Microsoft Floor Professional 9 review: one step ahead, one again

Microsoft Floor Professional 9

MSRP $1,900.00

“The Floor Professional 9 ditches its headphone jack, however retains the basics stable.”


  • New colours look nice
  • Design and construct high quality are prime notch
  • SQ3 is a stable different
  • Sort Cowl keyboard is superb
  • Excessive decision webcam


  • No headphone jack
  • Upgrades nonetheless too costly
  • Restricted efficiency enhancements

Microsoft actually needs Home windows on ARM to succeed. For tech heads and early adopters, that’s the actual story behind the most recent Floor Professional 9.

However whatever the configuration you select, the Floor Professional 9 retains nearly all the things that made earlier iterations of this system so successful. That’s, minus a headphone jack. And though this isn’t a transparent step up from the predecessor when it comes to uncooked efficiency, the Floor Professional 9 stays the most effective 2-in-1s you should purchase.

Specs and configurations

  Microsoft Floor Professional 9 (SQ3) Microsoft Floor Professional 9 (Intel)
Dimensions 11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches 11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches
Weight 1.95 kilos 1.94 kilos
Processor Microsoft SQ3 Intel Core i5-1245U

Intel Core i7-1255U

Graphics Adreno 8cx Gen 3 Intel Xe Graphics
RAM 8GB or 16GB LPDDR4x 8GB or 16GB LPDDR4x
Show 13-inch PixelSense 120Hz Move Show (2880 x 1920) 13-inch PixelSense 120Hz Move Show (2880 x 1920)
Storage 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB PCIe SSD 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB PCIe SSD
Contact Sure Sure
Ports 2 x USB-C4 with Thunderbolt 4
1 x Floor Join port
1 x Floor Keyboard port
1 x nano SIM
2 x USB-C4 with Thunderbolt 4
1 x Floor Join port
1 x Floor Keyboard port
Wi-fi 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.1 Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1
Webcam 1080p front-facing camera with IR, 10MP rear-facing 1080p front-facing camera with IR, 10MP rear-facing
Working system Home windows 11 Home windows 11
Battery 47.7 watt-hour 47.7 watt-hour
Worth Begins at $1,300 Begins at $999

My review unit got here with the Core i7-1255U, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD, which equals out to $1,900. As per ordinary, Microsoft expenses loads for upgrades to reminiscence and storage. It’s $300 to go from 256GB to 512GB, or to go from 16GB to 32GB. Dell solely expenses $100 for these identical upgrades in its XPS 13 line by comparability. Heck, that’s even $100 greater than what Apple expenses on its MacBook Airs.

The one piece of excellent information on configurations? Microsoft doesn’t cost extra for the completely different coloration choices. They’re restricted to the higher-end configurations although. The bottom Core i5 mannequin is simply out there in Platinum, as are all of the configurations of the SQ3.

Whats up colours, goodbye headphone jack

The screen of the Surface Pro 9.

The Floor Professional 9 makes only a few modifications coming from final yr’s mannequin. It’s the identical 2-in-1 pill design we’ve all grown to get pleasure from, together with the built-in kickstand and detachable keyboard. It additionally contains the thinner bezels and improved display screen that got here to the Floor Professional 8 final yr, making for a modern-looking, smooth pill.

It’s nonetheless not as skinny or mild as an iPad Professional, and will by no means be. However at 1.94 kilos and 0.37 inches thick, it’s among the many most compact kind components you may get the total Home windows 11 expertise in. After all, the Sort Cowl keyboard provides some extra heft (and value), and continues to be an important piece of the puzzle. The keyboard and touchpad are each incredible, and I nonetheless respect the sensation of the Alcantara material below my palms.

The Sapphire choice is adequately subtle to not really feel kitschy.

I nonetheless want Microsoft would bundle these in, however the firm nonetheless sells the Floor Professional 9 as a stand-alone pill. Even with the developments in contact controls and availability of some Android apps in Home windows 11, you’ll completely need to spend the additional $180 on a Signature Sort Cowl. This keyboard contains the built-in storage (and charging) answer for the Floor Slim Pen 2 – which will even price you an additional $130.

None of that’s new. The colours are, although. Microsoft used to solely supply flashier colours within the keyboards, however now you’ve got extra choices to customise the chassis itself. My unit got here in Sapphire, however there’s additionally a Forest inexperienced choice as nicely. These new coloration choices are adequately subtle so as to add a splash of curiosity to the design with out feeling kitschy. I’m down.

