The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is the biggest redesign of this productivity-focused tablet in years. From a new Type cover with a built-in stylus charging slot to Thunderbolt 4 ports to a 120Hz display, there are significant changes to both the design and the underlying hardware. These updates ensure that the Surface Pro 8 stay at the top of the heap for Windows tablets. However, the Surface is also a premium device that's more expensive than the average PC. Expect to pay at least S$2,000 for the base Core i5 model once you factor in the keyboard and pen, which in my opinion, are not optional.
- 13-inch (2,880 x 1,920 pixels, up to 120Hz) touchscreen
- Intel Core i7-1185G7 processor with 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD
- 891g (tablet only)
- 51.5 watt-hour battery
The bezels around the Surface's 13-inch screen are narrower than before. The display has been upgraded with a 120Hz refresh rate, though you have to manually choose between 60Hz and 120Hz in the settings. Microsoft plans to roll out Dynamic Refresh Rate, a Windows 11 feature that — like in high-end phones — automatically varies the refresh rate. While Dynamic Refresh Rate isn't available via Windows Update yet, you can get this feature by manually installing the latest Intel drivers. The Surface will then switch to 120Hz for certain scenarios like inking (with the pen) or scrolling. Web browsing using Microsoft Edge, though, remains at 60Hz. The display itself looks good, albeit not as vibrant as the OLED screens on recent Asus laptops. The colours and brightness, though, will adapt to ambient light conditions. But even at its brightest, the screen is too reflective when used outdoors in the day.
My favourite feature is actually the optional Surface Pro Signature Keyboard with Slim Pen 2 (S$399). The keyboard is excellent as usual. It feels stable and has surprisingly good key travel. It also has a slot to hold and charge the Slim Pen 2, which comes with haptic feedback to make writing with the stylus feel more like using a real pen. I like it. The vibrations are fairly subtle but they add a tactile element to the experience. I also like the sharper pen tip, while the stylus remains as responsive as ever. Meanwhile, the Surface Pro's USB-A port has been replaced by two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports. It's great that I can now charge the device via USB-C instead of using the bundled charger (via the proprietary Surface Connect port). But I'm not a fan of having to bring a dongle for my USB-A devices.
Those who spend their day in online video calls will be very pleased with the Surface's front-facing camera. Images were crisp and detailed. There's also face unlock, too. The rear camera is not too shabby either, but I'll stick to my phone camera. Performance-wise, the Intel Core i7 model I tested is responsive, with similar PCMark 10 scores as other ultrabooks in its class. Its Intel Iris Xe graphics is good enough for less demanding games. I played Hades and Minecraft Dungeons (using the included one-month free Xbox Game Pass) on the Surface without any issues. The device does become fairly warm when running the games.
My Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review set (Core i7, 16GB RAM and 256GB storage) costs S$2,399 by itself and S$2,798 with the keyboard and pen. It's not cheap, but it's similar to premium 2-in-1 convertibles from the likes of Dell and HP. The HP Spectre x360 16, a larger and more powerful convertible, is over S$3,000, for example. In the case of the Surface Pro 8, the price is justified by the revamped design, as well as the excellent keyboard and pen. The stylus, for one, is a must-have. The Surface is not quite perfect, though. Ports are limited and it's a bit heavier than its predecessor. Still, it's Microsoft's best Surface Pro yet, with the most significant upgrades in years. Get it now from the Microsoft Store, Lazada or Shopee.
Note: Review unit provided by Microsoft.
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