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Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review: A superior Windows 11 tablet

At a glance

Expert’s Ranking

Pros

  • Outstanding monitor: larger, bigger-res, bigger refresh charge
  • Inking is a enjoyment
  • Superior audio, with louder speakers
  • New optional Kind Include integrates pen perfectly

Downsides

  • Webcam may well require some tweaking
  • Pen and keyboard still price tag extra
  • Even now pricey

Our Verdict

The Surface Professional 8 features an outstanding improve to Microsoft’s tablet lineup, with excellent efficiency, inking, and audio, with superior value for the funds.

Cost When Reviewed

$1,599.ninety nine

Ideal Price ranges These days

Retailer
Selling price
Supply
B & H Photo
$1099.ninety nine
Free of charge
Microsoft
$1599.99
Amazon
Not Available
Cost-free
Adorama
Not Readily available
Cost-free

Microsoft’s Area Pro 8 pill arrives as Windows eleven goes out the door. Microsoft has already transported a person pill this year, the Surface Pro 7+, which rose to the top rated of our roundup of the ideal Windows tablets of 2021. Can the Area Pro 8 increase upon it?

Of course. The Floor Pro 8 boldly strides forward with a larger sized, larger resolution, speedier display screen, a revamped inking working experience spearheaded by the optional Surface area Trim Pen two, and a pair of Thunderbolt ports that complement the legacy Surface Link charger. It’s a extraordinary remodeling of the iconic Floor Pro tablet line, and which is more than enough to get your consideration.

Editor’s Be aware: Our original critique famous some placing variation in some benchmarks, and efficiency in some benchmarks that appeared out of line with some others. We notified Microsoft about these inconsistencies ahead of publishing our unique evaluate, and they offered no explanation by push time. Immediately after our evaluate posted, they requested us to update our overview unit once again and re-check our benchmarks. The scores improved, substantially in areas. We’ve up to date our benchmark charts, the assessment textual content, and our rating to reflect this. Our authentic review should be archived right here.

Our initial evaluation theorized that some conversation concerning the new Surface Professional eight components, the new Windows 11 working process, and the firmware/motorists required to work the two brought about the inconsistent actions. We would very persuade buyers to assure that their Area Professional eight is current via Windows Update prior to extensively using this gadget.

Microsoft Surface area Pro 8 technical specs

For now, there’s a person critical improve in configuration concerning the Surface Pro seven+ for Small business and the newest Surface area Pro 8: The Surface area Professional eight lacks an reasonably priced Main i3 choice, and so its base price tag is $100 higher, at $1,099. The great news is that all of the Floor Professional eight solutions Microsoft is selling should really offer plenty of computational electrical power and memory for any buyer. Our evaluate unit also lacked cellular abilities, so we did not check those.

Microsoft carries on to offer the Surface’s companion keyboard and the pen individually, though there is an explicit keyboard/pen bundle that Microsoft will offer for an supplemental $279.99. The Floor Professional 8 has been designed with the new Surface area Slender Pen two in mind, nevertheless, and Microsoft states you are going to expertise lessened e-ink latency/lag if you use it.

