Microsoft's line of Surface Pro 2-in-1 laptops is undoubtedly the most popular and well known of all the Surface PCs — after all, it is the original that started it all.
But Microsoft hasn't given the Surface Pro a significant makeover since 2015's Surface Pro 4 where it picked up Windows Hello, its 12.3-inch PixelSense display, improved pen, and more. And while Surface Pro 7+ is actually quite impressive, it's also aimed at enterprise and not consumers.
Announced on Sept. 22, 2021, Surface Pro 8 matches with our earlier reporting that the overall look and style of the device remains, but it has been updated with modern components, a larger display, new ports, and more.
Here's what we know about the all-new Surface Pro 8 for 2021.
Surface Pro 8: Release date and availability
Update Sept. 22, 2021: Microsoft has officially revealed Surface Pro 8 to the public.
Surface Pro 8 goes on sale in select markets on Oct. 5, 2021. Those markets are:
- United States
- United Kingdom
Due to an ongoing global chip and processor shortage that affects Microsoft quite substantially, some markets may not see Surface Pro 8 until early 2022, while others may see it in late 2021. Those markets include:
- New Zealand
- The Czech Republic
Surface Pro 8: What's new
Here are some of the significant changes in Surface Pro 8 (compared to Surface Pro 7):
- New processors: Intel 11th Gen U-series
- New Surface Type Cover: Matches Surface Pro X, including Surface Slim Pen dock
- Refined hardware design that tappers more in the rear
- Larger display: Surface Pro 8 gets a 120Hz 13-inch display with thinner bezels instead of a 12.3-inch 60Hz display with thick bezels
- Removable SSD (following Surface Pro X and Surface Laptop designs)
- No more 4GB RAM model
- 2x Thunderbolt 4 ports
- Support for Surface Slim Pen 2 with haptics
Windows 11 also delivers some new hardware features that Microsoft could enable with Surface Pro 8, including:
- Dynamic Refresh Rate: This feature enables a higher-refresh display of 120Hz instead of standard 60Hz, but only when scrolling or using the pen, thereby saving battery life. It sounds like Apple's ProMotion display technology. This feature is expected to launch late with Surface Pro 8. By default, Surface Pro 8 is 60Hz, but users can set it to 120Hz manually.
- Wake on touch: When Surface Pro 8 is in standby with the display off, users can turn on the device simply by tapping the screen, similar to how smartphones work (the Pro 8 can then auto-login to Windows using Windows Hello).
- New Haptic Surface Pen: Windows 11 also supports smartpens with haptic feedback, which lets the pen simulate writing with different materials like pencil or pen on different types of paper. Customers need to purchase the new Surface Slim Pen 2 for these features.
Many more changes were detailed in a Microsoft Mechanics video, posted above. Those changes and improvements over Surface Pro 7 are:
- Rounded chassis "compliments fluid UI design of Windows 11"
- Thinner bezels expand the display real estate by 11%
- Chassis is made from recycled anodized aluminum (vs. magnesium)
- New ambient color sensor to dynamically adjust display colors based on room lighting
- Display brightness peaks at 450 nits
- 120Hz display makes pen latency "seemingly undetectable"
- IR camera has been improved substantially for speed and accuracy
- Microsoft's AI lets Windows Hello dynamically adapt to changes in your appearance (glasses and facial hair)
- 5MP full HD RGB camera has larger 1.4-micron pixels for better low-light performance
- The camera also has tuning optimizations to keep your face in focus
- Dolby Vision (HDR) and Dolby Atmos (surround sound)
- Surface Pro 8 supports up to 23-watt TDP for the 11th Gen Intel processor
- You can get LTE in Core i3 and Core i7 models for the first time (commercial markets)
- Battery has increased to 50.4WHr up from 43.2WHr
- Uses new carbon composite thermal dissipation system
- 46% faster compute and 75% boost to graphics processing compared to Surface Pro 7
It is safe to say that Surface Pro 8 is a complete redesign from the ground up compared to Surface Pro 4, Pro 5, Pro 6, and Pro 7.
With Thunderbolt 4, users can now plug Surface Pro 8 into an eGPU to provide even more graphics power for gaming or video editing, while also keeping the benefits of the magnetic Surface Connect port.
