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The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is the long-awaited update that refreshes the aging design of the Surface Pro lineup, especially the Surface Pro 7 that we reviewed in November 2019, which we summed up as “urgently in need of an upgrade.” As such, the redesigned Pro 8 is a thorough summation of the Pro that was a little more of a cosmetic reheat of the Pro 6, as it only updated the internals and nothing on design.
The Surface Pro 8 can pretty much be recognized as part of Microsoft’s flagship line of Windows tablets. Still, it truly feels like a new generation with a few design changes here and there, and Microsoft ties in some of the fastest hardware we’ve ever seen in a Windows tablet.
Although we’re lamenting the loss of some legacy ports, this is the best Surface Pro we’ve seen in years. And, it comes with the new Windows 11 operating system pre-installed, and that counts for a lot.
While we’re excited about these much-needed improvements, they do come with a slight price increase. With a starting price of ~$1,099 (tested model – $1599, at the time of writing this review), the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 costs fairly more than its predecessor, the Surface Pro 7 which started at ~$749 – but that price is justified by the newer design and components.
Those looking to upgrade from the Surface Pro 7 or who are in the market for the best 2-in-1 laptops should give the Surface Pro 8 serious consideration. It rocks a new, stylish design and comes with the latest hardware including an 11th Gen Core i5 processor, a 13-inch Touchscreen, and Intel Iris Xe graphics.
About the Microsoft Surface Pro 8
With the eighth generation Surface Pro, Microsoft went deeper with a far more comprehensive update, so this tie it’s not just the silicon that is new but also some core bits of the package, ranging from the display to the ports to the overall design.
However, that’s not to say that Microsoft has completely overhauled the Surface Pro. All the traditional Surface Pro strengths are still intact, including the productivity-oriented 3:2 aspect-ratio display, excellent Alcantara-covered Surface Pro Signature keyboard, and the innovative adjustable kickstand.
- CPU: Intel i5-1135G7 | Intel i7-1185G7
- Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
- Display: 13-inch screen (2880 x 1920)
- Memory: 8GB | 16GB | 32GB
- Storage: 512GB | 1TB (128GB or 256GB removable SSD options)
- Ports: 2 Thunderbolt 4 USB-C, headphone jack, external GPU, and HDD support
- Size: 11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches
- Weight: 1.96 pounds
Design and Features
The Surface Pro lineup was beginning stagnate, especially with the last couple of versions. Microsoft only did a spec update for both the Surface Pro 6 and Surface Pro 7, that was not a bad thing at all, but now it needed a complete redesign. That’s especially true in the face of the new Apple iPad Pro, which Microsoft has pretty much left alone since its release, but it’s now beginning to gain traction in the portable tablet market.
In response to the iPad Pro, the Surface Pro 8 now brings some much-needed design flourishes and performance also gets a boost. In design, the easily noticeable change is the new graphite color, which simply looks gorgeous. Microsoft has been focusing on lighter shades for its devices in recent years, but the shift to darker colors in this year’s lineup looks fantastic.
The Surface Pro’s chassis is also refined with more rounded edges, making it more comfortable to hold for long periods, much better than the flat sides with sharper corners.
The screen gets smaller bezels than ever, and this is the final design that makes the Surface pro look like an all-new device altogether. Now, the screen looks much bigger, and the device looks and feels more premium than ever – which is much welcome because this device is also more expensive than ever.
Microsoft has also changed the ports, finally. For many years, Microsoft refused to use Thunderbolt citing security concerns. Looks like they finally found a way around them as the new Surface 8 now has the full support of Thunderbolt 4. In total, the Surface Pro 8 has two USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 4) ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a Surface Connect port. However, it does drop the USB 3.0 Type-A port that the Surface Pro 7 had, we’re just fine with that, it’s a tablet, after all.
Display and Sound
The thin screen bezels do more good than just adding a premium look to the device: they allow for an 11% larger display. The result is a 13-inch PixelSense display with a 2,880 x 1,920 resolution; that’s right in the middle of 1440p and 4K, and being a 13-inch display, that’s absolutely splendid. What2 makes this display even better is that along with the bigger size, it also gets a 120Hz refresh rate. Sure, this isn’t a gaming device, but having such a high refresh rate makes everyday computing pure blissful, especially if you’re upgrading from a low-resolution device.
The display is configured to 60Hz out of the box, mainly in the aspect of boosting battery life, but you can always switch back at any time by going into your display settings. On the Surface Pro 8, the display reaches 1-3% of the sRGB spectrum and has a peak brightness of 467 nits, which makes this one incredibly gorgeous display. Everything you’d want to watch on this thing, whether it’s Halftime on Netflix or The Terminal List on Prime Video, all look incredible.
The sound quality on the Pro 8 isn’t as strong as what this device offers visually, but it’s far from the worst sound we’ve heard in a laptop. Listening to ‘Break My Soul’ by Beyonce, the highs are very clear, but the bassline somehow gets consumed in the background. There isn’t really a lot of space for speakers though, so the sound output is better than we’d expect. Simply put, you’re better off with a pair of headphones.
Keyboard, Touchpad, and Webcam
Usually, Microsoft launches a new Surface Pro alongside a whole new lineup of Surface accessories, like a new pen and Type Cover. This time around, though, Microsoft is sticking with the same Type of Cover that launched with the Microsoft Surface Pro X, which has been very popular. That means you might not need a new Type Cover if you upgrade, which is good because Microsoft doesn’t include it in the box, it’s sold separately.
