Laptop Mag Verdict
The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 adds a larger display, a sleek new design, upgraded performance, and a few hundred dollars to its price tag.
Dual Thunderbolt 4 ports
Versatile 2-in-1 form factor
Battery life could be better
Keyboard and pen sold separately
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Microsoft’s Surface Pro has been a driving force in the 2-in-1 laptop market for years and the Surface Pro 8 represents an evolutionary change for the beloved laptop/tablet hybrid.
Without departing drastically from its iconic look, the Pro 8 makes subtle improvements to the Surface Pro as a tablet and a laptop. Upgrades include a larger display and more comfortable to use design, along with a much-needed internal upgrade.
Price: $1,099 (starting); $1,879 (as tested)
CPU: Intel Core i7-1185G7
GPU: Intel Iris Xe
Storage: 256GB SSD
Display: 13-inch, 120Hz (2880x1920)
Size: 11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches
Weight: 1.96 pounds
That includes an 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1185G7 processor and up to 32GB of RAM, components that bring some of the new features of Windows 11 to bear. These upgrades come at a tangible cost, with a starting price of $1,099 without the Type Cover or new Slim Pen 2.
The Surface Pro 8 certainly earns a spot among the current best 2-in-1 laptops, but read on to see whether the new hardware justifies the added cost for you.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 price and configuration options
The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 starts at $1,099; that model includes an 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and the new 13-inch PixelSense (2880 x 1920) at 120Hz display.
As always, with the Surface Pro, if you want the whole laptop experience, you need to spring for the keyboard as well, which is another $179, bringing that price up to $1,280. Microsoft’s new Slim Pen 2 is also available in a bundle with the keyboard for $279, meaning the entire Surface Pro 8 experience starts at $1,380.
My review unit is a mid-tier option at $1,599 with an upgraded Intel Core i7-1185G7 processor, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and the same PixelSense display. My review unit is a dark Graphite color, which is only available on some configurations; the base model and the higher-end options only come in the traditional Surface Pro Platinum finish.
The Surface Pro 8 tops out at $2,599 for the Intel Core i7-1185G7 processor, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and the PixelSense display. Again, tack on an extra $179 or $279 if you want the keyboard or keyboard and Slim Pen 2 combo.
Considering the Surface Pro 7 started at $749, there will be sticker shock for some Surface Pro fans. With that said, this is the first significant redesign of the Surface Pro since the Surface Pro 3, so read on to see if Microsoft earned the price bump.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 design
That larger screen necessitates a larger laptop, but not in all directions as Microsoft has blessedly slimmed down the bezels on the Pro 8. At 11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches and 1.96 pounds, it is slightly narrower but taller and thicker than the Surface Pro 7 (11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33, 1.74 pounds). The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (11.6 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches, 2.9 pounds) comes in quite a bit thicker and heavier due to its built-in keyboard, while the slim Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable at (11.2 x 0.8 x .03 inches, 1.7 pounds) is the most portable of the pack.
The re-sculpted rounded edges of the Pro 8 make it a more comfortable tablet than its predecessors. The anodized aluminum finish looks like a prop from The Batman in Graphite, offering a slightly different spin on the now all-to-common silver aluminum laptop. The mirrored Microsoft logo centered on the stand in the back gives some added interest to the otherwise stark look.
For those who took a look at the Surface Laptop Studio, the Surface Pro 8 picks up some of the DNA from that laptop with a minimal exhaust system wrapping the top and roughly one-third of the way down the sides. I’m sure this is a thermal benefit, but again, I like the little details that help give it a bit more of a personality. The tablet portion of the laptop is light on buttons with just a volume rocker on the left and the power button on the right.
The kickstand is rightly untouched as a technical marvel that doesn’t need any updates yet. However, when you pop open the kickstand, you will now find a user-replaceable SSD, like what we first saw on the Surface Pro 7+. Whether motivated by a hard drive failure or simply a desire for more space on your laptop, it is fantastic to see a laptop this thin and light offer such a simple SSD upgrade procedure.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 ports
The Surface Pro 8 goes all-in on Thunderbolt 4 ports with a pair on its right side. The Surface Connect port, Microsoft’s excellent magnetic charging port, is directly below them.
