Microsoft has updated its ARM-powered portable, giving it a faster chip and a new keyboard. It still struggles to lớn compete.

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Modest improvements in compatibility, with some signs of progress. Screen looks great. Edge browser performance is solid.
Overall, very little has changed in a year. Still very slow if you’re not using Edge. Still much too expensive.
I have lớn confess that I was wrong in my original Review of the Microsoft Surface Pro X. Not about my 3/10 rating of the hàng hóa. I stand by that. What I was wrong about was my brazen prediction that the product would be discontinued in a year. I guess that’s a testament to lớn what you can bởi vì with a $1.6 trillion market cap.

For those who don’t remember the original Surface Pro X—and I don’t blame you—the big news about this device, the “X” factor if you will, is that it did not run on an Hãng sản xuất Intel chip but rather on Microsoft’s own silibé, an ARM CPU designed with Qualcomm called the SQ.1. As I noted in my recent Review of the new Mac Mini, Microsoft isn’t alone in pushing out its own microchips. It’s become downright fashionable these days for tech companies to dabble in chip thiết kế.

The problem with the original Surface Pro X—one of the big problems, anyway—wasn’t the CPU itself. It’s that the software wasn’t even cđại bại to being in place lớn support it. Yes, Windows và Office had been updated for the new chip, but not much else. The “Pro X,” as it’s known in Redmond, was really at its best when running a website browser. And for that, Microsoft wanted you khổng lồ pay up to lớn $1,500.


Just like other thiết bị di động products in the Surface line, the Pro X can be augmented by a bouquet of accessories.

Photograph: Microsoft

Well, the second generation of the Surface Pro X is here, and for all intents và purposes it is really the same computer as before. Microsoft has made some cosmetic upgrades, including a new platinum color option and an updated keyboard/stylus bộ combo (though the bundle still costs an extra $205). And the signature 3-GHz SQ.1 CPU has been upgraded to lớn the 3.15-GHz SQ.2.

Base pricing hasn’t changed, though the top-kết thúc model (with 16 GB RAM and a 512-GB SSD) now tops out at a heady $1,800. Key specs, including weight (1.7 pounds), thickness (8 millimeters), a dazzling 13-inch touchscreen (2880 x 19trăng tròn pixels), an integrated gigabit LTE modem, & a pair of USB-C ports used for connectivity, haven’t changed either. Curiously, Microsoft now boasts “all-day battery life” on the Pro X, though after testing it three times on my đoạn Clip rundown test, my Review unit only eked out seven hours và 15 minutes of life, a mere 45 minutes more than the 2019 model. You’d have khổng lồ kill the brightness lớn nearly nothing to lớn approach the promised 15-hour life span.

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Just as I was completing this reviews, Microsoft finally delivered a beta version of its x64 emulator, available for Windows Insiders members. This is a huge step that’s been (too) long in the making, finally arriving a full year after the launch of the SQ.1 chip.


The Surface Pro X with a Surface Pen và Type Cover.

Photograph: Microsoft


Microsoft Surface Pro X (2020)

Rating: 5/10

$1,000 at Microsoft

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After experimenting with the emulator, I found that it’s decidedly still a work in progress. Many x64 apps still refused to run, and those that did run were extremely slow. Also, if you download an app like Chrome, you’re still pushed khổng lồ install the 32-bit version; it took some hunting lớn find a 64-bit version—and I found that it unfortunately was considerably slower than the 32-bit option, running web tests at roughly half the 32-bit browser’s tốc độ. All told, a majority of applications that I was unable lớn run last year still wouldn’t run this year, though I was able lớn eke out a few new benchmark scores, none of which were remotely impressive sầu.

The good news is that I did not experience the massive sầu stability problems I ran into in 2019, and this year I didn’t encounter a single crash during well over a week of testing. Baby steps.

Meanwhile, the even better news (if you’re a Pro X owner, that is) is that the industry is—slowly, oh so slowly—coming to terms with having lớn develop for yet another microprocessor platsize. Adobe Lightroom now runs natively on the Squận 1, & a beta of Adobe Photosiêu thị is also available, with a shipping version slated for 2021. Also, Microsoft’s revamped version of its Edge browser offers solid web-phầm mềm performance, besting 32-bit Chrome-on-emulator performance by a factor of nearly three khổng lồ one. Microsoft says that it’s put a lot of recent effort inkhổng lồ the Edge experience, & it shows.


The Pro X"s adjustable kickst& lets you work in a variety of positions.

Photograph: Microsoft

But that really begs the same question I posed last year: Are you ready lớn shell out $1,500 for a website browser and a few Microsoft apps, lượt thích Teams, which is now native sầu on Microsoft silicon? The implicit contract between PC buyers & manufacturers has always been that we bought PC hardware so we could install and run whatever apps we wanted, because the underlying platform was always the same. We traded the bugs, the viruses, và the various headaches of Windows in exchange for compatibility và the flexibility to lớn run anything & everything without having to go through a corporate gatekeeper. Microsoft’s ARM chip has broken that contract, though at least now if you visit the Microsoft Store on the Pro X, you won’t be taunted by a bunch of apps that you can’t install. On the Pro X, the Store is now curated to lớn only show you those programs that are compatible with the device (though they vị show up if you search for apps by name).

To be sure, the compatibility and stability situation is better than it was a year ago, but plunking down $1,500 for the Pro X remains a really tough sell. The system still looks great, và Edge performance is impressive sầu, but I still wouldn’t consider it until every phầm mềm I used was running natively, or until the x64 emulator is working a lot better than it is today. The Surface Pro X and Microsoft SQ chip look like they’re here khổng lồ stay, but if you buy one now, you’re still paying a significant premium for potential—và an uncertain potential at that.

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