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10 Best Alternative For Surface Pro For Architects

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Offering easy portability and stellar performance, the Surface Pro from Microsoft is an immensely popular device for architects.

It belongs to the newer generation of touch screen devices that combine the features of a drawing tablet and a laptop. In recent years, such two-in-one devices have become more common since they can be used on the go and guarantee performance comparable to regular laptops. 

However, the biggest drawback of the Surface Pro is that it is extremely costly, which makes it inaccessible to a large number of architects. That’s why several manufacturers are offering a range of alternatives to meet this demand for affordable yet high-performing two-in-one devices. 

Since selecting one product from so many options can be pretty challenging, we’ve created this guide on the top ten alternative for Surface Pro that you can buy instead of the Surface Pro.

Top Alternatives For The Surface Pro




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Best alternative for surface pro

1. Apple iPad Pro

Before the Microsoft Surface Pro, there was the iPad from Apple. The first of this series of tablets was launched way back in 2010, and the brand has been offering successive models with improvements annually ever since. With the latest M1 processor and a metal body, the iPad Pro offers unparalleled performance and style.

Why Did We Like It?

Since it was first released, we have always been a fan of the Apple iPad, but the latest model takes things to a new height. With the latest M1 chip, the iPad Pro 2021, offers a vast improvement in performance over the previous generation model. This is especially true regarding its graphics capabilities, which are an important requirement for architects. 

On the front, there is the 12.9 inches liquid retina XDR display, which replicates colors accurately and makes this drawing tablet a joy to work with. Further, a dual-camera setup on the back can come in handy if you need to capture images while on the project site. 

The 12.9 inches iPad Pro 2021 also comes in different memory variants, starting from 128 GB and going up to 2TB. Besides that, it offers multiple connectivity options for data transfer, such as the Thunderbolt port and Wifi 6. 

What Could’ve Been Better?

Few products come close to the Apple iPad Pro in terms of build quality and performance. However, the drawing tablet is restricted to the Apple ecosystem, which may not make it an ideal choice for those looking for a Windows or Android device. Otherwise, it is an excellent option worth considering.

Pros

  • Unmatched performance
  • Impressive cameras
  • Sturdy build
  • Wide application

Cons

  • Not compatible with Windows or Android devices

2. Samsung Galaxy Tab S7

Who hasn’t heard of the Samsung Galaxy Tab series, the most popular Android-based line of tablets in the world? As the name indicates, the Tab S7 is the seventh iteration of this drawing tablet and can perform all drawing, writing, and planning tasks without a hitch. 

Why Did We Like It?

If you’re looking for an alternative to the Surface Pro that offers even greater portability without compromising on performance, the Samsung Galaxy Tab is a compelling option. Coming with an 11 inches 2560 x 1600 (WQXGA) TFT display, this drawing tablet makes viewing images, creating sketches, or taking notes a breeze. 

The Tab S7 features an octa-core processor that is more than a match for the wide range of tasks that architects need to undertake every day. Moreover, the performance was smooth due to the custom Android operating system of the budget tablet, which did not lag even once during our testing phase. 

Another feature that makes this Samsung device an ideal choice for architects is support for accessories such as portable keyboards and a stylus, just like the Surface Pro. What’s more, the Samsung Galaxy Tab supports accessories even from other brands and comes with Bluetooth and Wifi connectivity for faster data transfer.

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What Could’ve Been Better?

Right from the start, we loved how the Samsung Galaxy Tab performed during our tests, but there was one feature missing that would’ve made this device even better. The manufacturer has not provided an option to turn off the vibrations on the device, an issue that needs to be fixed via a software patch. 

Pros

  • Large, vibrant display
  • Accessory support
  • Stellar performance

Cons

  • No option to turn off vibrations

3. Apple 11-inch iPad Pro

Along with the 12.9-inch iPad, Apple launched the 2021 version of the 11 inches iPad, which is another device that offers superb performance. Those who find the 12.9 inches device heavier and bulkier will find this one much more convenient to use and carry. 

