The Surface Pro Just Got Its Slickest Update in Years

The Surface Pro Just Got Its Slickest Update in Years
Photo: Sam Rutherford

It’s hard to believe that Microsoft’s Surface, the device that practically invented the detachable 2-in-1, has already been around for almost a decade. Today the convertible is getting its biggest refresh since the Surface Pro 3 back in 2015. Meet the Surface Pro 8.

Longtime Surface fans will have already noticed that the Surface Pro 8 looks similar to the Surface Pro X, with curvier, more rounded edges. Microsoft also claims it’s twice as fast as the previous model, with 40% better CPU performance and 74% faster graphics thanks to its updated range of 11th-gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 or i7-1185G7 processors.

There's a 3.5mm audio jack on the other side, so don't worry about losing support for wired headphones.  (Photo: Sam Rutherford) There’s a 3.5mm audio jack on the other side, so don’t worry about losing support for wired headphones. (Photo: Sam Rutherford)

The Surface Pro 8’s configurations have also gotten a bump up to 8GB of base RAM (or up to 32GB fully loaded), with storage going up to 512GB for the LTE model or 1TB for the wifi-only variant.

However, the Surface Pro 8’s biggest upgrade might be its display, which now spans a full 13 inches (up from 12.3 inches on the Surface Pro 7) along with a much faster 120Hz refresh rate, a denser 2880 x 1920 resolution screen (up from 2736 x 1824). Microsoft claims the screen is 12.5% higher too.

The Surface Pro 8’s bezels been trimmed down, but Microsoft still found room for both a 5-MP front-facing camera and an IR cam that supports Windows Hello, with support for dual Studio mics for improved audio on video calls. Around back, you get a 10-MP rear-facing camera.

While some people (including me) might prefer a third USB-C port, Microsoft isn't giving up on the Surface line's magnetic power connector.  (Photo: Sam Rutherford) While some people (including me) might prefer a third USB-C port, Microsoft isn’t giving up on the Surface line’s magnetic power connector. (Photo: Sam Rutherford)

Even the Surface Pro 8’s detachable keyboard has cribbed off the Surface Pro X’s design with a slot that holds Microsoft’s redesigned Surface Slim Pen 2. The stylus features a slimmer, more accurate tip and brand new haptics that give you surprisingly sophisticated force feedback when drawing or just jotting down some notes.

I’m only a casual stylus user, but the new Surface Slim Pen 2 felt so good it makes me want to try using the stylus in more situations just to see what it can really do. I didn’t get much time with the Surface Pro 8 and Surface Slim Pen 2, but I’m curious to check it out in more depth for our full review.

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Click through for more photos of the Surface Pro 8 and Surface Pro X.

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Practically every spec and angle on the device has been polished and refined. The Surface Pro 8 even gets two new Thunderbolt 4 ports for faster connectivity and improved external monitor support, though Microsoft held onto the Surface’s magnetic charging connector. After nearly a decade, Microsoft seems eager to prove it still does detachable 2-in-1s better than pretty much anyone else.

The company didn’t forget about the Surface Pro X, which already had the premium design Microsoft carried over to the Surface Pro 8. With Windows 11, the Surface Pro X now supports both x86 and x64 emulation, and there’s also a new 64-bit version of Office for ARM devices that improves performance for all of Microsoft’s productivity apps. Third-party software like Zoom, Photoshop, and others have also gotten improved optimisation.

It's subtle, but you can see the difference between the vents on the top edge of the Surface Pro 8 (bottom) and the fanless design of the new Surface Pro X (top). (Photo: Sam Rutherford) It’s subtle, but you can see the difference between the vents on the top edge of the Surface Pro 8 (bottom) and the fanless design of the new Surface Pro X (top). (Photo: Sam Rutherford)

One other interesting note is that the design of the Surface Pro 8 and Surface Pro X are so similar now, the only easy way of telling them apart in person is to look for the thin strip of vents behind the Surface Pro 8’s display. Its more powerful Intel CPUs requires air cooling, while the SQ1 and SQ2 chips in the Surface Pro X means it can still be completely fanless.

Either way, Microsoft’s new Surface Pros have a lot to like. The Surface Pro X has a new lower starting price of just $US900 ($1,244), and the Surface Pro 8 starts just a bit higher at $US1,100 ($1,520). Both are available to preorder today and go on sale Oct. 5: Windows 11 launch day.