  • Screen: 13-inch PixelSense Move (2880×1920, 267 PPI)
  • Processor: Consumer: (Main i5-1135G7, Main i7-1185G7) Business: (Main i3-1115G4, Main i5-1145G7, Main i7-1185G7)
  • Graphics: UHD (Main i3), Iris Xe (Main i5, i7)
  • Memory: eight/sixteen/32GB LPDDR4x RAM (16GB as tested)
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB detachable SSD 512GB/1TB SSD (256GB as tested)
  • Ports: 2 USB-C (USB 4./Thunderbolt 4), one Surface Connect port, Floor Form Protect Port, three.5mm jack
  • Stability: Camera (Home windows Good day)
  • Digicam: 5MP/1080p (person-experiencing), 10MP (rear-going through)
  • Battery: 50.2Wh (design), 51.3Wh (entire cost)
  • Wireless: WiFi six (802.11ax), Bluetooth five.1 optional LTE: 1, two, three, 4, five, seven, 8, 12, thirteen, 14, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, thirty, 38, 39, 40, 41, sixty six
  • Operating process: Consumer: Home windows eleven Dwelling Business: Home windows ten Professional or Home windows eleven Pro
  • Proportions: 11.3 x eight.2 x .37in.
  • Body weight: 1.96lb (as specified)
  • Color: Platinum, Graphite
  • Cost: Starting at $one,099.ninety nine, $1,599.99 as reviewed
  • Optional add-ons: Floor Slender Pen 2: $129.99, Area Trim Pen Charger: $34.99, Floor Professional Signature Keyboard w/ Trim Pen two Bundle: $279.ninety nine, Surface area Pro Signature Keyboard: $179.99 (Alcantara Ice Blue, Poppy Pink, Platinum, Black), Surface area Pro Keyboard: $139.99

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 charges

  • Core i5/8GB RAM/128 GB SSD: $one,099.ninety nine (Platinum)
  • Main i5/eight/256: $one,199.99 (Platinum, Graphite)
  • Core i5/eight/512: $one,399.ninety nine (Platinum, Graphite)
  • Core i5/sixteen/256 – $1,399.99 (Platinum, Graphite)
  • Core i7/16/256 – $one,599.ninety nine (Platinum, Graphite)
  • Main i7/sixteen/512 – $one,899.ninety nine (Platinum, Graphite)
  • Main i7/16/1TB – $2,199.ninety nine (Platinum)
  • Core i7/32/1TB – $two,599.ninety nine (Platinum)

Two several years in the past, the Surface area Pro X showcased the long run of Microsoft’s Surface area Pro pill lineup. Today’s Surface area Professional eight has been redesigned in its impression, with a pair of Thunderbolt ports and an built-in charging cubby for the Area Slender Pen 2. That can be a very little disconcerting for extensive-expression Area owners, as Microsoft has moved issues all-around. The electric power button is now on the facet of the tablet, for case in point.

Nevertheless the Surface Professional 8 is now marginally heavier and chunkier than its predecessors, you’ll need to have to review them side by aspect to observe. Or else, the Area Pro eight appears to be like the exact same as it emerges from the box. Ideally you’ve currently obtained the Area Pro Signature Keyboard to get entire gain.

Like other Surface area Pro products courting again to the Surface Pro three, the tablet reclines to virtually horizontal. The Floor Pro’s Signature magnetic keyboard, nevertheless, clasps it firmly. If that issues to you, get a Surface Pro eight. Rival tablets don’t invest more than enough in the magnetic connection, and a tablet on your lap already challenges flipping backwards above your knees.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 left side reclined
On the still left-hand side of the Floor Pro 8 sits the quantity rocker and headphone jack.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Microsoft ships the Surface Professional 8, as it ships most of its Floor units, dialed down to nominal efficiency amounts. Even though you give up a bit in conditions of effectiveness, this also suggests that the Surface Professional eight rarely engages its cooling enthusiast, and it only does so very quietly when important. (You can change the general performance within the Home windows 11 Settings menu, specially Method > Energy & battery.) Slim grillwork operates along both sides of the pill, delivering cooling. Usually, Floor tablets get warm to warm alongside the upper rear panel, and the SP8 is no exception.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 color gamut
The colour gamut for the Floor Pro eight, as measured by our Datacolor SpyderX colorimeter.

Mark Hachman / IDG

With the Floor Professional 8, Microsoft is introducing a marginally much larger 13-inch (2,880x one,920) multitouch “PixelSense Flow” screen that preserves the 3:two display ratio, compared to the 12.3-inch (2736×1824) shows we have typically been given as section of the Surface area Pro lineup. At first, Microsoft instructed us that the PixelSense Stream display screen would dynamically change again and forth between the regular 60Hz refresh amount and a new 120Hz refresh fee, a function identified as Dynamic Refresh Price. Higher refresh costs are much easier on the eyes and would also improve inking, as the pen’s ink would “flow” more smoothly onto the monitor.