Why Did We Like It?

If you are looking for a pure tablet alternative instead of a two-in-one device to the Surface Pro, it can’t get any better than the Apple iPad Pro. Its colors are vibrant, viewing angles are great, and images are sharp and crisp. 

The 11-inches Apple iPad has a Liquid Retina display with ProMotion technology, providing the best viewing experience. Plus, this device comes with a TrueDepth camera system with a 10MP Ultra-Wide camera and 12MP Wide camera to take snapshots of the project site or design. You can even view designs and plans in 3D with the help of the Augmented Reality LIDAR technology. 

What’s more, being one of the Apple devices with the latest M1 processor offers exceptional performance. This performance remains unaffected regardless of how many apps you download and install from the Apple app store. 

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What Could’ve Been Better?

With such impressive specs and performance, it’s hard not to like the Apple iPad Pro for work and entertainment purposes. There is just one issue with the device: the screen is a lint magnet, and you will need to keep a microfiber cloth close by to keep it clean. 

Pros

  • Outstanding performance
  • Highly portable
  • Good quality photos
  • Impressive build quality

Cons

  • Screen tends to attract lint

4. Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio

If the Surface Pro is not your cup of tea, then the Surface Laptop Studio from the same brand might be more to your liking. Powered by the latest Intel processor and featuring a modern design, this laptop-tablet combo offers the best of both worlds. 

Why Did We Like It?

The Surface Laptop Studio is the closest you can come to the Surface Pro without buying the latter. It is powered by the latest 11th generation Core H Intel processor, enabling it to easily handle even the most complex tasks.

This windows tablet for architects has a sleek and modern design with a 14.4-inch touchscreen, which you can easily transform from a laptop to a portable windows tablet. For those who need to record their designs and findings while visiting various sites, the importance of this feature cannot be understated.

Coming to the display, there is the PixelSense Flow touch display, which allows you to view designs and diagrams in crisp detail. The colors and contrast are impressive, while the 120 Hz refresh rate provides the smoothest scrolling experience. 

What’s more, the Surface Laptop Studio comes with Windows 11, the latest operating system from Microsoft designed for both touchscreen and traditional laptops.

What Could’ve Been Better?

It goes without saying that the Surface Studio Laptop is an unbeatable drawing tablet for architects in this segment. The only downside to this fantastic device is the battery life, which did not meet our expectations. However, this issue can be fixed with a software update from the manufacturer.

Pros

  • Crisp display
  • Fast and powerful processing
  • Very portable
  • Value for money

5. Dell ‎XPS 2-In-1 Convertible

The next product we have for you is the Dell XPS 2-In-1 Convertible. This is a convertible touchscreen laptop that can perform any Surface Pro function while also offering additional features. You can either use it as a regular laptop or transform it into a tablet and carry it to work. 

Why Did We Like It?

Dell is best known for creating high-performance business and gaming machines, and its expertise is well-reflected in this machine. Coming with an impressive design that uses a 360-degree hinge, a large screen size, and an anti-reflective touchscreen, this device looks as good as it performs.

The touchscreen has a Full HD resolution and 450 nits brightness, which makes the images appear crisp and vibrant. As for the performance, it comes with the 11th gen Intel core i7 processor and the Intel Iris Xe graphics that provide the smoothest experience for all types of projects. 

Another thing we liked about this Dell machine is that the problem of heating, which is so common in two-in-one devices, is not present here. Thanks to its GORE Thermal Insulation technology, the windows tablet remains cool even while performing heavy and complex tasks. 

Long story short, architects who need to accomplish a variety of tasks on the go will love this portable tablet.

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What Could’ve Been Better?

While we were delighted by the overall build quality and performance of the device, this budget tablet did suffer from an occasional issue that caused the machine to freeze up. The manufacturer should look into this issue and make sure to resolve it. 

