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Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Intel Alder Lake-P series and Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 processors headed to next-generation 2-in-1 convertibles

Both Surface Pro 9 series models should feature 120 Hz variable refresh rate displays. (Image source: NotebookCheck)
Both Surface Pro 9 series models should feature 120 Hz variable refresh rate displays. (Image source: NotebookCheck)
According to reports, Microsoft has settled on powerful Alder Lake-P series processors for the Intel version of the Surface Pro 9. By contrast, the Surface Pro 9 5G, the Surface Pro X's successor, will arrive with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, an SoC with four ARM Cortex-X1 performance cores. Both models should feature 120 Hz displays too, unlike the current Surface Pro X.

Earlier this year, Microsoft introduced Project Volterra, a stackable mini-PC running Windows on ARM. Thought to be running the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, Project Volterra is more of Microsoft's version of the Apple Developer Transition Kit (DTK) than the Apple M1-based Mac mini. According to Rich Woods, the Surface Pro 9 will be Microsoft's second device with the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, albeit branded as the Microsoft SQ3. For context, the XDA Developer's Managing Editor previously implied that the next-generation Surface Pro X would not rely on the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, with the chipset only having recently 'started shipping in the ThinkPad X13s'.

For reference, the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 has four ARM Cortex-X1 CPU cores clocked at 2.99 GHz. In other words, the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 has four times the prime cores that the Snapdragon 888 series features but relies on older technology than the Cortex-X2 core in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1. Additionally, the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 has four Cortex-A78 cores running at 2.4 GHz, mirroring the Snapdragon 888 series. In short, the Microsoft SQ3 should deliver substantial performance improvements compared to the Microsoft SQ2, which is effectively a repackaged Microsoft SQ1.

Moreover, the inclusion of the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 means that the device will support 5G connectivity, the first Surface device to do so. By contrast, all Surface Pro X models only have 4G modems. Although the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 does not have a built-in 5G modem, it supports the Snapdragon X55, Snapdragon X62 and the Snapdragon X65. Furthermore, the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 supports variable refresh rate technology and can power displays running at up to 120 FPS. Hence, the Surface Pro 9 5G should feature a 120 Hz display too, which Microsoft markets as a 'PixelSense Flow touch display'.

Meanwhile, Woods asserts that the Surface Pro 9 will sport Intel Alder P-series processors, 28 W parts that can also be found in ultraportable devices like the XPS 13 Plus. Incidentally, Dell elected to equip the XPS 13 2-in-1 (9315t) with the lesser Alder Lake-U series, which peak at 15 W. Microsoft is expected to unleash the Surface Pro 9 and Surface Pro 9 5G during an early autumn hardware event alongside the Surface Laptop 5 and the Surface Studio 3. Potentially, Microsoft could unveil the Surface Gaming Laptop too, details of which leaked yesterday.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2022 09 > Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Intel Alder Lake-P series and Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 processors headed to next-generation 2-in-1 convertibles
Alex Alderson, 2022-09-14 (Update: 2022-09-14)