New 12-Inch MacBook vs. Surface Pro 3: Which Is Best?

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Apple has debuted an updated version of their MacBook. Available in gold, silver, and grey, the new 12-inch MacBook is raising eyebrows because of its stripped-down port selection and ultra-thin design. But how does this new MacBook measure up to Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3? Microsoft is trying to position the Surface Pro 3 as a versatile alternative to Apple’s laptops, but Apple’s newest laptop does pack some unique features that the Surface Pro 3 just can’t replicate. Read on to see how these two productivity tools compare, and get advice about which device is best for your needs.


1. New 12-Inch MacBook vs. Surface Pro 3: Price

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The new MacBook will ship on April 10. Depending on what specs you choose, you’ll pay between $1,299 and $1,599 for this shiny new MacBook. The Surface Pro 3 also has a premium price tag, but you have the benefit of somewhat lower prices since the device has been out since last year. On Amazon right now, we’re seeing the Surface Pro 3 at prices that range from $743.95 to $1,718, depending on the specs you choose. The 512GB Surface Pro 3 with an Intel Core i7 will set you back $1,718, with a 512GB MacBook running an Intel Core M will cost $1,599.


2. New 12-Inch MacBook vs. Surface Pro 3: Specs

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The new MacBook has a 12-inch display, weighs 2.03 pounds, and is just 13.1mm thick. The base configuration of the Apple MacBook is an Intel Core M (1.1GHz) processor with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of flash storage. This laptop has a Retina display with a 2304 x 1440 resolution. In a somewhat controversial move, the new MacBook’s primary port is a new USB‑C port. This port is used for charging, as well as for fast data transfer. It can also be used for video output. The laptop runs on a fifth-generation Intel Core M processor, and comes with OS X Yosemite installed. The laptop is fanless, so it operates in complete silence.

The Surface Pro 3 is available with a variety of processors, including an Intel Core i3, i5, or i7. Hard drive space starts at a mere 64GB, and runs up to 512GB. The 512GB version clocks in at 1.76 pounds, but that number doesn’t include the added weight of the keyboard cover. With the cover, the whole thing weighs just under 2.5 pounds. The Surface also has a 12-inch display. It’s screen resolution is 2160 x 1440, which is almost as good as the new MacBook. Included ports are as follows: USB 3.0, microSD card reader, Mini DisplayPort, Cover port. It runs Windows 8.1.


3. New 12-Inch MacBook vs. Surface Pro 3: Battery Life

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Both Apple and Microsoft claim that their respective devices will last for about nine hours on a single charge. Apple was able to use some of the area where the fan housing used to go to add additional battery space. The Surface Pro 3’s battery estimated is based on web browsing over Wi-Fi.


4. New 12-Inch MacBook vs. Surface Pro 3: Special Features

Check out the Verge’s review of the Surface Pro 3 above.

If you want your choice of colors, the MacBook might be your go-to option. There’s something that’s just plain cool about owning a gold-toned laptop. The new MacBook also has a completely redesigned keyboard mechanism, which means that you’ll get a thinner keyboard that is more comfortable and precise.

The trackpad has also been redesigned with Apple’s Taptic Engine. The new Force Touch trackpad lets you tap pretty much anywhere. It’s also smart enough to know the difference between a tap and a long press (which Apple calls a “Force click”). You can use those long presses to save you time while doing common tasks. For example, when you do a force click with your cursor hovering over a word, you can bring up the Wikipedia entry for that word. Doing the same thing over an address will pull up map info. As cool as that all sounds, at least one VentureBeat writer has found that the Force Touch trackpad needs a little refining before it’s easy to use.

The Surface Pro 3 has two main features that give it an edge over the new MacBook. For one thing, it has a touch display, something no Mac has ever offered. You also have the flexibility to use the Surface Pro 3 in tablet or laptop configuration. The Surface Pen is also a handy tool for productivity.


5. New 12-Inch MacBook vs. Surface Pro 3: Final Thoughts

The team from the Verge goes hands-on with the new MacBook in the video above.

Ultimately, your choice between the new MacBook and Surface Pro 3 comes down to several key factors. You’ll need to carefully consider your needs when it comes to form factor, hard drive, and operating system. For people who have an iPhone, OS X Yosemite offers a lot of cross-platform productivity and sync tools. This makes the new MacBook a natural choice for iPhone or iPad owners. The redesigned keyboard and touchpad are also a really nice feature, particularly for people who hate the feel of a TypeCover keyboard.

However, if you don’t need a lot of on-board storage, you can probably save yourself several hundred dollars by going with the cheapest Surface Pro 3 option. We also recommend the Surface Pro 3 for people who use Windows on their primary work or home computer, or for those who can’t decide between a tablet and a laptop.

The new MacBook goes on sale here from April 10.

Buy a Surface Pro 3 here.

Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.

3 Comments

3 Comments

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Schipper

I used to be a hardcore Mac user, but have been using a Surface Pro 2 for more than a year now for all my daily work as lecturer/researcher: writing, presenting, running simulation software, annotating student work in PDF’s. Although I sometimes still miss the clear logic behind all Apple products and Mac OS, I am convinced that the touchscreen of the Surface Pro is really a big plus (I find myself touching the screen of my collegue’s Mac and think: o, no, this is not possible on a Mac), and that the possibility to do handwriting annotation in PDF’s and in OneNote with the very accurate pen are of BIG value.

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