Surface Pro 8: Specs
Here are the current Surface Pro 8 specs as noted by Microsoft:
|Category||Surface Pro 8|
|OS||Windows 11 Home|
Windows 11 Pro (commercial)
Windows 10 Pro (commercial)
11th Gen Intel
11th Gen Intel
|RAM||8GB, 16GB, 32GB|
|Graphics||Intel UHD (i3)|
Intel Iris Xe (i5, i7)
|Storage||128GB, 256GB SSD (Wi-Fi, LTE)|
512GB, 1TB SSD (Wi-Fi)
3:2 aspect ratio
Up to 120Hz (60Hz default)
|Ports||Two Thunderbolt 4|
|Audio||Dual 2W stereo speakers|
Dual far-field studio mics
Snapdragon X20 LTE
Front-facing 5MP (1080p)
Rear-facing 10MP (1080p, 4K)
|Keyboard||Surface Pro Signature keyboard|
|Pen||Surface Slim Pen 2|
|Battery||Up to 16 hours|
|Dimensions||11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches|
(287mm x 208.3mm x 9.4mm)
|Weight||1.96 pounds (891g)|
In May 2021, Intel announced it had refreshed 11th Gen U-series processors, which bump existing clock and turbo speeds over earlier models. Those chips are not expected to ship until the fall, aligning with the Surface Pro 8 release.
While that extra 100MHz may not make a big difference compared to Surface Pro 7+, the consumer version of Surface Pro 7 only ships with 10th Gen chips, making it a much better upgrade.
There is no 5G option for Surface Pro 8, but there is for 4G LTE. However, those models are not expected to launch until later in 2021 (December) and may be for commercial markets. However, instead of LTE only being available in the Core i5 model, it will be an option for Core i3, i5, and i7 Surface Pro 8 SKUs.
While consumer editions of Surface Pro 8 all ship with Windows 11, commercial purchases will have an option for Windows 10 or Windows 11.
Surface Pro 8: Price
Surface Pro 8 pricing is mostly similar to Surface Pro 7 at launch. However, there are some subtle differences due to the availability of options for configurations at this time. Here is the current pricing at launch for Surface Pro 8:
|Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB Storage||$1,099.99|
|Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB Storage||$1,199.99|
|Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 512GB Storage||$1,399.99|
|Intel Core i5, 16GB RAM, 256GB Storage||$1,399.99|
|Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 256GB Storage||$1,599.99|
|Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB Storage||$1,899.99|
|Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB Storage||$2,199.99|
|Intel Core i7, 32GB RAM, 1TB Storage||$2,599.99|
As always, these prices do not include the Surface Pen and Surface Type Cover. Those necessary accessories add between $100 and $230 extra to the cost.
Previously, Surface Pro 7 started at $749 for the Core i3 model to well over $2,000 for the Core i7 with maxed out RAM and 1TB of storage. Microsoft has not announced pricing or availability yet for the Surface Pro 8 Core i3 models, so the starting price seems higher at $1,099 (Core i5, 8GB, 128GB) instead of $749 (Core i3, 4GB, 128GB).
That said, the entry-level Core i5 model is $100 more with Surface Pro 8 compared to Surface Pro 7, but all other models are priced the same as Surface Pro 7 when it launched. Indeed, Surface Pro 7 with i7/16/1TB launched at $2,299, but the same Pro 8 model is $100 less at $2,199.
New for Surface Pro 8 is a higher top-tier model with 32GB of RAM instead of 16GB, along with a Core i7 and 1TB SSD, which is priced at $2,599.
Updated design, same 2-in-1 form factor
The Surface Pro 8 finally adopts the modern design that Microsoft first introduced with Surface Pro X, now with two USB-C ports that are Thunderbolt 4 enabled, an upgraded 13-inch display with a high-refresh rate of 120Hz, and support for the Surface Pro X style Type Covers with the Slim Pen charging cradle.
Surface Pro 8 latest news
- On Sept. 22, Microsoft announced Surface Pro 8, including specs, pricing, and availability.
- On Sept. 20, alleged specs of Surface Pro 8 were leaked online by a retailer. While the image is of Surface Pro X, the specs look to be accurate.
- On Sept. 1, Microsoft announced a Surface and Windows 11 online event set for Sept. 22 at 11 a.m. ET. We're very likely to hear about Surface Pro 8 on that day.
- On Aug. 31, Microsoft announced that new Windows 11 PCs go on sale Oct. 5 , the same day as when the Windows 11 update goes live.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.