Most of the oblast is spread over the eastern slopes of the Middle and North Urals and the Western Siberian Plain. Only in the southwest does the oblast stretch onto the western slopes of the Ural Mountains.
The highest mountains all rise in the North Urals, Konzhakovsky Kamen at 1,569 metres (5,148 ft) and Denezhkin Kamen at 1,492 metres (4,895 ft). The Middle Urals is mostly hilly country with no discernible peaks; the mean elevation is closer to 300 to 500 metres (980 to 1,640 ft) above sea level. Principal rivers include the Tavda, the Tura, the Chusovaya, and the Ufa, the latter two being tributaries of the Kama.
Sverdlovsk Oblast borders with, clockwise from the west, Perm Krai, the Komi Republic, Khanty–Mansi Autonomous Okrug, Tyumen Oblast, Kurgan, and Chelyabinsk Oblasts, and the Republic of Bashkortostan.
The area is traversed by the northeasterly line of equal latitude and longitude.
Rich in natural resources, the oblast is especially famous for metals (iron, copper, gold, platinum), minerals (asbestos, gemstones, talcum), marble and coal. It is mostly here that the bulk of Russian industry was concentrated in the 18th and 19th centuries.