In my post a couple of days ago, I outlined a comparison between the Surface Pro 2 and Surface Pro 3. Today, I’m going to give you my opinion on when you might want to upgrade from a Surface Pro 2 to a Surface Pro 3.
But first things first…. from here on out, I’m going to refer to them as Pro2/Pro3 or SP2/SP3 because it’s getting to be a pain to type it out all the time, OK?
To make this easier, since it is mostly just my opinion, I’m going to outline some use cases and then tell you whether or not I’d upgrade based on each.
Make sense? Good! Here we go…
Should I upgrade Surface Pro 2 to a Surface Pro 3: Web and Email User
This one is pretty simple, if you are using your SP2 to surf the web, check your e-mail and post on Facebook then you are among the majority of tablet users. You are also just barely taxing your SP2 and, frankly, could have probably done just fine with a Surface 2.
If you’re in this category, don’t even bother looking at the SP3. It simply won’t offer you anything over your SP2 and it will cost you a minimum of $800 to get.
Should I upgrade Surface Pro 2 to a Surface Pro 3: Artist & Drawer
If you are the artistic type and frequently use your SP2 to draw or paint pictures in something like Photoshop or Fresh Paint AND you have the extra money to spend then the SP3 is the device for you.
One of the things I didn’t cover in my last post is the new Surface Pen. A lot of folks have been debating the change from Wacom to N-trig and the corresponding drop in pressure sensitivity from 1000 to 256 levels. However, the guys over at Penny Arcade got a pre-release SP3 and were pretty happy with it despite a problem with the new button location.
Of course, the new kick-stand is a huge advantage the SP3 has over the SP2 in this use case, as well, since it can let you get to a more comfortable position easier than before.
Finally, during the announcement of the SP3, Microsoft also announced that there would be a version of Photoshop “optimized” for the SP3. That is a pretty big carrot in my opinion.
Should I upgrade Surface Pro 2 to a Surface Pro 3: Note Taker
If you are a business person or student who’s priority is looking for a way to take hand written notes on your tablet, the SP3 might offer a valuable upgrade over your SP2 but is it worth the upgrade?
Both come with OneNote which is really good for hand written notes but the SP3 offers a much thinner and improved screen. This cuts way down on the latency and parallax that can occur with the SP2. (If you’ve ever noticed the “ink” not quite coming out of the tip of the pen, that’s parallax. It’s caused because of the thickness of the glass screen).
Also, the new “pen-click” features for OneNote and instant OneNote syncing make using the SP3 as a replacement for a pen and legal pad a viable option. If your business or GPA depends on good notes and you can easily afford $800, I would recommend an upgrade – stick with the $800 i3 version and add a microSD card to make up for the lack of storage.
Should I upgrade Surface Pro 2 to a Surface Pro 3: Gamer
This one happens to be near and dear to me since I am a gamer.
It’s important to note that when I say a gamer, I don’t mean Windows Store games that are designed to run on just about any tablet out there (though I do occasionally play those too). I mean I play things like Titanfall, Call of Duty, and Borderlands 2. Something where the SP2 has worked well for me because it packs a “real” processor.
Don’t get me wrong, my SP2 is not a hard-core gaming tablet but it does just fine since I use it for other things. OK, now that you know that….
Both the SP2 and SP3 offer the Intel 4400 integrated graphics processors. So, on that front they’re pretty much equals.
The CPU is where the SP3 can pull out ahead but only if you opt for one of the i7 versions. If you go for the low-end i3 version, the SP2 will do better and if you go for one of the i5 versions, it will pretty much be a tie.
If you have $2,000 burning a hole in your pocket and you want the best gaming experience then I would actually recommend you look at a Razer Edge Pro Tablet (yes, heresy for not recommending a Surface model, I know).
They’re not that much more than one of the i7 SP3 machines and offers a lot better video card than the SP3 can.
OK, what are your thoughts on these use cases and my opinions? Did I miss anything? Did I over-simplify or did I go into too much detail?
I’d love to hear your thoughts…
Tim Rolston is a professional geek with over 23 years of experience working in Information Technology and dealing with everything from large-scale storage to remote systems management and automation for organizations such as Texas Instruments, Mobil Oil, and the University of Michigan (where he was an Academic IT Director).
He co-founded JTRTech along with Joanna to realize his long-time dream of working for himself.