The Surface Pro 4 and 5 are excellent devices. And while the Apple MacBook Pro 2016 is great, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 offers better performance per dollar.
Even so, the Surface Pro 4 starts at $899. While the Surface Pro emerged to a lukewarm critical reception, it’s still a competent tablet with a growing fan base. Here’s what you can buy for the price of a Surface Pro 4.
From Desktops to Laptops and Notebooks
What you select ultimately depends on your specific needs. If you value gaming, you’ll want a desktop. A notebook or laptop, however, could serve as a portable alternative to a Microsoft Surface 4 Pro. These options ranging from desktops to notebooks show you what you can snag for the same price of a Surface Pro 5 (or even the 4).
Admittedly, the CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme VR GXiVR8020A2 is a desktop, not a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 alternative. The CyberPower rig comes in a different form factor than the Surface Pro 4. But the value arguably outweighs the Surface Pro. Although the Surface Pro 4 isn’t really intended for gaming, the Core i5 model should be sufficient for some mobile gaming.
For $720, the CyberPowerPC includes an Intel i5-7400 processor, 8 GB DDR4 RAM, and an AMD RX 480 4 GB GPU. The AMD is more than capable of handling VR gaming. However, the Gamer Xtreme VR GXiVR8020A2 is not a direct competitor to the Surface Pro 4. But if you’re considering a Surface Pro 4, a desktop like the Gamer Xtreme VR offers an incredible value. There’s not only the VR-capable hardware and beefy specs. In addition, the CyperPowerPC GXiVR802A2 allows for future upgrades. The GXiVR8060A2 is slightly more expensive but adds a 128 GB NVMe M.2 SSD and swaps out the RX 480 for a GTX 1060 which remains VR-compatible.
Why it’s better than the Surface Pro: VR gaming under $1K.
2. Dell Inspiron 15 7000 ($800)
Though desktops such as the CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme VR deliver more horsepower and expandability, gaming notebooks present a viable option. This choice is a sort of fusion between a gaming desktop and the Microsoft Surface Pro 4. OK, a gaming notebook isn’t quite as ultra-portable as the Surface Pro — but the Inspiron 15 7000 weighs in at a mere 5.8 lbs. For a notebook, defined as lighter than 6 lbs, that’s pretty light. But compared to the Surface Pro 4, which is under 2 lbs, that’s fairly hefty.
Although the Surface Pro 4 does offer a Core i5 model, it’s a dual core. The i5 found in the Dell Inspiron 7000 sports quad cores. Moreover, the GTX 1050 Ti GPU far outstrips the Surface Pro 4 and its integrated GPU.
Why it’s better than the Surface Pro: Balances portability and power.
3. Acer Switch Alpha 12 ($896/C$899)
The Acer Switch Alpha 12 is a 2-in-1 notebook. Because they straddle the line between laptop and tablet, 2-in-1 notebooks compete closely with the Microsoft Surface Pro 4. With its Intel Core i7 processor, 8 GB of RAM, a 512 GB SSD, and a keyboard, it’s more cost-effective than the Surface Pro 4. A Core i5 Microsoft Surface Pro retails for $700-$800. Stepping up to the i7 jumps the price to over $1,000. Adding a keyboard costs even more.
Overall, the higher tier Acer Switch Alpha 12 compares favorably to the Surface Pro. While a Surface Pro 4 is available with an Intel Core M for around $600, that’s without a keyboard. As CNET explains, the Acer Switch Alpha boasts spectacular value and performance despite its adequate display. You don’t get an OLED, but the default LCD panel is perfectly fine for most users. Its layout is great for both laptop ant tablet use. Plus, there’s a fanless liquid cooling system.
Why it’s better than the Surface Pro: Fanless and similar form factor with much better specs for your money. Includes a keyboard.
4. Lenovo ThinkPad T470 ($881/C$1470)
Lenovo ThinkPad devices are renowned for their utility. All throughout university I used a ThinkPad T60p which ran the likes of Doom 3 and Half-Life 2, which, for its time, was impressive. Moreover, the T60p lasted over five years. The Lenovo ThinkPad T470 is a superb option which you can get for the same price of a Surface Pro 4.
The T470 yields amazing battery life and a keyboard which Laptop Mag praises as best-in-class. There’s also a super fast PCIe SSD and you’ll even get a Thunderbolt 3 port. But Laptop Mag does admit the ThinkPad T470 audio profile is noticeably tinny. Additionally, its screen is fairly dim. Nevertheless, its excellent keyboard, light weight, and whopping 17-hour battery life make this 14-inch laptop a wonderful pick instead of the Surface Pro 4. Bonus points for its form factor, weight, and battery life which position it as an ultra-portable, like the Surface Pro 4.
Why it’s better than the Surface Pro: Long-lasting battery and great keyboard — a keyboard that’s included and built-in, no less.
5. Samsung Galaxy S8 ($720/C$975)
OK, hear me out. Since it’s a phone, the Galaxy S8 is insanely portable — more portable, in fact, than the Surface Pro. Sure, it has a much smaller screen. Yet the inclusion of DeX means the Galaxy S8 doubles as a desktop. It’s Samsung’s current flagship which is one of the hottest handsets on the market. In our review, we deemed the Galaxy S8 the best smartphone ever made. Thankfully, it’s not literally hot, unlike the Samsung Note 7.
It’s the Desktop Express feature that positions the S8 as a solid buy over the Surface Pro. Unfortunately, the DeX dock is sold separately and rather on the pricey side. Still, the S8 and its DeX feature is a killer feature for those seeking the best smartphone available — albeit a fairly expensive handset. If you’re purely seeking a phone, you may consider these Samsung Galaxy S8 alternatives.
Why it’s better than the Surface Pro: Incredibly portable and doubles as a desktop.
What You Can Get for the Price of a Surface Pro
The Surface Pro is an awesome device. Despite initial impressions, the Microsoft Surface Pro continues to shine — more so with each iteration. Yet depending on your needs, you can snag a more capable or versatile device for the same price.
Gamers might consider a VR-ready desktop like the CyberPower GXiVR8020A2 or a gaming notebook such as the Inspiron 15 7000. The Acer Switch Alpha 12 takes a step down on its display but more than compensates in its power and default detachable keyboard. An honorable mention goes out to the Razer Blade which competes with higher-end Surface Pro models.
What would you suggest buying instead of the Surface Pro 4?