Microsoft’s Dynamic Refresh Rate element did not make it to the Surface Pro 8, sadly. As a substitute, Microsoft locked the refresh level at 60Hz, while you can manually change it through the Settings menu (Procedure > Display screen > Advanced Screen) to the bigger a hundred and twenty Hz setting. Executing so would suggest that your battery existence would lower, but we did not expertise that. We’ll communicate extra about this during our overall performance exams, specially the battery lifestyle area.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 right side reclined
On the right-hand facet sits the Floor Link energy port, the two Thunderbolt/USB-C ports, and the electric power button.

Mark Hachman / IDG

With the Floor Professional 8, the Floor Pro line makes a main changeover to Thunderbolt, an increased I/O capability that has existed on rival notebooks and tablets for some time. The Surface Pro 8 includes a pair of Thunderbolt ports on 1 aspect, and has completed away with the older USB Kind-A port totally. (Contrary to the Floor Professional X, Microsoft has fortunately integrated a headphone jack, as well.) This permits the Surface Pro eight to link to a tiny but rising ecosystem of Thunderbolt docks, and demand from them too—provided that they are run. That gives SP8 buyers the option to both cost directly from the included 65W Area charger, or tap into a Thunderbolt dock.

The sacrifice? Microsoft has completed absent with the microSD slot for this era, a tacit drive for persons to upload their photographs specifically to the Microsoft OneDrive cloud. If you need to have a bodily microSD port, you have a range of fantastic USB-C dongles to choose from.

Audio

We didn’t listen to any substantive qualitative differences between the Surface area Pro 8 and before Floor tablets, but the speakers are without a doubt louder: they are now 2W speakers, versus the 1.6W speakers applied by the Area Pro 7+. Like the earlier product, they also use Dolby Atmos, which is constructed in and not truly adjustable by the user exterior of the standard audio configurations. Our Surface Pro 7+ review pointed out that the speakers sounded to some degree flatter and softer, and it appears that Microsoft has rectified this in the Floor Pro eight.

In standard, the audio is undoubtedly amid the greater options for tablets, and appears as good or far better than some laptops. You will not require headphones to appreciate music on the Surface area Professional 8.

Typing practical experience and keyboard

Microsoft’s Floor Professional Signature Keyboard, bought individually, does not appear to be to be just about anything distinct than what Microsoft has available in conjunction with previous Surface area Pro tablets. As observed previously mentioned, the magnetic hinge clasps the keyboard tightly to the pill, releasing you of the panic of working on your lap. On a desktop, the Surface Professional 8’s keyboard feels snug, set just, with a satisfactory total of essential travel and resilience. You need to be capable to the use the keyboard easily for an entire working day without any extra pressure on your wrists or fingers.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 keyboard
The Signature Keyboard connects to the pill, and supplies a light-weight, snug typing experience.

Mark Hachman / IDG

The touchpad also seems to have remained unchanged. It’s basically clickable for pretty much the entirety of the trackpad, though you’ll have to exert an unreasonable quantity for force at the leading of the trackpad for the clicks to register. However a little bit plasticky, the trackpad is comfortable to use.

What is new for the Surface tablet line is that the Surface area Pro 8’s new Signature Keyboard involves a pen cubby for the Slim Pen 2, which appears to be the future of Microsoft’s pens. As we mentioned in our greatest tablet roundup, not each individual tablet keyboard that incorporates these new pens has a potent magnetic connection. The keyboard folds up, also, keeping the pen securely while charging it. It’s a wonderful design and completely eliminates the hazard of dropping a pen even though the Floor Professional eight is saved within your bag or backpack.

