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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best Microsoft Surface tablets

Microsoft’s Surface tablets are one of the best-kept secrets in the gadget industry. While most people have only had eyes for the iPad, Microsoft has quietly designed a tablet that’s just as thin and light but even more powerful. Surface tablets run full-fledged versions of Windows 10 and 11, and with the right specs, they can be the perfect computer for any job – even high-intensity tasks like video editing are a snap on a Surface.

As with all good tablet brands, there are lots of different kinds of Surface tablets available, each designed to suit specific types of users. That’s good news and bad news: it means that there’s definitely a Surface tablet that’s perfect for you, but it also means you’ll have to sort through the details to find the right combination of features. But that’s what you have us for, so read on for everything you need to know to find your ideal Microsoft Surface tablet, and check out our favorites when you’re done.

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The entire Surface family of devices was practically tailor-made for Microsoft Office products, with just one catch: none of it is included by default. If you regularly use Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, you’ll need to purchase the software separately.

Key considerations

Finding the right Surface tablet is largely about understanding how you’ll use it. Before you start shopping, answer these key questions.

Will you use your Surface tablet in places without WiFi?

To connect to the internet, Surface tablets use WiFi, and in some cases, LTE. If you’re planning on using your Surface tablet only in settings with WiFi, you’ll be fine – all Surface tablets support WiFi.

If you need web access when you’re away from WiFi, things get a little more complicated. You’ll need a Surface tablet that supports LTE from a wireless carrier, and you’ll need a corresponding subscriber data plan. (And if LTE is critical to you, note that the Surface Pro 5 was the last generation to support LTE. Starting with the Surface Pro 6, LTE is no longer an available option.)

Do you need a Surface tablet for personal use or for work?

If you’re looking for a Surface tablet for basic everyday activities like streaming video, browsing the web, or playing mobile games, you can go for one of the more modestly equipped models (such as those with Intel M or Intel Gold CPUs). If you need a proper machine for work and you want some real horsepower, get a Surface Pro with an i5 or i7 Intel processor.

Expert Tip
Get an extra AC adapter if you plan on traveling with your Surface Tablet. You never want to be caught without a charger.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

Will you focus on one task at a time or have multiple tasks running at once?

Random-access memory, better known as RAM, is the memory that computers use to manage multiple tasks simultaneously. Skimp on RAM and you’re likely to find your tablet impossibly slow when multiple applications are running, so buy a Surface tablet with as much RAM as you can afford. We recommend a minimum of 8GB of RAM, but if you have especially high needs, 16GB will be more appropriate.

The Microsoft Surface family

One of the most confusing things about the Surface brand is that it’s found on several different devices, and they all turn up in one another’s search results, which can make them hard to tell apart. Here’s a rundown of every machine in the Surface line and what they’re each for.

Surface and Surface Pro tablets

These are the brand’s flagship models. Surface tablets were among the first to put laptop-worthy internals in a tablet form factor, and they’re perfect for both business and leisure. If you want a powerful computer that’s slightly more tablet than it is laptop, get a Surface or a Surface Pro.

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Expert TIp
If you will use your Surface for work, log in to all of your accounts beforehand and have a practice video call. Most business applications require some first-time setup. For example, Zoom will require you to grant permissions if you want to share your screen on video calls. Typically, you only need to grant these types of permissions once, but don’t get stuck doing that while others are waiting on you.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

Surface Go

This is a smaller version of the Surface that includes LTE connectivity. Older generations of the regular Surface tablet had optional LTE access, but with the release of the Surface Pro 6, Microsoft began limiting LTE access to the Surface Go only. The Surface Go fits in any bag, it’s affordable, and perhaps best of all, it’s the only Surface with a USB 3.1 (aka USB-C) port.

Surface Laptop

This is exactly what it sounds like: a Microsoft Surface with a permanently attached keyboard. Surface Laptops are even more powerful than Surface tablets, and a lot more expensive to boot. If you’re a professional who needs a laptop with sheer power – and you don’t need the form factor of a Surface tablet – the Surface Laptop may be your best option.

Surface Book

This is a slightly bigger and bulkier version of the Surface Laptop. While it doesn’t have the sleek good looks of the Surface Laptop, it’s got the best display in the family – the 15-inch version is big, beautiful, and sports a resolution of 3240 x 2160. You can also separate the screen and the keyboard. If you want a portable Surface with a brilliant picture, get a Surface Book.

Surface Studio

This is a full-fledged desktop computer, albeit one with a giant 28-inch touchscreen. You read that right: while it may look like an iMac, the Surface Studio’s supersized touch interface makes it a truly unique device, and one that’s especially popular with videographers (and, incidentally, kids). If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind desktop computer, consider the Surface Studio.

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Testing Microsoft Surface tablets
We spent 6 hours researching 7 different models of Microsoft Surface tablets then worked with experts to pick our top five choices.


  • Get a Microsoft mouse and keyboard. If you plan to use your Surface with an external mouse and keyboard, consider buying the matching models made by Microsoft. While Surface tablets work with any Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, the Surface Mouse and the Surface Keyboard come in matching colors and are built with the same “less is more” design aesthetic. If you’re a fan of funky form factors, try Microsoft’s odd-looking but extremely ergonomic Surface Arc Mouse.
  • Get a USB-C dongle. A USB-C dongle will turn one USB-C port into many, and it’s easy to find one with key ports like legacy USB 3.0, HDMI, and even Ethernet.
  • Get a Surface Pen. Do this if you’re planning on using your Surface tablet for sketching or writing by hand. It’s designed specifically for Surface tablets, and it includes more than 4,000 pressure points so it can capture every pen stroke perfectly. The Surface Pen is a lot more than just a stylus, so it’s priced accordingly. In this case, you get what you pay for.
Expert Tip
If you’ll be using the touchscreen features of your Surface Tablet often, get a screen protector. Make sure to get one made of glass, and not plastic, for the best durability.
BestReviews Electronics Expert
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When comparing different Surface tablets, you’ll see the CPU and the amount of included RAM change between generations. Less well known is just how much the battery has improved. The battery on the Surface Pro 5 and Surface Pro 6 lasts significantly longer than prior iterations.


Q. Do Surface tablets have headphone jacks?

A. Yes – for now. Although Apple was the first major tech company to offer a mobile device without a headphone jack, others have been following suit in forcing consumers to use Bluetooth headphones. As of this writing, every Surface tablet model available has a standard 3.5mm headphone port, but that’s likely to disappear in future iterations.

Q. Why are there no LTE options on the Surface Pro 6?

A. When Microsoft launched the Surface Pro 6, it was the first Surface tablet to not have the option to include an LTE radio. This was primarily because they launched the Surface Go, a smaller, more portable version of the Surface Pro, which does feature an LTE radio for getting wireless internet. If LTE access on your Surface is critical to you, you’ll either need to get an older generation or consider the Surface Go.

Q. Which version of Windows is better: Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro?

A. There are only a few differences between Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro. Windows 10 Pro includes everything found in Windows 10 Home and adds a few key features for more technical users, such as Remote Desktop, Group Policy Management, and Device Encryption. If you’re a casual Windows user, Windows 10 Home is perfectly fine, but if you’re a network administrator or you do some intense networking at home, you may want to opt for the Pro version.

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