Friday, December 9, 2022

Surface Pro 8 Long-Term Review: Finally, A Real Upgrade

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The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is attractive, recent, and at last an actual replace to the stale-looking Surface Pro line. And as normal, you may pay closely for that.

Key Features

  • Haptic suggestions capability
  • Sleek design

  • Brand: Microsoft
  • Storage: 256GB
  • CPU: Intel i5
  • Memory: 8GB
  • Operating System: Windows 11
  • Battery: 10 hours
  • Ports: 2 x USB-C, Surface Connect
  • Camera: 10MP (Rear), 5MP (Front)
  • Display (Size, Resolution): 13 inches, 2880×1920
  • Weight: 981g (Without keyboard)

  • Updated, elegant design
  • Rechargeable pen with nice storage resolution
  • Great Surface Slim Pen 2 connectivity

  • Keyboard and stylus aren’t included
  • Marginally heavier

Buy This Product

For the previous couple of years, it was beginning to look as if Microsoft had run out of concepts on truly enhance the Surface Pro line, past tinkering round with the inside. My 2015 Surface Pro 4 appeared functionally an identical to the 2019 Surface Pro 7, full with ultra-thick bezels across the display. Though we have been all excited when the Surface Pro X got here out three years in the past, its flashy new design hid a deadly flaw: working on an ARM processor moderately than Intel made it wrestle to take care of frequent functions.

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In the Surface Pro 8, Microsoft has lastly mixed one of the best of each worlds. The eye-catching Pro X design has been mixed with an Intel processor (i5, in my case, though i7 can also be an possibility). A variety of different inside configurations can be found, however O opted for 8GB of RAM and 256GB storage.


This quantity of RAM for common functions is totally superb. My major makes use of are net searching with many tabs, phrase processing, and different office-based duties, with the odd utility equivalent to Signal Desktop or Zoom thrown in.

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Although many will urge 16GB on the grounds of “future-proofing”, I spent round 5 years utilizing a Surface Pro 4 with simply 4GB. It too was able to dealing with all the same old duties with out challenge. Unless you often run intensive functions, you are unlikely to want the upgraded RAM.


This evaluation will embody the Surface Slim Pen 2 and Signature Keyboard as properly. A field for simply the Surface Pro 8 itself would include nothing however a charger and the naked pill, which is virtually ineffective with out a minimum of the keyboard. The incontrovertible fact that Microsoft does not bundle the keyboard in—and has even, extremely, stopped bundling within the pen—might be one of many greatest downsides to the bundle.

Surface Pro 8 upright on desk

Appearance and Design

The design is the most important change to the Surface Pro 8. Almost instantly, you possibly can inform that the display’s edges are extra rounded than earlier iterations of the laptop computer, making it simpler on the hand whenever you’re holding it in pill kind. Bezels are a lot, a lot slimmer. They’re nonetheless fairly chunky on the prime and backside of the display, however the latter a minimum of is hid when the keyboard is hooked up. (More on the keyboard and pen later). In reality, the slimmer bezels enable for a bigger display, which, at 13 inches, is sort of an inch greater than the earlier mannequin, whereas conserving the machine footprints virtually an identical.

One draw back, nevertheless, is that the Pro 8 is noticeably thicker and heavier than older variations, together with its closest ancestor, the Surface Pro X. The physique is now constructed from shiny, slippery aluminum as an alternative of matte magnesium alloy. This reportedly makes it simpler for the paint to connect to black variations of the Pro 8, because the black paint scratched off comparatively simply on the Pro 7. Unfortunately, it makes for a weighty gloss.

Related: Surface Pro X (2020) Review: Almost There, Microsoft

Crucial elements of the design have stayed the identical. You nonetheless have the snap-out kickstand within the again which helps it stability on a flat floor. It performs poorly on non-flat surfaces—”capability” is close to zero, and really uncomfortable—however on a desk, the keyboard does not bounce an excessive amount of. Most of the time, you possibly can overlook it is bouncing in any respect except you particularly search for it.

The keyboard can also be nonetheless hooked up through magnetic snaps on the backside of the pill. It’s straightforward to take away and change, taking the machine from laptop computer to pill and again once more. Using this extensively as a pill can be troublesome, because of the weight, however you possibly can relaxation it in your lap or a desk when making handwritten notes.


