Surface Pro 8 review: The best Surface for people who love Surface

Surface Pro X design without any software compatibility issues.

Microsoft took three attempts to get the Surface Pro up and running. Both the second and third generation models greatly improved on the small screen of the first, delivering mediocre battery life, and achieving something good enough for a laptop, but a tablet for being unique.

And after that, everything remained the same. Some ports have changed over the years — the Surface Pro 7 finally got USB-C in late 2019 — but the original design and accessory compatibility have been exactly the same on every major Surface Pro since 2014.

The Five Values ​​of Side Collaboration deserve Praise in some cases, especially if you've been using multiple generations of Surface Pro tablets in business and need to be able to replace parts quickly. But some of the Surface Pro 3's design elements date back a few generations — Thunderbolt and/or USB-C ports do nearly everything a dedicated Surface Connect port does, and other laptops, tablets, and for years have been shrinking screen edges to increase screen size.

Which brings us to the Surface Pro 8. This template here is what remains from the first time Microsoft received a Surface device. Right: Good-sized screen, bold ultrabook, detachable keyboard cover and sturdy stylus support. But Microsoft eventually tweaked the device in important ways, including some we've seen for the first time on other Surface devices. If you have an old Surface and want to upgrade or want to buy a Surface to replace the laptop you have now, you should start here.

What's the news?

Microsoft's new design is built on the ARM-based Surface Pro X model - two tablets can share keyboard covers. The Pro 8 is 0.1 inch (or 2 mm) thicker than the Pro X to make room for additional cooling hardware required by an Intel processor. But to really see the difference, you need to have two devices side by side.


Compared to the Surface Pro 7 and previous Surface design, the Pro 8 is about the same size, but with a 12.3-inch screen with 2724 2736 resolution and a 13-inch screen with a 2880 x 1920 resolution with the same pixel density of 267 PPI and 3:2 aspect ratio change the surface area. The bezels around the screen are narrower, allowing the screen to appear larger without increasing the size — the same design trick we've seen on nearly all phones, tablets, and laptops over the past few years. The Pro 8's margins are comparable to the iPad Pro on the left and right of the screen, but it's also thicker on the top and bottom (let's say I'm always talking about the Pro 8 in landscape mode unless we say the opposite). This will likely open up a space at the top of the screen for the Windows Hello webcam and infrared camera, while also allowing the on-screen keyboard to be placed without blocking the screen.

The new Pro 8 also features a new 120Hz refresh. The tablet still uses the usual 60Hz refresh rate out of the box. This is probably a decision to conserve tablet battery life, which is fine compared to laptops with similar performance, but not so good. Microsoft also supports an Apple-compatible tinting feature called Adaptive Color, which, like Apple's True Tone, adjusts your Surface's color temperature according to the ambient light you're in.

The only bad thing I can say about the screen is that unlike Apple's iPad Pro or MacBook Pro, the Surface Pro 8 still doesn't support DCI-P3 color gamut. The screen covers 99.4% of the sRGB color spectrum and has a contrast ratio of 1211:1 and a maximum brightness of 433 nits, but the DCI-P3 color coverage is 82.9% on our i1 Display Studio colorimeter. New ports and accessories New Surface Slim 2. The new Surface Slim Pen 2. Andrew Cunningham

Surface added The Pro 7 finally got a USB-C port in 2019, which didn't quite replace the dedicated Surface Connect port, but at least allowed it to use a tablet with USB-C chargers and displays that support USB power. Surface Pro 8 replaces your old Surface with a pair of USB-C ports and a USB-A port with a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports, which provide faster data-transfer speeds for Thunderbolt accessories and support while maintaining USB-C compatibility. It also provides an external GPU. The connection to the Surface port is still active and has the same features as before.


Losing a USB-A port can be a bit frustrating for people with outdated accessories. On the other hand, I think it's helpful to be able to attach a display to the surface without having to rely on an expensive dock or DisplayPort sprocket. However, the Dell MacBook, XPS 13, 15, and other laptops have already built the entire USB-C prototype. Losing a microSD card reader is even more annoying - to extract data from SD cards, you have to use an external dongle, or the camera's USB port, if you're using a camera.

The Pro 8 uses a keyboard cover similar to the Surface Pro X - almost identical to the old letter, but with plenty of room for a Surface Slim Pen or Slim Pen 2. The touchscreen is definitely smaller than laptops like the XPS 13 9310, but it's big enough and still looks accurate. The backlit keyboard also looks good. But like all Microsoft covers, there's some keyboard flexibility you wouldn't use in a regular laptop with a sturdier base (Lenovo's detachable ThinkPad X12 still has the sturdiest keyboard cover I've used with a PC of this caliber). This button moves from the narrow tip of the stylus to the wider, smoother tip. And when used with the latest Surface devices, including the Pro 8, Laptop Studio, and Laptop 4, it has such sharp feedback that it subtly vibrates like a real pencil or stylus if it's on paper.

I'm not an artist, but I always check Brad Calbu's YouTube channel to pick an artist from these devices. He has several years of video on the Surface Pro, iPad, and other Pencil-compatible devices, and I'll tell you what he says about using each tablet for people who do a lot of drawing and ink with their tablets. Colbo's problem with the Surface line - and one that the Pro 8 and the new stylus didn't solve - was the use of the Microsoft Pen protocol. MPP pens are great at palm rejection, which makes them a good writing tool. But they tend to draw somewhat shaky lines, which makes them more difficult to use for calligraphy tasks. If I don't draw quickly, I can recreate that wavy line effect on my Surface Pro 8 with a new pen, if you're not writing or doing things with faster strokes. If you're already using a Surface and know the stylus performs well, the Pro 8 still works fine for you. But newer devices don't respond to people's complaints about previous versions.

Surface Pro 8 review: The best Surface for people who love Surface
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