The ports of the Surface Pro 9.

The ports are actually the one different noticeable change to the Floor Professional’s exterior chassis, and this time round, it’s not excellent news. Floor Professional 9 lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack, one thing each different Floor system has included up so far. After all, this choice didn’t occur in a vacuum. We’ve seen the Dell XPS 13 and XPS 13 Plus ditch the headphone jack this yr, they usually received’t be the final.

Nonetheless, the shortage of a headphone jack within the case will solely flip individuals off. There’s no rationalization given by Microsoft for the change, and no discernible cause this needed to occur this yr. If we’d seen a dramatic discount in thickness, that’d be one factor. However it actually looks like Microsoft reduce the headphone jack from the Floor Professional 9 simply because it might. Not an effective way to curry favor.


My review unit got here with the Intel Core i7-1255U, which carried out as anticipated on this system. These U-series chips aren’t Intel’s heavy hitters, in truth, they solely have two Efficiency cores. However for a tool of this sort, you’ll discover this chip to offer loads of efficiency, particularly should you’re sticking primarily to purposes like internet browsers, video calls, Workplace purposes, and lightweight photograph modifying. Should you nonetheless assume a pill like this could’t totally change your laptop, suppose once more.

(single / multi)
Cinebench R23
(single / multi)
PCMark 10
Floor Professional 9
(Core i7-1255U)
1170 / 6518 166 1124 / 7537 4045
Dell XPS 13 9315
(Core i5-1230U)
1393 / 4,459 333 1379 / 3457 4023
Floor Laptop computer 5 (Core i7-1255U) 1209 / 6391 139 1130 / 7170 4198
Asus ZenBook S 13 UM4302 (Ryzen 7 6800U) 1417 / 6854 112 1402 / 8682 5647
Floor Professional 8 (Core i7-1185G7) 1296 / 5041 185 1287 / 5431 4169
HP Spectre x360 13.5
(Core i7-1255U)
1,566 / 7,314 169 1,623 / 5,823 5203

This isn’t a clear step up from Eleventh-gen to Twelfth-gen although. As you’ll be able to see, single-core efficiency is down year-over-year. That’s true in each Geekbench 5 and Cinebench R23 — but in addition proven within the Necessities take a look at in PCMark 10, which assessments single-threaded duties like internet looking, video conferencing, and app start-up time. The Floor Professional 9 is fairly constantly 10% slower than in these duties. That may not sound like a ton, however it’s fairly uncommon {that a} newer model of a tool performs worse than earlier than.

Happily, the advantage of Intel’s Twelfth-gen chips is the additional Effectivity cores — eight on this case. The result’s considerably higher multi-core efficiency — as much as 28% in Cinebench R23. As a generalization, this implies quicker efficiency in purposes just like the Adobe Artistic Suite or Handbrake. However individuals seemingly aren’t shopping for a pill primarily for these purposes, and a lot of the different laptops you should purchase from this era will present higher sustained efficiency. That’s true even of the Floor Laptop computer 5, which is 16% quicker at video encoding in Handbrake.

The Floor Professional 9 has a fan, although it tends to maintain issues pretty cool and quiet on the expense of sustained efficiency.

Battery life

The screen of the Surface Pro 9 on a table.

Like efficiency, the generational soar from Floor Professional 8 to Floor Professional 9 isn’t a transparent improve in each approach. The Floor Professional 8 was a stable battery life performer, providing simply over eight and a half hours on a single cost with very mild utilization. The Floor Professional 9 will get across the identical quantity as final time, maintaining it nicely behind Apple units just like the iPad Professional or MacBook Air.

Once more, the SQ3 mannequin ought to even that out a bit, although I can’t say for certain simply but by how a lot.

In comparison with different skinny and lightweight Home windows laptops, the Floor Professional 9 lands someplace within the center. Each the Dell XPS 13 and Floor Laptop computer 5 last more by a few hours, whereas the HP Envy x360 13 and Acer Swift 3 are a few hours again. Nevertheless, I do suppose individuals anticipate tablets to final a bit longer, particularly for the reason that portability of the Floor Professional 9 is one in all its main attracts.

Selecting between Intel and SQ3

With the 2 choices of Intel and SQ3 aspect by aspect, your assumptions concerning the strengths and weaknesses of those chips in all probability maintain true. The Intel Twelfth-gen chips are quicker, whereas the ARM-based SQ3 has higher battery life. Microsoft admits this itself in its personal spec sheets, claiming the SQ3 gives as much as 4 extra hours on a single cost — regardless of utilizing the identical 47.7-watt-hour battery.

