Microsoft has made changes to its new Surface Pro line-up, with Intel and ARM versions now both marketed as Surface Pro 9. Previously, Intel and ARM based versions had separate sub-brands: Surface Pro 8 for Intel, and Surface Pro X for ARM. Both offer the same screen, design, support for pen and touch, keyboard options, and overall look, weight and feel. Key differences are under the hood, and important to note for corporate buyers and power users.
Surface Pro 9
Powered by 12 gen Intel Core i5 or i7 10 core Windows 11 64 bit USB-C 4 and Thunderbolt 4 Up to 15 hours manufacturer-rated battery
Surface Pro 9 with 5G
Powered by Microsoft SQ 3 ARM64 8 core Windows 11 ARM64 USB-C 3.2 Up to 19 hours manufacturer-rated battery
What is Microsoft SQ 3?
Instead of an Intel or AMD CPU, the Surface Pro 9 with 5G is powered by the Microsoft SQ 3. This is based on ARM, the processor architecture used in most smart phones, new Apple laptops and tablets. ARM processors have also been used in some older Surface devices, including the Surface Pro X, and even the very first Surface model from 2012. ARM processors are typically highly power efficient, support near instant-on responsiveness, and use multiple processor cores - usually a combination of high performance and low power-consumption cores. This mix provides good responsiveness and performance in native applications, and efficient handling of background tasks. Intel has taken a similar approach for its latest mobile processors, with performance and efficiency cores, for similar reasons.
What is Windows 11 ARM64?
The way ARM processors work is different from Intel and AMD. Software written for one doesn't natively work on the other. Because of this, Windows 11 ARM 64 for ARM-based processors is installed on the Surface Pro 9 with 5G. The Windows 11 user-experience is the same as that found on Intel and AMD powered Surface devices. Native ARM apps for Windows 11 include Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Teams, OneDrive and PowerPoint, Adobe Photoshop, Edge, and Firefox.
As well as running native ARM apps for Windows, Windows 11 ARM is able to run many applications designed for Intel or AMD processors via emulation, with considerably faster performance than in earlier Surface Pro X models. There can always be exceptions to this - this could include software used by power-users including 3D games and software, drivers for external peripherals including printers or scanners, and potentially custom in-house software applications. For large organisations in particular, these custom in-house applications might be for mission critical things like enterprise resource planning, customer management or patient records. Because of this, we recommend you test before you buy. Please contact us to request a demo.
Surface Pro 9 with 5G features 2x USB-C ports running at USB 3.2 speeds. Unlike the Surface Pro 9 and 8, the Surface Pro 9 with 5G does not support Thunderbolt 4 or USB-4 high speed devices, but does support a maximum of two external monitors at up to 4K resolution. These can be connected via USB-C or using the optional Surface Dock or Surface Dock 2, each available separately.
Windows Studio Effects
Microsoft has reserved new auto-framing capability for the ARM based Surface Pro 9 5G. This uses the high quality 5 megapixel front facing camera to pan and zoom automatically to keep your face in frame in Skype and Teams calls, even if you are moving around the room. The Microsoft SQ 3 Neural Processing Unit is used for tasks including background blurring in Teams.
Find out more about the Surface Pro 9 with 5G
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