Buying a new device: best for Zwift?

Is there a general consensus on the pros/cons of each platform (iOS, Windows, Mac, Android) for Zwift? Is there such a thing as a “best” choice here?

I’m about to buy a new device. My primary choices are:

  • Microsoft Surface Pro 7 (i5, 8GB)
  • 2020 iPad (regular, not Pro)
  • Samsung Tab S7+

All other considerations aside, which one of these would be most “recommended” for Zwift? Or does it not really matter at all and they all work close enough to equally well (as in functionality, lack of bugs, framerate/performance… the basics)?

Budget is not a consideration here… just looking for what will give me the best results and why. I’ll do many other things with this device and it’s well worth the cost.

If other context is needed, I’m training on a StagesBike SB20. I mostly ride alone, mostly doing structured workouts.

Thanks in advance for any advice. I understand the technology issues well… it’s just Zwift that’s new to me.

I think I’d shy away from Surface because of the graphics.

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No difference in terms of graphics or performance; you’re looking at the lowest tier of detail at 20-30fps. Of the three options I’d probably go with the iPad, but there’s no ‘best’, they all have their pros and cons.

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Hi Rodolfo,
Have you seen this page? It doesn’t answer your question definitively but does suggest the surface pro should be fine.

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It’s woefully lacking in important detail, to the point of being useless.

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Have you also considered the Apple TV 4K?

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I am new to Zwift but have tried it on my iPad Pro, Surface Pro 7 and Apple TV. It will run fine on any of them. Apple TV is most convenient due to having a remote in hand. Surface Pro 7 is nice being able to hook it to the tv via hdmi. iPad looks nice as well. All depends on if you are going to hook up to a tv and for me, it is much more immersive using a tv.

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i know you already have a list, but this is only $680USD today:

worth thinking about!

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Not too bad at all, that. Usually modern prebuilts contain a raft of pointlessly powerful parts that don’t help in Zwift. Can save a lot of money with used parts and get the same experience though, if you’re willing to do so (or learn how). Haswell is the sweet spot for value when it comes to Zwift. An extremely cheap and unfashionable dual core i3 gets you about 90% of the performance for 15% of the cost or less.

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yah, the 1660super, SSD and power supply by themselves are probably $450 new. these “promoted by amazon” deals actually do tend to be decent parts lists. except the LED lights, not sure why that’s cool these days :crazy_face:

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Try $320, and that’s without hunting for any special deals. :wink:

https://pcpartpicker.com/list/7RGJkX

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ah! quick scan on newegg was showing the 1660super at 320, but i do see a few in that 230-250 range now that you point them out :slight_smile:

still, if the OP is comparing to a surface pro, i think this amazon deal is probably a better experience if a tower is acceptable.

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Oh it’ll be far, far superior. :+1:

The thing is though, that whilst that system would be a fine choice as a general gaming rig (though 16GB RAM would be better), for strictly maxing out Zwift on a 4K TV, an old i3-4170 paired with a GTX 1650 Super will provide virtually the same experience at a lot less money. Because the bottlenecks are the same.

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Dave,

For a complete PCParts picker deal including everything needed but nothing extra what are we talking? 1650s are a lot easier to come by are they enough?

Apple tablets cater well to those who are a part of Apple eco-system already, but they are not ideal for Zwift because (a) they do not support ANT+, and (b) it may be challenging to mirror tablet screen to a TV. AppleTV notorious for having only 2 available bluetooth connections, which may be not enough.

Samsung S7+ should support screen mirroring via DEX and USB-C to HDMI cable, or wirelessly if your TV supports it. It also may (you need to check) natively support ANT+, some Android devices do. It is a powerful tablet, but I am totally puzzled why one would buy a tablet for the price of a decent laptop which is infinitely more useful and capable than an Android tablet? For me, a tablet is a device to read books (essentially, a Kindle substitute) and to watch videos.

Microsoft Surface Pro will be a step above the other two options. However, if you want to have the best graphics possible, the way to go are high end PCs, which are usually sold as “gaming laptops” or “gaming PCs”. The difference is largely in the type of graphics card. Integrated graphics is not good enough for Zwift. A tower PC, albeit bulky, has more computing power than a laptop with nominally similar characteristics (a mobile graphics card is about 30% slower than a full size PCI card with the same name). The difference, in general, is smoothness of graphics and the level of details (reflections, sun rays, shadows…)

I think the question for you will boil down to, what else you are going to use the device on which you will run Zwift for? And will you connect it to a TV?

I use my home office desktop computer which I connected with a 50 fit HDMI cable with built-in amplifier to a TV in front of the trainer. This way, PC serves both its primary purpose and as a Zwift computer.

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Lots of great feedback here, and thanks to everyone.

We’re remodeling at home, so for the next 3-4 months I can ONLY use a portable device for Zwift. And since I’m about to buy a nice, powerful tablet with a workable keyboard for a bunch of other things, it occurred to me to include “works well with Zwift” on my selection criteria for it.

I’m willing to consider other good tablets with add-on keyboards or keyboard covers: from my research so far, the three I listed seem to be the best of the bunch. I’m not a fan of Apple, though I’ll use it if it’s the right tool for the job. I’m comfortable on any platform.

From what I’ve read in this thread, for Zwift there’s either not much difference between the three on my short list, or there’s a slight advantage to the Surface Pro 7 (i5). Is that a fair statement? Is there any other tablet-with-addon-keyboard that I should also be considering, equal to or better than those three?

Again, thanks for the thoughtful feedback and ideas.

1650 Super is enough for 4K at 60fps in most solo rides yeah. They were $170 on eBay brand new when I looked yesterday. For a full build solely for Zwift I’d recommend just saving the money and going with used Haswell parts for the heart of the system, but even with modern brand new components throughout you’d be looking at no more than $450 all in (probably less if you’re savvy). People generally forget that you don’t need to buy a Windows licence, there are extremely few restrictions for not doing so. None of which impact Zwift in any way.

Thanks to everyone for your comments. I’m with Andrei: for the long term, I’ll pipe Zwift from my gaming/photo-editing PC to a TV over HDMI. But for now, and since I need the tablet form factor anyway, I went with the Surface Pro 7. I don’t expect it to provide a high-end Zwift experience, but I’m sure it’ll be just fine in terms of functionality.

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Just got my Surface Pro 7 (i5, 256GB). Works beautifully for my needs. With battery optimizations off, and Zwift resolution to High (1080p), I’m seeing roughly 31-32 FPS. More than good enough.

Looks smooth, plays well, no problems. I’m sure I’ll see even better results when I can use a dedicated gaming PC later on, but for an $800 tablet that I’ll use for a ton of other things, I’m very happy with my investment and how well it runs Zwift.

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That’s great to hear. Do you mind posting a screenshot for future reference?