Review of Surface Pro (1st gen) in 2021

Omg. What the heck did I just bought? I bought a 9 year old Windows tablet for $170 (USD$120) – Surface Pro (1st gen) in 2021. It didn’t come with the keyboard nor the stylus, just the charger and the tablet.

Looking at the processor, it is a i5 3 generation, a 2012 technology a.k.a 9 year old technology. From my fading memory, I recalled the frustration times from my old Asus zenbook which was running on i5 3rd generation processor. In fact, my zenbook was upgraded to 8GB ram using a old sata 500gb HDD. Booting up from the zenbook was slow and editing photos were also laggy. Hence, i was not certain if this would be a good buy but i still went ahead anyway since it is dirt cheap at $170. With that, my honest expectation was that it is not going to be fast.

Booting up

When i first turn on the tablet, it impressed me with a barely 5 – 10 seconds boot up time with the powerful 128GB SSD. I recalled the time in the past when I always power up the laptop and head off for a toilet break while it took its own sweet time to load Windows. I won’t say this is the fastest by today’s standard (my Lenovo s540 boot up in 3seconds) but this tablet definitely still holds up well in 2021 in this aspect.

Weight and size

Another thing that hit me straight once I hold the surface on my hands was – this tablet is thick and heavy! I think I am spoilt by the thin and light weight of iPad 6 that I had. Without going into the specs, just looking at the tablet, It looks like it is almost 1cm thick and it felt like 1kg heavy. Holding this tablet on hand does feel that it’s a old and ancient piece of product.


Just looking at the specs, i would expect the 4gb ram to be the bottleneck for doing multi tasking and had wished that Microsoft would have placed a 8gb ram. But to my surprise, generally usage works great without lags. I edited this page on the Surface Pro, draw and scribble on Microsoft Note, surfing over multiple tabs on Google Chrome and watched YouTube.

Photo editing was surprisingly smooth, photo export took about 10 seconds which in my opinion is acceptable. During the course of waiting for the export , I could edit other photos, hence, the wait wasn’t really any wait.

To test this to the limit, I went ahead to install Android Studio to see if I could compile and do some programming work. Well and it turns out sluggish. It took more than 10mins-15mins of initializing to reach my first programmable page.

Battery and Heat

Like any 9 year old laptop, the battery of this tablet is no longer lasting. Mine could last at least a 3 hours with wifi connected. I did not have high expectation, but 2 hours is decent in my point of view. The tablet gets heated up quite as soon as 10-15minutes into using it. After 20-30mins of usage, I am actually feeling the heat and I can use the word hot to describe the level of warm. I am treating this as a tablet, holding it on my hand or placing them on my laps, i do wish it was less hot.


So the speaker was disappointing, even at maximum volume, it is not really loud and it lack of bass to it. It is definitely not a good buy if your intention is to enjoy good music out of it. It is rather soft and for me personally, the volume is fixed at its maximum all the time. watching YouTube on this also wasn’t a great experience because of the audio.

Ports and Accessories

I am glad to see 3.5mm headphone as always, needing it for meetings and presentation with no fear that my wireless bluetooth earpiece runs of out battery.

Having a USB is always welcoming, but having just 1 is not particularly enough, i would love to get at least 2 so i won’t need to bring along a USB hub.

Holy gees, the surface type keyboard is damn bloody expensive. It cost $100 which is half the price of the tablet itself. Hence, the i plugged one of my old wired USB keyboard and started editing this page.

There is a mini display – i hate it honestly. It is one of the port that i never use in my entire life, it was not widely adopted and died off.. I would very much appreciated if they could have included a hdmi or even a VGA port.


I have not used any other surfaces, so this is my first encounter with a kickstand surface, and honestly, it felt fragile like it could break anytime once i was a bit more rough to it. I am not sure if i am the only one who felt this as the reviews i read seems to portray this as a high-quality built device.

Technically, the processor is faster than the newer and more costly Atoms or M3 Surface Go 2 or Surface Pro 3 (some model). Hence, buying this at a cheaper price with a better performance which to me, is a wise decision. At this price point, I don’t expect to be able to do video editing and as tested, programming work failed terribly here. In addition, the tablet heat up quite a bit after long use (after 30mins of use). However, for generally work usage, it definitely meets the needs. I do not particularly enjoy or recommend this device as it is not as light and portable as I expect of a tablet. To give a better perspective, this tablet is actually thicker than my Lenovo S540 laptop which does not justify the primary purpose of tablet (which is supposed to be even more portable than a laptop). However, if you have an app that could only run on Windows and is not resource intensive and you are have a tight budget, you definitely could rely on this. It is still a very good and usable device.

Something additional, I am also so used to the many hand gestures of the iPad that i frequently find myself unable to quickly access the desktop or other apps using hand gestures. Something that Microsoft would want to consider adding into their OS.

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