THE TOP Pro 7 can be an update of the wonderful Surface Pro 6 with new processors and, finally, a USB-C port.

That means the look of the brand new Surface Pro 7 hasn’t changed because the 2017 Surface Pro 5, with Microsoft taking an “if it ain’t broke” approach. It’s competitively coming in at £699 or more – but you need to pay at least £125 for the keyboard if you wish one – which annoyingly isn’t contained in the standard price.

Microsoft’s unique design language continues to stick out. Well-made computers with sharp-looking lines, lightly textured magnesium bodies with rounded corners and the company’s unrivalled kickstand on the trunk.

The 12.3in screen continues to be crisp and beautiful, however the large bezels around the sides now look just a little dated when compared to Surface Pro X, traditional laptops and mobile tablets. All versions can be purchased in Microsoft’s platinum grey colour, although some are also obtainable in black, which is obviously nicer.

At 775g without the keyboard, the top Pro 7 is merely shy of 150g heavier compared to the 12.9in Ipad Pro with similar dimensions. With Microsoft’s excellent 310g Signature Type Cover attached that brings the tablet to at least one 1.085kg, which is lighter than most laptops like the 1.25kg MacBook Air and 1.265kg Surface Laptop 3.

The keyboard is equivalent to last year too, so that it is among the finest on any laptop, aside from a tablet, with excellent key feel, travel and stability, as the trackpad is small, but smooth and responsive. It really is disappointingly still not contained in the price, costing £125 in black or £150 in red, platinum or blue Alcantara.

The £99 Surface Pen may be the same, again so that it is among the finest styluses available – precise, with low-latency, tilt and a lot of pressure levels. It magnetically attaches left side of the top Pro 7, which is good, however, not on a single level as clever the brand new Slim Pen tray in the keyboard for the top Pro X.

The keyboard is great, with good feel and a responsive trackpad, it’s simply a shame it’s not contained in the price. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
Specifications
Screen: 12.3in LCD 2736 x 1824 (267 PPI)

Processor: Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 (10th generation)

RAM: 4, 8 or 16GB

Storage: 128, 256, 512GB or 1TB

Graphics: Intel UHD (i3) or Intel Iris Plus (i5/i7)

Operating-system: Windows 10 Home

Camera: 8MP rear, 5MP front-facing, Windows Hello

Connectivity: Wifi 6, Bluetooth 5, USB 3.0, USB-C, headphones, TPM, microSD

Dimensions: 292 x 201 x 8.5 mm

Weight: 775 or 790g (i7 version)

Processing and battery life
THE TOP Connect port manages power, as the microSD card slot hidden beneath the kickstand is incredibly useful for photographers. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
THE TOP Pro 7 includes either Intel’s 10th-generation i3, i5 or i7 processors. As the i3 will be fine for light usage, most will need the Core i5 or i7 versions, which are somewhat more capable.

The version tested had a Core i7, 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage and performed as you’ll expect from a high-end tablet PC or laptop. It handled general computing without slowdown at all, despite having 10 applications open with plenty of tabs in Chrome and many large images open and being done in Affinity Photo, comparing favourably to Apple’s 13in MacBook Pro and Dell’s XPS 13.

However the fans were somewhat more noticeable compared to the same Core i7 version of last year’s Surface Pro 6, and therefore the top Pro 7 likely runs hotter. With light computing these were not audible, however when linked to a 4K monitor or when running slightly more intensive applications these were noticeable in quiet rooms. The tablet never became overly hot to touch.

Battery life was slightly disappointing, with the Core i7 version lasting around seven hours between charges, which wasn’t quite long enough to complete some work days without reaching for the charger. The Core i5 version must have longer battery life.

Charging the top Pro 7 wasn’t quite as quick as the top Pro X, nonetheless it will reach 80% from dead in about 60 minutes and fully charge in only under two hours using the included Surface Connect power adapter. Charging with a 45W USB-C charger happened at an identical rate, which means you have two good options for charging the tablet.

Unlike the recent Surface Pro X and Surface Laptop 3, the top Pro 7 is difficult to repair and was only awarded a score of 1 out of 10 by repair experts iFixit.

None of the components, like the battery are user replaceable, aside from the detachable keyboard, and repairs should be performed by authorised providers.

The business operates both trade-in and recycling schemes for old machines, however.

Ports
The USB-C port is small but mighty, letting you hook up practically any accessory with the proper cable, from displays and drives to docks and ethernet adapters. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The big new change for the top Pro 7 may be the introduction of USB-C, finally. The present day, industry-standard port is a jack of most trades and replaces the miniDisplay Port of older Surfaces devices. USB-C enables you to charge the Surface, hook up a variety of accessories including displays, drives, ethernet adapters etc. You can also hook up it to a USB-C dock for power, displays and accessories all in one cable.

It isn’t Thunderbolt 3-compatible, but most will be fine with the typical bandwidth and functions of USB-C, it’s simply a shame there’s only 1 of them.

A typical USB-A port manages older accessories, as the Surface Connect takes the included power adapter but can be used to hook up to a Surface Dock and other Microsoft accessories. A microSD card slot can be very welcome, particularly for photographers.

Observations
Microsoft’s Windows Hello face recognition is still the very best biometric implementation on any notebook or tablet. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
THE TOP Pro 7 ships with a typical version of Windows 10 House with device encryption

The tablet no more supports on-screen interaction with Microsoft’s Surface Dial accessory

Price
THE TOP Pro 7 includes various different specifications starting at £669 for a Core i3 with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

The Core i5 with 8GB of RAM costs £789 with 128GB of storage or £1,035 with 256GB of storage, the Core i5 with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage costs £1,259.

The Core i7 versions all have 16GB of RAM and cost £1,299 with 256GB (as tested), £1,649 with 512GB and £2,024 with 1TB of storage.

All versions can be found in platinum with some obtainable in black.

Verdict
THE TOP Pro 7 is arguably the very best windows tablet money can purchase, it’s not that big a leap over the top Pro 6.

The proper execution, design, microSD card slot, kickstand, Windows Hello and just how it works remain winners in 2020. The screen continues to be great, nevertheless the bezels around it are functional but look just a little dated when compared to Surface Pro X.

The big new thing may be the addition of a USB-C port, which is well overdue. It’s a shame it’s not really a full Thunderbolt 3 port, but I suspect most won’t care. The battery life on the Core i7 version isn’t class-leading, so choose the Core i5 version if you wish similar to a day’s work without the charger.

The largest downside is that the fundamental keyboard is not incorporated with the tablet, which pushes the purchase price up by at least £125.