Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Review [Updated 2021]

In the 2-in-1 laptop industry, Microsoft’s Surface Pro has long been a driving force, and the Surface Pro 8 marks a significant development in Microsoft’s popular laptop/tablet hybrid.

Although it retains the Surface Pro’s distinctive design, the Pro 8 improves on the Surface Pro’s tablet and laptop capabilities in subtle ways. In addition to the much-needed internal update, the new features include a bigger display and a more pleasant user interface.

This consists of an Intel Core i7-1185G7 CPU and a RAM of up to 32GB of RAM, components that make use of Windows 11’s new capabilities. The Type Cover and new Slim Pen 2 are optional add-ons for $1,099 and $249, respectively.

The Surface Pro 8 is unquestionably one of the finest 2-in-1 laptops currently available, but keep reading Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review to find out whether the additional hardware is worth the extra money for you.

What’s new in Microsoft Surface Pro 8?

What’s new in Microsoft Surface pro
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A Refreshed Design

With the Surface Pro 8, Microsoft has taken design cues from the Surface Pro X, which runs on ARM. The two tablets can even exchange keyboard covers. In order to accommodate the extra cooling gear required by an Intel processor, the Pro 8 is 0.1 inches (or 2 millimeters) thicker. However, the only way to tell the difference is to place the two devices side by side.

Pros

  • Versatile 2-in-1 form factor
  • Strong performance
  • Gorgeous and excellent display
  • Excellent webcam result
  • Dual Thunderbolt 4 ports

Cons

  • It is quite expensive as compared to its counterparts
  • Keyboard and pen sold separately
  • Battery life should have been better

Specifications:

  • Battery timing: 9:07
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-1185G7
  • Display: 13-inch, 120Hz (2880×1920)
  • GPU: Intel Iris Xe
  • RAM: 16 GB of RAM
  • Size: 11.3 inches x 8.2 inches x 0.37 inches
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Weight: 1.96 pounds 

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Configuration Options and Price

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 offers an 11th generation Intel Core i5-1135G7 CPU, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, and a 13-inches PixelSense (2880 x 1920 resolution) at 120Hz display.

For the Surface Pro, you’ll need to spend an additional $179 on the keyboard to get the full laptop experience, bringing the total to $1,280. The Surface Pro 8 begins at $1,380, which includes Microsoft’s new Slim Pen 2 and a keyboard combo for $279.

There are a few different configurations available, but the one we have is a $1,599 mid-tier model with the same PixelSense display but an improved Intel Core i7-1185G7 CPU and 16GB of RAM. The Surface Pro Platinum device I received for testing had a Dark Graphite finish, which is a choice on certain configurations but not on the standard Surface Pro Platinum model.

The Intel Core i7-1185G7 CPU, 32GB RAM, a 1 Terabyte SSD, and PixelSense display cost $2,599 for the Surface Pro 8. Be prepared to shell out an additional $179 (or $279) for the keyboard or keyboard with Slim Pen 2.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Design

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Design
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A bigger laptop is needed to accommodate the larger screen, but the bezels on the Surface Pro 8 have been reduced thanks to Microsoft’s ingenuity. It is narrower than the Surface Pro 7 but taller and thicker, measuring 11.3 inches x 8.2 inches x 0.37 inches and weighing 1.96 pounds (11.5 inches x 7.9 inches x 0.33 inches, 1.74 pounds). With its built-in keyboard, the 2-in-1 Dell XPS 13 (11.6 inches x 7.8 inches x 0.6 inches, 2.9 pounds) is larger and heavier, while Lenovo’s thin ThinkPad X12 Detachable (1.7 pounds) is one of the most portable laptops in the group.

The Pro 8’s redesigned rounded edges make it more comfortable than the ones before it… The anodized aluminum finish resembles a prop from The Batman, giving it a unique appearance compared to the now-common silver metal laptop. The austere design is spiced up by a mirrored Microsoft logo in the rear center of the stand.

If you saw the Surface Laptop Studio, you’ll see that the Surface Pro 8 has an exhaust system that wraps around the top and about one-third way down the sides of the laptop. Again, I’m sure this is for thermal reasons, but we like the attention to detail that lends individuality to it. It just has a volume rocker and a power button on the left side of the tablet section of the laptop.

Because it’s such a technological wonder, the kickstand has been left alone. You will discover a user-replaceable SSD when you open the kickstand, much as in the Surface Pro 7+. Whether you’re upgrading because your laptop’s hard drive failed or you just need more space, it’s great to see a notebook this small and light provide such an easy SSD process.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Ports

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Ports
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Microsoft goes all-in on with two Thunderbolt 4 ports on the right side of the Surface Pro 8. Microsoft’s excellent magnetic charging port, Surface Connect, is located immediately underneath them.

A headphone jack of 3.5mm and a Surface Type Cover port may be found on the Surface Pro 8’s left side.

Some may be disappointed by the absence of the USB Type-A connector and, to a lesser extent, the microSD card slot, but Thunderbolt 4 is the most forward-looking choice at this time, and having two ports rather than one is the cherry on top.