Inking

Like the Surface Notebook Studio, inking is a precedence on the Area Pro 8. The Floor Professional 8 uses the Microsoft Pen Protocol in conjunction with the Area Slender Pen two. Even though I’m not a expert illustrator, my impression is that employing Microsoft’s two-button Surface Slender Pen two is additional correct on the Floor Pro eight, perhaps in section for the reason that the screen features extra pixel density than the Surface Laptop Studio. Pairing the Slim Pen 2 is a breeze, so much that it seemed like the pen paired as soon as I connected the keyboard. You can launch apps by urgent a button, and “erase” just by rubbing the leading of the pen from the display screen.

The Trim Pen 2 also involves haptic comments, so that you’ll “feel” interactions with shapes on Microsoft Whiteboard, for case in point. This could in fact be an assistive technological know-how dressed up as a new buyer function, but I wouldn’t get a Slim Pen two for this.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 keyboard cubby Slim Pen 2
The Surface area Trim Pen 2 (marketed independently) sits neatly in its dedicated charging cubby.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Don’t price reduction the rechargeable pen, possibly, or its cubby! The days of hoping to hunt down a AAAA battery for your Floor Pen are more than. (Microsoft states that earlier Surface area Pens will however operate, but that you will not see the identical lessened latency as you will even though utilizing the Floor Slender Pen two.

I manually adjusted the display refresh amount to one hundred twenty Hz to see the enhanced inking benefits, some thing that Microsoft had initially pledged that it would do dynamically. In any situation, I did not see any line offsets, in which ink flows from a distinct site from where the pen touches, even with the pen at an angle. There is continue to a small bit of ink latency as you shift about the web site, but, to me, it wasn’t important. It also appears that the the pen jitter—where the pen’s traces ripple again and forth—is significantly less than the Surface Notebook Studio or past Floor Professional tablets. When we didn’t evaluate the inking potential to a focused Wacom pill, it’s reasonable to say that the Slim Pen 2 provides an extraordinary inking working experience.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 ink jitter test
This is what we observed when we analyzed the Floor Pro 8 to figure out the ink jitter, or how very well the pen tracked our actions. We designed these strains by drawing in the pill with a straight edge. They should really be beautifully straight, but there is still a slight wiggle or rippling impact when drawing bit by bit. In all, on the other hand, it is rather good.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Camera

As the organization guiding the Teams videoconferencing software package, Microsoft intrinsically understands that men and women want to seem great on digicam all through meetings or just chatting with pals. Even though the Surface area Professional 8’s consumer-experiencing digital camera even now shoots just 1080p movie, Microsoft has additional ambient colour and lighting sensors, far too. The latter sensor does a better position of highlighting your picture employing the appropriate publicity, even though the colour sensor will instantly change the coloration of your display to compensate for the ambient light.

Unfortunately, if the coloration sensor’s position is to show the webcam’s issue in the finest light, it needs some perform as the image underneath signifies.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 webcam
I’m Irish on my mother’s aspect, but I unquestionably have not been this “sunburned” in a although. This is not shade-exact where by my skin tone is anxious!

Mark Hachman / IDG

Microsoft also improved its rear-going through digital camera, far too, incorporating a 10Mpixel digital camera sensor, up from 8MP. We’re not the sort that usually takes shots with a tablet, but the additional resolution undoubtedly just can’t damage.

We have been hoping that the Windows Good day 2. attribute that Microsoft disclosed to us would be enabled on these machines. Home windows Howdy 2. supposedly can interpret your deal with even with a beard, eyeglasses, or an N95 mask on. We tested the latter and…no dice. Windows couldn’t established up a new confront profile with a mask on, and could not recognize me with one particular on, both.

Efficiency

Our first testing confirmed astonishingly inconsistent conduct when jogging our standard suite of benchmarks, which we have famous in the introduction. Following publication, Microsoft asked for that we re-operate our benchmarks to double-check out the anomalies. We yet again up to date the Area Professional 8 to the most up-to-date Microsoft motorists and re-ran the benchmarks. This time, we received steady results.

