The Surface Pro 8 is its biggest redesign in 6 years. Here’s what’s new

The rumors were true. Microsoft just announced both the Surface Pro 8 and a new Wi-Fi-only Surface Pro X model at its annual Surface event. Coming on October 5 with Windows 11 on board, these new devices address concerns from Surface’s past, and seek to push Windows and Microsoft’s hardware to new levels.

The biggest highlight of the fall 2021 Surface lineup is the new Surface Pro 8, announced at the annual Surface hardware event. The Surface Pro 8 starts at $1,099 and delivers one of the most significant changes to the lineup since the Surface Pro 3.

The Surface Pro 8.

Microsoft slimmed down the bezels on all sides of the device, allowing it to fit in a display that’s 11% larger than on the Surface Pro 7, while also making the screen 12.5% brighter. The new 13-inch screen also supports a 120Hz refresh rate (though 60Hz is default) for smoother inking and web browsing.

As for what’s under the hood of the Surface Pro 8, Microsoft claims that with Intel’s latest 11th-generation processors, the device is two times faster than the Surface Pro 7, with up to 40% higher sustained CPU performance and 74% faster graphics.

The company even added Thunderbolt 4 ports, allowing for support for external GPUs and dual-monitor setups. That means that the traditional USB-A ports are now gone, with the lone port options being the two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, the headphone jack, and the Surface Connect.

All versions of the Surface Pro 8 will have a removable solid-state drive. Storage comes in at either 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB, and 1TB on the Wi-Fi-only models. RAM ranges from 8GB to 32GB.  Processor options range from Core i5-1113G7 to Intel Core i7-1185G7  on consumer models, and Core i3-1115G4 to Core i7-1185G7 on commercial models. Battery life is rated at up to 16 hours on all models, with support for a charge of up to 80% in an hour.

Of course, Surface Pro 8 still sports Microsoft’s signature kickstand and will come in either platinum or graphite colors. It has a new Type Cover, reminiscent of the one on the Surface Pro X, which has a slot for the Surface Slim Pen embedded inside.

The Surface Slim Pen.

Also coming on October 5 will be Surface Slim Pen 2. Priced at $130, this pen has been redesigned from the bottom up for the Surface Pro 8 and the new Surface Laptop Studio. It is still flat like a carpenter’s pencil, but it sports a redesigned sharper tip, as well as new haptic motors. This allows for a more realistic feel when drawing on the screen on new Surface devices.

Microsoft says that thanks to new capabilities in Windows 11 and the custom Microsoft G6 processor within Surface Pro 8 and Surface Laptop Studio, the haptics should “provide tactile signals that create the feeling of pen on paper.”

Rounding out the main Surface Pro lineup for the fall will be the Surface Pro X, which starts at $900, Microsoft is dropping the LTE on this new Wi-Fi-only model, but it’s otherwise the same as previous models. You’ll find options for either the Microsoft SQ1 or SQ2 processor, as well as 8GB of 16GB of RAM. The SSD is sized at either 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB and is user-removable.

Microsoft believes that the Surface Pro X is the best way to experience the ARM-based versions of Windows. This Surface features always-on connectivity, and thanks to Windows 11, also supports both 32-bit and 64-bit apps via emulation, an omission that plagued the original version of the device and set it behind Apple’s M1 Macbooks.

All these devices are now up for pre-order at the Microsoft Store. Orders are expected to start shipping on October 5.

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