Microsoft's Surface devices are some of the best Windows tablets, but they've never been cheap. Their prices seem to have crept up over the years as well. The cheapest Surface Pro 8 is $1,100, which is significantly more than the $750 starting price the Surface Pro 7 launched with. Accessories feel like they've gotten more expensive too, making the so-called "Surface tax" even larger. But a closer look at the Surface Pro lineup shows that the price creep may not be as steep as it seems.
Raising the floor
When it comes to prices of devices, you have to make an a̶p̶p̶l̶e̶s̶-t̶o̶-a̶p̶p̶l̶e̶s̶ Surface-to-Surface comparison. The first major difference between the Surface Pro 7 and the Pro 8 is that only the Pro 7 has an Intel Core i3 option. The entry-model Surface Pro 7 also has just 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
Many have complained for years that Microsoft shipped devices with only 4GB of RAM, pointing out that it's not enough RAM for modern computing (which isn't exactly true). Microsoft has responded to those complaints by not offering a model of the Surface Pro 8 with such low specs (at least for general consumers; there are Core i3 models for business).
|Specs||Surface Pro 7 price (at launch)||Surface Pro 8 price|
|Intel Core i3, 4GB, 128GB||$750||N/A|
|Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage||$900||$1,100|
|Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage||$1,200||$1,200|
|Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 512GB storage||N/A||$1,400|
|Intel Core i5, 16GB RAM, 128GB storage||$1,400||N/A|
|Intel Core i5, 16GB RAM, 256GB storage||N/A||$1,400|
|Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 256GB storage||$1,500||$1,600|
|Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage||$1,900||$1,900|
|Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB storage||$2,300||$2,200|
|Intel Core i7, 32GBR AM, 1TB storage||N/A||$2,600|
Microsoft has also positioned the Surface Pro X as an entry-model for the Surface Pro lineup. There are differences, such as the Pro X running an ARM processor, but there are Surface Pro devices across a range of prices now. The Wi-Fi-only model of the Surface Pro X starts at $900 with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of upgradable storage. That's more than the $750 price of the most affordable Surface Pro 7, but is in line with a Surface Pro 7 with an Intel Core i5 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage.
Directly comparing the Surface Pro 7 and Pro 8 across similar specs shows that most comparable SKUs have comparable prices. For example, an Intel Core i5 model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage costs $1,200 for either device.
There are some exceptions. On the lower side of things, the Pro 7 with an Intel Core i5, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage is $200 cheaper than a comparably equipped Pro 8. At the high end, the Surface Pro 7 with an Intel Core i7, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of storage is $100 more than a Surface Pro 8 with similar specs.
It is also worth mentioning that the SSD in Surface Pro 8 is user-upgradable. That means you could buy that 128GB or 256GB model and throw in a 1TB SSD for $200 on your own. Sure, it's a bit of work, but the savings are substantial, which was not an option with Surface Pro 7.
A rising Surface tax?
The Surface Pro Signature Keyboard announced alongside the Surface Pro 8 costs $180. That's … not cheap. It's also not the only option. Microsoft didn't make a lot of fanfare about the fact that the Surface Pro X Keyboard has been renamed to the Surface Pro Keyboard. It works with either device and only costs $140. That's only $10 more than the Surface Pro Type Cover that works with the Surface Pro 7.
If you want a premium keyboard with the Surface Pro 8, you can go with the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard. It's reinforced with carbon fiber, which is supposed to make it sturdier. It's the same keyboard that pairs with the Surface Pro X. In fact, they're the same listing on the Microsoft Store. It also has Alcantara material and a slot for charging the Surface Slim Pen 2.
|Surface Pro Keyboard||$140|
|Surface Pro Signature Keyboard||$180|
|Surface Pro Signature Keyboard w/ Slim Pen 2||$280|
|Surface Slim Pen||$145|
|Surface Slim Pen 2||$130|
Speaking of the pen, the Surface Slim Pen 2 is $130. The Surface Pen only cost $100 at launch. But it's not exactly fair to compare these two pens directly. The Slim Pen 2 has a different design, a haptic engine, and can charge while cradled in the Surface Signature Keyboard. The better comparison, the original Slim Pen that was announced with the Surface Pro X, cost $145 at launch. That's slightly more than the Slim Pen 2's initial price of $130.
Finally, you can also get the new Brydge SP+ wireless keyboard for just $140.
Not so different after all
After digging through the Microsoft Store and looking back at the launch of the Surface Pro 7, the prices of the Surface Pro 8 and Pro 8 aren't as different as I first thought. Microsoft got rid of the most affordable option of the Surface Pro lineup, but sort of replaced it with the Surface Pro X. An entry-level Surface Pro 8 is $200 more than a Surface Pro 7 with the same specs, but as you move to higher specs, prices even out.
Upon closer inspection, the high price of the Surface Pro 8 and its accessories seems to stem from the fact that it follows both the Surface Pro 7 and the Surface Pro X. The Surface Pro 8 is obviously a direct successor to the Surface Pro 7, but it also takes design cues from the Surface Pro X. The Surface Signature Keyboard and Surface Slim Pen 2 also work with the Surface Pro X. Luckily, there are more affordable accessories available.
The biggest reason for the increased price of the Surface Pro line is that Microsoft cut the most affordable option. You can't order a Surface Pro 8 with an Intel Core i3 and 4GB of RAM. For those looking for the most affordable Surface Pro, you'll have to see whether the Surface Pro X meets your needs. For those shopping in the mid or high range, prices haven't changed that much.
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