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Is the Surface Pro 8 really pricier than its predecessor?

Surface Pro 8 Vs Surface Pro 7 Compare
Surface Pro 8 Vs Surface Pro 7 Compare (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

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

Surface Pro 8 Ssd

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

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).

SpecsSurface Pro 7 price (at launch)Surface Pro 8 price
Intel Core i3, 4GB, 128GB$750N/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 storageN/A$1,400
Intel Core i5, 16GB RAM, 128GB storage$1,400N/A
Intel Core i5, 16GB RAM, 256GB storageN/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 storageN/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?

Surface Pro 8 Pen

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

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.

AccessoriesPrice
Surface Pro Keyboard$140
Surface Pro Signature Keyboard$180
Surface Pro Signature Keyboard w/ Slim Pen 2$280
Surface Pen$100
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

Surface Pro 8 Hero

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

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.

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

16 Comments
  • The Surface Pen didn't start at $100. It started at $50. If course, you also got it FOR FREE with the Surface Pro. The price increase to $100 can't with the 4 or 5, conveniently at the same time they stopped including it in the box with the Pro itself.
    .
    You also used to have more than just black keyboards at the $130 price point. Now, you pay us $10 tax and get fewer options. It's nice that the Slim Pen went down in price, but if you want to actually take advantage of the $10 keyboard increase and $200 Surface increase, then you can't really cost the Surface Pen (which won't fit in the keyboard or offer haptic support). So, we've gone from $750 as a starting point to $1,100. Like-for-like, it's up $200 to start, and calling the SPX a proper alternative is just making excuses. I'm fine cutting the i3 model, but a feature-compromised SPX doesn't exist the SP8's price jump. The full Surface experience used to start around $900, after buying the tablet (which can't with a pen) and keyboard. Now, it starts at almost $1,400. Yes, there's more to the platform as a whole, but that is true of the whole market, whose prices haven't climbed at the same rate as Microsoft's.
  • "So, we've gone from $750 as a starting point to $1,100. "
    Right, but that is only because the i3/128GB/4GB model was "too underpowered" for many, so they listened and got rid of it. Isn't that what you all wanted? Were we naive to think that suddenly the i5 model with 8GB of RAM was going to be $750? Re: the rest, the fact is the display is now bigger at 13", is 120Hz, and there's an adaptive color sensor — what other PC offers that? The SSD is also now upgradable so doing a 1:1 comparison between SP8 and SP7 only reveals how much more you are now getting with Pro 8.
  • I specifically addressed the asked change at the lowest price point. I never felt the i3 needed dropped (though I was against their use of the m3), but I did default to recommending the i5 model. Using this to mashed the argument is a pointless thing in the first place. What's really ridiculous is the $200 increase. Most of what MS added was catching up on years of being Apple levels of lazy. We got 11th green Intel, a replaceable SSD, and an improved port package (compared to the SP7) in the SP7+. The i5 started at $1,000 with that thing too. The package is more trying to get MS out of 2017, and the improvements don't do much to justify the higher price. They didn't ask as much for these features on the SPX or SP7+, and I don't think the display, haptic, and higher refresh rate are enough to say they made innovations that explain moving to a starting price of $1,200.
  • "I don't think the display, haptic, and higher refresh rate are enough to say they made innovations that explain moving to a starting price of $1,200."
    Someone needs to pay for those things. I'm not sure where you think increased specs/features = free/MS eats the cost. MS is a business. If Surface Pro 8 sells well, then your argument has no merit, because the market is determining its value. If, however, Microsoft goes back, brings back an i3 consumer model, permanently drops the price, etc. they are adjusting. Even still, this is all mostly moot as Microsoft routinely puts Surface Pros on sales months after release just like Pro 7. Let the market decide what things are worth. Anything else beyond that is just personal opinions driven by wants and desire.
  • Enough said, Amen
  • COSTCO will have a bundle that includes the keyboard and pen for free.
  • You are wrong when you it isn't exactly true that 4gb of ram is insufficient. It is absolutely insufficient unless you want a very slow and laggy experience.
  • I don't think that it's exactly insufficient, but it's not good and I think that the real problem is that the 4gb+128gb model was there for the sole purpose of making the device look cheaper than it actually is, no one spending 900$/1000$ (including keyboard/keyboard+pen) is expecting a slow device and that's why I think it's bad, it's only there for marketing and it results in a few "victims". In 2021 there are a few specs that in my opinion should be met, those are 4 cores/8 threads, 8gb of RAM and 256gb of storage, anything less should be avoided.
  • I've run Surface Go with 4GB of RAM and disagree. Windows 10/11 memory management is quite good. It depends on your tasks and workload. Maybe yours is too much for 4GB, that's fine. Not everyone is you. The point is moot, anyway, as Microsoft ditched 4GB of RAM for the Pro line, but not for Go, and now Pro starts at a higher price.
  • You should check out the link I included with that text. Rubino addresses it quite well in his video. That being said, Microsoft has moved away from a 4GB model.
  • 4GB is fine for a lot of workflows. Not mine, and maybe not yours, but for many.
  • What I would do is buy the i5+16gb+256gb and then upgrade the SSD to 1tb, the difference in performance between an i5 and i7 is very small to pay the extra 200$. 2230 SSDs are are to find, só you have to go to Ebay, but then you can just spend 150$ for 1tb instead of 500$ to get 512gb. Some people don't know how to and aren't willing it do it, but I am.
  • My 1TB just showed from eBay and I'm writing a guide on it for next week. It's technically simple, but finding the right SSD is complicated. And yes, upgrading the SSD is the best way to save money in all of this, something that was not possible with Surface Pro 7.
  • The real new entry price point for a Surface is the Surface Go 3. The i3, 8gb, 128 Surface Go 3 is $630 plus $99 for the cheapest Type Cover. That i3 is faster than the i5 in the Surface Pro4, 5 and maybe even 6.
  • This was a useful breakdown/comparison, thanks. Exactly what I would have had to do myself, as it did seem like there was no "Surface tax" relief. And that's apparently true! That's OK - I still think this is good value for me, and it'll be better by the time I'm in the market again.
  • I'm glad it helped! Researching this piece was quite illuminating tbh. I was surprised by some of the price differences. I also wonder how many people know about the more affordable Surface Pro Keyboard.