Microsoft Surface Pro X: A cheat sheet

The Surface Pro X is Microsoft's first Qualcomm Arm-powered device. Find out what else makes the Surface Pro X a standout.

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Microsoft's latest generation of Surface Pro devices includes a new kind of device called the Surface Pro X. It looks similar to other Surface Pro devices, but first glances are where the similarities end. This new Surface Pro model is thinner, lighter, has a longer-lasting battery than its predecessors, and, in a Microsoft first, is powered by a custom-designed Arm processor. 

The internals of the Surface Pro X are a big change for Microsoft, which has classically built machines with Intel and AMD processors. An Arm-powered machine boasting a Microsoft-designed chip could signal a change in Microsoft's hardware direction, and the Surface Pro X is the first machine to share in this new vision.

This Surface Pro X cheat sheet will be updated when new information about the device is available.

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

What is the Microsoft Surface Pro X?

The Surface Pro X is the latest and greatest in Microsoft's Surface line of hybrid laptops and two-in-ones; it's also Microsoft's first Qualcomm Arm-powered device. The Surface Pro X isn't just an Arm device--it's operating on a Microsoft-designed Arm chip called the SQ1, meaning the entire device is Microsoft designed from the processor to the operating system.

The tightly-integrated hardware and software of the Surface Pro X heralds a major shift in the design philosophy of Microsoft's flagship product line that closely mirrors Apple's, said TechRepublic sister site CNET.

Arm processors in PCs has previously rendered them underpowered, but Microsoft reports a massive performance boost in the Surface Pro X with its SQ1 chip, saying that the Surface Pro X gets eight times the graphics performance of eighth-generation Intel chips and three times more performance per watt than the Surface Pro 6.

Along with boosting performance, the SQ1 chip is also designed to make the battery in the Surface Pro X last longer, it provides LTE connectivity, and it allows the device to be only slightly thicker than an iPad Pro (7.3mm compared to the iPad Pro's 6.9mm). 

The Surface Pro X has the usual suspects of accessories as well: An optional keyboard cover, the new Slim Pen, and other peripherals make it look and feel similar to other Surface hardware. In one new design departure, the Surface Pro X has its predecessors beat: The Slim Pen sits right on the top of the keyboard and charges wirelessly, all while keeping a constant connection to the Surface for immediate use. 

All in all, the Surface Pro X looks to be a new generation of Microsoft hardware that's vertically integrated, which could be great for users and spell trouble for competitors. The Surface product family is popular, and the Surface Pro X is the first device from Microsoft to truly look and feel like a real competitor to ultra-slim hybrids like the iPad Pro.

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What are the specs of the Surface Pro X?

Processor

Microsoft SQ1 (3GhZ)

Memory

8 GB or 16 GB LPDDR4x RAM 

Storage

Removable solid-state drive in 128, 256, or 512 GB 

Display

13" 2880 x 1920 pixel touchscreen

Graphics

Microsoft SQ1 Adreno 685 GPU

Dimensions

11.3 in x 8.2 in x 0.28 in, 1.7 lbs (not including type cover)

Ports

Two USB-C ports, nano SIM slot

Connectivity

Wi-Fi 5, LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS/GLONASS

Cameras

10MP rear camera, 5MP front-facing camera

Battery life

13 hours

Why should professionals care about the Surface Pro X?

As far as hardware goes, the Surface Pro X is easily the most advanced consumer product that Microsoft makes. It's also a first for Microsoft in that its production is vertically integrated, making it something business professionals should pay attention to. 

The Surface Pro X's specs make it out to be a fully capable business machine, and it could be a great fit for organizations and individuals looking for a true upgrade to last year's (and earlier) Surface models. Its dual USB-C ports make it even more attractive as a next-generation device ready for the latest in USB peripherals. 

The Surface Pro X also makes a renewed Apple vs. Microsoft argument: It's clearly an attempt to steal some of the iPad Pro's thunder, and the tight integration of hardware and software may be able to do that in a way that previous Microsoft products haven't been able to. 

Businesses and individual professionals who use Microsoft products or who are considering a switch away from Apple's ecosystem should definitely consider the Surface Pro X as a new purchase.

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What are the Surface Pro X's competitors?

The Surface Pro X is clearly aimed at the iPad Pro's user base. It's a hybrid with a detachable keyboard and a stylus pen, it runs what is essentially a mobile chipset, and it offers connectivity anywhere with its LTE modem. 

One advantage that Microsoft has over Apple in this instance is the full-fledged operating system running on the Surface Pro X--iPadOS, by contrast, is devoid of full-featured OS elements that Windows 10 has in abundance.

Other two-in-one and hybrid laptops offer competition for the Surface Pro X as well, but those amount to background noise in this renewed Microsoft vs. Apple battle for market share. It might be narrow in scope compared to the old days, but there's definitely a head-to-head competition between the two, at least as far as Microsoft is concerned

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Is the Surface Pro X a good investment for professionals?

As mentioned above, the Surface Pro X's new features make it a device that business professionals should definitely take notice of. Does that mean it's a good investment for individuals or organizations? That remains to be seen.

Like all new devices that promise great improvements and new technologies, it's important to take company statements with a grain of salt. Microsoft said that the Surface Pro X is a new iteration of its popular hardware, but wait for websites like TechRepublic's sister site CNET to do a hands-on review before deciding whether to place an order. 

It's also worth considering the newness of the SQ1 chip that makes up the foundation of the Surface Pro X's hardware. It's a new chip designed internally by Microsoft, and it's anybody's guess whether it may encounter problems as the Surface Pro X is released and subjected to all the potential stressors users will put it under.

The Surface Pro X has a lot of potential, but don't pull your credit card out just yet--I recommend waiting to see how it's received by the larger tech community first. 

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When will the Surface Pro X be available, and how can I buy it?

The Surface Pro X is available for preorders on Microsoft's website. The devices won't start shipping until November 5, 2019, though, so you're looking at a bit of a wait. 

Businesses that want to buy multiple Surface Pro X units should check out Microsoft's Surface For Business portal, where the Surface Pro X is also available for preorder.

The Surface Pro X starts at $999, and the price goes up from there based on customization options. You can expect the Surface Pro X to also be available at major retailers beginning November 5, 2019.

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Microsoft Surface Pro X

Image: Screenshot, Sarah Tew/CNET