Surface Pro X vs Surface Go 3: Which tablet is right for you?

Surface Pro X vs Surface Go 3: Which tablet is right for you?

Microsoft’s Surface family is made up of some great devices, and choosing just one of them can be tough. Most Surface devices have very distinct form factors though, and they’re aimed towards specific segments of the market. When it comes to similar form factors though, like the newly-launched Surface Go 3 and Surface Pro X, it can be a little tougher.

However, just because these are both tablets with detachable keyboards, it doesn’t mean they’re not different. The Surface Go 3 and Surface Pro X are still geared towards different types of users, and you have to figure out which one is the best fit for you. To help you out, we’re going to be comparing these two devices, so you can more easily tell which one you should get.

Surface Go 3 vs Surface Pro X: Specs

Let’s start the comparison by taking a look at the specs on these two devices. This should already bring out some notable differences, but we’ll take a closer look afterward.

Surface Go 3Surface Pro X
Processor
  • Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y (up to 3.4GHz, 2-core)
  • Intel Core i3-10100Y (up to 3.9GHz, 2-core)
  • Microsoft SQ1 (up to 3GHz, 8-core)
  • Microsoft SQ2 (up to 3.15GHz, 8-core)
Graphics
  • Intel UHD Graphics 615
  • Adreno 685 (SQ1)
  • Andreno 690 (SQ2)
RAM
  • 4GB
  • 8GB
  • 8GB
  • 16GB
Storage
  • 64GB eMMC
  • 128GB SSD
  • 128GB SSD
  • 256GB SSD
  • 512GB SSD
Display
  • 10.5 inch PixelSense (1920 x 1280), touch, Surface Pen support
  • 13 inch PixelSense (2880 x 1920), touch, Surface Pen support
Audio
  • Two 2W stereo speakers with Dolby audio
  • Two 2W speakers with Dolby audio
Webcam
  • 5MP, Full HD front-facing camera
  • 8MP, Full HD rear-facing camera with autofocus
  • 5MP, Full HD front-facing camera
  • 10MP, Full HD/4K rear-facing camera with autofocus
Biometric authentication
  • Windows Hello IR camera
  • Windows Hello IR camera
Battery life
  • Up to 10 hours of typical device usage
  • Up to 15 hours of typical device usage
Ports
  • 1 USB Type-C
  • 1 Surface Connect port
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • microSD card reader
  • Optional: nano SIM tray
  • 2 USB Type-C
  • 1 Surface Connect port
  • nano SIM slot
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 6 + Bluetooth 5.0
  • Optional: LTE Advanced (Qualcomm Snapdragon X16)
  • Wi-Fi 5 + Bluetooth 5.0
  • Optional: LTE Advanced Pro (Qualcomm Snapdragon X24)
Colors
  • Platinum
  • Platinum (SQ2 only)
  • Matte Black
Size (WxDxH)9.65 x 6.9 x 0.33 in (245 x 175 x 8.3 mm)
  • 11.3 x 8.2 x 0.28 in (287 x 208 x 7.3 mm)
Weight
  • 1.2 lbs (544 g) (excluding keyboard)
  • 1.7 lbs (774 g) (excluding keyboard)
Starting price$399.99$899.99

Those specs alone should tell you that these products are not meant for the same type of user. The starting price alone shows a stark difference in the audience for these devices, and even the most expensive Surface Go 3 model is cheaper than the base Surface Pro X.

Performance: The Surface Pro X has an ARM processor

As you’d expect based on the price difference, there are some big differences in performance between the Surface Go 3 and Surface Pro X. Both models of the Surface Go 3 only have dual-core processors, and both have a maximum TDP of 7W (with 5W being the default). The Surface Pro X has an eight-core processor, four of those being performance cores for more demanding tasks, and four being efficient cores for smaller background tasks.

Many apps still aren’t designed to run on the ARM processor inside the Surface Pro X, but it’s still faster.

