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How to Turn Your Surface Pro 4 Into A Desktop PC



If you are a Surface Pro 4 owner, don’t waste money buying a second PC to use at your desk. You can save both time and cash by turning your Surface Pro 4 into a desktop PC.

Getting the right accessories makes all the difference. Surface docks add more USB ports and Mini DisplayPorts. An external monitor gives you the extra screen real-estate required to have three or four apps running side by side. Bluetooth keyboards and mice are more comfortable at your desk than Surface Type Covers.

Using your Surface Pro 4 as desktop PC saves you money in two ways. You don’t need a subscription to sync pictures, music and documents between your PCs. The accessories you purchase won’t top the amount of money you’d need to spend on a new desktop and software to run on it.

Here’s how to turn your Surface Pro 4 into a desktop PC.

Buy a Surface Pro 4 Dock

Assuming you already have a Surface Pro 4, the first thing you need is a dock. With them, you can connect your Surface Pro 4 to a monitor, wired internet, keyboard, mouse and hard drive with a single cable.

surface pro 3 docking station

The Microsoft Surface Dock costs $199. It has two front-facing USB 3.0 ports, a power port, Gigabit Ethernet, two rear-facing USB 3.0 ports and 2 Mini DisplayPorts on its rear. Rather than take up your Surface Pro 4’s only built-in USB port, this dock uses the Surface Connect port. That’s the small fin-like port that the Surface Pro 4’s charger uses. Because it’s an all-in-one solution, you don’t need to connect another cable to your Surface Pro 4 for power.

Pluggable’s Universal Laptop Docking Station works with the Surface Pro 4 and any other Windows device. There are 2 USB 3.0 ports, a headphone jack and microphone jack on the front. The rear has Gigabit Ethernet, 4 USB 2.0 ports, DVI and HDMI.  This dock costs $94. You need to connect your Surface Pro 4 to a wall outlet with this dock.

Buy a Keyboard and Mouse

Once you have a dock, you need the accessories themselves. You can reuse any keyboard, monitor or speakers you have already. Buying new accessories isn’t a bad idea either.

The Surface Pro 4 has two speakers, but you may want better sound quality than they can offer. External speakers like the $149.99 Edifier R17000BT Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers can enhance your desktop experience. The 2Boom Bluetooth 3.1 Stereo Sound System with Subwoofer set sells at Amazon for $39.99.

You don’t need speakers with Bluetooth, necessarily. The Pluggable Universal Laptop Dock and Surface Dock have headphone jacks for speaker systems that don’t have wireless.

The Microsoft Wireless Keyboard 850.

Next, you’ll need a keyboard. Microsoft makes the entry-level Wireless Keyboard 850. It has a USB receiver that works even when Bluetooth connectivity is a problem. It costs $24.95. Microsoft also makes the thin Wedge Wireless Mobile Keyboard. At $79.95, it’s not cheap. Microsoft’s Surface Keyboard has the same key caps as the Surface Pro 4’s Type Cover and connects through Bluetooth. It costs $99 from the Microsoft Store.

I use Logitech’s K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard in my desktop setup. It connects to 3 PCs, smartphones or tablets. You just press a button to switch between them. This keyboard costs $29.99 on Amazon.

The Microsoft Surface Mouse.

A mouse is essential to any desktop setup. Logitech’s MK270 Keyboard + Mouse Combo costs $21.99 and connects with a USB receiver. The Microsoft Surface Mouse sells for $49.99. It is painted silver to match the Surface Keyboard and is also Bluetooth. Logitech’s $35.99 M720 Triathlon Mouse connects to more than one device at a time through Bluetooth or a USB receiver.

Buy a Stand and Monitor

Next, you need a stand to sit your Surface Pro 4 on. For the best experience, you’ll want a tablet stand with an adjustable angle. This Oenbopo Tablet Stand costs $13.99 at Amazon. A hole lets docking cables run right through it.

The Oenbopo Stand.

Desktops offer lots of screen real estate to get things done on. You’ll need one to truly turn your Surface Pro 4 into a desktop PC. You’re free to use any monitor with your Surface Pro 4. Just remember you’ll need a Mini DisplayPort adapter to connect those monitors to the Surface Dock. Amazon has a high-definition HP Pavilion 21.5-inch LED Monitor for $99. The Dell S2240T 21.5-inch Touch Monitor costs $249.99.

The HP Pavilion 22.5-Inch LED Monitor.

Change Your Settings

Disable Tablet Mode

Once you have all your accessories, it’s time to change some of your Surface Pro 4’s settings.

