Surface Pro for Web Development



I’m guessing there are about 83 of these threads, but I couldn’t find a single one of them.

I’ve forever had my feet dipping in the Windows ecosystem for various reasons. But I’ve started a job doing Angular / Node development (primarily, there will be other languages as well). I’ve been given an HP laptop for work purposes (they are predominantly on the MS backend). However, I’m not enamored with its trackpad / buttons (I have to use a mouse to get any serious work done.)

I want to purchase a personal laptop to replace my aging MacBook Pro 13″. I’m curious if there are any other web developers out there using a Surface Pro.

I’ve scoured the web (ok, at least a few searches) and have found a few things, but most of them are pretty old.

I’m curious if anyone is using a Surface Pro for development. I don’t do a lot of IDE based stuff. My primary workflow involves:

  • Docker (a small compose cluster of a few containers)
  • terminal
  • VS Code
  • browser testing
  • MS Office (for client docs)
  • typical “internet-y” things like email, web, etc

I can’t see any reasons that a decent Surface Pro wouldn’t work, but the only thing I hear locally when I ask about the Surface line (from my peers) is that it’s a flaminag dumpster fire. I have a feeling this is a bit of an exxageration.

I’m also considering the XPS 13 and a few of the other decent 2-in-1’s, but I REALLY like the form factor of the Surface Pro.

Money isn’t a *huge* factor, I could even go up to the i7 8GB RAM configuration if needed; but I’m kinda hoping someone has the i5/8GB and can tell me it’s perfectly fine if you’re not running too heavy (maybe a code editor and a small Docker cluster–app/db/cache).




Comments (18)

18 responses to “Surface Pro for Web Development”

  1. jimchamplin

    You could probably get by with anything that has a keyboard and pointing device that doesn't suck. UX honestly is more important than the raw numbers. If you feel that the Surface Pro is the best UX, then it's very likely any Surface Pro that is capable of working with the software you need will be an upgrade for you.

  2. Riki Smith

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  3. Jason Honingford

    I never liked developing on a laptop. When I did, I would still hook up 2 monitors with keyboard and mouse, so there was no point in this form factor compared to a desktop which is faster and cheaper. There's no way I'm getting any work done on a single screen.

    • curtisspendlove

      In reply to ThatMouse:

      I feel this way as well. I’ve been working on a temporary HP 15” battleship, and I miss premium feel, but I also feel weird using a laptop just to dock to a couple monitors. I’m really considering a desktop for normal dev work in my home office and ... I guess maybe a cheap laptop for when I *have* to code on the go. But that kinda prices me out of the Surace line. I don’t want to spend a ton on it if I’m not going to be using it daily. :: sigh ::

    • WP7Mango

      In reply to ThatMouse:

      I didn't like developing on a laptop either...

      However, I do like having the ability to test touch gestures directly on the dev device, handling pen input, etc and I do like the ability to sketch UIs and workflows, so the Surface Pro actually turned out to be a great dev machine, especially when hooked up to an external monitor, mouse and keyboard.

  4. Usman

    You can get away with a Surface Laptop / Book (I use the surface laptop when I'm away from a desk) , though I would recommend getting 16GB of RAM instead, as Chrome (electron included) will eat up most of the 8GB RAM you have available. I do wish it had a real quad core though.

  5. helix2301

    I do a lot cloud stuff with my company and I stuck with Macbook because I love the 2 gig video card, display and touchid. I will tell you my tablet is surface since sometimes in my line work I need windows surface is great device. i7 can be little pricey but we use them they are great

    • curtisspendlove

      In reply to helix2301:

      I have to admit, I had about a year with a MacBook Pro 15” and I got spoiled with TouchID. Although I’ve seen Hello on my wife’s Alienware and it is pretty awesome.

      I'm not opposed to shelling out for an i7 if the experience will be worth it, but I’m skeptical I’ll need anything that powerful. The main question is if I can convince myself to go to the “hassle” of tethering or if I want LTE.

      • Simard57

        In reply to curtisspendlove:

        if you like the Surface Pro form factor - you might wish to consider the HP Spectre X2 (

        I recently purchased the Spectre X360 (foldable) and have not regretted it yet. Windows Hello (face recognition) seems fast and convenient. The X360 replaces my 3 1/2 year old Surface Pro 3 which stopped working. I was impressed by the support Microsoft provided while I had the SP3 but I wanted to try the 360 design choices and MS does not have one in that category.

        Another view of the X360 is it seems more repairable than the SP3 was. The SP3 is disposable in its design. I am unsure if the X2 is more repairable or along the SP3 lines (Glue instead of screws!).

        • wright_is

          In reply to Simard57:

          I had a Surface Pro 3 at a previous employer (I bought it private and they bought it off of me, so I could use it at work) and after 18 months, I came to the conclusion that I was using it 98% of the time in its dock , 1.9% as a laptop and 0.1% as a tablet.

          When I left the company, I went with the Spectre X360, which was a good move and has proven great, although I came to a similar conclusion with the Sprectre, that I was using it 99% of the time docked to a monitor, keyboard and mouse, so I replaced it with an AMD Ryzen based desktop with 32GB RAM, running a bunch of Hyper-V VMs. The Spectre is still used when I am away from my desk...

        • curtisspendlove

          In reply to Simard57:

          This information is appreciated. I’m actually a little concerned with the reliability information I’ve been reading about the Surface line. I’m not one to bow to FUD, but the sheer amount of it seems like there is something to it.

  6. rob_segal

    I find the screen to be too small for development, but that's my personal preference. I like the Surface Laptop's bigger screen. Right now, I use a 15 inch HP Spectre x360 (4k). Hardware-wise, it will work fine for what you're doing. You don't need a quad-core for that kind of work (but a PC with an eight generation quad-core ultrabook cpu would be nice). Surface doesn't have that yet.

    • curtisspendlove

      In reply to rob_segal:

      Agreed. What I'm doing doesn’t exactly peg CPUs for long periods of time. I do have the concern about screen. I assume it is powerful enough (even in the i5 configuration) to drive a decent monitor for productivity tasks. I’ve considered the dock for my home office.

      I’ll definitely check it out at the MS Store before purchasing. Thanks for the input.

  7. curtisspendlove

    Appreciate the comments, folks. I think I’ll buy an i5/8/256 but now I kinda want to wait for the LTE version. (I’m fairly rural, so WiFi isn’t always prevelant).

  8. Tamichan

    I work on mine.  My only issue is with the screen size when I travel.  I have secondary monitors at home.

  9. WP7Mango

    I have the Surface Pro 3, with Core i5, 8GB RAM and 256 GB SSD.

    It's perfectly fine for dev work. I use Visual Studio, SQL Server Express, Blend, various other dev tools, two external screens, and a couple of VMs when needed.

    The new Surface Pro will be silent with the Core i5 because it's totally fanless.

    For Dev work, I normally use it as a desktop PC and occasionally as a laptop on a table. Sometimes I use it as a tablet to sketch UIs, or for other consumer type stuff.

  10. paradyne

    It will work absolutely fine. I've done very similar over recent years using Surface 4, 5 and 6. The 6 had a quad core fanless i5 and I used Visual Studio. It's completely up to the job. Sometimes I'd use it docked with a 4k display. The older ones I sold on to other people at work and they are still using them for development work.