Microsoft also asked for that we insert general performance benchmarks for the Floor Pro 8 at its optimum overall performance configurations. Microsoft commonly ships its critique units with efficiency dialed down to a minimum to reduce enthusiast sound. The levels of competition typically makes use of possibly “balanced” settings or dials them up to greatest, way too. We’ve additional these revised Floor Professional eight figures with previous evaluations, so we did so once again. In the charts beneath, the highest performance options are outlined in black.

It is truly worth noting that the retests resulted in considerable discrepancies in the Cinebench benchmark our prolonged functionality check, Handbrake and, to a lesser extent, in PCMark ten. Our checks of 3D graphics overall performance remained unchanged. Battery life greater a bit.

From a usability standpoint, the Surface area Professional eight performs nicely. Our 4K streaming take a look at video clip rendered dropped just 8 frames out of 10,000 or so, which usually means that video clip will stream jitter free even at higher resolutions. With the similar GPU as the Surface Professional seven+, you should really hope comparable gameplay if you select to go that route—plan on actively playing online games at 1080p options on Higher. This is a small business and inking pill, however, 1st and foremost.

We have compared the Microsoft Area Pro 8 to the Surface Professional seven+ and Floor Pro seven, of program, as properly as some of the other tablets in our current pill roundup. The important details of comparison are the Dell Latitude 7320 Detachable and the Lenovo ThinkPad Detachable Gen 1, which straight contend in opposition to the Surface area Professional eight. We’ve highlighted those tablets with a lighter shade of blue in the charts in this portion. Technically, the Surface area Go two is also a scaled-down pill competitor. We’ve also added notebooks like the Microsoft Surface Laptop computer three and Floor Notebook 4 as additional factors of comparison

We use the PCMark check to evaluate how the pill will fare under general computing workloads. The take a look at measures videoconferencing, term processing, some light-weight gaming, CAD operate, software startup, and additional. Below, the Floor Pro 8 performs up to anticipations, with increased gen-about-gen effectiveness.

Surface Pro 8 PCMark 10 rerun
At default configurations, the Surface area Professional 8’s performance in our everyday PCMark ten benchmark falls just beneath its tablet level of competition. If you pick to dial up overall performance, your final results will boost as effectively.

Mark Hachman / IDG

The Cinebench R15 benchmark actions synthesized CPU overall performance, with the implication that overall performance will scale on the CPU-dependent applications that we cannot specially exam. In our first batch of benefits, overall performance was all over the map — some success were 50 % of the some others. Soon after our re-run, the benchmark scores diversified by just a handful of per cent. We’ve averaged them alongside one another to develop a composite score.

Cinebench actions the effectiveness of all of the CPU cores and threads doing the job alongside one another in concert, which is mirrored in this article. The SP8’s solitary-core result was 188, which is also great.

Surface Pro 8 Cinebench rerun
The Floor Professional 8’s CPU effectiveness is outstanding under our revised screening final results.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Cinebench R23, a extra sophisticated edition of the benchmark, presents a way to check out regardless of whether thermal concerns may be at participate in: run a single check, then loop the check in excess of and more than for ten minutes and evaluate the effects. Our scores ended up comparable—2,895 vs . two,867—which led me to question that the Floor Professional 8 has any thermal concerns the place the CPU is involved.

We initially noticed extra anomalies in the Handbrake test, which works by using a free instrument to transcode video clip into a structure formatted for an Android tablet. It is a true-planet application, nevertheless less so in a earth where by Netflix movies can be saved to a notebook. We measure the time Handbrake normally takes to finish the task as a way to determine the two the performance of the tablet as well as its capacity to hold neat over a long period of time of time. In our retesting, nonetheless, these anomalies disappeared, and we report what we take into account to be the tablet’s genuine functionality in our chart down below.