Pros

  • Easily convertible design
  • Impressive build quality
  • Stellar performance
  • Not heating issues

Cons

  • Occasional freezing issue

6. Dell Inspiron 2-In-1 Laptop Computer

Yet another product from Dell, the Inspiron, is a two-in-one laptop, especially developed especially for business and work purposes. Besides the premium design and a powerful processor, it features a lightweight build for easy portability and upgradable storage, making it an ideal choice for architects. 

Why Did We Like It?

The first thing that we noticed while testing the Dell Inspiron was its weight. Despite being made from premium materials that ensure durability, at 3.39 lbs, it is among the lightest options we’ve come across in this segment. This makes it ideal for architects who need to take their devices to various sites while working.

Equally impressive is the display, which has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and uses WVA Led-Backlit technology to provide sharp and bright images. Whether you need to review building plans and designs or jot down information, the screen makes it all easy to do.

The device is powered by the Intel 11th Gen Core i7 processor, which comes with the Iris Xe Graphics that is present in only the highest-end computing devices. This is backed up by 32GB RAM and 1TB SSD for providing the best multitasking and data storage experience. 

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What Could’ve Been Better?

The only thing you’ll miss out on when getting this device is the facial recognition feature. Since it comes with so many advanced functions, we expected Dell to include that as well. However, since the manufacturer has already provided a fingerprint scanner, this is only a minor issue. 

Pros

  • Powerful performance
  • Vivid display
  • Lightweight
  • Fully convertible

Cons

  • No facial recognition feature

7. HP ‎Envy 2-in-1 Convertible Laptop

The HP Envy line of premium machines includes laptops, desktops, and printers which originally started life under the brand name of Pavilion. The current HP Envy line includes high-performance machines such as this x360, which is a hybrid device that can also be used as a tablet. 

Why Did We Like It?

The HP Envy x360 is a convertible business laptop that not only comes with an impressive spec sheet but delivers outstanding performance. The first thing you’ll notice on this device is the large full HD screen, which makes colors pop out and has excellent viewing angles. This display makes working on the two-in-one a real joy.

Under the hood lies the Core i5-1135G7 processor from Intel, which is more than enough to handle a wide variety of tasks. Then there is the Iris Xe for graphics-intensive tasks, which can render images quickly so that you won’t experience any lag while running design programs. 

You’ll also be pleased to know that the HP Envy x360 comes with the proprietary fast charging technology of the brand, which requires minimal time for the device to charge. The charger included lets you charge the machine from zero to 50% in less than an hour. 

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What Could’ve Been Better?

With so many useful features, we found it hard to find any downsides to the HP Envy x360. The only thing that we did not like very much was the bloatware that comes installed with the product. Removing unwanted applications from the device will require a reasonable amount of time. 

Pros

  • Fantastic performance
  • Bright display
  • Expandable
  • Good build quality

8. Lenovo Yoga 9i 2-In-1 Laptop

Up next is the Yoga 9i from Lenovo, which combines a drawing tablet with a traditional laptop. Those looking for a 4K display and an ultra-thin form factor will love this option. It is another one of the best drawing tablets worth considering when looking for alternatives for the Surface Pro.

Why Did We Like It?

In the digital world, Lenovo is a brand known for offering the maximum features at the most affordable price point. This is also true for the Yoga 9i, which comes with an incredible 4K touch display, powerful processor, and comes installed with the latest Windows operating system. It is another high-performing device suitable for architects. 

The internals consist of the Intel 11th Gen Core i7 Evo 1185G7, which delivers unparalleled performance when you draw up plans or calculate estimates for the project. Further, it comes pre-installed with the latest Windows 11 operating system from Microsoft.

We simply loved the speed at which we could perform various tasks while using this drawing tablet, which was possible due to the 16GB LPDDR4x RAM. It is possible to further expand this RAM up to 32 GB. Additionally, it weighs only 3.17 lbs, making it ideal for carrying around. 

Moreover, there is a fingerprint scanner to keep your device secured.

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What Could’ve Been Better?