  • Remember to disable Tablet Mode when your Surface Pro 4 is docked. This shrinks the size of apps on your screen and reduces the size of the Start Menu. Place your finger on the right edge of the device’s screen and swipe left to see the Tablet Mode toggle.
  • Your Surface Pro 4 should switch between Battery Saver and Performance Mode automatically. You can override this setting by tapping or clicking on the battery icon in the Taskbar. Change your performance profile using the toggle.

Once you have everything assembled, try your new setup for a few days. It may take some time to get comfortable with the setup. If successful, you should feel a little more productive with your Surface at your desk, eliminating the need for a desktop PC.

10 Best Surface Pro Alternatives in 2020

ThinkPad X1 Tablet

ThinkPad X1 Tablet
$1.00 from Amazon

The ThinkPad X1 Tablet offers a lot of great features: a durable shell, an amazing display and Amazon's Alexa personal assistant

The ThinkPad X1 Tablet has a 13-inch display. And, despite its good looks, the device has passed 12 military torture tests to ensure it can survive dust storms, cold temperatures, drops and spills. Finally, If you don't find Microsoft's Cortana personal assistant useful, the ThinkPad X1 Tablet has the same Alexa personal assistant your Echo smart speakers do. A Surface Pro won't survive a drop or spilled liquid and Cortana isn't as useful as Alexa is. 

Read: ThinkPad X1 Carbon, X1 Yoga and X1 Tablet Have Stunning Display and Alexa 

The third-generation ThinkPad X1 Tablet has powerful processors, plenty of RAM and other options. Models come with up to an 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM. You won't get stuck waiting for web pages to load or your photo editor to process your touch-ups. If you don't like passwords, use the IR camera on the front of the ThinkPad X1 Tablet to sign into Windows. This 2-in-1 also has a fingerprint reader. 

The ThinkPad X1 Tablet's screen detects 4,096 different levels of pressure from its digital pen. Besides that, it's a really detailed display. Windows, your videos and everything else you do on it looks crisp and detailed. Again, it's three times as sharp as an HD display.

Like other Surface Pro 4 alternatives, this Windows 2-in-1 connects to its included keyboard cover using a special slot on its bottom edge. It has Thunderbolt 3 ports for fast data transfers, a MicroSD card reader and a headset jack. With LTE connectivity, you can add the ThinkPad X1 Tablet to your smartphone data plan. You can't do that with a Surface Pro 4. 

Read: 7 Best Windows 10 Hard Drives & External Storage 



  1. Robert Armstrong

    02/13/2016 at 11:42 am

    I understood that the pro 4 could handle 3 external monitors – 2 from the dock and 1 from the tablet. You say it is restricted to 2 monitors. Will it not handle a third monitor from the tablet’s mini DP port?

  2. Leander

    02/29/2016 at 4:30 am

    Yeah it does, 2 monitors from the docking station.
    One from the surface it self. So 3 screens at the same time.
    I got the configuration running at this very moment. Two normal monitor’s and big presentation screen.

    • Robert Armstrong

      02/29/2016 at 7:32 am

      Thanks. I’m going to give the SP4 i7 16gb a try with three 27″ monitors.

    • Robert Armstrong

      03/05/2016 at 10:33 am

      I bought the SP4 with dock and cables. Win 10 shows 4 displays, but will only use three, one of which is always the tablet. So I can get two of my three externals, but not three at once.
      Surface support told me I have to use a video hub to go to three. Is this what you have done? Or is a splitter enough?

  3. Matt Smith

    03/22/2016 at 9:55 am

    What’s the recommended settings for the larger monitor, I’ve currently got it connected to another screen and the icons are massive and there’s black banding down the sides.

  4. Molly Hampel

    04/19/2016 at 1:26 pm

    This is a question not reply – i have a surface pro 4 with the docking station. The surface will go to sleep and when we wake it backup the external large monitor will not work. We thought it was the docking station but after trying two others it’s not. Any suggestions? Could the monitor not be compatible?

    • Robert Armstrong

      04/19/2016 at 5:29 pm

      I now run two ASUS 27″ monitors and the Surface tablet screen. The primary display is set as one of the 27″. When my Surface wakes up, the two large monitors also come alive – usually, but not always. Very occasionally, I have to go to display settings on the tablet screen and “extend the desktop” to the two large monitors. This does not happen often.
      Sorry I can’t be more help.

  5. Jenniferdpearman

    04/24/2016 at 6:35 am

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  6. Richard Clark Eckert

    06/19/2016 at 12:01 pm

    I am looking at idea of a multi client monitor that allows for up to four inputs that can be simulataneously displayed in four quadrants of humongous 43″ display. I am wondering if SP 4 can work with that and display 4 screens but without problems of dual monitor set up????? Ideally he SP4 would take up one quadrant, but could take up to four separate inputs or multiple windows from SP4. Why I need 4 monitors compressed in one is something to explain on a different day.