On the left side of the Surface Pro 8, you have a 3.5mm headphone jack, and on the bottom is a Surface Type Cover port.
The loss of the USB Type-A port and, to a lesser degree, the microSD card slot may be disappointing to some, but at this stage, Thunderbolt 4 is the most future-proofed option, and getting a pair of them rather than just one is icing on the cake.
Regardless of what else you might need to connect to your Surface Pro 8, a USB Type-C hub can handle it via those Thunderbolt 4 ports.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 display
Microsoft’s PixelSense displays in the Surface Pro lineup have been excellent for years and the Pro 8 doesn’t break that chain. The new 13-inch (2,880 x 1,920-pixel) display is brighter and more vivid than the Surface Pro 7's. and if you haven’t used a 3:2 aspect ratio laptop then you've been missing out.
While it is not ideal for watching videos, 3:2 is the superior option for any kind of productivity work. If your eyes can handle it at this resolution then you can fit an incredible amount of content on screen.
If you need to stay portable but get stuff done, it would be hard to beat the Surface Pro 8 from a display standpoint. The biggest knock against it in the past was its large bezels. While this updated model isn’t challenging the micro bezels of the Dell XPS 13, the Pro 8 has found a comfortable balance for a device that is, after all, a tablet.
Watching the latest trailer for Matrix Resurrections, the Surface Pro 8 display handles the wildly varied environments effectively, from the dormant fields of battery pods in the dark apocalyptic real world to the eye-searingly bright and colorful battle environments of the training program fight sequence. While the display is quite good, it isn’t built for content consumption and won’t hold up to the best in the category in that regard.
Our colorimeter backed this up with the Surface Pro 8 panel hitting 72% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. That is just a hair above the XPS 13 2-in-1 (70%), but behind the ThinkPad X12 Detachable (75%) and the premium laptop average (85%).
Brightness put the ball back in the Surface Pro 8’s court with a peak of 453 nits. The XPS 2-in-1 managed to slightly outclass it at 488 nits, but the X12 Detachable (376 nits) and premium laptop average (394 nits) were well behind.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 keyboard and touchpad
While it now offers a cozy home for the Slim Pen 2 at the top of the keyboard, the Microsoft Type Cover is otherwise unchanged. To be clear, that is as it should be. While it still isn’t as lap-friendly as a traditional clamshell laptop, on a desk, the Surface Pro 8 with the Type Cover is up there with the best of them as a productivity tool.
The Alcantara fabric surface gives a slightly plush feel to the typing surface, a welcome reprieve from the typical metallic or plastic palm wrest. The key spacing is fantastic as well, helped along this year by the slight increase to the overall size of the Surface Pro 8.
Testing my typing speed, I averaged 88 words per minute with 97% accuracy on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, slightly faster than my 86 wpm average. There are limits to what can be achieved in this form factor, but it is as good as anything I’ve used in terms of allowing for speed and accuracy.
The 4 x 2.3-inch surface of the touchpad on the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is slightly taller than it has been in the past and large enough for Windows 10 gestures. At my desk, I always stick to my mouse anyway, but when I’m on the go, I do find myself frequently reaching up and using the touch display rather than the touchpad.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 audio
The Surface Pro 8’s 2W stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos are one of those design feats that have me wondering what many traditional clamshell laptop manufacturers are doing. It simply obliterates them. Regardless of the engineering wizardry involved, the speakers in the Pro 8 had no difficulty filling my 18 x 12-foot listening space and, even at full volume, remained crisp and clear.
I listened to “Night And Day” by Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga and the peppy vocals and big band behind them weren’t as rich as you would get with a good pair of wireless headphones, but it wasn’t far off, either. I’d happily use this for my background music while working in my home office or watching Netflix or YouTube.
When it comes to audio input, the Surface Pro 8 has you covered as well with dual far-field studio mics.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 performance
As I covered in the design section, the Surface Pro 8 bulked up a little, and performance is one area where we see some of that extra muscle. The Intel Core i7-1185G7 processor with 16GB of RAM and a 256TB SSD gives this 2-in-1 a surprising amount of power behind its punch.
With apologies to Edge, I still turn to Google Chrome for my primary browser in testing. I loaded up two dozen tabs in Chrome, including three YouTube videos running at 1080p and two Twitch streams. Not only did it handle all of this with ease, but I never once heard a fan spin up.