The Lenovo Yoga 9i is a great drawing tablet for architects who want the latest features without breaking the bank. However, you should keep in mind that the 4K screen, while being vibrant and clear, does not get as bright as screens on some competing products. 

Pros

  • Comparatively affordable
  • Fast performance
  • Lightweight
  • Latest operating system

9. Microsoft 13.5-Inch Surface Laptop

Another option from the Surface line of devices is the Microsoft Surface Laptop. This touchscreen laptop with a compact form factor makes it a viable option for architects, designers, and business professionals. It comes in two different sizes and the latest Windows operating system for maximum productivity. 

Why Did We Like It?

For brand loyalists who are looking for something from the same manufacturer, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5GB-00001 can be a worthwhile choice. This laptop with touchscreen support has a sleek and elegant design that makes it comfortable to carry around. It is even available in different colors and finishes, so you can select the one which best fits your style. 

The Surface Laptop comes with the 11th Gen processor, which delivers smooth performance across all manner of tasks, ranging from web browsing to editing plans in AutoCAD. The lowest RAM model is the 8GB version, and it can go up to 32GB, while the storage can be taken up to 1TB SSD.

You’ll be delighted to know that this model supports a wide range of accessories, thanks to the USB-C and USB-A connectivity ports. The Microsoft Surface Arc Mouse, Surface Earbuds, and USB-C Travel Hub are all supported.

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What Could’ve Been Better?

With the Microsoft Surface Laptop, we were disappointed to see that it is not possible to upgrade the internal storage of this laptop. That’s why, when planning to go with this device, you should get the highest capacity version right from the start.

Pros

  • Modern, sleek design
  • Outstanding performance
  • Long-lasting battery life
  • Lightweight

10. HP Spectre 2-in-1

The final item on our list is the HP Spectre 2-in-1 laptop, which is the perfect combination of sleek design, sturdy build, and outstanding performance. Also, the Spectre line from HP comprises thin and light devices, which is why this device is the best for portability. 

Why Did We Like It?

HP is among the big names in the computing industry and has maintained its standards throughout previous decades. The Spectre two-in-one is another promising device from the manufacturer, having a lightweight build and a stunning design that maximizes convenience.

Besides the design, the Spectre has a Core i7 quad-core processor, 8 GB RAM, and a 512 GB SSD. This combination of internal components provides an incredible lag-free performance irrespective of how many heavy tasks you run simultaneously. Not to mention, the Intel Iris Graphics makes this high-performance laptop suitable for graphics-intensive tasks. 

The display is a 13-inch Full HD screen with an IPS WLED panel that supports multitouch. Images appear bright and sharp, so you get your job done easily without experiencing any discomfort. 

Plus, for connectivity, the device comes with HDMI, USB-A, and USB-C ports so you can connect accessories and peripherals easily. 

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What Could’ve Been Better?

We had no complaints regarding the build quality and performance of this device. However, one thing we did notice is that the fan motors can get quite noisy during heavy operations. That said, this is not a deal-breaker and does not affect the performance of the device. 

Pros

  • Sleek design
  • High performance
  • Durable build
  • Good battery

Freelancer architect working in 3d software to elaborate buildings design sitting at kitchen desk at night. Engineer artist creating and studying in office holding scale model, determination, career.

Alternative For Surface Pro Buying Guide

Now, you know about the best options available when looking for alternatives for the Surface Pro. However, it can be quite confusing to narrow down the choices to a single option even with this information. This is because there are several factors that need to be considered when making a decision.

Here, we’ve listed some of the essential factors to consider when buying such a device. Keeping these factors in mind will make your job easier when making the final selection.

1. Type Of Use

The primary consideration when buying a laptop or android tablet is the type of use for which you require it. Different types of devices are manufactured for meeting specific purposes. Some may be geared towards students, while others may have been developed for artists. Similarly, you can find products meant for business professionals. 

When getting a device, make sure to look for one which is most compatible with your requirements. This will provide a better and more enjoyable user experience and reduce hassle.

