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Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021) Laptop Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Feb 21, 2022 at 10:32 am
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021) Picture
7.7
School
6.7
Gaming
7.9
Multimedia
7.2
Workstation
7.4
Business
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Size
13"
Operating System
Windows 11
CPU
Intel Core i7-1185G7
GPU
Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7
RAM
16 GB
Storage
256 GB

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021) is a Windows tablet PC with a built-in kickstand and detachable keyboard. It's easy to take around since it's thin and lightweight, yet it feels sturdy, with excellent build quality. Even though the type cover keyboard is thin, it feels satisfying to type on and doesn't cause fatigue over extended periods. It has a very bright, vibrant, and sharp display which supports dynamic refresh rate to balance performance with battery life, ramping up to 120Hz for smooth scrolling and cursor movements. Also, its tall 3:2 aspect ratio provides more vertical room, allowing you to scroll less when formatting text or reading articles. It has an outstanding webcam and microphone that records clear, detailed video and crisp audio, so it's great for video conferences. It only has two USB-C ports, so you'll need to use dongles for your wired peripherals, but they both support USB4 and Thunderbolt 4 for fast data transfer rates and high-resolution video output. Unfortunately, its battery can't get through a full 8-hour workday, and since you can't get it with any dedicated GPUs, it isn't suitable for serious gamers or professionals who need lots of graphical horsepower.

We tested the Surface Pro 8 with an Intel Core i7-1185G7, integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. You can also get it with an i5-1135G7 CPU, 8GB or 32GB of RAM, and up to a 1TB SSD. If you only need a device to run light productivity tasks, the base model with an i5, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD will be more than enough to power through your typical workday while remaining lightweight and usable as a tablet. The highest-end i7 option with 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD is suitable for heavy multitaskers and people who store lots of local files. However, it'll likely be overkill for most people, especially since you can't equip it with any dedicated GPUs for very demanding tasks that utilize all the system's available resources.

Our Verdict

7.7 School

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is a good laptop for school use. It's easy to carry around since it's thin and lightweight, and its aluminum chassis feels sturdy, with excellent build quality. Its type cover keyboard feels great to type on and doesn't cause fatigue over time, allowing you to work on your assignments comfortably. It's a great choice for online classes since the webcam captures a clear, detailed image, and the microphone picks your voice up loudly and clearly. Unfortunately, its battery lasts only a little over 7 hours of light productivity, so you need to charge it during long days.

Pros
  • Thin and light chassis that's easy to carry around.
  • Sturdy, excellent-quality build.
  • Keyboard feels great and doesn't cause fatigue over extended periods.
  • Webcam captures a clear, detailed image, and microphone is loud and clear.
Cons
  • Battery lasts only a little over 7 hours of light productivity.
  • Touchpad is on the small side.
6.7 Gaming

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is only alright for gaming. It has a high refresh rate screen that goes up to 120Hz, providing fluid and smooth motion. You can get it with up to an Intel Core i7-1185G7 that's capable of handling medium-heavy workloads, but the laptop isn't available with any dedicated GPUs. Its integrated graphics perform similarly to entry-level dedicated GPUs like the NVIDIA GeForce MX350, but sadly, you still can't run modern triple-A games at good framerates. It's best suited for older games or less demanding titles. Surprisingly, it has an upgradeable SSD, but you can't upgrade the RAM.

Pros
  • Screen goes up to 120Hz.
  • Quad-core i7-1185G7 can handle medium-heavy CPU workloads.
  • Upgradeable storage.
Cons
  • No dedicated GPU.
  • RAM isn't upgradeable.
  • Need to use dongles if you're using multiple wired peripherals.
7.9 Multimedia

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is very good for multimedia playback. Its high-resolution screen is vibrant and bright, providing a detailed and colorful image, but it isn't enough to provide a great HDR experience since it doesn't have full DCI P3 coverage. Additionally, the speakers sound good overall and have an upper mid-heavy profile, but they don't get very loud. It's lightweight and easy to carry around, so you can easily watch videos while roaming around your home. Unfortunately, its battery can't quite last six hours of video playback, so you likely can't binge-watch your favorite shows without being prompted to plug in.

