Surface Pro 8 review: Microsoft’s best Windows tablet gets big upgrade

More refined design, bigger screen and Thunderbolt ports add to winning formula for convertible PC

Microsoft’s category-defining Windows 11 tablet finally gets the design and feature upgrade Surface Pro fans have been clamouring for, but it comes with the sting of price hike.

The Surface Pro 8 starts at £999 ($999/A$1,649), without the essential £160 ($160/A$260) keyboard, which is £100 more for the tablet and £35 more for the keyboard than last year’s equivalent models.

It’s the biggest upgrade since 2014: the design has been revamped to match the more modern-looking Surface Pro X, with rounded corners, slimmer bezels and a switch from magnesium to aluminium for the body. It is 116g heavier and 0.8mm thicker than the last model but looks and feels great.

microsoft surface pro 8 review
The kickstand at the back is just as good as previous Surface devices, able to hold the tablet steady at a large range of angles. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

At 13in on the diagonal, the screen is bigger than the 12.3in of its predecessors. It is still compact compared with a laptop, but the larger screen makes working with multiple windows a bit easier. The display supports a faster refresh rate of up to 120Hz too, which is common on smartphones, high-end tablets and found on Apple’s latest MacBook Pro.

Disappointingly the 120Hz screen is a feature yet to be fully realised. The Pro 8 is waiting on a firmware update due next year to enable variable refresh rates, which allows the screen to automatically adjust its speed depending on the content on display, saving battery for static images while being super smooth for fast moving animations. For now it is set to 60Hz by default to save battery life.


  • Screen: 13in LCD 2880x1920 (267 PPI) 120Hz

  • Processor: Intel Core i5 or i7 (11th generation)

  • RAM: 8, 16 or 32GB

  • Storage: 128, 256, 512GB or 1TB

  • Graphics: Intel Iris Xe

  • Operating system: Windows 11 Home

  • Camera: 10MP rear, 5MP front with Windows Hello

  • Connectivity: Wifi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, 2x Thunderbolt 4/USB-4, headphones, Surface Connect

  • Dimensions: 287 x 208x 9.3 mm

  • Weight: 891g (without keyboard)

Faster and quieter

microsoft surface pro 8 review
The tablet fully charges in just over an hour and half, reaching 50% in 35 minutes using the included Surface Connect power adaptor. It can charge from the Thunderbolt ports too. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Pro 8 ships with new 11th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 chips (as tested), which are 10%-15% faster than previous models in benchmarks and matched the performance of the Surface Laptop 4.

A cooling system upgrade keeps the machine silent for most of the time, requiring the fans a lot less frequently than previous versions, which was a very welcome change.

Microsoft has finally adopted Thunderbolt connectivity too, kitting out the Pro 8 with two USB/Thunderbolt 4 ports, which is a big, modern upgrade for connecting to displays, high-speed drives and docks, as well as charging. However, the useful microSD card slot and USB-A socket of previous models have been removed.

Battery life remains very similar to previous models with only about seven hours of work between charges, which is less than half the 16 hours of the market-leading MacBook Air.


Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review
The Surface Pro 8 has a removable SSD hidden under a flap at the back, which means you can upgrade the storage after purchase, but Microsoft states it should only be replaced by technicians. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Microsoft does not provide an expected lifespan for the Pro 8’s battery; those in similar devices typically maintain at least 80% of their original capacity for in excess of 500 full charge cycles. The tablet is generally repairable with an out-of-warranty service fee of £424.02 and a battery replacement fee of £280.44.

The tablet contains no recycled materials, but Microsoft operates recycling schemes for old machines, publishes a company-wide sustainability report and a breakdown of each product’s environmental impact.

Windows 11

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review
The Windows Hello face recognition is super quick at logging you in. The 5MP web cam is one of the best for video calls, but has a relatively low angle for more up-nose shots than you might like. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Pro 8 runs the new Windows 11, which is the same as the Go 3 tablet, but is much snappier because of the faster chips. Windows 11 is a better fit for a tablet, with a more touch-friendly interface and significantly improved touchscreen keyboard.

Windows 11 is still a little rough around the edges but is improving rapidly. Those transitioning from Windows 10 will find it mostly works the same with a few design changes such as the central Start menu.

Signature keyboard and Slim Pen 2

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review
The Slim Pen 2 is one of the very best styluses available: precise, with very low latency and a great feel. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Pro 8 tablet is only half the equation. It supports Microsoft’s updated Signature detachable keyboard, which is stiffer and flexes less when you type than its predecessor. The keys and trackpad are still great.