Surface Pro 8 Handbrake rerun
Only the Surfacer Laptop computer 4 outperformed the Area Pro eight in our Handbrake tests.

Mark Hachman / IDG

In graphics, however, the Surface Pro 8 delivered dependable success. Below, we made use of the 3DMark Time Spy check, and the Iris Xe GPU performed excellently.

Surface Pro 8 3DMark Time Spy rerun 2
Microsoft may perhaps be running the Iris Xe at a bigger clock charge to obtain amplified performance, but it’s paying out off.

Mark Hachman / IDG

At last, we examined battery daily life. Battery lifetime is starting to be progressively much more complicated to check, as far more notebook makers insert sensors that detect the ambient brightness of the display and change the output accordingly. (Smartphones do this routinely.) The wrinkles that the Surface Professional eight adds to this are threefold. Microsoft and Windows will adjust the “content” of movie remaining played again, to preserve battery daily life modifying the display screen refresh charge will have an effect on battery lifestyle, as well. Ultimately, our Area Pro eight evaluation device decided right after a couple days to employ “smart charging,” a new characteristic that stops the battery from becoming billed past eighty p.c. We were being notified by Microsoft that the Surface area application can be used to switch this aspect off if you’d like your battery to cost to its most prospective.

All this signifies that there are simply way too lots of variables to current you with a complete image of how extensive the Surface area Professional 8’s battery will very last. We generally run down a laptop computer battery by looping a 4K online video in excess of and in excess of right up until it expires, and we did that listed here. We re-ran rundown exams wherever we disabled the lights sensor (however not the information adjustment) to provide a repeatable while worst-scenario situation. (We did not check with overall performance set to highest.)

At nine hrs 23 minutes you should get a total workday’s use out of the Surface area Pro eight. Dialing up the refresh amount to 120Hz did not look to actually decreased the battery lifestyle at all, as the pill expired after 628 minutes.

Surface Pro 8 battery life rerun

Mark Hachman / IDG

Turning off the two the lights and material adjustment capabilities on the Surface area Pro 8 shipped an dreadful battery existence of 375 minutes, or 6 several hours 15 minutes. That’s at a 60Hz refresh amount, far too. That is not the default configuration, however, and you would have to have to modify the tablet’s configurations inside the Settings menu to attain that rating. (This result was also component of our unique set of tests benefits, far too.)

With our next operate of tests, we now come to feel at ease in stating that the Area Pro 8 provides effectiveness that exceeds its opposition, or at the very least matches it in most conditions.

Summary

All of this offers a problem: How properly do we know the Area Professional 8? From a hardware viewpoint, quite perfectly: We can absolutely see the value of the greater, top-quality screen, and the tablet’s audio seems good, way too. Sure, the webcam seems to need to have a minimal perform, but which is a tweak it should really be equipped to carry out quickly.

Fortunately, following our retesting with new updates we now know a great deal more about how the Surface Pro eight performs, as very well, and we’re left with a much a lot more optimistic perception. Primarily, your tablet choices boil down to the superb Dell Latitude 7320 Removable and the very fantastic Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Removable Gen one tablet, as well. A critical difference listed here is rate: our Lenovo assessment tablet is priced at $one,331, whilst the Dell costs $2,189. Our Floor Professional 8 critique device expenses $1,599. Of course, paying $one,500 for a pill is nonetheless a great deal to inquire, but the Surface area Professional eight merely delivers so a lot far more than its present-day level of competition.

We’re not joyful with how swiftly Microsoft pushed this tablet into our arms, and our first unfavorable response is continue to justified. That was then, having said that. Microsoft’s Floor Professional eight now gives major-edge overall performance at a aggressive price, as well as a top rated-notch display screen and inking knowledge. We believe that the Surface area Professional eight is simply just the most effective Home windows pill on the sector correct now.