The third-generation Surface Pro X is, if anything, a downgrade. Microsoft announced the ‘new’ model at its Surface event on 22 September, but the only difference from last year’s Pro X is that it’s now available without LTE.
This means a new, lower entry price of $899 but, as ever, this doesn’t include a keyboard or stylus, so the true price, if you buy both of those, is still over $1000.
The big change is, of course, Windows 11. This brings an important benefit for the Surface Pro X: the ability to run 64-bit apps.
Ridiculous as it sounds, it’s taken two years to get this support on the Pro X and even now that only includes 64-bit apps which have been ported to ARM64 so they can run on the custom ARM-based processor that’s a collaboration between Microsoft and Qualcomm.
The list includes big hitters such as Photoshop, Lightroom, Zoom, Microsoft Office and Teams, but you may still find that your printer won’t work with the Pro X, your anti-virus software may not be compatible and there’s still a limited number of games available (though you can play 100+ games with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate).
Windows 11 does support x86 and x64 emulation, though, which means there’s much wider compatibility compared to a Pro X running Windows 10.
Interestingly, if you buy a Pro X with LTE, you’ll still get Windows 10 Home as it’s not a new device: it’s the 2020 version. The update to Windows 11 won’t be rolled out until later in 2021 or even 2022, according to Microsoft.
When will the Microsoft Surface Pro X (2021) be released?
- Pre-order now
- On sale 5 October
The new Pro X with Windows 11 is available to pre-order in the US, and goes on sale as Windows 11 launches on 5 October.
How much does the Microsoft Surface Pro X (2021) cost?
- Wi-Fi only model starts at $899 (£899 - TBC)
- No changes to LTE model pricing
The entry-level model – without LTE – starts at $899, and that has 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. It also has the original Microsoft SQ1 processor.
You can, of course, specify it with the SQ2 chip along with more RAM and storage, if you’re prepared to pay more.
Here are all the Wi-Fi only options, and these are in the Platinum colour only - not Matte Black:
- Microsoft SQ1, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage: $899.99
- Microsoft SQ1, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage: $1099.99
- Microsoft SQ2, 16GB RAM, 256GB storage: $1299.99
- Microsoft SQ2, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage: $1499.99
Despite rumours, there’s no SQ3 processor this year. Maybe we'll see some hardware updates in 2022.
Microsoft Surface Pro X (2021) design & features
As this is effectively identical to the 2020 model, but without LTE, specs are the same as for that model.
It means there’s Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5, a pair of USB-C ports, a 13in 2880x1920 display, a 5Mp Windows Hello camera and a 10Mp rear-facing camera.
So what’s new?
It’s all about the software this year. Windows 11, as mentioned, brings x86 and x64 emulation, and there’s proper support for 64-bit Office.
And that’s really it: battery life claims remain the same at ‘up to 15 hours’ – no surprise because the hardware hasn’t changed.
One new thing is the Surface Slim Pen 2, which costs $129.99 and is compatible with the Surface Pro X. It has a redesigned tip and Microsoft says it offers greater control and accuracy as well as “leveraging new capabilities in Windows 11”.
What it doesn’t do on the Pro X is offer haptic feedback which is supposed to create the feeling of pen on paper. This only works with devices that have the G6 processor, such as the Surface Pro 8 and Surface Laptop Studio.
It fits into a recess in the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard, which also charges it.
Want more Surface launch goodness? We discuss everything that was announced, alongside the refreshed Surface Pro X in episode 84 of our weekly podcast Fast Charge. We also discussed the affordable new 5G-capable Nokia G50 and our impressions on the first public release of iOS 15.
Microsoft announced other Surface devices you may like to read about: