The Surface Pro 6 is an excellent hybrid machine and once again sets the standard for other hardware makers to aspire to. But at the same time, it's not really a worthwhile upgrade over the last year's Surface Pro, especially if you have a model with 8GB of RAM.
8th-gen Intel Core chips, no low-spec option, great display.
No significant changes, Type Cover is still separate, expensive once specced up, no USB-C with Thunderbolt 3.
REFRESH NOT REVOLUTION is how you could brand Microsoft's latest Surface line up with, especially with the Surface Laptop 2 and the Surface Pro 6.
Microsoft has given its latest machine mostly a refresh below the surface adding in most notably the eighth-generation Intel Core processors.
Once again, the hybrid tablet that can masquerade as a laptop sets the standard for such machines. But if you want to know if it's worth your money then read on.
Try as we might, we couldn't spot any differences between the Surface Pro 6 and its successor, the irritatingly named Surface Pro. With the exception that the hybrid machine now sports a rather snazzy matte black look, it's pretty much identical to its older sibling. That's no bad thing as the Surface Pro is a very nice device and so is the sixth-gen machine.
You get the same suite of ports; USB Type-A, mini DisplayPort and a microSD card slot, and the proprietary Surface Connector for power.
Rather disappointingly, there's no USB-C port, which not only removes future proofing from the Surface Pro 6, but also means Thunderbolt 3 support is out of the question.
So there's no option for daisy-chaining multiple monitors, or connecting to peripherals such as speedy external hard drives and graphics card enclosures.
That's a pity as it limits how flexible the Surface Pro 6 could be, especially now that it touts improved innards.
The Type Cover, which remains an extra £124.99, is the same deal as before offering plenty of travel and responsiveness to make typing on the cover-come-keyboard a nice, tactile process.
Rocking a matt glass surface and making use of Windows Precision drivers, the touchpad is also nice and accurate to use. The fact that the Type Cover is still an optional extra for the Surface Pro 6 still narks us a tad.
Aside from the above, there's very little else to say about the Surface Pro 6's design, other than its reasonably attractive and well-built, so you won't be disappointed if this is your first Surface experience.
Guess what else hasn't changed much? If you've guessed the screen then take an INQUIRER point *not redeemable for anything of value, not even a fist bump.
The 12.3in PixelSense display still sports a 2,736x1,824 resolution with a 3:2 aspect ratio. That display is nice and bright with plenty of colour vibrancy, especially in the ‘enhanced' display mode, though we found the sRGB profile serves up more natural colours.
Microsoft has boosted the contrast of the PixelSense display which now sits at a ratio of 1,500:1 over the 1,300:1 of its predecessor.
That results in more colour range and a little more vibrancy in photographs, but unless you have compared the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 6 side-by-side, you'll not notice much of a difference.
For everything from day-to-day computing, watching videos and some lightweight gaming, the Surface Pro 6's screen is pretty damn good, but probably not something for professional photo and video editors.
Performance, storage and battery life
It under the chassis where the Surface Pro 6 makes the largest of changes. Gone are the Core m3 and 4GB options, with Microsoft only offering the Surface Pro 6 with eighth-generation Core i5 and i7 options matched with either 8GB or 16GB of RAM.
Our Surface Pro 6 review unit came with a Kaby Lake R-based Core i5-8250U running from 1.8GHz to 3.4GHz, with 8GB of RAM to keep it company.
That setup is more than enough in our opinion, as the more expensive Core i7 and 16GB of RAM seems a tad unnecessary given how our model easily handled everything you'd expect from a hybrid device and day-to-day ultrabook.
In terms of performance, using Geekbench 4, our Surface Pro 6 pulled in a single-core score of 4,268, with a multi-core score of 13,657.
In single -ore performance, the new Surface Pro isn't offering much more than its predecessor with an older Core i5. But thanks to the eighth-gen laptop-grade Core processors now offering four cores, it trounces its predecessor in the multi-core score.
Given the Surface Pro 6 uses the same processor as the Surface laptop 2, it's unsurprisingly in the same ballpark when it comes to performance. That means it will whizz through Windows 10, with now slow down despite having multiple apps and Chrome tabs open at once.
And it should be able to handle some light gaming, providing you stick to older and less graphically demanding games.
There's no discrete GPU and again no USB-C connection which means no access to external graphics cards, which is a shame as the processor would be game to have its silicon legs stretched a little. An option for an AMD processor with integrated Radeon Vega graphics would be nice here, but we guess that's wishful thinking.
As for storage, the Surface Pro 6 starts at 128GB and goes up to 1TB in the usual incremental jumps. The latter seems like overkill when there're plenty of cloud storage options out there, and to get 1TB you'll need to go for the Core i7, 16GB machine which comes in at £2,149.
That's a lot of money and a heck of a jump from the base price of £879; our model with 256GB of storage weighed in at £1,149, which isn't cheap but isn't eye-watering either. But then again Surface devices have never been cheap outside of a good Black Friday or Xmas sale.
When it comes to battery life the Surface Pro 6's claimed 13 hours and 30 minutes of local video playback is ambitious if you'd expect to get the same longevity from everyday work and play use,
With the brightness cranked up, the machine set to full performance when on battery, and then a good bit of web browsing and Google Docs use, our unit discharge 12 per cent of its electrical juice in 13 minutes.
Dialling things back to recommended power and brightness settings the battery should last most people a working day before they need to reach for the charger. That makes the Surface Pro 6 a decent road warrior machine.
All in all, the spec bump Microsoft has given the Surface Pro 6 is decent, but if you have the Surface Pro form 2017, and you haven't filled it with digital junk, you might struggle to notice much of a real-world performance jump.
And that's the rub with the Surface Pro 6. It's an excellent hybrid machine and once again sets the standard for other hardware makers to aspire to. But at the same time, it's not really a worthwhile upgrade over the last year's Surface Pro, especially if you have a model with 8GB of RAM.
We'd be more inclined to wait and see what type of Surface Pro 2019 brings, as we'd expect to see a USB-C port finally get added, perhaps replacing the mini DisplayPort, and potentially some chips with beefier integrated graphics.
But if you don't have a Surface Pro yet and are in the market for a Windows 10 hybrid, then the Surface Pro 6 is hard to beat.
8th-gen Intel Core chips, no low-spec option, great display.
No significant changes, Type Cover is still separate, expensive once specced up.
No USB-C with Thunderbolt 3.