Pros
  • Thin and light chassis that's easy to carry around.
  • Vibrant, bright screen displays a crisp image.
  • Can overcome glare in very well-lit rooms.
Cons
  • Battery can't quite last six hours of video playback.
  • Speakers don't get very loud.
7.2 Workstation

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is decent as a workstation. It's available with quad-core Intel Core i5-1135G7 and i7-1185G7 CPUs that can handle moderately-heavy workloads and multitasking, as well as integrated graphics that perform similarly to entry-level dedicated GPUs. It's powerful enough for enthusiasts looking to get into workloads like 3D renders, video editing, or complex computations. However, it isn't suitable for industry professionals needing a powerful mobile rig since you can't get it with a high-end dedicated GPU. There are only two USB-C ports, but they both support USB4 and Thunderbolt 4 for flexible interfacing with displays and external storage.

Pros
  • Quad-core i7-1185G7 can handle medium-heavy CPU workloads.
  • Remarkably quick PCIe NVMe SSD.
  • Upgradeable storage.
  • Two Thunderbolt 4 ports.
Cons
  • No dedicated GPU.
  • CPU noticeably throttles.
  • Need to use dongles if you're using multiple wired peripherals.
7.4 Business

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is decent for business use. It has a sleek, aluminum chassis with excellent build quality and a lightweight, thin profile that makes it very portable. Its type cover keyboard feels great to type on and doesn't tire your fingers out over extended periods. In addition, it easily handles medium-heavy multitasking to help you work smoothly, and its clear webcam and microphone are great for video calls. Unfortunately, it only has two USB-C ports, so you need to use dongles or the Surface Connect port to attach to a dock if you intend to use it with multiple peripherals. Its battery can't last a full 8-hour workday, so you need to keep it plugged in.

Pros
  • Thin and light chassis that's easy to carry around.
  • Sturdy, excellent-quality build.
  • Keyboard feels great and doesn't cause fatigue over extended periods.
  • Webcam captures a clear, detailed image, and microphone is loud and clear.
Cons
  • Need to use dongles if you're using multiple wired peripherals.
  • Battery doesn't last a full workday.
  • Extremely difficult to open up and service.
  • 7.7 School
  • 6.7 Gaming
  • 7.9 Multimedia
  • 7.2 Workstation
  • 7.4 Business
  1. Updated Mar 08, 2022: We've changed the gamma to 2.09 as we had posted 1.09 by mistake.
  2. Updated Feb 23, 2022: The Dynamic Refresh Rate feature is only available if you manually download and install the latest graphics driver from Intel.
  3. Updated Feb 21, 2022: Review published.
  4. Updated Feb 16, 2022: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
Form Factor
Tablet

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is a tablet with a kickstand and a detachable keyboard. Like other Surface products, it has a sleek, modern design that fits well in a professional work environment. There's a chrome Microsoft logo on the kickstand and exhaust vents around the top and upper side edges of the tablet. The detachable Surface Pro Signature Keyboard comes in Black, Platinum, Ice Blue, and Poppy Red in a soft Alcantara finish, but you have to buy it separately. It isn't compatible with older Surface Pro keyboards aside from the Surface Pro X Keyboard, meaning if you have any other Surface Pro models, you have to pay extra for a compatible keyboard. It's worth mentioning that 2-in-1 devices with a keyboard attachment and kickstand usually aren't ideal for lap use. The keyboard can be unstable, the kickstand can be uncomfortable, and the screen can tip over easily because it's where most of the weight is.

8.5
Design
Build Quality

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8's build quality is excellent. It has an anodized aluminum chassis for a weighted, sturdy feel, and it doesn't easily pick up fingerprints. The keyboard cover attaches firmly to the laptop's bottom edge, and its strong magnets hold the keyboard steady at an angle while typing. Like most type cover keyboards, the Surface Pro 8's keyboard noticeably flexes when you type with it at an angle, but even so, it doesn't feel flimsy.

