Surface Pro 11 (2024) First Impression

I’ve extensively covered the entire Surface Pro lineup over the years, as it’s one of my favorite two-in-one detachables laptops. The premium quality, excellent displays, and versatile detachable keyboard make it a standout.

This year, Microsoft has fully embraced Windows on ARM, integrating the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite not only in the Surface Pro 11 but also in the Surface Laptop 7.

I’ve had the Surface Pro 11 for 48 hours and have some initial impressions. The battery life is excellent, which I’ll discuss in more detail later. Compatibility is hit or miss, particularly with gaming and certain peripherals like my Colorimeter. However, everyday tasks such as Microsoft Office, email, and web browsing run smoothly.

Performance-wise, the device shows promising single and multi-core results. Notably, the switch to an OLED display is a significant improvement, offering a bright, sharp, and color-accurate screen. Overall, the Surface Pro 11, with its Snapdragon X Elite processor, looks very promising for 2024. So let’s know in-detail.

Rad Also: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10 Ultra Exclusive Leaks

Specifications

  • Display: 14-inch 2.8k OLED or LCD, 3:2 aspect Ratio, 120Hz touch Display.
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite, Snapdragon X Plus.
  • Graphics: Qualcomm Adreno GPU.
  • RAM: 16GB, 32GB (LPDDR5x).
  • Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB M.2 PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD (upgradeable).
  • Battery: 53Wh OLED, 48Wh LCD.
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.4, 5G (optional).
  • Camera: Front-Facing 1440p + IR, Rear-facing 10MP.
  • Windows: IR Webcam.
  • Speakers: Dual 2W speakers, Dolby Atmos.
  • Ports: 2x USB4, Surface connect, nano-sim.
  • Color: Sapphire, Dune, Platinum and Black.
  • Size: 11.3 x 8.2 0.37 inches.
  • weight: 0.87kg.
  • Price: $999.99

Design and Ports

Surface Pro 11 Design and Build impression

The Surface Pro 11 (2024) is really gorgeous, especially in the new sapphire blue color that matches perfectly with the Surface Laptop 7. The design is stunning, and the build quality is impressive.

Inside the box, there is a compact power charger, which is a 39W unit, the same as the one included with the Surface Laptop 7. The charger connects via Surface Connect. Additionally, there is a power cord, but no pen or other accessories; these are sold separately.

The keyboard, which is quite expensive, attaches magnetically and charges when connected. It comes in the same matching sapphire color. This flex keyboard includes a battery and works via Bluetooth, allowing it to connect without being physically attached to the Surface Pro 11. This feature adds a lot of versatility to the laptop.

When it comes to the ports, the Surface Pro 11 has two USB 4.0 ports on the left side, which are always welcome. On the right side, there is a Surface Connect port, which I still appreciate. On the top, you’ll find the power button along with the volume rocker.

There is no headphone jack, USB-A port, or microSD card slot on it. However, it does have expandable storage, which is easily accessible through a latch on the bottom. You don’t need any tools to access it; just pop it out with your finger to reach the small 2230 SSD. The read and write speeds of the SSD are good. I appreciate having expandable storage, especially in a Surface Pro device.

As for the build, it’s exceptional. The all-metal design gives it a very premium feel, with no give or flex, making it rock solid. The sapphire color is absolutely gorgeous, in my opinion. I also picked up the keyboard in the same sapphire color, which complements perfectly.

Display

Display Specs and Quality

The move to an OLED display on the Surface Pro 11 is a very welcome upgrade. With the OLED display, you get really deep blacks, super vibrant colors, and high contrast. Unfortunately, my Colorimeter software is not compatible with Windows on ARM and doesn’t have the right drivers, so it’s not detecting the display properly. I’m looking into that. However, from just an eyeball test, the display is very bright, with a high refresh rate of up to 120Hz, providing a smooth and fluid experience.

It’s also an HDR display, making it great for watching high dynamic range content on platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube. Overall, it’s a fantastic for media consumption.

Keyboard, Pen and AI

Surface Pro 11 detachable keyboard

When you attach the very expensive flex keyboard cover, it becomes a more productive, laptop-like accessory, which is always welcome. However, I wish it wasn’t so expensive. The keyboard can also be used detached from the unit, which adds versatility. It connects via Bluetooth and has a built-in battery that shows the remaining charge.

