasking score 0.45

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit
OS family Windows 8

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