6.9
Design
Hinge
Range
170°
Stability
Good
One Finger Lift
No

The kickstand's hinge is adequate. There are indentations on either side of the kickstand to make it easier to open, and you can use one hand to open it up if the laptop is upside down. The kickstand's hinge is sturdy, smooth to adjust, and keeps the tablet propped up solidly at any angle. However, 170 degrees is the maximum angle of the tablet, not the range of the hinge, because the tablet would fall shut if it were at 90 degrees or less.

8.9
Design
Portability
Thickness
0.7" (1.8 cm)
Width
11.5" (29.1 cm)
Depth
8.5" (21.7 cm)
Volume
67.4 in³ (1,105.1 cm³)
Weight
2.6 lbs (1.2 kg)
Charger Size
6.9 in³ (112.5 cm³)
Charger Weight
0.6 lbs (0.3 kg)

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is a very portable and lightweight device, so it's easy to bring around with you. Its Surface Connect charger is also lightweight and compact. Without the keyboard attached, the Surface Pro 8 is slightly thinner and lighter, but it isn't enough of a difference to keep you from bringing the keyboard around while on the go. Here are the measurements of only the tablet portion:

  • Thickness: 0.37" (0.95 cm)
  • Width: 11.3" (28.7 cm)
  • Depth: 8.11" (20.6 cm)
  • Weight: 1.97 lbs (0.898 kg)

1.5
Design
Serviceability
Ease Of Access
0
RAM Slots
0
Storage Slots
1
Replaceable Battery
No
Replaceable Wireless Adapter
No

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has awful serviceability. It's extremely difficult to open without permanently damaging it. Additionally, the RAM isn't replaceable, so you need to purchase the model with the components that suit your needs. What's different compared to older models, however, is that you can replace the M.2 2230 SSD via a small access panel on the lower rear, behind the kickstand. You only need to use a thin, sturdy device like a SIM eject tool to open it. You can view the Microsoft Service manual, downloadable here under "Surface Pro 8 Service Guide", for more information. That said, opening the laptop and changing the hardware may void the manufacturer's warranty.

Design
In The Box

  • Microsoft Surface Pro 8 laptop
  • Surface Pro Signature Keyboard (Platinum, sold separately)
  • 60W Surface Connect power adapter and cord
  • Documentation

Display
Display
Screen Specs
Resolution
2880 x 1920
Aspect Ratio
3:2
Pixel Density
266 PPI
Panel Type
IPS
Touch Screen
Yes
Screen-To-Body Ratio
80%

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has a tall 3:2 aspect ratio, which gives you more vertical room when viewing articles or word documents. This means you don't have to scroll as much as you would on a 16:9 screen. Additionally, its superb pixel density means it's almost impossible to see individual pixels, even if you get very close to the screen, resulting in a very crisp, clear image. The side bezels are noticeably narrower than previous models, but that also means it's harder to hold the laptop like a tablet without activating the touch-sensitive display. It uses a PLS panel, which is similar to IPS technology, but it gets comparatively brighter and typically sports better viewing angles.

8.7
Display
Refresh Rate
Refresh Rate
120 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
Dynamic Refresh Rate

Update 02/23/2022: The Surface Pro 8's Dynamic Refresh Rate feature is only available if you manually download and install the latest graphics driver from Intel. Microsoft will likely add support in a future Windows update, but there isn't a specific date yet.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8's display supports an adaptive refresh rate that balances performance with battery life. It brings the screen down to 60Hz when content is mostly inactive, like when typing up an email or reading an article, but goes up to 120Hz when you scroll or write using a pen, resulting in very smooth-looking animations and fluid cursor movements. However, this Dynamic Refresh Rate feature is only available if you manually download and install the latest graphics driver from Intel. Otherwise, you can only set it to a fixed 60Hz or 120Hz. Because the response time is fast, there's almost no ghosting or trailing behind moving objects, making it a good option for viewing fast-moving content like sports.