Performance and Ports

The laptop computer comes with Windows 11 put in. Set-up is straightforward and intuitive; every little thing appears sharp and clear on the 2880 x 1920 display. One huge change is that eradicating the keyboard now not places the machine into an annoying “Tablet Mode”. Instead, issues turn out to be subtly calibrated for the pill kind issue, equivalent to wider-spaced icons on the taskbar.

In phrases of efficiency, I’ve no complaints. Since I bought it in October, the Pro 8 expertise general has been quick and clean. The readability of Windows 11 enhances the machine’s modern design very properly. Battery life as normal falls far beneath Microsoft’s claims, however you will get about 7 hours of strong use earlier than you could begin reaching for the charger. It additionally prices again up swiftly.

The right-hand facet boasts two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 above the proprietary charging Surface Connect port. The left has a 3.5mm headphone jack. Nobody makes use of their laptop computer for taking pictures, however ought to you could rapidly scan a doc, there is a 10MP rear digital camera and a 5MP entrance digital camera. That’s sufficient to make you look good and clear in your Zoom calls.

surface pro 8 ssd card showing

As for upgrading, you possibly can improve the SSD storage, however undoubtedly not the RAM, which is soldered on.


You can get two totally different variations of the keyboard: a easy Surface Pro Keyboard (which was known as the Type Cover), and the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard. The fundamental model nonetheless offers backlit keys, a great touchpad, and a very good typing expertise, nevertheless it comes with no further frills. This is the one to purchase if you happen to aren’t interested by getting the Slim Pen as properly. Typing is comparatively loud and clicky, however I truly discover the crisp sound of the keys very satisfying.

The actual pleasure could be discovered from the Signature model. It’s made from Alcantara, an artificial suede billed by Microsoft as “luxurious”—although it simply feels a bit bizarre and rubbery to me. A vary of colour choices can be found, though keep in mind that issues look darker in actual life than they do on the Microsoft retailer. My “ice blue” possibility, for instance, truly appears nearer to darkish grey.

surface keyboard stain - grey on blue

Typing is a little bit quieter on the Signature Keyboard. More importantly, this model includes a built-in charging port for the rechargeable Surface Slim Pen. It’s situated within the fold of fabric simply subsequent to the magnetic pill attachment, so it is hidden in every day use. This is a significantly better storage resolution than in earlier Surface Pros, the place the pen magnetically hooked up to the facet of the laptop computer and consistently threatened to slide off throughout journey.

Beware, although, that Alcantara materials is notoriously susceptible to staining. After a mere few months, my very own keyboard has developed an inexplicable and ugly darkish patch on the backside, regardless of the actual fact I’ve by no means spilled or dropped something on it.

To get significant use out of the Surface Pro 8, you do want to purchase a keyboard, however you possibly can take or go away the pen: it now not comes bundled with the pill because it used to, which is unlucky when it comes to worth for cash however good if you happen to do not want one. The newest pen providing from Microsoft is the Surface Slim Pen 2 (which solely is available in black).

It can initially take some getting used to. As the identify suggests, it is oddly flat, which may be surprising if you happen to’re used to the traditional cylindrical shapes of earlier Surface Pens. This lets it match simply into the keyboard charging port, nevertheless it additionally means prolonged writing can get mildly uncomfortable. My major use nevertheless is for highlighting PDFs, with occasional note-taking, and it excels at that. There’s no lag, it may possibly sense totally different stress values, quite a few apps assist inking—what’s to not like?

keyboard and slim pen of surface pro next to each other

The most attention-grabbing function concerning the Slim Pen 2 is its capability for tactile suggestions, which suggests it vibrates in your hand whenever you write. Normally, writing on glass screens feels horrible due to the sleek floor. The tactile suggestions actually does not come wherever near imitating paper, nevertheless it does enhance the writing expertise tremendously. Right now this function is barely suitable with the Surface Pro 8 and Surface Laptop Studio.

Should You Buy the Surface Pro 8?

If you are on the lookout for the highest-quality Windows laptop computer on the market, you possibly can’t do significantly better than this. Unlike the Pro X, whose subpar efficiency made it troublesome to advocate, the Pro 8 has wonderful performance wrapped in a classy shell.

Of course, you may additionally pay a premium for that mixture: there can be a whole lot of different laptops that are, in uncooked phrases, higher worth for cash. But no different machine can imitate the benefit with which the Surface Pro switches between self-contained pill and a full-bodied laptop computer.

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