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The Microsoft Surface 3 vs. Surface Pro 3 2021

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In This ArticleOverall FindingsSurface 3 Pros and ConsSurface Pro 3 Pros and ConsFinal Verdict: Surface Pro 3 for Laptop Replacement

The Microsoft Surface family has many members, and it's not always easy to tell each one apart. For example, the Surface 3 and the Surface Pro 3 look identical at a glance but are different devices on the inside. We tested the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 to help you decide which is a better fit for you.

Production of the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 ended in 2016, but these devices can be purchased used or refurbished.

Overall Findings

Surface 3

2 GB of memory with an option to upgrade to 4 GB.

64 GB of storage with an option to upgrade to 128 GB.

10.8-inch display (1920 x 1280).

Quad-core Intel Atom x7 processor.

Full-size USB 3.0.

MicroSD card reader.

Mini DisplayPort.

Weighs 1.5 pounds.

Surface Pro 3

Up to 8 GB of memory.

Up to 512 GB of storage.

12-inch display (2160 x 1440).

Intel Core processor up to i7, 1.7 GHz.

Full-size USB 3.0.

MicroSD card reader.

Mini DisplayPort.

Weighs 1.76 pounds.

Both tablets have Windows 8.1 installed, unlike the previous Surface RT model, which came with a limited version of Windows. You can use both tablets with a keyboard cover (with backlit keys), a stylus, and other accessories such as a docking station and wireless display adapter. Aside from different sizes, both devices look the same from the outside. That's where the similarities stop.

Surface 3 Pros and Cons

Advantages

Less expensive than the Surface Pro 3.

Comes with a 1-year subscription to Microsoft 365 Personal and 1 TB of OneDrive storage.

Up to 10 hours of battery life.

Disadvantages

Surface Pen is sold separately.

Kickstand only has three positions.

Less storage space and processing power than the Surface Pro 3.

Surface 3 is the more affordable of the two tablets. It comes with 2 GB of memory and 64 GB of storage, which can be doubled. It has a 10.8-inch display with a 1920 x 1280 resolution. This tablet runs on a Quad-core Intel Atom x7 processor that isn't as powerful as the Intel Core processor on the Surface Pro 3. However, the Surface 3 has a longer battery life (up to 10 hours).

The Surface 3 runs the full version of Windows just like a regular laptop, and it has a full-size USB 3.0 port, a microSD card reader, and a Mini DisplayPort. These features give it several advantages over the iPad, but it won't replace a regular laptop.

Surface Pro 3 Pros and Cons

Advantages

Multi-position kickstand.

Surface Pen is included.

Up to 9 hours of battery life.

Disadvantages

Microsoft Office is sold separately.

More expensive than a regular Surface 3.

Limited USB ports compared to similar devices.

Surface Pro 3 could be a full laptop and tablet replacement. The 12-inch tablet has a 2160 x 1440 sharp display and comes in many configurations with Intel Core processors. The Surface Pro 3 options include:

64 GB storage, Intel Core i3 (1.5 GHz), 4 GB RAM128 GB storage, Intel Core i5 (1.9 GHz), 4 GB RAM256 GB storage, Intel Core i5 (1.9 GHz), 8 GB RAM256 GB storage, Intel Core i7 (1.7 GHz), 8 GB RAM512 GB storage, Intel Core i7 (1.7 GHz), 8 GB RAM

In terms of performance, the Surface Pro 3 is comparable to a MacBook Pro, but it also functions as a tablet. On the downside, the Surface Pro 3 has the same ports as the Surface 3, which is fewer than a regular laptop should have. The multi-position kickstand is an excellent addition since many laptops can't be positioned with such precision.

Final Verdict: Surface Pro 3 for Laptop Replacement

Before choosing any laptop or tablet, consider what you need it to do. The cheaper Surface 3 offers the same Windows 8.1 experience as the Surface Pro, and its small size and less powerful specs make it suitable as a tablet or travel laptop. The Surface Pro 3 makes a better laptop replacement or a desktop PC replacement when docked.