7.4
Display
Contrast
Native Contrast
1,375 : 1

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has a decent contrast ratio. Its PLS panel delivers slightly deeper blacks than most IPS panels, but it's still not as good as a VA or OLED panel. This means that blacks still look a bit gray in the dark. The contrast ratio can vary between different units, but most will still be within a comparable range.

8.3
Display
Brightness
Maximum Brightness
432 cd/m²
Minimum Brightness
2 cd/m²

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 gets bright enough to overcome glare from sunny interiors, but it isn't bright enough to use outdoors. It gets very dim at its lowest setting, providing a low-light viewing experience that's easy on the eyes.

7.3
Display
Reflections
Screen Finish
Glossy
Total Reflections
4.31%
Indirect Reflections
0.69%
Calculated Direct Reflections
3.62%

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has decent reflection handling. It easily overcomes indirect glare from off-angle light sources; however, it's best not to have bright lights directly behind you since the screen can't quite overcome them, even at maximum brightness.

7.7
Display
Black Uniformity
Uniformity (Std. Dev.)
0.933%

The Microsoft Surface Pro's black uniformity is good. There are a few smudges closer to the center of the screen, as well as a tiny presence of IPS glow, but they're only visible when viewing very dark scenes in a dark environment. Black uniformity varies slightly among units due to manufacturing tolerances.

6.4
Display
Horizontal Viewing Angle
Color Washout From Left
25°
Color Washout From Right
26°
Color Shift From Left
28°
Color Shift From Right
35°
Brightness Loss From Left
26°
Brightness Loss From Right
27°
Black Level Raise From Left
60°
Black Level Raise From Right
60°
Gamma Shift From Left
24°
Gamma Shift From Right
26°

The Microsoft Surface Pro has passable horizontal viewing angles. The image remains accurate as long as you look at the screen from more or less straight on, but it quickly dims and washes out if you move sideways. This means it isn't very good for sharing content with people around you if color accuracy is important.

6.4
Display
Vertical Viewing Angle
Color Washout From Below
26°
Color Washout From Above
27°
Color Shift From Below
30°
Color Shift From Above
36°
Brightness Loss From Below
28°
Brightness Loss From Above
29°
Black Level Raise From Below
45°
Black Level Raise From Above
45°
Gamma Shift From Below
22°
Gamma Shift From Above
25°

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8's vertical viewing angles are passable. The image quickly dims, and colors quickly wash out if you look at the screen at sharper angles from above or below. For the best image accuracy, you still need to look at the screen from more or less straight on, which can be difficult in some situations because of its kickstand and type cover keyboard.

7.6
Display
Out-Of-The-Box Color Accuracy
Avg. White Balance dE
3.06
Avg. Gamma
2.09
Avg. Color dE
2.87
Avg. Color Temperature
6,150 K

Update 03/08/2022: The gamma has been changed to 2.09 as it was posted 1.09 by mistake. This change doesn't affect the overall score.

The Microsoft Surface Pro has good color accuracy out of the box. Most color inaccuracies aren't noticeable, but the gamma is slightly lower than the sRGB curve for all brightness levels, making all scenes appear a bit brighter than they should. Additionally, the white balance is noticeably off at higher brightness levels, and the image has a noticeably warm tint. It's fine for most people doing casual photo or video editing, but it isn't accurate enough for creative types who need professional-grade color accuracy.

The image looks similar between the "sRGB" and "Surface Panel Standard" color profiles, but "Surface Panel Standard" is the more accurate of the two. The "Vivid" option makes most colors appear more vibrant than they should be but is a better choice if you want to view HDR content. Color accuracy may vary between units due to manufacturing tolerances; however, these differences are often very hard to spot with the naked eye.

8.8
Display
Color Gamut
sRGB xy
99.89%
sRGB uv
99.62%
Adobe RGB xy
80.08%
Adobe RGB uv
88.07%
DCI P3 xy
84.95%
DCI P3 uv
88.99%
Rec. 2020 xy
60.96%
Rec. 2020 uv
64.85%

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has an excellent color gamut. It has full sRGB coverage, meaning it accurately displays all the colors used in most web content. Unfortunately, it doesn't have full Adobe RGB coverage, so it isn't suitable for content creators working in expanded color spaces, and since it also doesn't have full DCI P3 or Rec. 2020 coverage, it can't provide a great HDR viewing experience.