However, it’s worth noting that with the Surface Pro X, you’re dealing with ARM processors, and many Windows apps are still designed for x86 processors. This means you’ll sometimes be running apps through emulation, which can take a toll on performance. Overall though, performance should always be better on the Surface Pro X. Plus, it’s worth mentioning that with Windows 11, 64-bit x86 apps are also supported through emulation, so you no longer have to worry about apps being incompatible. The integrated graphics in the Surface Pro X are also generally more powerful than those in the Surface Go 3.

Top angled view of Surface Pro X in Platinum

Surface Pro X

The trend continues when we look at the amount of RAM and storage these devices offer. The Surface Go 3 starts with just 4GB of RAM, which is only enough for basic use without much in the way of multitasking. You can upgrade to 8GB, which is the base configuration for the Surface Pro X. On the Pro X, you can go up to 16GB, and that already gives you a great experience overall.

As for storage, the Surface Go 3 starts with just 64GB of space, which is just enough to meet the requirements for Windows 11. Additionally, this is eMMC storage, which is slower than your typical SSD. You can upgrade to a 128GB SSD, and again, that’s the base configuration of the Surface Pro X. In that model, you can go all the way up to 512GB, making it far more suitable for long-term use, especially if you want to save a lot of school projects or other files.

Surface Go 3 with red keyboard

Surface Go 3

Finally, there’s the matter of battery life, and the Surface Pro X is once again better here. Microsoft touts up to 15 hours of battery life on this tablet, versus the 10 hours of the Surface Go 3. This is based on typical device usage, so your mileage may vary, but regardless, the Surface Pro X evidently lasts longer on a charge. That’s thanks to the Microsoft SQ2 processor, as ARM-based devices are usually more efficient than x86 ones.

All in all, it’s obvious why the Surface Go 3 is so much cheaper, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad device. If you’re looking for something in this budget range, it’s still a great tablet, though we’d definitely recommend upgrading the RAM and SSD if you can. The Surface Pro X offers a more high-end experience, and that will become even more apparent in the next few sections.

Display: similar shape, different sizes

One thing the Surface Go 3 deserves praise for is it has a 3:2 aspect ratio for the display. The Surface Pro X and every other Surface PC do too, but this is incredibly rare in the price range of the Surface Go 3. In fact, outside of the Surface Go family, you probably can’t find this on any other Windows PC at this price.

That tall aspect ratio gives you more space to work with, and it makes the experience better both in landscape and portrait orientations. Plus, the Surface Go 3 doesn’t sacrifice resolution for its price tag, either. This is still a sharp 10.5 inch Full HD+ (1920 x 1280) display, and that’s fantastic for a device at this price.

Screen on the Surface Pro X

Surface Pro X

Of course, the Surface Pro X does up the ante significantly and offers a truly premium display. It has a larger 13 inch panel, and comes in at an even sharper 2880 x 1920 resolution, so naturally it’ll look even better. That bigger screen and higher pixel density mean you get even more space for your open apps and documents, and everything will look more crisp and clear. Of course, both laptops also support touch and the Surface Pen, so you can’t go wrong with either in that regard.

In terms of sound, the two tablets are similar. They both have dual stereo speakers, with both being 2W units. That should give you a solid enough listening experience if you’re at home in a quiet environment.

Both tablets have Full HD webcams, some of the best out of any Windows PC.

Turning to the webcams, both of these tablets stand out thanks to the Full HD front-facing camera. That’s especially impressive for the Surface Go 3, since Full HD webcams are especially rare at this price point. The Surface Pro X does have an advantage however in the rear camera, which is a 10MP unit compared to the 8MP camera on the Surface Go 3. That also means it can record video at up to 4K resolution, versus the Full HD video of the Surface Go 3. Both tablets also have dual far-field microphones, which should give you great audio quality for calls.

Design and ports: The Surface Pro X doesn’t have a headphone jack

Both of these tablets are thin and light devices that you’re able to carry with you anywhere. Both do a great job of that, although the Surface Go 3 is the smaller of the two. Thanks to the smaller display, it’s not as wide or as tall, and it’s also lighter, weighing just 1.2lbs. However, it’s thicker than the Pro X. And while the Surface Pro X is larger because of the bigger display, it does have smaller bezels on the sides, so the difference isn’t as big as it could be.

