Product Listing

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review: Still excellent, still expensive

By Kenny Yeo - 12 Mar 2023

Introduction, design, and features

Note: This review was first published on 22 December 2022.

The newest Surface Pro 9 is a spec-bump update, so let's see just how good it is.

A spec-bump update

For 2022, Microsoft decided to do something confusing. It’s merging the Intel and ARM-based versions of its Surface Pro device and calling both devices the Surface Pro 9. If you remember, the ARM-based versions used to be known as the Surface Pro X. 

The one we are interested in, and the one that most people are likely going to buy, is the Intel version. Without going into too much details, that’s because the ARM-based version continues to be plagued with compatibility and performance issues. My advice to readers is to avoid that model unless you are prepared to sacrifice usability and work around its quirks and limitations.

The TL;DR version:

This is still one of, if not the best 2-in-1 ultraportable Windows device you can buy. The only stumbling block is its high price. 


It may not be an OLED display but it still looks great.

So back to the Intel-powered Surface Pro 9. Physically, it’s identical to last year’s model. This means it’s a well-made device that feels very high quality. It’s also remarkably slim and light at just 9.3mm thin and weighs 879g. Unlike convertible notebooks, which can sort of “transform” into a tablet, the Surface Pro 9 is a tablet first and foremost, and can be comfortably held in one hand – and that has always been one of its biggest selling points. You turn it into a notebook by attaching a keyboard.

There are four colours to choose from: Platinum, Sapphire, Forest, and Graphite. But curiously, these colours are limited to the configuration you want. For example, the Core i7 models only come in Platinum and Graphite while Sapphire and Forest are specifically limited only to the Core i5 model with 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD. We've no idea why.

You can upgrade the storage yourself if you can find an M.2 2230 drive.

Speaking of storage, the Surface Pro 9 has upgradeable storage like its predecessor. The drive can be accessed by removing a cover behind the device and can be easily swapped. The only problem is that it uses an M.2 2230 form factor drive which is a little harder to find than the usual M.2 2280 that's a bit longer like this.

The display is unchanged which is not a bad thing because the 13-inch PixelSense display is a thing of beauty. It may not be OLED but I doubt most users will notice or care. The fact is, it looks sharp, colours look punchy, and it gets very bright. The unusual 3:2 aspect ratio also means more vertical space to see your emails, documents, and spreadsheets.

Ports are unchanged, which means you get two USB-C ports that support Thunderbolt 4 and USB4. Also note how thin it is.

The ports are also the same so you get two USB-C ports that support Thunderbolt 4 and USB4. There’s also a Surface Connect port that can be used with the Surface Dock and a Surface Type Cover port that connects to Microsoft’s various Type Cover keyboards.

The big change is the processor. The Surface Pro 9 gets Intel’s 12th Gen Core processors. But because Microsoft wants to push for longer battery life, it’s using a lower-power U-series processor – unlike most other ultraportables we’ve reviewed so far which are equipped with the more powerful P-series processor.

One of the best things about the Surface Pro 9 is that it is light enough to be used as a tablet.

The difference between the two is their TDP – thermal design power i.e. the power consumption under maximum load. The U-series chips have lower TDP figures and are designed to provide longer battery lives. In the Surface Pro 9, you get the choice of the Core i5-1235U or Core i7-1255U. Both are 10-core chips with two performance cores and eight efficiency cores. Unsurprisingly, the Core i7 variant has higher clock speeds and its integrated graphics processor has more execution units.

Connectivity has been improved with the support for the newer Wi-Fi 6E standard. This lets the Surface Pro 9 tap into the less congested 6GHz band (at least for now), but you will need a Wi-Fi 6E-capable router to take advantage of this. 

The Surface Pro keyboard is pricey but it's a must-have accessory for any Surface Pro owner.

Accessories, as ever, are sold separately and are pricey. The Surface Slim Pen 2 is S$208 while a Surface Pro keyboard starts at S$268. The Surface Dock 2, which provides power and acts as a hub for USB devices and external monitors, is S$388. If it’s any consolation, the accessories work well. The Type Cover, in particular, is a must-have accessory for the Surface Pro if you wish to use it to its fullest capabilities.

Join HWZ's Telegram channel here and catch all the latest tech news!
  • Design 8.5
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Value 7
  • Mobility 7.5
The Good
Excellent, high refresh rate display
Good performance
Thunderbolt 4/USB4 USB-C ports
Can truly be used as a tablet
Thin and light
The Bad
Accessories sold separately
Only two USB-C ports
Smaller battery, reduced battery life
Our articles may contain affiliate links. If you buy through these links, we may earn a small commission.