10
Display
Flicker
Flicker-Free
Yes
Flicker Frequency
No Flicker
Flicker Active Below
N/A

The Microsoft Surface Pro uses a flicker-free backlight, which helps reduce eye strain in people who are sensitive to rapid flickering.

Interface
8.2
Interface
Keyboard
Typing Quality
8.0
Numpad
No
Backlighting
Adjustable
Operating Force
64 gf
Actuation Force
38 gf
Pre-Travel
1.05 mm
Total Travel
1.8 mm

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has a great keyboard. It's a detachable type cover with a soft Alcantara finish, giving your wrists a comfortable spot to rest. The keys are well-spaced, feel satisfying to type on, and have a good amount of travel, so you can type for extended periods without feeling fatigued. Since it's thin, there's some flex if you type with it at an angle, but it still feels rigid. The backlight has three brightness levels, and you can also disable it.

7.6
Interface
Touchpad
Tracking Quality
8.0
Size
10.1 in² (65.0 cm²)
Material
Glass
Dedicated Buttons
No

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has a good touchpad. It tracks movements and gestures well and has good palm rejection. However, since it's small, it can be hard to perform large selections or long drag-and-drops. You can click anywhere, but it's harder to click at the top.

7.5
Interface
Speakers
Max Volume
72 dB SPL
Standard Error @ Normal Vol. (65 dB)
5.8 dB
Slope @ Normal Vol. (65 dB)
2.3
Bass Extension (Low-Frequency Ext.)
143 Hz
Treble Extension (High-Frequency Ext.)
20 kHz
Dynamic Range Compression @ Max Vol.
1.7 dB

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has good-sounding speakers. They have an upper mid-heavy profile that accentuates human speech. There's also a bump in the mid-treble that emphasizes sibilants, like spoken S's, which can overaccentuate sharp sounds. There's barely any compression at maximum volume, so content still sounds rich, but with that said, they don't get very loud.

8.7
Interface
Webcam & Microphone
Video Quality
9.0
Resolution
1080p
Position
Top Center
Privacy Cover
No
Face Unlock
Yes

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has an excellent webcam and microphone system and is among the best we've tested. The webcam clearly captures fine details like individual hair strands and knitted patterns, and it captures natural-looking colors. The microphone picks up voices loudly and clearly, and there's very little background noise, making it great for conference calls. There's also a separate near-infrared camera that supports Windows Hello, letting you log into your account, authenticate account sign-ins, and validate purchases.

Connectivity
5.5
Connectivity
Ports
USB-A Ports
0
USB-C Ports
2
Thunderbolt
Thunderbolt 4
USB-C Charging
Yes
USB-C Display Out
Yes
HDMI
No
DisplayPort
No
3.5mm Jack
Combo mic/headphone
Card Reader
No
Ethernet
No
Proprietary Port
Surface Connect
Security Lock
No

The Microsoft Surface Pro has a middling port selection. The included power adapter charges the laptop via the Surface Connect port, but this port can also attach to the Surface Dock or Surface Dock 2 to greatly increase your port selection in a stationary desk setup. There are only two USB-C ports, but they both support USB4 (data transfer up to 40Gbps), Thunderbolt 4 (up to 40Gbps), USB-C Display Out up to 4k @ 120Hz, and charging. Because there are few ports, though, you need to use dongles to hook up multiple wired peripherals.

Connectivity
Wireless Communication
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
Bluetooth
5.1

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 uses the Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 wireless adapter.

Configuration
Configuration
CPU
Brand
Intel
Model
Core i7-1185G7
Core Count
4
Thread Count
8

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has two CPU options: the Intel Core i5-1135G7 and the Intel Core i7-1185G7. Both are quad-core CPUs designed for light to medium productivity tasks and multitasking and can handle moderate workloads like photo editing and light video editing. They're powerful enough to run heavier loads like 3D rendering and physics simulations for enthusiast purposes; however, neither CPU is ideal for professionals who need top-of-the-line performance to get large 3D animations or complex rendered environments in on a deadline. The i7 has a faster core clock speed, so its slightly superior single- and multi-thread performance makes it the better choice if you intend to heavily multitask or run CPU-heavy applications.

