The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 brings welcome updates to the family, which now includes Intel’s EVO platform. It features a larger screen, faster processing and connectivity, and Windows 11. We purchased and tested the entry-level $1,698 model, and when paired with the optional keyboard, we found that it was one of the most versatile tablets on the market. You can choose more powerful configurations from the get-go if you have the money, but if you add the right accessories (and there are plenty to choose from), whatever model you start with could easily be the only computer you you need. This will quickly cost you big bucks, but the end result might just be worth it.
Price: From $1698
How does Surface Pro 8 work?
We picked the entry-level model with a 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5-1135G7 main processor, 8GB of RAM and Intel Iris Xe graphics (using shared memory) and 256GB of storage at semi- drivers.
i5 and i7 models with 256GB or more of storage are built on Intel’s EVO platform, which includes 11th Gen Intel Core processors and Intel Iris Xe graphics, Wi-Fi 6 wireless networking, High-speed Thunderbolt 4 ports (USB Type-C) and Suite.
As you’d expect with newer CPU and graphics chip models, all of our benchmarks showed decent improvements over the previous generation, with graphics in particular getting a noticeable boost.
This means that even the entry-level Surface Pro 8 is a good device for gaming in general, but not so much for the most demanding elite titles. With a 256 GB SSD (like the one in our test) you can’t install many great games easily anyway. If you want more storage, you can opt for the 512GB Intel Core i5 model for $2099.
Choosing the right model to start with is crucial if you want to build the mobile PC of your dreams
Or if you’re really serious about building your dream mobile PC, you can step up the price ladder to a more powerful starting point such as the Intel Core i7 version with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD. for $2698, or go even further with the Core i7 with 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage for $3299. But don’t forget to factor in the additional cost of the keyboard (see below) and any other external modules.
To cope with heavy processing demands, our Surface Pro 8 included a fan, which is vented through small holes around the top half of the back of the tablet. It seems to work well, as there was no noticeable fan noise when we ran full CPU loads in the 3D rendering tests.
And the cooling system works so well that there were no overheating issues. We only found slight warmth on the back of the tablet during heavy processing.
Bigger and better screen
The screen has grown from its predecessor’s 12.3-inches to 13-inches and it’s impressive, with a higher resolution (2880 x 1920 pixels) making it better for apps that require a lot of screen real estate. Microsoft’s “Adaptive Colour” feature causes the screen’s color temperature to automatically change to match ambient lighting, similar to Apple’s True Tone feature, which should make it easier on the eyes in different environments.
The screen is larger, with higher resolution and faster refresh rate, producing vivid and detailed images
The PixelSense Flow touchscreen also has a refresh rate of up to 120Hz, which is a boost over the previous model. In practical terms, this means that when scrolling through long documents or encountering scrolling text on the screen, you’re unlikely to experience noticeable blurring.
Brightness has been bumped up (measured at a very respectable 424 nits), and we rated the screen as very good overall. Images were vivid, although we found the colors a bit warm in testing against our reference screen, but most people will probably find it appealing. Viewing angles were excellent, as was contrast, which showed clear detail in both dark and light areas of our test image.
body and keyboard
The Surface Pro 8 remains easy to handle due to its light weight and slim profile, although it’s a bit larger and heavier than its predecessor, thanks in part to the addition of an active cooling system .
Our Surface Pro 8 weighed 1188 grams with keyboard and pen (896g for tablet only), compared to 1078 grams for the Surface Pro 7 (774g for tablet only).
We added the optional (but highly recommended) Surface Pro Signature Keyboard with Slim Pen 2 ($429.95) so we can use the Surface Pro 8 as a laptop as well as a tablet.
The addition of the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard with Slim Pen 2 transforms the Surface Pro 8 tablet into a versatile 2-in-1 laptop alternative.
The build quality, as usual, is top-notch, and the integrated rear kickstand adjusts almost 180 degrees to allow the screen to lie almost flat for writing and drawing.
The magnet that holds the keyboard in place is of impressive strength and inspires confidence in its handling, especially when you’re on the go. Meanwhile, the screen and keyboard cover snap into place with a satisfying click, as has always been the case with Surface devices.
Powerful magnet joining screen and keyboard inspires confidence when handling on the go
This is in stark contrast to the competing Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+ which also attaches magnetically, but with a significantly weaker connection meaning the screen and keyboard can separate far too easily.
Microsoft’s Slim Pen 2 is easy to handle and delivers smooth writing and drawing performance. It also doesn’t roll away when left on a table and is easy to store in the keyboard spine area (there’s no storage point for it on the tablet itself).
Make the right connections
Connectivity includes Wi-Fi 6, which provided very good wireless transfer speeds in our tests, plus two popular high-speed (40Gbps) Thunderbolt 4 (USB Type-C) ports on the side right. These offer the ability to also run dual external monitors for additional full-window multitasking. There’s also Microsoft’s proprietary power connector, although USB-C can also be used for power (unlike the previous model).
The profile view on either side shows the two high-speed Thunderbolt 4 ports that allow for the addition of a range of external peripherals, from large displays to storage.
The addition of the two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports gives the Surface Pro 8 an edge over most other tablets, as they add versatility as well as external connectivity speed. This tablet really can be used as a primary computer at home or in the office when the right docking station is plugged in, whether it’s Microsoft’s Surface Dock 2 ($420) or a third-party docking station. .
Along with adding external monitors for more screen real estate, you can access fast external storage and add USB Type-A ports for plugging in older devices.
Surprisingly, Microsoft has removed the microSD card slot that resided under the kickstand from previous models. It would have been nice to keep it to add more semi-permanent storage to the unit that you can easily set up in seconds.
The internal storage is replaceable, so it can be upgraded later, but you can’t do it yourself.
It’s not all bad news on the storage front. The main storage chip is designed to be replaceable, so you can upgrade your storage on the trail.
However, you cannot do this yourself, so you will need to have it done by a licensed technician. Still, it’s better than being stuck with an internal chip that you can’t upgrade later to something bigger and better.
Kudos to Microsoft for this initiative to improve sustainability. It would be nice to see this kind of functionality appear on more tablets.
Another surprise is how much the audio has improved. It’s rich and powerful, delivering clear and detailed sound, with noticeable bass response, which is impressive for a tablet. We rate the Surface Pro 8’s audio performance as very good, and you can comfortably use it for personal listening.
In our “worst-case” heavy-use tests, the Surface Pro 8 gave us nearly 5.5 hours of battery life, which is half an hour longer than what we measured for the Surface Pro. 7. Microsoft claims up to 16 hours based on typical Surface device usage. , but with minimized settings for maximum battery life. In normal use, it should easily give you a full day without any anxiety, so you can leave the charger at home when you’re on the go.
All things considered, and when you buy it with the optional keyboard cover, the Surface Pro 8 is one of the most versatile tablets around.