Microsoft Surface Book vs. Surface Pro 4 vs. Surface Pro 3 vs. MacBook Pro

Which Surface makes the most sense for you? Here's how they stack up against one another, and against the Apple competition.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
2 min read

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The Microsoft Surface Book. Sarah Tew/CNET
Earlier today, we showed you how the new Microsoft Surface Pro 4 compares to the other two most hotly anticipated tablet computers coming to market: the Apple iPad Pro , and the Google Pixel C . We also threw in a MacBook Air for good measure.

That was a great comparison if you want a new tablet, and don't care which operating system it runs. But what if you're dead-set on a Windows laptop?

Well, that's what Microsoft's Surface is supposed to be all about: a tablet that can replace your laptop, thanks to a detachable keyboard. But as of today now there are four different Microsoft Surface computers on sale -- including the Surface Book , which looks like a laptop to begin with.

It can all be a little bit overwhelming. Maybe this chart can help?

The Surface Book is Microsoft's 'ultimate laptop' (pictures)

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Here, we're comparing the Microsoft Surface 3 , the Surface Pro 3 , the new Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book , plus a 13-inch MacBook Pro for reference. And because Microsoft doesn't always include the keyboard in its size, weight and pricing calculations, we decided to add all of those to the chart so you know exactly what you're getting into.

Microsoft Surface Specs Comparison

Surface 3Surface Pro 3Surface Pro 4Surface Book13-inch MacBook Pro
Starting price $499$799$899$1,499$1,299
Price with keyboard $630$930$1,030$1,499$1,299
Display 10.8-inch 1,920x1,280-pixel resolution12-inch 2,160x1,440-pixel resolution 12.3-inch 2,736x1,824-pixel resolution13.5-inch 3,000x2,000-pixel resolution13.3-inch 2,560x1,600-pixel resolution
Pixel density 213216267267227
Dimensions (imperial) 10.52 x 7.36 x 0.34 inches11.5 x 7.93 x 0.36 inches11.50 x 7.93 x 0.33 inches8.67 x 12.3 x 0.30 inches12.35 x 8.62 x 0.71 inches
Dimensions (metric) 267 x 187 x 8.7mm292.1 x 201.4 x 9.1mm292.10 x 201.42 x 8.4mm220.2 x 312.3 x 7.7mm314 x 219 x 18mm
Weight 1.37 lbs. (622g)1.76 lbs. (800g)1.69 lbs. (766g) for Core M, 1.73 lbs. (786g) for Core i1.6 lbs. (726g)3.48 lbs. (1580g)
Thickness with keyboard 0.53 inches (13.5mm)0.55 inches (14mm)0.51 inches (13.1mm)0.9 inches (22.8mm)0.71 inches (18mm)
Weight with keyboard 1.95 lbs. (884g)2.41 lbs. (1093g)2.33 lbs. (1057g) for Core M, 2.37 lbs. (1075g) for Core i3.48 lbs. (1579g)3.48 lbs. (1580g)
Operating system Windows 8.1 (free upgrade to Windows 10)Windows 8.1 Pro (free upgrade to Windows 10)Windows 10 ProWindows 10 ProOS X El Capitan
Processors 1.6GHz 4-core Intel Atom x7Up to 5th-gen 1.7GHz 2-core Intel Core i7Up to 6th-gen 2-core Intel Core i7 Up to 6th-gen 2-core Intel Core i7Up to 5th-gen 3.1GHz 2-core Intel Core i7
Graphics Intel HDUp to Intel HD 5000Up to Intel Iris 540Intel HD 520 or Nvidia GeForceIntel Iris 6100
Storage 64GB / 128GB64GB / 128GB / 256GB / 512GB128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB128GB / 256GB / 512GB
RAM 2GB / 4GB4GB / 8GB4GB / 8GB / 16GB8GB / 16GB8GB / 16GB
Battery Up to 10 hours video playbackUp to 9 hours Web browsingUp to 9 hours video playbackUp to 12 hours video playbackUp to 12 hours video playback
Networking 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, optional LTE802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Ports 1x USB 3.0, 1x Mini DisplayPort, 1x Micro USB (charging), 1 x headset jack1x USB 3.0, 1x Mini DisplayPort, 1x Micro USB, 1 x headset jack, 1x charging port1x USB 3.0, 1x Mini DisplayPort, 1x SurfaceConnect (charging and docking), 1 x headset jack2x USB 3.0, 1x SD card reader, 1x Mini DisplayPort, 1x SurfaceConnect (charging and docking), 1x headset jack2x USB 3.0, 2x Thunderbolt 2, 1x HDMI, 1x SD card reader, 1x headset jack, 1x MagSafe 2 (charging)
Cameras 3.5MP front, 8MP back5MP front, 5MP back5MP front, 8MP back, Windows Hello face authentication5MP front, 8MP back720p front webcam
Hinge 3-positionFreely positionable to 150 degreesFreely positionable to 150 degreesFreely positionable to 125 degrees, tablet reversibleFreely positionable to 135 degrees
Touchscreen YesYesYes YesNo
Extras $49 stylus, $129 Type Cover$49 stylus, $129 Type CoverIncluded stylus, $129 Type Cover, $159 Type Cover with fingerprint sensorIncluded keyboard dock with built-in Nvidia GPU ($1899 or higher models), included stylusForce Touch trackpad

As you're surely noting right now, there are quiet a few differences here, most notably what's included in the box. The Surface Pro 4 now comes standard with the stylus, and the laptop-like Surface Book has both stylus and keyboard dock in the box. And while the detachable tablet portion of the Surface Book might be exceptionally thin and light for a Windows PC, it's the same weight and a good bit thicker than a 13-inch MacBook Pro as soon as you dock it.

(Never mind that Microsoft says the Surface Book has twice the performance of Apple's 13-inch laptop. It might if you buy the model with Nvidia GeForce graphics, which cost $1,899 and up.)

Meanwhile, if you're in love with the Surface concept of kickstand plus detachable keyboard, you might be tempted to pick up the cheapest Surface 3 -- but don't be tricked into thinking you're getting a deal at $499. Not only does it not include the keyboard, it's a major step down in terms of screen quality and processing power. The hinge is less flexible, too.

And if you're considering shelling out an additional $100 for the Surface 3 model with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of solid state storage -- which I'd definitely recommend -- the entry-level Surface Pro 4 starts looking even better: you're looking at only a $300 difference for a larger, thinner, more capable tablet with an included stylus.

I'm sure you'll draw your own conclusions from the chart, but keep in mind that specifications never tell the whole story. We'll have full reviews of the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book right here at CNET in the weeks to come.