Configuration
GPU
Brand
Intel
Model
Iris Xe Graphics G7
Dedicated/Integrated
Integrated
VRAM Size
N/A

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is available only with integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7. The i5 models have 80 execution units, whereas the i7 models have 96 execution units. The i7 performs better in graphically demanding tasks like video games, but you'll only notice a small difference in typical productivity use like video playback responsiveness. They both perform similarly to entry-level dedicated GPUs like the NVIDIA GeForce MX350 in the Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020).

Configuration
RAM
Capacity
16 GB
Modules
8 (Soldered)
Type
LP-DDR4X
Speed
4,267 MHz

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 comes with 8, 16, or 32GB of RAM. It's best to opt for at least 16GB if you intend to use the laptop for medium to heavy multitasking, as you'll encounter stutters and lag if you have only 8GB. The 8 memory modules run in quad-channel mode.

Configuration
Storage
Advertised Capacity
256 GB
Usable Capacity
208 GB
Drive 1
SK Hynix HFM256GD3GX013N
Drive 1 Type SSD
Drive 2
No 2nd Drive
Drive 2 Type No 2nd Drive

You can get the Microsoft Surface Pro with a 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD. The i5 models can have up to 512GB of storage, whereas the i7 models start with 256GB; additionally, variants with the Graphite color scheme aren't available with 128GB or 1TB of storage. However, you can replace the M.2 2230 SSD via a small panel at the back, so you can get the lowest-end model and upgrade it yourself if you want to save some money and only need bigger storage. It can be hard to find brand-new M.2 2230 SSDs on the market since the form factor isn't common for consumer use.

Performance
8.1
Performance
Geekbench 5 (Synthetics)
CPU Single-Thread
1,317 points
CPU Multi-Thread
5,089 points
GPU Compute
19,125 points

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 with the Intel Core i7-1185G7 performs very well in the Geekbench 5 benchmarks. Its single-thread performance is outstanding, similar to the Ryzen 5 5600H in the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop 15 (2021), so it runs photo editing applications and some older, less optimized games very smoothly. Its multi-thread performance is also very good, meaning that highly threaded workloads and most modern applications run well, and there are little to no stutters when multitasking. Although the integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7 with 96 execution units has sub-par performance in computational workloads, it's comparable to entry-level dedicated GPUs like the NVIDIA GeForce MX350 and can run simple calculations and simulations.

The Intel Core i5-1135G7 will perform somewhat worse in all aspects. This is because its CPU runs at a slightly lower clock speed, and its integrated GPU only has 80 execution units. However, it's still a good option when running moderately demanding applications or having multiple browser tabs open.

8.2
Performance
Cinebench R23 (CPU Rendering)
Single-Thread
1,243 points
Multi-Thread
5,213 points

The Microsoft Surface Pro has great performance in CPU rendering workloads, so it's a good option for enthusiasts looking to get into 3D renders. The i5-1135G7 will perform a little bit worse, but it's still a compelling performer.

5.8
Performance
Blender (3D Rendering)
CPU Render Time
7.8 min
GPU Render Time
N/A
GPU Render Time (Optix)
N/A

The Microsoft Surface Pro has middling performance when rendering 3D scenes in Blender. The i7-1185G7 takes more than seven minutes to render the simple bmw27 scene, so it isn't suitable for content creators who work on a deadline. The i5-1135G7 will take noticeably longer to render the same scene because it runs at a slower clock speed. Blender doesn't support the integrated Iris Xe Graphics, but it'll likely take longer than the CPU to render the same scene no matter which CPU you choose.

5.4
Performance
Basemark GPU (Game Scene)
Overall Score
19,134

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has disappointing performance in the Basemark GPU benchmark. However, the Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7 performs much better than other integrated GPUs found on other power-efficient laptops. It can easily handle puzzle games from the Microsoft Store, and can likely run older titles and newer indie releases smoothly.

