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

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



Warranty2 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions292 x 201 x 9.1mm (WDH)

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i5-4300U
RAM capacity4.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total0

Screen and video

Screen size12.0in
Resolution screen horizontal2,160
Resolution screen vertical1,440
Resolution2160 x 1440
Graphics chipsetIntel HD Graphics
DisplayPort outputs1


Hard disk usable capacity96GB
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speedN/A
802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

3.5mm audio jacks1
SD card readeryes
Pointing device typeTouchscreen, Stylus
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating5.0mp

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use10hr 33min
Battery life, heavy use2hr 20min
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.62
Responsiveness score0.73
Media score0.69
Multitasking score0.45

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 8.1 Pro 64-bit
OS familyWindows 8

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