Microsoft Surface Pro 8 vs. X: Which is a better buy?

Surface Pro 8 Hero
Surface Pro 8 Hero (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Surface Pro 8 vs. Surface Pro X: Tech specs

While the Surface Pro 8 has seen a significant hardware bump over its predecessor, the Surface Pro X has remained mostly identical, with the only really noticeable change being the availability of a Wi-Fi-only version.

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CategorySurface Pro X (late 2021)Surface Pro 8
OSWindows 11 Home on ARMWindows 10 Home on ARM (LTE)Windows 11 Pro on ARM (commercial, LTE)Windows 11 HomeWindows 11 Pro (commercial)Windows 10 Pro (commercial)
ProcessorMicrosoft SQ1Microsoft SQ2Consumer:11th Gen IntelCore i5-1135G7Core i7-1185G7Commercial:11th Gen IntelCore i3-1115G4Core i5-1145G7Core i7-1185G7
GraphicsSQ1 Adreno 685SQ2 Adreno 690Intel UHD (i3)Intel Iris Xe (i5, i7)
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB SSDUpgradeable128GB, 256GB SSD (Wi-Fi, LTE)512GB, 1TB SSD (Wi-Fi)
Display13 inches2880x1920267 PPI3:2 aspect ratioTouch13 inches2880x1920267 PPI3:2 aspect ratioUp to 120Hz (60Hz default)Touch
PortsTwo USB-C 3.2 (Gen 2)Surface ConnectNano SIM (LTE model)Two Thunderbolt 4Surface Connect3.5mm audio
AudioDual 2W speakersDolby AudioDual far-field studio micsDual 2W stereo speakersDolby AtmosDual far-field studio mics
ConnectivityWi-Fi 5Bluetooth 5.0Snapdragon X24 LTENano SIM, eSIM supportWi-Fi 6Bluetooth 5.1Snapdragon X20 LTEeSIM support
CameraIR cameraFront-facing 5MP (1080p)Rear-facing 10MP (1080p, 4K)IR cameraFront-facing 5MP (1080p)Rear-facing 10MP (1080p, 4K)
KeyboardSurface Pro Signature keyboardSurface Pro keyboardNot includedSurface Pro Signature keyboardNot included
PenSurface Slim Pen 2Not includedSurface Slim Pen 2Not included
SecurityFirmware TPMBitLocker supportIR cameraTPM 2.0IR camera
BatteryUp to 15 hoursUp to 16 hours
Dimensions11.3 x 8.2 x 0.28 inches(287mm x 208mm x 7.3mm)11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches(287mm x 208.3mm x 9.4mm)
WeightFrom 1.7 pounds (774g)1.96 pounds (891g)
ColorPlatinumMatte BlackPlatinumGraphite

Surface Pro 8 gets its biggest upgrade in years

As much of a game-changing device the Surface Pro has proved to be for the Windows ecosystem, every year there has always been something missing. With the Surface Pro 8 that finally goes away, as the device has seen its biggest upgrade in some years.

On the outside, it now looks basically identical to the Surface Pro X. It's a little thicker and a little heavier, but the display has been bumped to the same 13 inches as you find on the Pro X with the same super skinny bezels. The Surface Pro 8 also supports the newest signature keyboard cover and the Surface Slim Pen. And like the Pro X, it also comes in both Wi-Fi-only and cellular versions.

But one of the biggest omissions has always been Thunderbolt, which for a device with "Pro" in its name, felt like a mistake. That's now finally been rectified, and Thunderbolt 4 is on the Surface Pro 8 for superfast data transfer. If you always wanted to use an eGPU, a Thunderbolt dock, or a Thunderbolt-enabled external display with your Surface Pro, now you can.

Thunderbolt doesn't come at the expense of anything else, either. It retains the Surface Connect port so legacy docks and chargers can still be used.

Surface Pro X is now the cheaper option

Surface Pro X

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

With the addition of a Wi-Fi-only version of the Surface Pro X, it now becomes the cheapest option for a 2021 model Surface Pro. Starting at $900, removing the cellular connectivity drops $100 off the entry-level model and $200 off more expensive specifications.

By comparison, a Wi-Fi-only Surface Pro 8 starts at $1,100. Naturally, even the base model benefits from features the Surface Pro X doesn't have, like Wi-Fi 6 and Thunderbolt 4, but at $200 more expensive. If these features don't interest you, then you stand to save a good chunk of change going with the Surface Pro X.

If price is important and you're looking to get a new Surface Pro for the lowest possible price, then the Surface Pro X certainly has the edge.

Windows 11 out of the box (mostly)

Surface Pro

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

Naturally, the newest Surface Pro devices will ship with Windows 11. Mostly. The new Wi-Fi-only model of the Surface Pro X will ship with Windows 11 pre-installed, though Microsoft is currently saying that the LTE model will still ship with Windows 10 and that you'll have to do the upgrade yourself.

It's also worth remembering that the Surface Pro X will be running Windows 11 on ARM. Windows for ARM processors has come a long way, but it should still be remembered that you may encounter issues with compatibility. That said, if you mostly use Microsoft Store applications, you should be OK.

The enterprise versions of the Surface Pro 8 are also available with Windows 10, but the upgrade to Windows 11 isn't a difficult process if you do need to do it yourself.

Difficult but not impossible choice

With two devices that are extremely close to each other, choosing can be difficult, but not impossible. Ultimately you should consider a couple of things.

If you want to spend the least, the Surface Pro X is a perfect choice. It's close enough to the Surface Pro 8 for the average user that you shouldn't notice much difference in overall use. It supports the same keyboard and pen, looks the same, has similar battery life and is actually slimmer and lighter.

If performance is more important, as are features like Wi-Fi 6 and Thunderbolt 4, then you're better off with the Surface Pro 8.

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at