9.2
Performance
Storage Drive Performance
Sequential Write Speed
1,195.4 MB/s
Sequential Read Speed
2,262.0 MB/s
Random Write Speed
76.9 MB/s
Random Read Speed
56.5 MB/s

The Microsoft Surface Pro's PCIe NVMe SSD has outstanding performance. Its fast read and write speeds mean that it boots up, launches applications, and transfers small files very quickly. Its sequential write speed is slightly slower in comparison, so transferring large files takes a bit longer, but the laptop still feels snappy and responsive. The speed of the SSD may vary depending on the size, as larger SSDs tend to perform better.

6.3
Performance
Battery
Capacity
50 Wh
Battery Life (Web Browsing)
7.3 hrs
Battery Life (Video Playback)
5.7 hrs
Battery Life (Gaming)
2.4 hrs
Charge Time
2.5 hrs

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has a mediocre battery that doesn't last nearly as long in typical real-world use as the 16 hours Microsoft advertises. It can't quite get through a full 8-hour workday of light productivity, so you'll need to either top it up or keep it plugged in using its Surface Connect power adapter or via USB-C. It can only comfortably get through two feature-length films, so it isn't suitable for binge-watching. However, it lasts more than two hours when gaming at full tilt on battery power, significantly longer than laptops that use a dedicated GPU. Variants with the Intel Core i5-1135G7 will last a bit longer on a full charge, likely enough to get through a typical 8-hour workday because the CPU runs at a lower clock speed and the GPU is less demanding. Battery life can vary greatly depending on your usage.

1.9
Performance
Borderlands 3
Avg. FPS
12 fps
1% Low
6 fps
0.1% Low
2 fps
1% Low Delta
94 ms
0.1% Low Delta
341 ms
Avg. FPS On Very Low
25 fps

The Microsoft Surface Pro runs Borderlands 3 very badly and can barely achieve double-digit framerates on "High" settings. On the "Very Low" preset, it can barely run the game at a playable framerate, but there are still plenty of stutters that can make the game frustrating to play. The i5-1135G7 will run the game even worse since its integrated GPU has fewer execution units.

4.8
Performance
Civilization VI
Avg. FPS
24 fps
1% Low
17 fps
0.1% Low
16 fps
1% Low Delta
18 ms
0.1% Low Delta
21 ms
Avg. FPS On Minimum
93 fps
Avg. Turn Time
8.31 s

The Microsoft Surface Pro runs Civilization VI poorly. The turn times are comparable to even high-end laptops like the Dell Alienware m15 R3 (2020) with the Intel Core i7-10750H, but the Surface Pro 8 can't maintain 30fps unless you bring a couple of graphical settings down. The game runs significantly better if you use the "Minimum" preset, although it's still playable at lower framerates since it's a turn-based strategy game that doesn't require precise movements or fast reflexes. The i5-1135G7 will perform slightly worse and have slightly longer turn times because of its slower clock speed.

7.7
Performance
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Avg. FPS
93 fps
1% Low
51 fps
0.1% Low
42 fps
1% Low Delta
9 ms
0.1% Low Delta
13 ms
Avg. FPS On Low
161 fps

The Microsoft Surface Pro runs CS:GO well. It averages more than 60FPS on the highest graphical settings, so gameplay is smooth. If you want to take advantage of the high refresh rate display for more fluid cursor movements and potentially better aiming, you need to lower most of the graphical settings to achieve higher framerates. The i5-1135G7 will perform noticeably worse because of its slower core clock speed and fewer GPU execution units.

3.4
Performance
Shadow Of The Tomb Raider
Avg. FPS
22 fps
1% Low
12 fps
0.1% Low
4 fps
1% Low Delta
41 ms
0.1% Low Delta
180 ms
Avg. FPS On Lowest
40 fps

The Microsoft Surface Pro runs Shadow of the Tomb Raider poorly. At High settings, it can't maintain a playable framerate, and there are lots of microstutters that contribute to a less-than-satisfactory gaming experience. It's playable on the lowest graphical settings, but it's still far from smooth. The large frame time spikes are scene changes in the benchmark and aren't representative of real gameplay. The i5-1135G7 will perform noticeably worse since its integrated GPU has fewer execution cores.