Typing on the flex keyboard cover, with its included pen, has been a good experience. The pen charges within the keyboard’s top section. The key travel and overall feedback are very good, and the raised typing angle makes for a comfortable typing experience. This iteration of the keyboard, with its Alcantara finish and matching sapphire blue color, is excellent. However, the high cost—over $400 for the keyboard, flex cover, and pen—might be prohibitive for some.

The Surface Slim Pen 2, which has haptic feedback, stores and charges within the keyboard cover. It’s great for sketching artwork and diagrams, and I’ll test it more in the upcoming full review.

Additionally, I like the live captions and new AI features, such as the co-creator in the Paint app. This feature allows you to draw a basic diagram or sketch, and the AI will translate it into a fully formed image. For example, I sketched a red Ferrari, and the AI rendered a very usable image that you can manipulate and edit. I’ll explore more of these AI features in the full review, so stay tuned for that.

Webcam

I really appreciate the camera, especially for local video conferencing. It performs well, and I’ll have more detailed feedback on it soon. The AI effects enhance the experience, with features like Studio Effects for auto framing. It’s responsive and keeps subjects well-framed during calls.

The camera also supports background blur effects such as standard blur and portrait blur, which work reasonably well. The audio quality is good, aided by the AI and NPU capabilities, offering up to 45 TOPS for enhanced processing. Overall, it’s a solid setup for video conferencing.

Benchmarks and Performance

PlatformSingle-CoreMulti-Core
Geekbench 6284914339

From synthetic benchmarks like Geekbench 6, the Surface Pro 11 shows good single-core and multi-core performance. The integrated Adreno Graphics perform decently, although they’re not quite on par with Intel Iris Graphics or AMD Radeon 7 GPUs. In Cinebench 2024, it demonstrated strong single-core performance, though I had hoped for slightly better multi-core results.

Considering its tablet-like laptop functionality, it’s competitive, especially when factoring in its potential for better battery life compared to devices with discrete GPUs.

When running cooler and quieter tasks like Microsoft Office, email, and web browsing, the Surface Pro 11 remains silent with minimal heat. However, under heavy load, such as during intense applications or gaming, I did notice the fans kicking in and the device warming up on the back. It’s not completely quiet or cool in those scenarios, so it’s something to keep in mind depending on your usage.

Battery Life

Speaking of battery life, I encountered some compatibility issues with tests like PC Mark 10 Modern Office, which didn’t work for me due to software compatibility issues. However, I conducted a 4K video loop test starting at 100% battery, and the Surface Pro 11 lasted for an impressive 12 hours and 18 minutes before draining completely. This was with the screen brightness set to 40% and the 120Hz refresh rate enabled. Expect even better battery life if you lower the refresh rate or brightness further. For 4K video playback, this result is quite good.

I’ll delve deeper into battery performance in the upcoming full review, but so far, the Snapdragon-based Surface Pro 11 is showing very promising battery life.

App Compatibility

One of the biggest drawbacks of Windows on ARM so far is that some x86 apps simply do not work, which I’ll detail further in a separate video. Gaming has also been hit or miss. While emulation and the prism Microsoft is using seem to work better than previous iterations of Windows on ARM, certain applications have still proven incompatible. For instance, I couldn’t get PC Mark 10 or my Colorimeter (Spider 5 Elite) to function properly due to driver issues.

For general everyday tasks like using Microsoft Office, email, and web browsing, or apps that are ARM-based natively, the Surface Pro 11 provides a fluid and smooth experience with minimal hiccups. However, specialized applications such as video editing software may encounter issues. Updates may address some of these compatibility issues over time, as there have already been several updates since launch. It’s still early days, so patience may be required as the platform continues to evolve and improve.

First Impression Conclusion

So far, 48 hours in with the Surface Pro 11, there’s a lot to appreciate, especially with its ARM-based Snapdragon X Elite processor. Everyday tasks perform smoothly, and the emulation via Prism appears much improved compared to earlier versions. However, there are some x86 apps that simply won’t work or function properly, with occasional crashes and bugs. These are typical early-day issues with a new processor, and I expect them to be ironed out over time.

Leave a Comment