While my freehand artistic skills are slimmer than the Slim Pen 2, I do enjoy photography and videography, so I put the Surface Pro 8 through its paces in Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Pro. Obviously, there are more robust video and photo editing laptops that will churn through projects much faster, but I was pleasantly surprised by the responsiveness of both apps on the Surface Pro 8.
The results of our benchmarking proved similar. The Surface Pro 8 managed a Geekbench 5.4 overall performance score of 5,347. That’s not enough to outclass the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (5,571, Core i7-1165G7), but it blew past the ThinkPad X12 Detachable (4,778), the Surface Pro 7+ (4,825, Core i5-1135G7) and the category average (4,212).
Our Handbrake video transcoding test requires the laptop to convert a 4K video to 1080p resolution and here, the Surface Pro 8 shone at 13 minutes and 30 seconds. That’s almost two and a half minutes faster than the XPS 13 2-in-1 (15:52) and close to 10 minutes faster than its more tablet-like counterpart, the X12 Detachable (22:54).
The Microsoft Surface Pro 8’s 256GB SSD didn’t hold up quite as well. It completed our 25GB file transfer test with a 415 megabyte per second transfer rate. That was behind the XPS 13 2-in-1 (503 MBps) and the category average (604 MBps), but enough to eclipse the X12 Detachable (408 MBps).
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 battery life
The battery life on the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 manages to neither impress nor bitterly disappoint. It called it quits at 9 hours and 7 minutes in our battery test which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. That's not terrible considering the form factor, the display and performance, but it’s not going to take home any awards, either.
That battery test was conducted with the display at its default 60Hz; crank it up to its full 120Hz refresh rate and we would expect it to drop by roughly an hour. While the smoother refresh rate is nice, this probably won’t be worth it for most users.
That score is a solid step up from the Surface Pro 7 (7:30) but doesn’t hold up as well against more modern competition like the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable (11:06) and the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (10:52). Particularly for users who push their systems harder, that extra two hours in our test could mean the difference between getting through a full day on a charge or being forced to track down an outlet.
While it isn’t entirely responsible, this is, to some degree, the price you pay for that higher resolution (2880 x 1920) PixelSense display, which is naturally much more power-hungry than the FHD+ (1920 x 1200/1280) displays of its competitors.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 webcam
The 5MP, 1080p webcam in the Surface Pro 8 is still among the best in any laptop or tablet that I’ve tested. If you are regularly video conferencing or video chatting from home, an external webcam still has an edge for their flexibility, but the results from the Surface Pro 8 are on par with all but the very best of them.
Windows Hello integration is fantastic as well, reliably keeping the Surface Pro 8 secure then instantly logging me in when I power it on without needing to touch a thing. Every laptop should have facial recognition.
The Surface Pro 8 also features a 10MP autofocus camera on the back with either 1080P or 4K video capture available. I wouldn’t set out to make a film with the Surface Pro 8 as my camera, but it is perfect if you're flipping the video around during a video conference to show or demo something.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 software and warranty
For better and for worse, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 ships with Windows 11. Read our full review for a more in-depth look at what to expect from Microsoft’s updated operating system. There are a few genuinely nice touches for the Surface Pro 8, just don’t set your hopes too high.
On the plus side, while we might be able to quibble about whether you consider some of Microsoft’s apps to be bloatware, there is no sign of any other random apps or games stealing your precious SSD space, and that’s always a joy to see.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 isn’t a quantum leap forward from its predecessors. Still, it makes enough crucial upgrades to an already excellent 2-in-1 tablet to once again put it among the top 2-in-1 laptops.
The added screen size and reduced bezels make for a more modern look, while the rounded edges give it a much more tablet-friendly feel backed up by some of the new software touches in Windows 11. For creatives or prolific note-takers, the new Slim Pen 2 combined with the Type Cover gives you a built-in stylus with a tactile feel that makes for an improved inking experience.
A bit more battery life would have been outstanding and the price jump may be hard for some to swallow. However, taken as a whole, the Surface Pro 8 is a solid addition to the Surface lineup and a compelling option for those looking to upgrade their laptop for the move to Windows 11.
Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more. Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.