Why the distinction? Nicely, the SQ3 is the results of Microsoft’s newest collaboration with Qualcomm, constructed on the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3. Which means it’s a personalized chip constructed for the Floor Professional 9, however it has lots of the identical efficiency and options as that SoC (system on chip). These ARM-based chips use a simplified instruction set, and are, due to this fact, way more environment friendly. If a chip can pull sufficient efficiency out of them, as Apple has demonstrated with the M1 and M2, they are often downright revolutionary.

The blue Type Cover keyboard for the Surface Pro 9.

The SQ3, although, isn’t fairly that. A minimum of, not but. Having not examined the chip but myself, I can’t say for certain, in fact. However I’m going to maintain my expectations gentle. We’ve seen what the 8cx Gen 3 is able to within the ThinkPad X13s, and whereas it was definitely probably the most succesful Snapdragon PC chip to return out but, it’s behind the present era of Intel processors in single-core efficiency by as a lot as 37%. Even in comparison with the slower Dell XPS 13 (9315), it’s over 20% behind in single-core – extra akin to laptops from final yr.

I anticipate the SQ3 to enhance that efficiency by a bit, however to land someplace in the identical ballpark. And sure, which means it’ll additionally seemingly be slower than final yr’s Intel-based Floor Professional 8.

The SQ3 supposedly improves the battery lifetime of the Floor Professional 9, which is what this system wants.

Regardless of that reality, Microsoft is charging $300 further for the SQ3 mannequin over the bottom Intel configuration. Contemplating you’re getting much less efficiency, that more money would possibly sound arduous to justify. Happily, there’s extra to a chip than simply efficiency, and the SQ3 provides you two main benefits over the Intel mannequin. First, you get 5G connectivity, which is one thing unique to the SQ3 mannequin.

Then, there’s battery life. The SQ3 supposedly improves the battery lifetime of the Floor Professional 9 – and that’s precisely what a tool like this wants.

App compatibility

The green Surface Pro 9 open on the ground.

Apart from uncooked efficiency, app compatibility has lengthy been the most important hurdle for Home windows on ARM units. Famously, when the Floor Professional X first launched, many apps weren’t optimized for the ARM structure, leading to terrible emulated efficiency in fundamental purposes like Google Chrome – and even worse, apps that wouldn’t run in any respect.

The state of affairs since then has improved considerably. A lot of the apps you’d anticipate to have out there run simply tremendous, together with each legacy 32-bit apps and newer 64-bit ones. Lots of Microsoft’s personal apps have been recompiled for ARM, such because the Edge internet browser or Microsoft Groups. There’s nonetheless work to be finished when it comes to convincing extra third-party builders to get on board, however the emulation has improved considerably.

As soon as I get my arms on an SQ3 mannequin myself, I’ll remember to put it to the take a look at, however there’s loads we are able to assume from different latest Home windows on ARM units.

It goes with out saying, however the Android apps out there via the Microsoft Retailer additionally run nicely, even when there are nonetheless not close to sufficient apps to make this a correct iPad competitor.

The Floor Professional 9 is at a crossroads

The Surface Pro 9 with the Type Cover keyboard lifted up.

The Floor Professional 9 stays the most effective 2-in-1 laptops you should purchase. The upcoming Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 could put up fairly a combat, however the Floor Professional 9’s distinctive set of premium options and lovely design maintain it on the prime of the pack for now.

And but, there are issues that I want had been completely different concerning the Floor Professional 9. Other than the weakened battery life and lack of a headphone jack, it’s additionally a bit overpriced. That’s very true if you need each the Sort Cowl and Floor Slim Pen 2. You’re over $1,300 for a tool with solely 128GB of storage. Not even Apple expenses that a lot.

And as all the time, you actually should be offered on the premise of the 2-in-1 to make the value price it. Laptops just like the Dell XPS 13, HP Envy x360 13, and MacBook Air are a greater general worth – however they’ll’t perform as tablets just like the Floor Professional 9. Nor are they fairly this compact.

I nonetheless suppose the iPad Professional takes higher benefit of its kind issue, offering a much more centered contact expertise.

That stated, the Floor Professional 9 is definitely the most effective the Floor has ever been, particularly should you want a pill that may change a laptop and not using a hiccup.

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