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Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review: Still excellent, still expensive

By Kenny Yeo - 12 Mar 2023

Performance & conclusion

Performance analysis

To recap, the Surface Pro 9 that I received for testing is powered by an Intel Core i7-1255U processor with 16GB of memory and a 256GB SSD. Since this is supposed to be the more power-efficient Alder Lake processor, it will be interesting to see how it performs against other ultraportable notebooks with the more powerful P-series processor and also against its predecessor, the Surface Pro 8.

Here’s how it stacks up against other ultraportable portable notebooks that I’ve recently tested.

Model Display Processor Memory Storage Graphics
Microsoft Surface Pro 9 13-inch, PixelSense Flow, 120Hz refresh rate Intel Core i7-1255U 16GB 256GB SSD Intel Iris Xe
Acer Swift 5 (2022) 14-inch, WQXGA, IPS, touchscreen Intel Core i7-1260P 16GB 1TB SSD Intel Iris Xe
ASUS ZenBook 14 OLED UX3402   14-inch, 2.8K, OLED, touchscreen Intel Core i7-1260P 16GB 512GB SSD Intel Iris Xe
Huawei MateBook X Pro (2022) 14.2-inch, 3k, IPS, touchscreen Intel Core i7-1260P 16GB 1TB SSD Intel Iris Xe
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14-inch, 2.8K, OLED, touchscreen Intel Core i7-1260P 16GB 512GB SSD Intel Iris Xe
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 13-inch, PixelSense Flow, 120Hz refresh rate Intel Core i7-1185G7 16GB 256GB SSD Intel Iris Xe


Despite having a less powerful U-series processor, the Surface Pro 9 managed results that were almost on a par with ultraportable notebooks that have more powerful P-series processors. Looking at the results from Geekbench and Cinebench, we can see that single-core performance was nearly as good as any notebook with a P-series processor and it is only in multi-core performance that it starts to lag, and even then, the difference isn’t all that great. Graphics performance wasn’t too shabby either, though it must be said that this isn’t a gaming machine at all. If you do want to play games, be prepared to dial back the graphics settings significantly.

Crucially, in the real world, the Surface Pro 9 feels every bit as fast and responsive as the other ultraportables. You can’t tell that it has a lower-power U-series processor, and that must be viewed as a positive. Also, CPU performance is much improved over its predecessor. The only negative I found is that it can get quite warm when it’s taxed, but thankfully the fans aren’t obnoxiously loud.

 

Battery life

Note: Battery tests were conducted using PCMark 10's battery benchmark with the display set to 100% brightness.

One interesting thing about the Surface Pro 9 is that despite having the same physical dimensions as its predecessor, it actually has a smaller battery capacity – 47.7Wh vs. 51.5Wh. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s actually a 7.3% reduction in battery capacity. This, coupled with the fact that Intel’s new processor doesn’t seem to be any more power efficient (as evidenced by the power consumption figures), means a significant drop in battery life. Whereas the Surface Pro 8 could manage over 9 hours in our battery life test, the new Surface Pro 9 checks itself out at a little over 7 hours. It’s decent for a device of its size and weight, but there’s no denying that it’s also a lot less than what its predecessor could manage.

 

Still the best 2-in-1 ultraportable notebook

Though the improvements are minor, the Surface Pro 9 is still one of the best 2-in-1 Windows devices you can buy.

Though the Surface Pro 9 isn’t vastly different or even improved from its predecessor, there’s no question that it’s still one of, if not the best 2-in-1 notebook you can buy today. Most of this stems from the fact that unlike other convertible notebooks, the Surface Pro 9 can truly be used as tablet. This gives it a versatility that is unmatched by its rivals. 

But it’s by no means perfect. Despite having Intel’s newest Alder Lake processors, power consumption hasn’t improved. This, coupled with the slightly smaller battery, means battery life has gone down quite significantly, which reduces its portability score. 

The bigger hurdle for most readers, however, is likely going to be its price. Though prices start at S$1,588, I can’t see too many people opting for that configuration seeing that it only comes with 8GB of memory and a 128GB SSD. Realistically, you are going to at least want the Core i5 model with 16GB of memory and 256GB of storage and that’s S$2,188. 

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 configurations and prices
Processor Memory Storage Price
Core i5-1235U 8GB 128GB S$1,588
Core i5-1235U 8GB 256GB S$1,738
Core i5-1235U 16GB 256GB S$2,188
Core i7-1255U 16GB 256GB S$2,488
Core i7-1255U 16GB 512GB S$2,938
Core i7-1255U 32GB 1TB S$3,988


The accessories are the ones that will really get to you. Prices of the Surface Pro keyboard start at S$268 and the Surface Pen is S$208. If you want both, definitely get the keyboard and pen bundle which is better value at S$428. No matter what, it’ll add to the cost of your Surface Pro 9 system considerably. 

The system I tested has a Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and 256GB of storage which is S$2,488. If you add the keyboard and pen, that goes up to S$2,916. Even if you add the keyboard alone, which I consider a must-have accessory, it’s still S$2,756. The Surface Pro has never been a cheap device, and the same is true for this latest version.

If you are looking for a Windows device that is equal parts notebook and tablet, there’s no contest. The Surface Pro is the best device for this. Build quality is tip-top, the display is brilliant, performance is good, and battery life remains decent, even if it’s not quite as good as the model it replaces. Really, the only stumbling block is its price.
 

You can buy the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 on the Microsoft Online Store (comes with free Surface Slim Pen 2), the Microsoft Flagship Store on Lazada, and the Microsoft Authorized Store on Shopee.

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8.0
  • 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
Pricey
Accessories sold separately
Only two USB-C ports
Smaller battery, reduced battery life
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