Which Surface Pro 8 config for Dorico 4 (+ NotePerformer?)

I am very seriously considering buying a Surface Pro 8 to run Dorico 4, but I am at a loss as to which model would be sufficient.

My basic requirements are that I would like to be able to run Dorico 4, maybe with NotePerformer and enough juice to be able to playback a full orchestral score without issue.

Anyone have experience with Dorico 4 on a Surface 8? Can the internal soundcard handle a full score playback? What CPU and how much RAM would I need? I’ve been searching around for recommended Surface 8 models for this setup, but surprisingly there isn’t anything I’ve found to clue me in.

My Surface 8 options seems to be:

  • Intel Evo i5 with 8 (or 16) GB of RAM and a 128 - 512 GB SSD (small SSD is cheaper of course)
  • Intel Evo i7 with 16 GB of RAM and 256 GB - 1TB SSD

The i7 is about $210 more for the same RAM and SSD size, but I don’t know how much I would miss the extra computing power… My gut feeling is that 128GB of SSD would actually be enough for this use case, but I’m not an experienced Dorico user and would love feedback there. The minimum RAM requirements for NotePerformer is 8GB, but of course Windows 11 is pretty RAM-hungry so I don’t know if 8GB is enough?

Anyway, if you have thoughts on this I would appreciate hearing them!

Noteperformer is pretty compact so you might not need a huge SSD, but some other popular libraries (such as VSL) are quite large. If you ever decide to purchase another library in the future you may need the space. One option may be to install any VST libraries on an external drive. It looks like Microsoft is charging $242 more to go from 512GB to 1 TB which is ridiculous. You could get an external Samsung 2TB drive for less than that and install any VSTs on to that if you wanted.

Will you be docking this or using with a larger monitor? 13" is awfully small for a “full orchestral score.” What about a DAW, or any photo/video editing? Photos and video files can get quite large. Are you storing those locally, or on the cloud? Do you mostly use Dorico for orchestral work, or smaller ensembles? If orchestral work with Condensing, you’ll likely want the fastest CPU possible, but if you mainly do lead sheets, string quartets, etc., the more powerful chip may be overkill. It just depends what sort of projects you mostly do.


Thanks for the response @FredGUnn, my goal right now would be to not dock it but to probably use it with the external keyboard sometimes. I would be mostly using Dorico for sketching ideas and working through themes, experimenting with orchestral combinations, etc… I am not a professional and this would be a learning tool for the most part, any project that I would want to finish would make it over to Cubase at some point where I have a good selection of VSTs to render with. I think mostly I’d be using the tablet to work on condensed scores with more limited instruments, but I would prefer that the tablet was powerful enough to playback a full orchestral score since that seems like a nice goal, even if it wouldn’t be the dominant use case.

Very good point about the cost difference between embedded memory and an external SSD, although I hope for this rig to be very mobile and simple and I don’t want to fuss with connecting external drives for every day use.