The new Slim Pen 2 stylus has a small vibrating motor in it, which activates when you drag the it across the screen to provide the sensation of pen-on-paper. It won’t miraculously give you artistic talent, but it really adds to the experience of drawing or writing on glass. Some apps can make the pen feel like it is clicking, too, when you activate certain functions or menus.

The Slim Pen 2’s haptics only work in apps that support it, such as Microsoft’s Word, Journal, Whiteboard and PowerPoint, Adobe Fresco and a small handful of others so far.


Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review
Pull the keyboard away from the tablet to reveal the hidden magnetic charging and storage tray for the Slim Pen 2, which is a very neat solution to the problem of where to put a stylus when not in use. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
  • The speakers are decent and can get quite loud, but lack bass.

  • The screen is very reflective, which could make using it outdoors in direct light a challenge.


The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 starts at £999 ($999/A$1,649) with an Intel Core i5, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and is available in various different memory and storage combinations. Versions with the Core i7 chip start at £1,499 ($1,599/A$2,399).

The Signature keyboard costs £159.99 ($159.99/A$259.95) on its own or £259.99 ($279.99/A$429.95) with the Slim Pen 2.

For comparison, the Surface Laptop 4 starts at £799, the Surface Go 2 costs £369, the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 costs £1,199, the Apple iPad Pro 12.9in costs £999, the MacBook Air costs £999 and the MacBook Pro costs £1,899.


The Surface Pro 8 is Microsoft’s best tablet PC yet, finally adding some much-needed modern upgrades to an already winning formula.

The more rounded, sleeker design feels great. The larger, better screen with smaller bezels helps productivity. It has the latest Intel chips, runs much quieter and finally has Thunderbolt connectivity for docks, drives, displays and much more.

Battery life is just about good enough for a day of work, but miles behind market leaders. The 120Hz display will be a great feature once it is fully realised with an update. The removal of the microSD card slot is slightly disappointing, but the modular SSD is very welcome. The real starting cost of £1,160 with keyboard is slightly more than the equivalent standard laptop.

If you want a compact and adaptable Windows 11 machine that can turn from a solid laptop replacement to a creative tablet in an instant, the Surface Pro 8 is unrivalled.

Pros: great screen, good performance, Thunderbolt4/USB-4, excellent keyboard (essential additional purchase), excellent kickstand, Windows Hello, solid build, great stylus (optional purchase), removable SSD.

Cons: fairly expensive, keyboard should be included, no USB-A port, no microSD card slot, waiting for an update to enable the variable refresh rate of the screen.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review
The Surface Pro 8 is available in graphite black or platinum silver and feels extremely solid, ready to travel with you. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Other reviews


Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Surface Pro 9 review: Microsoft’s best tablet – if you pick the right one
Faster and easier to repair, Intel version is best yet, but Arm model isn’t ready for prime time

Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor

23, Jan, 2023 @7:00 AM

Article image
Surface Laptop Studio review: Microsoft’s top new quirky portable PC
Part laptop, part drawing tablet, part workstation, there’s nothing quite like this Windows 11 machine

Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor

29, Mar, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
Surface Go 2 review: Microsoft’s smaller, cheaper Windows 10 tablet
New model squeezes bigger screen in same body, for an excellent, affordable ultraportable PC

Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor

19, May, 2020 @6:00 AM

Article image
Microsoft Surface Go 3 review: small Windows 11 tablet can’t keep up
Beautiful, well-made design does not hide the poor performance and battery life at this price

Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor

25, Oct, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
Microsoft launches Surface Pro 8, Laptop Studio and Duo 2 phone
Windows 11 maker unveils hybrid PC products and accessibility kit for people with disabilities

Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor

22, Sep, 2021 @4:00 PM

Article image
Microsoft Surface Pro 7 review: the best Windows 10 tablet PC you can buy
USB-C completes top Windows 10 tablet with great screen, design and kickstand, plus latest Intel chips

Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor

23, Mar, 2020 @7:00 AM

Article image
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 review: cheaper, faster, better compact notebook
Small-frame Windows 11 machine has good keyboard, trackpad, slick design and better performance

Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor

28, Jun, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 review: slick operation but dated design
Premium Windows 11 PC offers smooth and quiet experience but is showing its age compared with rivals

Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor

21, Nov, 2022 @7:00 AM

Article image
Microsoft Surface Go review: tablet that's better for work than play
It’s fine to watch films on but this tablet transforms into a gutsy work laptop when paired with the Type Cover keyboard

Samuel Gibbs

06, Sep, 2018 @6:00 AM

Article image
Microsoft launches faster Surface Book 3 and Surface Go 2
Windows-maker updates top and cheapest PCs, and launches new headphones

Samuel Gibbs Consumer technology editor

06, May, 2020 @1:18 PM