Surface Pro 9 (Intel vs ARM) review: which one to buy?
It combined the Surface Pro Xs groundbreaking design with Intels powerful chips. It was new with an exciting screen, an exciting design and exciting camera. All the big Tech buzzwords. We know and love on this channel. The new Surface Pro 9 is not that in fact, the most exciting thing about the Surface Pro 9 is that there are two of them now for those of you who dont obsessively track Microsofts internal component choices and by the way, shame on all of you. This years Surface, Pro Shoppers have a choice of two different models with two different processors: theres: an Intel model which has a boring old, 12th gen, Core I5 or core i7, and then, instead of a separate Pro X model this year, theres another Pro 9 with a Brand new chip that Microsoft co, engineered with Qualcomm called the sq3. The sq3 is an arm chip based on Snapdragon and its the sort of chip thats designed to power super thin super light mobile devices. This blue one has Intel inside and the gray one has the sq3. Now you may be looking at these and thinking to yourself self. These look identical. How will I ever determine which one to buy dont worry Im here for you and were going to get through this together? The case for the Surface Pro 9 with sq3? Is that its perfect for the mobile Microsoft Enthusiast? I know I know thats a lot of words, but if that label happens to describe you, the Qualcomm Pro 9 offers a unique package that you wont find in any other laptop on the market.
You just need to know exactly what youre getting first off. The sq3 model supports full 5G connectivity. Now I wasnt actually able to get 5G speeds in various places around Manhattan and its a bit of a challenge to figure out where exactly millimeter wave is enabled, but on paper this laptop does support 5G. Second, this model has chart topping battery life. I got over 12 hours of straight use out of this device, which is longer than the vast majority of Windows laptops Ive tested this year and finally, the 5G Pro 9. Has this little thing inside called the npu npu stands for neural processing unit and its job is to handle AI features so that the processor doesnt have to worry about them. This Powers a whole bunch of, shall we say, kooky camera features that were very fun to test. So my favorite favorite feature is called voice focus and this does exactly what it sounds like it would do. So. Becca is going to play some really loud coffee shop, noise. Behind me, Im gon na turn voice focus on so this essentially cancels out all the noise around you except your voice, so that if youre on a video call in a loud setting, people can still hear you. This is pretty loud coffee shop noise. So this is doing a pretty good job here, Ill turn it off again pretty cool right. So there are a number of camera features which are theoretically supposed to work on the sq3, but they only worked like some of the time.
So you can see theres this portrait blur effect here, which actually did work pretty well, you can see theres standard blur, theres portrait blur and that did work across a number of photo and video applications. But then you can also see theres supposed to be an eye contact and an auto framing features here, and these only work some of the time and we couldnt get them to work for this shoot. So you can see. Auto framing is supposed to be like keeping me in the frame, as I move around and eye contact is supposed to make it look like Im looking right at the camera. When I look all over the place and those you can see those just arent working. So I hope that Microsoft can fix that, because these are legitimately very cool features when they do work Music, so portability, long battery life, 5G connectivity, funky camera, its a cool and unique package, so whats the downside, well its the windows on arm kinda, sucks Windows itself, Like the menus and stuff those run fine, but not every popular application is currently able to run natively on qualcomms processors. Some of them are still running through an emulation layer and emulated. Apps, in my experience, were slow Chrome, for example, was not running natively on the sq3, neither was slack and when I typed and crawl on this device, I saw significant lag YouTube. Videos froze slack, took forever to switch between channels.
Pen, Strokes were delayed, stuff took a while to open it. It was a bad time. Your best bet, if youre using the sq3, is to stick to apps that are running natively on arm, which includes a lot of Microsoft. Apps, like Edge OneNote paint office. Those kinds of things those werent lightning fast on the pro 9, but they were usable. Now some of you already live your life in Microsofts ecosystem and some of you wont mind switching over, but for many others its not as easy of a task between the sq3 and the Intel models. A lot of things are the same. They have the same 13 inch display with a 120 hertz refresh rate, which was also on the pro 8.. They use the same attached, kickstand and the same detachable keyboard, which is sturdy and has a really nice click and the same stylus, which has great haptic feedback and lives in a little pocket here. The only real difference on the outside is that the core i7 model has new color options. So lets talk Intel the core i7 model of the Surface. Pro 9 is a bit more fun. Looking you can get it in forest green. You can get a dark one. You can get this blue guy, we have here, and the sq3 only comes in boring silver, but mostly the Intel model is the boring model. You know that wild and crazy webcam stuff – we just showed you yeah.
The Intel probe doesnt have those theres no 5G theres. No npu the battery life is closer to seven eight hours, with my workload, at least, but in exchange for giving up all that flashy stuff, you get a device that runs Chrome, you get a device that runs slack and thats a really important difference between these two Devices because the case for the Intel Surface Pro 9 is that it works. While I was testing this Intel device, I edited I video called I marked up. I spreadsheeted nothing lagged nothing froze nothing crashed. It ran all the apps, my heart desired. We did run some benchmarks, I mean you all know how numbers work here are the numbers, the Intel Pro 9 gets much higher numbers, but you dont even need to see the numbers to see how much faster this Intel model is performing in emulated. Apps. Just look at how much longer it takes for cinebench to even start on the sq3 model across the board in various emulated, apps, all kinds of things from clicking to typing to booting and quitting are just faster on the Intel processor. There was no fan noise or heat either. Even when I was using more intense Adobe programs like Lightroom, and then there are a few other small differences. The pro 9 is 0.01 pounds lighter, which you wont notice, and it supports Thunderbolt 4, which the sq3 doesnt and, above all, theres the fact that the Intel model is cheaper, okay, so its not cheaper spec for spec.
Technically the cheapest core i7 model is the same same price as the equivalent sq3 theyre, both 15.99, but the cheapest sq3 model is 12.99, while the cheapest Core i5 model is 9.99. Now the keyboard and Pen add 279 to the price. So if you buy those that gets you up to 1300 ish and 1600 ish anyway, the point is that the pro 9 is already a pre expensive device, but you can spend a few hundred dollars less if you stick with Intel. Basically, the Intel Pro 9 is a laptop okay, its a laptop with an attached kickstand where the keyboard pops off and holds a stylus, but its a reliable, fast laptop, and I dont have all that much to say about it. Its fine, the Surface Pro 9 with sq3, has some really impressive, AI features and those make it feel like a laptop of the future, its a device for enthusiasts who are really into the surface form factor and who are confident that theyre only going to be using Microsofts apps, if you are in that group – and you want something to carry around and video conference with all the time this may be the device youve been waiting for, but if youre anyone else, you probably want the Intel model. The Intel Pro 9 is – and I know some of you hate this phrase – an incremental upgrade. They took the Service Pro 8 and they stuck a new chip in it.
This isnt a machine.