Though sold separately, the Type Cover is still great since it’s the same one used on the Surface Pro X. It has a handy little wireless charging for the Surface Pen, has surprisingly deep key travel, and the wide spacing on the keys means you’re always comfortable typing. The only place the Type Cover falls short is its touchpad, which is mediocre at its best. But given that this device excels so much as a touch device, it’s not much of an issue.
At a time when video conferencing is more important than ever, having a laptop or tablet with a decent webcam is a godsend, as we all want to look good in our morning meetings. Luckily, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has one of the best webcams we’ve ever seen in a mobile computing device.
It’s a 1080p affair here, and it delivers crisp, colorful video feed even in low light, and supports Windows Hello facial recognition log-in. There’s also a 10MP camera at the rear, which does a fantastic job, and that adds to the Pro 8’s interesting features.
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Performance is always a difficult balance for a device meant to be as portable as the Surface Pro 8. On one hand, you want it to be as fast as possible, but on the other hand, you don’t want to push it so hard that battery life drains in a few minutes, and it becomes a sore thumb to handle.
Microsoft seems to have put a lot of effort into re-engineering the hardware of the Surface Pro 8, and that allowed the company to pack a processor with a higher TDP than past iterations of the tablet – boosting it to 23W instead of the 15W on the Surface Pro 7’s processor.
That’s not going to make a stark difference, but combine that with how much faster Tiger Lake, compared to the low-power Ice Lake chips in previous models are, and you’ll get a feel of what Microsoft is claiming to be a 2x performance increase. And, somehow it lives up to that bold claim.
Our review unit (EEB-00001 model) comes with a quad-core 11th gen intel Core i7-1185G7 processor and 16GB of RAM as well as 1TB SSD storage, making it twice as fast as the closest Surface Pro 7 according to Microsoft. Whether it’s browsing the web, watching YouTube videos, or listening to Spotify, the Surface Pro 8 will crack it all smoothly. The pre-installed Windows 11 operating system is no doubt a major boost to the 2-in-1’s impressive performance.
On Geekbench 5.4 overall performance test, the Surface Pro 8 scores 5,351; this is lower than the Dell XPS 13 which scored 5,671, and not anywhere close to the M1-powered 2021 Apple iPad Pro’s score of 7,294.
Unfortunately, gaming is less stellar on the Surface 8 Pro, but that’s completely understandable as it isn’t a gaming device. Only lowering the resolution to 1440p and setting graphics to medium will you enjoy a fairly steady 60 fps.
One of our biggest issues with the Surface Pro 7 was its battery life, lasting a meager 3 hours and 16 minutes in PCMark 8 battery test. We’ve since upped to PCMark 10, but the Surface Pro 8 cracks that number with 8 hours 26 minutes, making it a device you can use at work without needing a charger.
This is probably largely due to Microsoft’s decision to adhere to the Intel Evo program and limit the refresh rate to 60Hz by default, although it maxes out at 120Hz. Considering how portable the Surface Pro 8 is, it’s good to get the assurance that it’s not going to run out of battery life within a couple of hours, as the charger can add extra bulk.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Review | Verdict
While Microsoft intended to deliver a refreshed device in its 2-in-1 lineup, they inadvertently delivered an all-new device with the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 that feels like a next-gen device in every aspect. It gets an exceptional display that makes watching videos a delight, and the powerful CPU ensures you won’t run short of power when browsing the webcam watching videos, or performing other everyday tasks. And, with Windows 11 pre-installed, the entire experience feels like the operating system was tailor-made for the device.
Elsewhere, gaming performance on the Surface Pro 8 is lackluster and leaves a lot to be desired, and the battery life doesn’t last as much as Microsoft claims (up to 16 hours). Also, the Surface Slim Pen 2 and Surface Pro accessories pair brilliantly with the device, but you’ll spend additional money for them.
Having said all that, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 despite a few shortcomings, is a solid 2-in-1 Windows 11 tablet that’s a satisfying upgrade over the Surface Pro 7 – in fact, it’s the best Surface Pro ever released.
Is the Surface Pro 8 worth the money?
Yes. The Surface Pro 8 comes highly recommended for illustrators, graphics artists, and more, especially if you pair it with the Surface Pen. This is an excellent device for any artist on the go. Also, if you need a pure Windows 11 experience in an ultimate 2-in-1 device that’s engineered with portability and versatility in mind, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is for you. It’s worth the money you spend, and offers even more bang for the buck than any other device in the Surface Pro lineup.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8
The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (EEB-00001 model) is the best Surface ever released. It features a powerful 11th gen Intel CPU and a vibrant 13-inch display, making it a good 2-in-1 for everyday use and a worthy update to the Microsoft Surface line.
- Sleek, new premium design
- Large, vibrant display and speakers
- USB 4.0 and Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports
- Slim Pen 2 and Signature keyboard sold separately
- More expensive
Last update on 2023-09-27 at 20:21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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Microsoft Surface Pro 8 - 13" Touchscreen - Intel® Evo Platform Core™ i7 - 16GB Memory - 1TB SSD - Device Only - Platinum (Latest Model)
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