You may use the Thunderbolt 4 ports on a USB Type-C hub to connect anything else to your Surface Pro 8.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Display

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Display
xda-developers.com

Since the first Surface Pro, Microsoft’s PixelSense screens have always been top-notch, and the Pro 8 is no exception. The Surface Pro 8’s 13-inch (2,880 x 1,920 pixels) display has been improved in terms of brightness and color vibrancy. A laptop aspect ratio of 3:2 is an experience you haven’t had.

While it’s not the best choice for viewing movies, 3:2 is the best choice for anything that requires efficiency. As long as your eyes can take it, you can display a staggering amount of information on a single screen at 1080p.

The Surface Pro 8’s display is hard to top if you want to be mobile while still getting things done. Its huge bezels used to be its greatest detractor. The Dell XPS 13 still has the edge when it comes to thin bezels, but the Pro 8 has struck a nice middle-ground for a tablet.

From inactive battery pod fields in the gloomy post-apocalyptic real world to eye-searingly brilliant and colorful combat settings in the training program fight sequence, the Surface Pro 8 display successfully handles the radically diverse landscapes in Matrix Resurrections’ newest video. Even while the screen is very nice, it isn’t designed for content consumption and therefore will fall short of the finest in its class.

With a maximum brightness of 453 nits, Microsoft returned the ball to the Surface Pro 8’s court. Though it was just by a hair, the Surface Pro 8 managed to beat out the competition with its bright 488 nits, but both the detachable X12 and premium laptops were well behind it. 

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Touchpad and Keyboard

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Touchpad and Keyboard
cnet.com

The Microsoft Type Cover remains the same except for having a place for the Slim Pen 2 on top of it. To be clear, this is the proper way to do things. Surface Pro 8 and Type Cover are productivity powerhouses on a desk, but they’re not as portable as clamshell laptops because of the Type Cover.

The Alcantara fabric surface provides a somewhat soft typing experience, which is a nice change from the usual metallic or plastic palm grip design. This year’s modest increase in Surface Pro 8’s overall size helped with the key spacing as well.

As for typing speed, we achieved an accuracy rate of 97% on 10fastfingers.com typing test, which was a little better than my previous score of 86%. There are limitations to what can be done in this form factor, however, it allows for speed and precision as well as anything else I’ve tried.

With a 4 x 2.3-inch touchpad on Surface Pro 8, Windows 10 motions are no problem thanks to the larger surface area. When working on the desk, many prefer using a mouse exclusively, but when on the move, one can use the touch screen instead of the mouse.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Audio

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Audio
cnet.com

This is one of those design marvels that makes us wonder what the conventional clamshell laptop makers are thinking with their 2W stereo speakers and Dolby Atmos support. It’s as though they’ve never existed. Regardless of the advanced engineering, the Pro 8’s speakers had no problem filling my 18 by 12-foot listening area and remained clear and sharp even at maximum volume.

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga’s “Night And Day” didn’t sound as rich via wireless headphones as they would have with a decent set, but they were close. When working from home or watching Netflix or YouTube, this would be perfect background music.

The Surface Pro 8 features dual far-field studio microphones for audio input, as well.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Performance

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Performance
xda-developers.com

The Surface Pro 8 has gained considerable weight, and that can be seen in the performance numbers. Despite its small size, the Intel Core i7-1185G7 CPU with 16GB RAM and 256TB SSD packs a powerful punch.

With all due respect to Edge, my preferred testing browser is still Google Chrome. In Chrome, we had around twenty open tabs, with three 1080p YouTube videos and two Twitch streams among them. Despite all of this, we never heard a fan spin up, which was a pleasant surprise.

For those who love photography and videography more than freehand drawing, we had put the Surface Pro 8 to the test in Adobe Photoshop and Premiere. Although more powerful video and picture editing computers are available, We were pleasantly pleased by the Surface Pro 8’s quickness in both applications.

Our benchmarking yielded comparable findings. Geekbench 5.4 gave the Surface Pro 8 a score of 5,347.

In our Handbrake video converting test, the Surface Pro 8 took 13 minutes and 30 seconds to convert a 4K movie to a 1080p quality. Compared to the XPS 13  (15:52), this is almost two and a half minutes quicker, while the X12 Detachable, which is more tablet-like, is almost ten minutes faster (22:54).

The 256GB SSD in the Surface Pro 8 from Microsoft did not fare as well. It transferred 25GB of data at a rate of 415 megabytes per second, passing the test. However, it was faster than the X12 Detachable and the XPS 13 2-in-1.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Battery Life

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Battery Life
anandtech.com

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8’s battery life falls in the middle between impressive and disappointing. In our battery test, which includes continuous web browsing over Wi-Fi at a brightness level of 150 nits, it ran out of juice after 9 hours, 7 minutes. Considering the size, display, and processing power, that’s not too bad, but it’s not going to win any prizes either.

It was done with the display at 60Hz by default, thus if you increase it to 120Hz, the battery life will be reduced by around an hour. It’s great to have a smoother refresh rate, but most people won’t find it worthwhile.