  7. skrivener

    10/31/2016 at 2:48 am

    I like the idea, but $1,400 + monitor are grim prices. If you don’t play fast games consider this tablet-as-a-PC setup instead

    HP ElitePad 1000 tablet (1.6GHz 4GB 64GB ssd); less than £180 on ebay (business are disposing of loads of units); add a £15 64gb micro sd

    HP’s dock gives 4 usb, sound & 2 monitor sockets (ebay £25 + a 2nd at £40 for work); Dock happily runs a 36in £100 screen while the tablet provides a 2nd handy touch screen on the side;

    £20 for wi-fi keyboard & mouse (with a 2nd £10 usb set for work). £13 for a usb plug-and-play case holds to hold the old pc’s hardrive & £14 for a little usb DVD rewriter. Mega adds 50GB of cloud storage to the system for £0

    This setup cost abt £315 ($400?) & happily replaced my home tablet / work laptop / work pc & home pc. Life’s become a lot simpler with just one device.

  8. Carlin

    12/21/2016 at 2:45 pm

    I have an “old” Dell Inspiron 2330 which is a touchscreen computer. However, it has an HDMI ‘in’ and can alternately be used as an external monitor – is there a way to enable/utilize the touchscreen on this computer when connected to my Surface Pro 4 as an external monitor? I assume I need an additional cable outside of the HDMI – does anyone know what that cable is?
    Thanks for your help

  9. C. Lyman

    01/21/2017 at 9:58 pm

    PC in a backpack: Surface Pro 4; Core i7, 256 GB SSD, 16 GB RAM. 2 USB hubs 1 7-port 2.0 that plugs into a port in the charging brick w/SD card reader and one 10-port 3.0 w/card reader. Accessories One 1 TB USB HDD one 1/2 TB HDD USB 2.0 ONE 512 micro SDXC in the provided card slot. 1 Rocksteady Bluetooth speaker bar and one Pawtec USB 3.0 optical CD, DVD Blu-Ray reader/burner. Looking for an externl touchsreen monitor about 20-22 In

    Other peripherals M-Audio Oxygen 49 music keyboard,M-Audio M-Track Plus two input. Mackie FX8 Pro w//USB all have USB 2.0

    And it’s all mine! With the exception of the music peripherals, it fits in a “day pack”

  10. billy batts

    02/05/2017 at 10:21 am

    I bought a cheep little doodad for $14 that gives me 3 usb ports instead of 1 and $50-$60 for a Seagate 1tb external hard drive for my surface pro 3 and I play world of warships, war planes and the 78 games I have on steam with no problems.

  11. Jacob

    02/10/2017 at 8:10 pm

    using the SP4’s mini display port can i connect it to an external display and use the usb ports on the back of the display? or will they not work without the dock?

  12. Todd S.

    03/22/2017 at 6:11 pm

    “The Surface Pro 4 Dock isn’t built specifically for the Surface Pro 4, which is why users need a free spacer from Microsoft to enjoy the $199 accessory.”
    This sentence probably meant to say “The Surface Pro 3 Dock isn’t built…”

  13. Jenelle

    04/10/2017 at 11:43 am

    I’ve connected the MSDisplayAdapter_3C miniadapter (and upgraded the firmware) but the setting(s) available for the HP (1600×900 recommended) and Samsung max out at 1280×764 (or 1280×1024, but the display is distorted). For both HP and Samsung monitors, there is a 4 to 6 inch “wasted space” black border around the viewable content. How can I get a setting to use the total real estate?

  14. Jenelle

    04/10/2017 at 11:48 am

    The top left port is listed as being a headset jack, but I get nothing but static (no sound from anything) when I plug in my iSound speaker or my headset. Device manager doesn’t recognize anything is plugged in and all I get is static from this wired connection.

  15. Peter Hamlin

    04/29/2017 at 5:22 am

    This is excellent!

    Recently, Win10 added a virtual touchpad — a small touchpad that appears on the Surface screen and is used as a mouse on an external monitor. It’s a fantastic solution if you use the Surface with an external non-touch monitor but don’t want to drag your mouse back and forth across the whole width of two screens.

    Great write-up! At the moment I’m deciding whether to go with a “desktop” setup like you describe, or a Surface Studio. (I’m waiting to see if the next iteration of the Studio has better internals, and also if I can save up that much money!)

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