The Nintendo Switch and Valve’s Steamdeck have created a renewed interest in powerful portable gaming.
While the Surface Pro wasn’t built to answer this call, it may be a closer competitor than you think.
Can You Use The Microsoft Surface Pro For Gaming?
The Microsoft Surface Pro can be used for gaming. It is a laptop in a tablet form and comes in a variety of different component builds, all of which can play popular games like Minecraft and Roblox. The i5 and higher models can handle more demanding games at low settings.
It’s important to note that the Surface Pro model line-up is not designed to be a gaming platform.
It just happens to be possible due to the nature of the components and operating system.
With a little bit of adjustment to the settings of the games you want to play, you can likely get away with a good 30-60 fps at low quality for games like CS:GO, Diablo III, League of Legends, Valorant, and other like them.
Unfortunately, even the latest models of the Surface Pro aren’t powerful enough to run AAA games like Elden Ring or VR gaming experiences.
That’s still a lot of extra power to get out of such a tiny computer.
There is an infinite number of games on Steam that can run perfectly well on the Surface Pro.
Platformers and puzzle games should run flawlessly.
Older games and MMOs that have active servers are also a great option.
If that’s not good enough, I was able to get Overwatch to run at 50 fps on medium settings.
What Games Can Microsoft Surface Pro Run?
If you’re asking if the Surface Pro can run games, you likely mean the current model the Surface Pro 8.
The model features quad-core 11th generation Intel processors.
The i3 model can run basic games like Roblox and Minecraft.
It’s the i5 and i7 models that can handle heavier gameplay.
The i5 model is enough to handle games like Diablo III, Torchlight, Path of Exiles, and most mid-tier requirements.
It will likely run between 30-42 fps with no adjustments.
You can always tweak the settings to get better performance.
The i7 model can handle playing much heavier titles like Call of Duty Warzone, albeit at 33 fps.
Here’s where it gets interesting, the Surface Pro 8 hosts a thunderbolt 4 port.
That means you can hook up an external GPU to improve gaming performance.
Of course, the added performance will depend upon the GPU that is inserted into the eGPU dock.
Paired with a powerhouse like the RTX 2070 or 3070, the Surface Pro 8 can be as close to full desktop gaming as a tablet can be.
Keep in mind that using an eGPU will likely result in the need to use an external monitor as well.
With an eGPU the i5 and i7 models can handle games like:
- The Witcher
- CyberPunk 2077
- Elden Ring
- Gears 5
- Call of Duty: Warzone
Without an eGPU, the i5 and i7 models can handle games like:
- Civilization 6
- The Sims 4
- League of Legends
Of course, that’s not an extensive list of what the Surface Pro 8 can handle.
It’s just an idea of the types of games the device can run on medium or low settings.
As a tablet, the Surface Pro 8 can build up heat in a focused position rather quickly.
Pushing the hardware to the limit by playing games with intensive physics or graphics can heat the internal components even faster.
This heat can lead to performance stutters and system failure.
Microsoft has designed a cooling system that keeps the Surface Pro 8 cool to the touch, but it is still a computer.
It was designed to dissipate and handle heat quickly, but it’s not foolproof.
Sustained performance can stop the cooling system from doing its job properly.
It’s for this reason that Microsoft says that the Surface Pro 8 is not a gaming device.
That and the lack of an internal dedicated graphics card.
Can I Play Xbox Games On Microsoft Surface Pro?
Microsoft has made it possible for nearly any internet-connected device to play Xbox games over a good connection through an Xbox app called GamePass.
GamePass is both an app and a subscription service that allows gamers access to a library of hundreds of titles that can be downloaded to PC or Xbox.
On top of that, most of these titles can also be played through smartphones, tablets, and low spec computers through game streaming.
Microsoft has built a series of servers to support Xbox virtual machines that allow gamers to stream the latest Xbox titles to any screen with an internet connection.
Better yet, the Surface Pro 8 can make use of the games that have included touchscreen controls for convenience.
If that’s not enough, you can even pair an Xbox One controller through its Bluetooth function.
GamePass doesn’t include every single game available on Xbox, but it does include a library of hundreds of titles.
Microsoft has promised that all Microsoft Studios titles will be available to download or stream on GamePass on Day One.
So far, this has delivered titles like Sea of Thieves, Halo Infinite, and Gears 5.
With the growing list of studios Microsoft has been purchasing, GamePass just keeps getting better.
If you happen to own an Xbox One, Series S, or Series X, you can also stream games directly from your Xbox to your Surface Pro 8 using the preinstalled Xbox app.
Just sign in to the same Xbox profile you use for your Xbox.
Then you can stream to your Xbox screen to your Surface Pro 8.
Can I Use My Xbox Controller With My Microsoft Surface Pro?
PC gamers have a fixation on the mouse and keyboard setup, but I have a preference for controllers.
If you’re like me, you’ll be glad to hear that you can use either your Xbox or PlayStation controller with your Surface Pro 8.
Both controllers have a Bluetooth pairing mode that makes it easy to connect to pretty much anything.
For the Surface Pro 8 and really any Windows device, I recommend sticking to the Xbox One controller.
It has better built-in driver support than PlayStation controllers.
To set up your controller for your Surface Pro 8, you need to switch the controller to pairing mode.
For Xbox One controllers:
- Press and hold the Xbox button to turn the controller on.
- Hold the pairing button on the top of the controller until the Xbox button is flashing slowly.
Now, you’ll need to go to the Start Menu on your Surface Pro 8.
Open up the Settings menu by clicking on the Settings gear icon.
Then click on ‘Devices’.
Click on ‘Bluetooth’. Select the ‘Add Bluetooth Device’ button.
Find the Xbox One controller in the list of available devices and click on it to connect.
That’s all it takes.
You should now be able to navigate your Surface Pro 8 with your Xbox controller.
PC games and Game Pass will automatically recognize your controller.
That means all you will need to do is play.
No need to map out the controls or adjust settings every time you want to play.