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Surface Pro 8 vs. the new Surface Pro X: Which 2-in-1 is right for you?

With the launch of Windows 11, there are a lot of new 2-in-1 tablets from Microsoft this fall. The list includes the Surface Pro 8, Surface Laptop Studio, Surface Go 3, and Surface Pro X.

So, if you’re heading online to buy one, you might be wondering what are the differences among the devices. Well, between the Surface Pro 8 and the Surface Pro X, there are quite a few.

The two might look similar on the outside with slim bezels and the same Type Covers, but on the inside, things are very different. We recently reviewed the Surface Pro 8, and here’s a look at how it compares Surface Pro X in terms of design, performance, portability, and more.


The Surface Pro 8 with the new Surface Slim Pen 2.

We start first with the most important aspect of them all, the price. Both the Surface Pro 8 and the new Surface Pro X are expensive. You’ll end up spending more than $1,000 on either device after taxes and other fees. If you’re on a budget, we suggest buying the Surface Go 3 instead.

The new Surface Pro 8 starts at $1,099 in price. That’s just the price of the tablet, not including the Type Cover keyboard or the Surface Slim Pen 2. This is for the entry-level model with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. The price was one of the negatives when we went hands-on and completed our full review.

On the other side of things, the new Surface Pro X is a bit cheaper. It starts at $900 for a configuration with the Microsoft SQ1 processor, as well as 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. A full $200 cheaper, that might end up saving you some money to buy a Type Cover, as well as a Surface Slim Pen, for the best overall experience. We talked about this and the price value of the Surface Pro X in a separate piece.

In both cases, you can change the storage on the Pro 8 and Pro X at a later point, as the solid-state drive can be removed. Of course, you’ll need to consider how you’ll be using the devices. The Pro 8 is powered by an Intel processor and runs any application you can think of. The Pro X is powered by a custom Microsoft ARM-based processor and emulates apps, so the performance might not be the best for everyone. Keep that in mind.


Surface Pro X running Windows 11.

When it comes to the design, the new Surface Pro X and Pro 8 are on the same level. Visually, these are both sleek-looking devices, with slim bezels all the way around. No matter which one you choose, you’ll be buying a tablet that is plenty portable, looks really good, and also has a lot of screen space for you to multitask.

The Surface Pro 8 comes in at 1.96 pounds and 0.37 inches in thickness. The Surface Pro X, meanwhile, comes in at 1.7 pounds and about 0.28 inches in thickness. On paper, the Pro X is thinner and lighter than the Pro 8. In our review, we did, however, note that despite the heavy weight, the Surface Pro 8 is not a chore to use. We also think the switch in aluminum makes the device more rigid.

Note that both devices have different color options. The Pro 8 comes in platinum or graphite. The Pro X comes in either matte black or platinum. Both devices have an anodized aluminum coating, as well as Microsoft’s signature kickstand, which lets you move the tablet down to up to 165 degrees while it’s in your lap or on your desk.


The Display on the Surface Pro 8.

Another differentiating factor between the Pro 8 and Pro X is the display. Yes, both 2-in-1’s have a display with slim bezels, but the technology under that display can shape up to be very different based on how you use your device.

The Pro 8 and the Pro X both sport a 13-inch, 2880 x 1920 resolution display with 267 pixels per inch (ppi). Both displays come in the 3:2 aspect ratio and support 10-point touch and the Surface Pen. The difference is that the Pro 8 has some newer features inside the display panel.

The Pro 8 has a special Microsoft processor on the motherboard that supports Windows 11’s haptics. This means that if you buy a Surface Slim Pen 2, you’ll be able to enjoy haptic feedback and get more of a true pen-on-paper experience when you draw or write. This isn’t a feature that you’ll find on the Surface Pro X,  so if inking is important for you, then the Pro 8 might be the better buy. That pen support is something we really enjoyed, as we found the Surface Slim Pen 2 to be a significant update, noting that it adds realism to writing and illustrating.