While it’s an improvement over the Surface Pro 7’s (7:30) score, the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 (11:06) and Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 both score higher (10:52). We found that two additional hours in our test may make the difference between going through the day on a charge and having to find an outlet, especially for power users.

While not completely to blame, this is partially the result of the PixelSense display’s greater resolution (2880 x 1920), which is inherently much more power-hungry than its rivals’ FHD+ (1920 x 1200/1280) screens.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Webcam

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Webcam
fuentitech.com

The Surface Pro 8’s 5MP, 1080p camera is still one of the finest we’ve tried in any laptop or tablet. If you’re often video conferencing or video chatting from home, an external camera retains an advantage due to its portability, but the Surface Pro 8’s performance is on par with all except the very finest.

Windows Hello integration is also excellent, consistently securing the Surface Pro 8 and automatically logging me in when we turn it on without doing anything. Each laptop should be equipped with face recognition.

Additionally, the Surface Pro 8 has a 10 megapixels autofocus camera on the rear that supports 1080P or 4K video recording. We wouldn’t shoot a film using the Surface Pro 8, but it’s ideal for flipping the footage during a video conference to demonstrate anything.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Software & Warranty

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Software & Warranty
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The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 comes pre-installed with Windows 11. There are a few really lovely features on the Surface Pro 8 but do not get your expectations up too much.

On the bright side, although we may debate whether any of Microsoft’s applications qualify as bloatware, there is no evidence of any other odd apps or games taking your precious SSD space, which is always a pleasure to see.

A one-year limited warranty is included with the Surface Pro 8.

A Capable Machine

The Surface Pro 8 is capable, has a great screen, and can be used in a variety of ways. Instead of spending money on a separate tablet, you may use the iPad without the keyboard and watch movies in bed. When it comes to replacing your laptop, iPads have gone a long way. But for the majority of office activities, Windows’ desktop environment is still a better choice.

Sadly, many of the additional features—such as 120 Hz refresh rate or total maximum screen brightness—consume so much power that you’ll be looking for an outlet all the time.

So, what is the point of a 2-in-1?

Purchasing a 2-in-1 laptop/tablet hybrid saves you money by eliminating the need to purchase two different devices. Obviously, if you need, or believe you need, a tablet, this is a significant windfall for you.

In the event that you don’t care about having a tablet and don’t expect to use it very often, then buying a convertible notebook is a no-brainer for you. You can get a more powerful standard laptop for the same money. This is due to the fact that a 2-in-1’s additional tricks and versatility will almost probably come at a price premium over a normal laptop.

However, if you just plan to use a tablet in a few specific situations, it may be worth it to invest in a convertible model. You may not have to spend any more than you would for a typical laptop with the same specifications, and you may get a lot more freedom than you anticipated, as we’ll see next.

Advantages of a 2-in-1

The ability to convert your laptop to a tablet has several benefits in a variety of contexts. The ability to hold your computer screen as a light and portable tablet while sitting on the sofa is far more convenient than having to cope with the weight of a notebook while you’re half watching TV and half gazing at your computer screen.

Detachable 2-in-1s allow you to carry only the tablet component with you while you’re out and about; this fits much more readily in a backpack and is significantly more convenient to use on public transportation, for example. It’s OK to bring the keyboard portion if you’re going to be doing a lot of typing.

Because the manufacturer strives to make them as small as possible so they don’t seem cumbersome when used in tablet mode, even convertibles with a 360-degree hinge that don’t have a detachable keyboard are, generally speaking, slimmer than standard laptops. Standard laptops may, of course, also be ultrathin, but 2-in-1s put a higher value on this.

Using a 2-in-1 means you can use it as a tablet or in “stand” mode or “tent” mode, which are excellent options for giving presentations or watching a film. Hybrids are all about versatility.

A pen can be used on the touchscreen of your 2-in-1 exactly like a tablet, which gives you a lot of versatility while writing notes. You can take digital notes while listening to a lecture, for example.

Bottom Line

The Surface Pro 8’s modest improvements include a faster-refreshing screen, Thunderbolt 4 compatibility that was long overdue, and a return to extended battery life. With a beginning price increase of $350, it no longer has the pricing advantage it had against high-end ultraportable computers. The more money you spend on the Surface Pro, the more reservations you’ll have about it.

While using a pen on a tablet is a joy, the Surface Pro’s 120Hz display is what sold us on the device. In daily usage, it really does make a difference. It’s clear that Microsoft has some work to do to improve how it communicates the advantages to potential customers. Because of battery life, we can see why it’s deactivated by default. However, how would the ordinary user discover it if they’re not tech-savvy? Microsoft’s product website makes no mention of a 120Hz refresh rate as of the time of this writing.

However, despite the excellent typing experience and long battery life, this laptop isn’t inherently better than others in its price range. If you can only afford one high-end laptop-like device, the Surface Pro beats out an ultraportable by a wide margin.

That is the end of our Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review. We hope you thoroughly enjoyed it and that it will help you make a good buying decision.

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