2. Screen Size

Laptop screen sizes are measured diagonally and range from 11 inches to 17 inches. For purposes such as graphic design and photo and video editing, larger screens are generally better. However, keep in mind that larger screens will make the device heavier and make it consume more battery faster.  

On the other hand, smaller screens are found more in foldable devices since they are lightweight and use less power. Go with the screen size that offers a good picture quality while also balancing other aspects like the battery life and portability. 

3. Screen Resolution

Just like the screen size, laptop screens vary in their resolutions. The resolution implies the clarity of images and text that appear on the screen. The higher the resolution, the better the picture quality. The 720p or HD resolution is the standard resolution on most mainstream laptops and is good enough for basic computing tasks like web surfing and working on documents. 

This resolution can go up to 4K Ultra HD, which provides the richest colors and the sharpest images, which is ideal for professional graphics-related work or gaming purposes.

4. Display Technologies

Manufacturers use different types of technologies for various models, which can affect the brightness levels and colors that appear on the screen and the battery consumption. For instance, laptops with LED backlighting technology can display bright colors while maintaining good battery life.

Screens with IPS panels provide better viewing angles, while those with a glossy finish offer more vibrant colors. On the other hand, matte finish displays can be useful in reducing glare while working. 

5. Processors

How well any computing device performs ultimately depends upon its processor as well as the operating system. The two main processor brands include AMD and Intel. Most two-in-one devices come with Intel processors, starting from the i3 processor and going up to i9. AMD also has a similar lineup of processors where the Ryzen 3 is the basic processor while the Ryzen 9 offers top-tier performance.

Apple also recently introduced its own processor named M1, which is in-built into its devices and offers stellar performance. Generally speaking, machines with more powerful processors tend to be more expensive.

6. Memory

The amount of RAM that a device comes with determines its multitasking capabilities. Laptops and tablets with a greater amount of RAM allow you to perform a greater variety of tasks at the same time without experiencing any performance issues such as lag.

Basic computing requires at least 2 GB of RAM, but 12 GB or more is needed if you want to perform more graphics-intensive operations. Laptops generally come with either 4 GB or 8 GB of RAM installed, and some models come with an additional slot allowing you to upgrade the RAM. 

7. Internal Storage

Another crucial factor to consider when buying a computing device is internal storage. How much storage space you require depends upon the internal storage configuration of your device. Traditionally, laptops used hard disk drives (HDD), which were bulkier, noisier, and generally produced more heat and noise. Read and write operations on such drives were also slower.

Modern laptops and two-in-one devices come with solid-state drives or SSDs, which have no moving parts, are much lighter and faster but more expensive. Most two-in-one devices come with at least 1TB storage space (HDD) or 512 GB (SSD). 

8. Battery Life

For portable devices, battery life is always an important consideration. Laptops and drawing tablets come with varying battery capacities that offer different backups. While older devices tended to have larger batteries, this made them bulkier. Modern laptops come with lightweight batteries that offer better backup without hindering portability.

The battery backup can range from three hours to over twelve hours. However, make sure to read the customer reviews as well instead of relying solely on the manufacturer’s claims regarding the battery life. 

9. Budget

Last but not the least, the budget has to be considered when buying any computing device. Machines that have high-end specifications and offer more features are more expensive, while cheaper tablets miss out on the features. That is why you need to do some research and select that device that offers features you will use.

Following such a strategy will help you avoid paying more for features that are never going to be used. However, it is better to go with options that offer some future-proofing such as upgradable internals, since they can help you save a lot in the long run. 

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Final Verdict

With that, our review-based guide of the best alternatives to the Surface Pro for architects has come to an end. Now, all that remains is for us to share our favorites from the list here.

The overall best product would have to be the Apple iPad Pro since it merges convenience, design, and performance perfectly, leaving no room for compromises of any sort. However, for those who find the iOS device a bit confusing, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 comes with an S pen and long battery life.

Finally, if you find both the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro too large, the 11-inch iPad might be more to your liking. This model comes with the same internals and offers similar performance but is easier to hold. 

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