The Pro 8 has another unique feature in its display. Like gaming laptops, the screen can push to a 120Hz refresh rate in certain situations. That means you’ll be able to experience smoother scrolling, as well as smoother drawing on its screen. We really liked this display in our review, noting that it was bigger and also faster.

If you’re after a better inking experience or are the creative type who needs accuracy when drawing on the screen, then the Pro 8 is for you. The screen was one of the high points in our review, as our tests not only found it to be bigger but also more accurate. Otherwise, the Pro X is the best buy in terms of display.


The Surface Pro X with the Surface Slim Pen 2.

When it comes to performance, the Surface Pro X and Surface Pro 8 are on opposite ends of the spectrum. The Pro X sports Microsoft’s custom SQ1 or SQ2 ARM-based processor under the hood, and the Pro 8 comes with Intel’s latest 11th-generation processors. Both devices are powered by Windows 11.

This choice in CPUs means big performance differences. With Intel processors inside, the Surface Pro 8 will not have any issues running your favorite apps. In fact, Microsoft says that with the 11th-generation processors under the hood, the device can be twice as fast as the Surface Pro 7, delivering over 40% higher sustained CPU performance and 74% faster sustained graphics performance.

Those are just Microsoft’s claims, however. In our real-world lab tests, the Core i7 version of the Surface Pro 8 was a true performer thanks to new thermals and Microsoft’s own “active cooling.” In our Handbrake video-encoding test, the Surface Pro 8 was the fastest in its class. Even in multi-core scoring, it did very well, scoring 6041 points and outscoring other tablets like the ThinkPad X12 detachable and even the Dell Latitude 7320 Detachable.

The Pro 8 also has Thunderbolt 4 support, allowing you to connect to dual monitors without a dock, enjoy faster data transfer speeds, and connect external GPUs. So if you need raw performance, then the Pro 8 is right for you.

The Surface Pro X, on the other hand, is powered by an ARM-based processor. Like Apple’s M1 Macbooks, you need to deal with app emulation. Microsoft tweaked Windows 11 to support both 64-bit and 32-bit app emulation, so most apps should run fine now on the device. But you’ll need to keep in mind that things aren’t running natively like on the Pro 8.

Microsoft did tweak its own apps to run natively on the Surface Pro X, but if you’re wanting to game or edit videos and photos, the Pro 8 might be the better buy for compatibility reasons.


The Surface Pro 8 open up.

We’ll end by mentioning portability. On this front, the Pro X and Pro 8 are quite close. We already touched on the weight aspect earlier, but when it comes to battery life and ports, the devices are neck and neck with each other.

On both tablets, you get two USB-C ports, as well as Surface Connect. Note that on the Pro 8, the USB-C ports support Thunderbolt 4, but this isn’t an option on the Pro X. The Pro 8 also has a headphone jack, but the Pro X does not.

Both devices have Windows Hello webcams. The front cameras are both 1080p and 5 megapixels, and the rear is 10MP. There are even dual far-field mics on both devices. The difference on the Pro 8, though, is the 1080p webcam. We found that it produced sharp images and smooth video.

As far as battery life, expect up to 15 hours on the Pro X and up to 11 hours on the Pro 8. Despite Microsoft’s claim of 16 hours, we got to around 10 hours and 48 minutes in our lightest battery life test when looping a 1080p video, and eight and a half hours when web surfing. We didn’t get to test the Pro X, but we won’t be surprised if it’s the same level. The Pro 8 doesn’t last as long as Microsoft claims.

Unlike the other Pro X models, the new Surface Pro X does not have LTE coverage, but it will still benefit from instant wake from sleep, as well as extended battery life, a perk of the ARM-based chips inside the device. Microsoft also offers the Pro 8 with an LTE option if it is needed, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon x20 LTE modem inside.

The Pro 8 wins for most

Though it is more expensive, the Surface Pro 8 should be the best device for most people. It has an advanced display that supports haptics with the new Surface Slim Pen 2, as well as a faster 120Hz refresh rate, and its Intel processors should mean maximum performance. The Pro X, meanwhile, is a lot cheaper, and it benefits from a slimmer weight and the efficiency of an ARM-based processor.

Editors' Recommendations

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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