Microsoft Surface – RT vs. PRO

by | Nov 5, 2012 | Hardware, Windows

Microsoft Surface

The release of Microsoft’s tablet, Surface, has been causing a lot of ripples in the tech community. The first version is available now, but not many people have got their hands on it yet.  There have been more questions asked  about the different versions, RT and PRO. I’ll try and fill in some of the blanks to give you a better idea of what the differences are and what might work best for you.

Surface RT

The Surface RT is the first Surface (available now) from Microsoft. The major difference is utilizes the ARM CPU architecture, rather than an Intel CPU. This is great for battery life, size and weight, as ARM chips are smaller and require less power. On the other hand, they are not as powerful and cannot be used to run x86 applications. Applications must be designed with the processor architecture in mind, and x86 is the predominant architecture that is in use today, so you cannot install your existing software on a Surface RT. Microsoft is offering ARM-based software for purchase through the Microsoft Store. So, this would be great for people that want a lightweight method of accessing entertainment and occasionally writing an e-mail. That brings us to…

Surface PRO

The Surface PRO (available in Q1 2013) is much closer to the experience you’ll get on a laptop or ultrabook. Over the Surface RT, it enjoys a better screen resolution, more RAM, more drive space, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to install and run your existing software because it is based on an Intel processor. The downside of this is it will be heavier, thicker, and will likely run hotter than the RT.


What you’ve all been waiting for, the numbers:

Architecture ARM x86
Chip nVidia Tegra3 Intel i5
Storage 32GB 64GB
Resolution 1366 x 768 1902 x 1080
Weight 1.5 lbs 2 lbs
Thickness (without keyboard) .37 in .53 in


Our business clients should wait for the Surface PRO coming in 2013. Not only will the product be better, but the experience will be closer to what most people expect in a laptop. Microsoft has made no inclination that there is an Office product in the works that runs on the RT; anyone that wants to use Surface for business productivity should wait for the PRO.