Surface Pro 5 (2017) – Review

surface pro 2017 review

The new Surface Pro 5 might be on to something or is it all hype? 

It boasts 50% more battery life than it's predecessor the Surface Pro 4 and 2.5x more computational power in comparison to the older Surface Pro 3. More importantly, we need to know, if the new Surface Pen which promises 4,096 pressure points is a good tool for artists?

In this Surface Pro review I'll cover the essentials and skip the meaningless. So you can make an educated decision fast.


The Surface Pen - The Biggest upgrade
  •  + Latency unnoticable. It's not perfect but practically non-existant. Better than last iterations.
  •  - You have to buy the pen separately but it's backwards compatible with older models.
  •  + Tilt included! This is huge!
  •  +- 4x the old pressure sensitivity (4096) which is nice but do you really need that on a small device?
  • - Priced similar to the Apple Stylus
The Tablet - Meaningful upgrade
  •  + Up to 13 hours of battery life which is twice of the older models
  •  + Upgraded CPU but no GPU obviously, which means that it's still not as powerful as a desktop device would be with photoshop
  •  + No fan! A more pleasant experience.
  •  - They removed the keyboard and if you need you need to buy it separately
  •  - 4GB of RAM on the cheapest model. This is not acceptable for artists or any kind of heavier computational work. 
  • +- Surface Dial if you buy it. It's too big for the device
surface pro


This is only a tool for the artist who can afford to pay a lot of money for limited artistic potential. You might be better off buying a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 A for quarter of the price.

All the important functionality you might want as an artist you need to buy extra and even then such a small device, with still no native powerful GPU is still not a replacement for a proper drawing device or a personal computer.

It's not without it's merits. If you're stuck with Windows and you primarily need this for day to day stuff then it's a solid pick because of the amazing battery life, if you're a comic book artist or someone who wants to retouch photos then this might also be a good choice based on the battery life argument.

But if you're an artist who's looking for a high caliber device you might want to hold off for something better.​ Because I'm highly doubtful it has enough computational power to meet the long term demands of an artist.

About the author

John Thatch

John Thatcher is a computer science educated artist. He uses technology to solve artist problems. His friends don't like it when he speaks of himself in the third person. But John does it anyway, because he's a rebel.

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