Microsoft has revealed a new member of its Surface Pro family: The Surface Pro 7 (SP7). This update to last year’s Surface Pro 6 (SP6) has been overshadowed in many ways by the announcement of the Arm-powered Surface Pro X, but that doesn’t mean the Surface Pro 7 deserves to be overlooked.

Business professionals looking for an upgrade to their Surface Pro 6 will find the Surface Pro 7 to be exactly what they’re looking for, right down to its near identical design. Similarity doesn’t mean it lacks in improvements, though–the Surface Pro 7 has features that will make it a tempting purchase for those wearing out last year’s model.

This Surface Pro 7 cheat sheet will be updated periodically as new information becomes available about the device. This article is also available as a download, Cheat sheet: Microsoft Surface Pro 7 (free PDF).

SEE: All of TechRepublic’s cheat sheets and smart person’s guides

What is the Microsoft Surface Pro 7?

The Surface Pro 7 is the latest entry in Microsoft’s Surface Pro line of hybrid laptops. In and of itself, the Surface Pro 7 is a tablet with a kickstand, and an optional detachable keyboard turns it into a lightweight laptop (the Surface Pro 7 does not ship with a keyboard). The Surface Pen is also available for writing and drawing directly on the Surface’s screen.

The Surface Pro 7 isn’t much of a departure from previous generations: It’s the same size, the same shape, it has the same display size and resolution, and it doesn’t offer a faster processor than the Surface Pro 6, though it does have a newer 10th generation Intel chipset that the Surface Pro 6 lacked.

What the Surface Pro 7 does have that its predecessors did not is a USB-C port, which has replaced the Mini DisplayPort of previous models. If you have older USB devices, don’t worry–the Surface Pro 7 has a USB-A port as well.

One important thing to note about the Surface Pro 7’s USB-C port is that it doesn’t support Thunderbolt 3, so no external GPUs for this iteration of the Surface Pro.

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How do the Surface Pro 7 and Surface Pro 6 specs compare?

Surface Pro 7 Surface Pro 6
Processor options Intel i3, i5, or i7 Intel i5 or i7
Hard drive options 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB
Memory options 4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB 8 GB, 16 GB
Dimensions 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 inches 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 inches
Display 12.3″ screen, 2,736 x 1,824 pixels 12.3″ screen, 2,736 x 1,824 pixels
Battery life 10+ hours 10+ hours

What are the Surface Pro 7’s main competitors?

As with previous generations of the Surface Pro, competition comes from a number of different hybrid and 2-in-1 laptops. Most major hardware companies offer either tablets with optional keyboards or laptops with a 360-degree hinge that can act as a tablet when the keyboard is stored behind the screen.

Probably the biggest competition Microsoft is currently facing comes from Apple’s iPad Pro, which has a detachable keyboard, pen, and many of the same software features as the Surface series.

Like many generally equatable technologies, the choice of whether to get an iPad Pro or a Microsoft Surface Pro 7 comes down to ecosystem preference: iPhone and iPad users will likely stick with an Apple product, while Windows users and businesses that run on Microsoft products are better off choosing the Surface Pro for its ability to play well with other Windows-based machines.

Why should business users care about the Surface Pro 7?

With a newer generation of Intel processor and the inclusion of USB-C, the Surface Pro 7 is not an incremental upgrade–in fact, it could offer a considerable upgrade in performance over older models. According to TechRepublic’s sister site CNET, Microsoft made mention of improved performance in the Surface Pro 7 over the Surface Pro 6 but didn’t give many specifics.

The inclusion of USB-C ports in the Surface Pro 7 may be the biggest reason to care about it, especially with its starting price of $749 USD. The inclusion of the latest generation of USB ports in this major Microsoft product is one more indicator of the fast-approaching obsolescence of USB-A, which can’t come fast enough (USB-C device users know this from experience).

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Should I get the Surface Pro 7 instead of an older Surface?

Here’s where an assessment of the Surface Pro 7 gets a bit trickier because it’s not clear at this stage whether it’s a good investment for Surface Pro 6 owners. Those with older versions of the Surface Pro may have an easier time making a decision, but even that isn’t clear cut without hands-on reviews of the Surface Pro 7 to consider.

Microsoft’s statements that the Surface Pro 7 features improved performance should be taken with a grain of salt until reviewers can use the device and compare it to the Surface Pro 6.

SEE: Smartphones and mobile tech: More must-read coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

Microsoft Surface Pro 7
Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

When will the Surface Pro 7 be available?

The Surface Pro 7 is available for preorder on Microsoft’s website now, with general availability and preorder shipments beginning on October 22, 2019.

The Surface Pro 7 will be available in retail locations starting on October 22, 2019.

How much is the Surface Pro 7?

The Surface Pro 7’s introductory price of $749 USD is great until you consider what the $699 USD introductory price of the Surface Pro 6 will get you. A $749 Surface Pro 7 comes with an Intel i3, 4 GB of RAM, and a 128 GB hard drive, while a $699 Surface Pro 6 sports an Intel i5, 8 GB of RAM, and a 128 GB hard drive. At first glance, the Surface Pro 6 seems like the better deal, unless you absolutely need that USB-C port. Keep in mind that neither the Surface Pro 6 or Surface Pro 7 come with a keyboard unless you shell out an extra $159.

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