Surface Pro 9 5G review (SQ3): A beautiful lie

Surface Pro 9 with 5G
Written by admin

Can you believe it’s been 10 years since Microsoft? Launched the Surface for the first time? That’s a decade of trying to make hybrid tablet PCs something, something I’m still not sure a lot of people really want. I’ll give Microsoft credit for trying to push laptop designs forward in an age where everyone is trying to copy Apple’s unibody MacBook Pro and its ultra-thin model. Macbook Air. Surface was a radical alternative.

this Surface Pro 9 with 5G It makes it clear that Microsoft has learned some lessons since its first tablets: the first Surface to be impeccably designed and connect to fast 5G networks. Unfortunately, it’s also a disappointing reminder that Microsoft can’t help but repeat many of its previous mistakes. Another ARM-based Windows PC that we probably wouldn’t recommend.


  • Great AI webcam features
  • Excellent hardware design
  • Gorgeous 13 inch display
  • Convenient removable SSD
  • Built-in 5G


  • ARM chip often leads to slow performance
  • Some compatibility issues with legacy apps and games
  • More expensive than the faster Intel model
  • Still suffers from Surface ergonomic issues

Gallery: Surface Pro 9 5G | 13 Photos

Given our lukewarm response to ARM-powered, this isn’t exactly surprising. Surface Pro X idly. But what’s even creepier this year is that Microsoft is actually calling it Surface Pro 9 with 5G, as if it could be directly compared to it. Surface Pro 9 powered by Intel’s 12th generation chips. This is more than arrogance – it’s a downright lie that will undoubtedly confuse shoppers and IT professionals for the next year.

Of course, both have the same gorgeous and impressively thin aluminum chassis, 13-inch PixelSense display, and very useful keyboard covers (sold separately though, unfortunately). Both models have the same built-in kickstand, allowing you to put the display on a desk or on your leg for the computer on the go if you’re feeling risky. If you’ve seen a Surface tablet before, not much has changed, especially with last year’s rugged Pro 8.

Surface Pro 9 with 5G

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

The story of two surfaces

The problem is that Microsoft now has a product line running on two very different chip designs: Intel’s x86 hardware and Microsoft’s proprietary SQ3 ARM system on the chip (which itself is based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3). The Intel-powered Surface Pro 9 can run all the legacy Windows apps you’ve come to expect. The SQ3 model, on the other hand, can only run newer applications locally. Everything else is emulated, resulting in significantly slower performance. On the plus side, Windows 11 it now supports x64 emulation so the Pro 9 with 5G can run many apps that the Pro X couldn’t run when launched. But that doesn’t cover games, and at this point I don’t think anyone should.

What’s even more frustrating is that Microsoft makes you pay a premium of $300 over the $999 Surface Pro 9 for the privilege of having an inherently slower computer. So how much is built-in 5G worth to you?

Surface Pro 9 with 5G

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

A better Windows on Arm experience, but not much

After using the Pro 9 with 5G for a few days, I was even more surprised by Microsoft’s reckless attempt to combine the x86 and ARM product lines. While several of the company’s engineers assured me in a recent interview that performance would be comparable between the SQ3 and Intel models, I knew this was wrong the moment I launched Chrome. As an emulated x86 application, it’s slower to launch and quite laggy when browsing the web and juggling tabs. Microsoft Edge, on the other hand, is faster everywhere because and native ARM applications.

I usually run multiple browsers at the same time as it’s the easiest way to separate work and personal accounts. I can’t switch to Edge full time. If I wanted to work the way I’m used to on a Surface Pro 9 with 5G, I’d have to live with a worse experience than a three-year-old Surface Laptop. Does this sound like progress to you? While it performed well overall with native apps like Spotify and Evernote, multitasking between these and emulated apps was still noticeably heavy. In many ways, it felt like a step down from the Surface Pro 6 I reviewed four years ago, except for the silkier 120Hz refresh rate on the Pro 9’s larger screen.

Geekbench5 processor

3DMark Wildlife Extreme

Cinebench R23

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 5G (SQ3, Adreno 8cx Gen 3)




Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (Intel Core i7-1185G7, Intel Iris Xe graphics)




Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 (Intel i5-1135G7, Iris Xe graphics)




ASUS Zenbook 17-Tier OLED (Intel i7-1280P, Iris Xe graphics)




All of my testing on the Surface Pro 9 shows it to be slower than any premium laptop we’ve reviewed in the past few years. Sure, Geekbench 5 used to run as a slower emulated app, but its score also shows how other emulated programs would. Even the weak Surface Go 2 with its low-power 11th-gen Intel chip managed to outperform the Pro 9 5G in single-core performance. (At least the SQ3 performed better at multi-core speeds.) One of the best ways to compare cross-platform games, 3DMark’s Wildlife Extreme test also gave a low score, as I expected. (The bigger surprise? ASUS ZenBook Folding 17A foldable computer powered by a low-voltage Intel chip.)

About the author


Leave a Comment