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Surface Pro 8: Everything we know about Microsoft’s next flagship 2-in-1

Microsoft’s big Surface event has come and gone, and one of the biggest surprises of the event was the new Surface Pro 8. For the first time since Microsoft released the Surface Pro 3, this new Surface brings some significant changes that include a massive redesign, a 120Hz screen, new haptics, and a new Surface Pen.

Here’s a look at everything you need to know if you’re hoping to purchase the device.

Price and release date

The Surface Pro 8 with the new Surface Slim Pen 2.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Microsoft announced that the Surface Pro 8 will be released on October 5. As of today, it is up for pre-order on the Microsoft Store and at Best Buy. Pricing starts at $1,099. Notably, that’s $300 more than the retail price of the Surface Pro 7 when it came out. If you’re a member of the military or are a student or teacher, you can use the Microsoft Store’s education discount to get the device at a cheaper price.

That price does not include the Type Cover Keyboard or the new Surface Slim Pen 2. You’ll need to spend extra on those. The Surface Slim Pen 2 is $130.

If you pre-order with Best Buy, you can get a free Xbox controller, as well as three months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

Design

The Surface Pro 8 in its three different modes.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The biggest change with the Surface Pro 8 has a lot to do with the overall design. While it is still made of anodized aluminum, Microsoft finally updated the look of the Pro 8 so that it is a bit more sleek and modern.

The bezels on the front of the device have been slimmed down significantly so that the screen is 11% larger and  13 inches. You’ll still see bezels at the top of the device, however, for the webcam. A bottom bezel also lets the Type Cover rest on the device. Previously, the Surface Pro 7 had a 12.3-inch screen.

The other signature feature of the Surface Pro makes its way to the Pro 8. You’ll find that the kickstand is still there to allow you to prop the device in your lap and extend it down to 165 degrees. The tablet itself also comes in both platinum and graphite.

Note that the design on the Type Cover has also changed. The Signature Keyboard now resembles the keyboard on the Surface Pro X. That means it has a slot for the Surface Slim Pen, allowing the pen to recharge wirelessly.

Display

The Surface Pro 8, showing its keyboard and kickstand.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Another big change on the Surface Pro 8 is with the display. For the first time on a Surface, Microsoft is bumping the display’s refresh rate from 60Hz to 120Hz. This technology is more popular on gaming laptops and hasn’t really been found on tablets or non-gaming laptops. With it, you can expect the display to feel a lot smoother and fluent. This should be good for web browsing, as well as creative situations where you might end up using the Surface Pen. Microsoft mentioned that the device has “GPU ink acceleration” for these scenarios.

The display also sees some other physical changes. The resolution has been bumped up a bit to 2880 x 1920 (267 PPI). It’s still in the 3:2 aspect ratio, however, allowing you to see more vertical content. Microsoft highlighted that the display panel is 12.5% brighter over previous Surface devices, though we will need to test that in our labs.

Performance

The internals of the Surface Pro 8.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Under the hood of the Surface Pro 8, you will find Intel’s latest 11th-gen Tiger Lake CPUs. These were first announced at CES in January 2020 and then landed inside the Surface Pro 7+, so it’s no surprise to see them in the Surface Pro 8.

Tiger Lake chips double the graphics performance, and we’ve seen this in our reviews of other laptops with the new CPU. Microsoft specifically mentioned that the Pro 8 is seeing 40% higher sustained CPU performance and 74% faster graphics sustained performance.

There is no Core i3 model of the Surface Pro 8 for consumers. You’ll only find it on the commercial version of the device. Processor options for consumers include the Intel Core i5-1135G7 and Intel Core i7-1185G7. Commercial units get the additional Intel Core i3-1115G4 processor and the Intel Core i5-1145G7 processor, as well as the same Core i7 as the consumer model. Regardless of which processor you pick, the device should stand up well for light gaming, video editing, and multitasking.

The Surface Pro 8 comes with either 8GB, 16GB, or 32 GB of RAM. The SSD is user replaceable and removable and comes in either 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB. If you want more storage later, you can add it.

Portability

A person holding the Surface Pro 8 on a table.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Surface Pro 8 switches things up from the past when it comes to portability, yet it’s still a device that’s plenty portable. It’s 11.3 inches long, just 0.37 inches thick, and weighs a little under 2 pounds.

We need to test it in our labs, but Microsoft noted that you can get up to 16 hours of battery on the Pro 8. It also detailed the advantages of Thunderbolt ports, which is a first for the Surface lineup. Thanks to the dual Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, you’ll be able to enjoy things like an external GPU, faster data transfer speeds, and support for dual monitors.

Other ports on the Surface Pro 8 include a headphone jack and the proprietary Surface Connect port that can be used for charging. Microsoft mentioned you can get up to an 80% charge in an hour. There are no USB-A ports on board this year, so be ready to dongle up.

As for the webcams, Microsoft is ready to support the work-from-home lifestyle. The webcams are 1080p, which should make you look a lot better during your Teams and Zoom calls. The front webcam is 5 megapixels and the rear is 10 megapixels, supporting recording 4K video. This is a change from previous Surface devices, which only had 720p webcams.

New Surface Slim Pen 2

Surface Slim Pen 2
Image used with permission by copyright holder

We’ll end by talking about the new Surface Slim Pen 2. This pen looks like the original Slim Pen but has some added benefits. You’ll be able to enjoy what’s being called “Tactile signals,” and “zero force inking,” on the Surface Pro 8 with this pen. It uses haptics and vibrations to make the inking experience feel more like pen and paper.

This is thanks to Windows 11 and a new Microsoft G6 processor found inside the device. The pen can be housed in the new Signature Keyboard for the Pro 8, where it can recharge.

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Arif Bacchus
Arif Bacchus is a native New Yorker and a fan of all things technology. Arif works as a freelance writer at Digital Trends…
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