You may be able to fit the Surface Go 3 in a smaller bag, and the smaller screen also makes it more suitable as a standalone tablet, while the Surface Pro X may be a bit harder to manage if you’re holding it in your hands. Of course, you don’t have to, since both tablets have a fully adjustable kickstand and support for the Type Cover attachment (but the Type Cover models are different for each device). It’s also worth noting there are two color options available for the Surface Pro X, while the Go 3 only comes in Platinum.

Surface Go 3 with red keyboard

Moving on to the ports, neither one of the tablets is super impressive, but you might actually prefer the Surface Go 3 here. It has a USB Type-C port, a Surface Connect port, a microSD card reader, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The Surface Pro X is similar, except instead of the headphone jack, you get a second USB Type-C port. If you have headphones that still use a 3.5mm connector, you can’t use them with the Surface Pro X without an adapter. While both laptops are limited in terms of ports, the Surface Connect port does allow you to connect plenty of peripherals.

Connectivity

If you’re looking to stay connected on the road, both the Surface Go 3 and Surface Pro X can do that, but through optional upgrades. The Surface Pro X used to only come in an LTE model, but now you can get a Wi-Fi only version if you want to save some money. However, the experience you’ll get will vary a bit.

The Surface Pro X has a faster LTE modem, but the Surface Go 3 supports newer Wi-Fi standards.

The Surface Go 3 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 modem if you choose to get the LTE model, and that promises download speeds up to 1Gbps and uploads up to 150Mbps. The Surface Pro X includes a Snapdragon X24, which goes up to 2Gbps downloads and 316Mbps uploads, theoretically. Both should be good enough to keep you connected on the go, but if you need extra speed, the Pro X is a bit better.

Conversely, the Surface Go 3 has support for newer Wi-Fi standards, specifically Wi-Fi 6. The Surface Pro X is still only compatible with Wi-Fi 5. It might not be a big deal for many users, but it’s an odd sacrifice for such a premium device. Both devices also support Bluetooth 5.0.

Angled view of Surface Pro X in Platinum

Surface Pro X

Bottom line

It’s obvious, even before reading all of this, that the Surface Pro X is the better device in terms of specs. It does start at more than double the price of the Surface Go 3, so it couldn’t be any other way. But that doesn’t take away the fact the Surface Go 3 is still very impressive for its price.

At $399, the Surface Go 3 offers decent performance for day-to-day use, a sharp 3:2 display that’s incredibly rare at that price, and a high-quality webcam. It’s the perfect device for just browsing the web and staying in touch with friends and family. You can also upgrade to get a very solid experience across the board, including LTE support for when you’re on the road. And all of that comes in a small and light package you can easily take anywhere. That’s not bad at all.

Surface Go 3 with red keyboard

Surface Go 3

Of course, the Surface Pro X is a true premium device. It has much better performance, a sharper display that’s also larger, and it’s even thinner than the Surface Go 3. All of that while still offering even better battery life. Plus, it has even better cameras — at least on the back of the device. You do have to pay a premium price for it, but it offers a better experience if you need a machine for productivity. You can multi-task more easily, which is important if your work revolves around a computer.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to your budget and your needs. If you use your computer once a day to check the news or talk to someone online, you’re probably fine with the Surface Go 3. But if you need to write long documents and do research at the same time, or even if you plan to do things like photo editing, the extra power of the Surface Pro X is certainly going to help. You can order your preferred device using the links below.

    Surface Pro X
    The Surface Pro X is a premium ARM-based tablet, offering great performance and battery life in a thin and lightweight design. It now comes in a Wi-Fi-only model.
    Surface Go 3
    The Surface Go 3 refreshes its predecessor with new 10th-gen processors.

About author

João Carrasqueira
João Carrasqueira

Writer at XDA Computing. I've been covering the world of technology since 2018, but I've loved the field for a lot longer. And I have a weird affinity for Nintendo videogames, which I'm always happy to talk about.