Microsoft Surface Pro Versus Apple MacBook Lineup

If you’re looking to upgrade your old, dated laptop, there are a ton of decisions to make. The landscape is full of shiny offerings in a wide range of form factors. With so many great-looking options, it’s tough to narrow the field.
Of all the options out there today, Microsoft and Apple are near the top of the charts in terms of brand recognition and quality. Because both companies own the software and OS experiences that run on their devices, Microsoft and Apple enjoy a synergy advantage in their respective ecosystems.
Today, we’re going to compare the Surface Pro 7 from Microsoft with the MacBook Air from Apple. The devices are the closest each company comes to a premium ultraportable laptop under $1,000.
So, which is better? Well, that’s a complicated question. Let’s compare how each machine fares in a range of categories.
By the way, if you’re considering picking up one or the other, don’t forget an extended computer warranty with accident protection to keep you protected no matter what happens.

Operating System

Before we get into specs and quality, we have to talk about operating systems. The Microsoft Surface Pro runs Windows 10. The MacBook Air runs MacOS. The two are markedly different, and, chances are, you already know which one you like better. Both can offer a smooth user experience, and both will get the job done.
If you’re already invested in one OS or the other, that alone might make your purchase decision for you. If not, find a friend who’s willing to let you try the one you don’t know as well.
One additional consideration to take note of is your mobile device. If you’re an iPhone user choosing a MacOS operating system can provide for additional features and compatibility between your devices (for example, using AirDrop to move files from one device to the other).

Surface Pro 7

The Surface Pro 7 is a hybrid device. It works as a standalone tablet, meaning it has touchscreen capability built in. But paired with the pro keyboard and trackpad attachment, the Surface Pro 7 functions like an ultraportable laptop. Digital Trends notes the design hardly looks cutting-edge anymore, with sizable bezels and substantial heft. The kickstand is a really nice touch, though.
Note that to run in “laptop mode” requires purchasing a Surface Pro Signature Type Cover, which contains a passable keyboard and trackpad. It’s nice to have this option, but neither keyboard or trackpad feels as good as what “normal” laptops offer. And despite the trade-offs, the Type Cover remains surprisingly expensive.

MacBook Air

In contrast, the MacBook Air is a conventional ultraportable laptop. There’s no tablet mode, no touchscreen, and no kickstand. The newest models have an upgraded keyboard that solves the issues prevalent in 2018-19 machines.
What the MacBook Air loses in flexibility, it makes up for in build quality. Apple’s design and build quality have always been legendary, and current MacBook Airs are no exception. The integrated backlit keyboard is responsive, and the magic trackpad is, well, magic. The Retina Display, too, is fabulous to look at.


The Surface Pro 7 uses 10th-generation Intel chips, which provide great power and efficiency. That said, the entry-level Surface Pro 7 uses an i3 chip that’s pretty weak in terms of performance. If you’re thinking of it as a tablet, the i3 is probably sufficient. But if you’re looking for laptop-level performance, you might want to upgrade.
The MacBook Air comes in two variants. The older one also uses 10th-gen Intel chips, but the entry-level chip is faster and more powerful than the one in the Surface.
And then there’s the newest MacBook Air. Apple just changed the performance game in a serious way by releasing its first ever Apple-designed processor, the M1. It’s fast. Blazingly, mind-meltingly fast. In benchmarks, it beats nearly every single Intel chip on the market, including high-end desktop chips.
There may be some concerns as it’s a brand-new technology and a totally new approach to chip design. But initial reviews have been good. If performance is your top factor, right now, Microsoft can’t compete.

Surface Pro Versus Apple MacBook Prices

The Surface Pro 7 is cheaper than the new M1 MacBook Air – in theory. The Surface Pro 7 starts at $749.99 on the Microsoft Store. But remember you’ll have to pick up the Type Cover if you want a laptop experience, and that’s another $150 or so.
The M1 MacBook Air starts at $999, though students (and even Costco members) can get it for $949 right now. That’s $50 to $100 more for a mind-melting jump in performance. If a laptop experience is what you’re after, it’s hard to justify saving $100 and going with Microsoft’s machine.

Whichever You Buy, Protect It With an Extended Warranty

Whether you settle on a Surface Pro 7 or a MacBook Air (or you buy something else entirely), it’s always a good bet to protect your purchase with an extended laptop warranty from Upsie. With 2 or 3 years of warranty and accident protection to cover broken screens from drops or liquid damage from spills, you’ll be covered no matter what happens with your new device. With Upsie warranties Air owners even have the option of having any covered repair completed at a local Genius Bar.

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* This article is over 6 months old and may or may not be updated.