I tend to view this choice in terms of the overall project cost.
There's a difference in price of materials, but on the complete project scale, the cost difference is minor. With tile, it's a trivial choice, since the cost of tile (materials and labor) is far above the cost of the backer, and providing tile with inferior support is potentially a very costly decision in the long run.
With a surround, you still have some potential for water ingress, particularly if it's multi-part and depends on caulking to seal the seams; and backerboard is still far better at handling water exposure than "moisture-resistant" drywall, but there's very little labor cost in the surround, and it "should" be waterproof.
The small incremental cost on the whole project scale still favors using the better product by my math. Your math may be different.