9.5
Performance
Thermals And Noise
Keyboard Temp While Idle
32 °C (90 °F)
Keyboard Temp Under Load
32 °C (90 °F)
Fan Noise While Idle
25.0 dBA
Fan Noise Under Load
25.0 dBA
Power & Fan Control App
No

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has superb thermal and noise handling. The fan is almost completely silent even when the laptop is running at full tilt, meaning it's suitable for use in noise-sensitive environments like classrooms. The tablet portion houses all the laptop's components, so the keyboard doesn't get hot at all. Under load, though, the bottom center of the tablet gets hot, as you can see here, so it can be uncomfortable to use in tablet mode depending on how you hold it.

7.9
Performance
Performance Over Time
CPU Temp (Cinebench)
63 °C
CPU Perf. Loss (Cinebench)
10% loss
GPU Temp (Heaven)
61 °C
GPU Perf. Loss (Heaven)
2% loss

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has very good performance over time. The GPU barely throttles before the fans kick in to bring the performance back up. In contrast, the CPU loses a noticeable amount of performance and doesn't regain it even when the fans ramp up to cool it. That said, the performance loss is only noticeable during very long periods of load, like when gaming, running long calculations, or rendering large 3D scenes or long videos.

Additional Features And Software
Additional Features And Software
Software
Operating System
Windows 11
Additional Software
None

The Microsoft Surface Pro comes with Windows 11 preinstalled, which is the successor to Windows 10 with a simplified interface and design. It doesn't come with any other software out of the box other than a Microsoft Office trial.

Additional Features And Software
Extra Features
RGB Illumination
No
Touch Pen
No
Secondary Display
No
Biometrics
Face Recognition

The Microsoft Surface Pro uses a Windows Hello–capable camera that you can use to log into your account, authenticate sign-ins on browsers, and validate purchases on the Windows Store. It's fully compatible with the Surface Slim Pen 2, which has haptic feedback to simulate the feeling of using different writing tools on different surfaces. It also slots into a hidden spot in the keyboard to charge instead of using a replaceable battery. Any pen supporting Microsoft Pen Protocol will work fine, though.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

We tested the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021) with an Intel Core i7-1185G7 CPU, integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD, in the Platinum color scheme. Aside from the screen, all the components are configurable; you can see the available options in the table below.

Screen
  • 13" IPS 2880 x 1920 120Hz, touchscreen
CPU
  • Intel Core i5-1135G7 (4 cores/8 threads, up to 4.2GHz)
  • Intel Core i7-1185G7 (4 cores/8 threads, up to 4.8GHz)
GPU
  • Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7 (integrated, i5-1135G7, 80EU)
  • Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7 (integrated, i7-1185G7, 96EU)
RAM
  • 8GB LP-DDR4x 4267MHz (i5 only)
  • 16GB LP-DDR4x 4267MHz
  • 32GB LP-DDR4x 4267MHz (i7 with 1TB SSD only)
Storage
  • 128GB M.2 2230 PCIe NVMe SSD (i5 only)
  • 256GB M.2 2230 PCIe NVMe SSD
  • 512GB M.2 2230 PCIe NVMe SSD
  • 1TB M.2 2230 PCIe NVMe SSD (i7 only)
Color
  • Platinum
  • Graphite (unavailable with an i5/128GB or i7/1TB)

Our display and performance results are only valid for the configuration we tested. If you come across a different configuration option not listed above, or you have a similar Microsoft Surface Pro 8 that doesn't correspond to our review, let us know, and we'll update it. Some tests, like black uniformity and color accuracy, may vary between individual units.

You can see our unit's label here.

Compared To Other Laptops

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021) is a thin and lightweight tablet PC. The Surface lineup popularized the 2-in-1 form factor, and its kickstand and type cover are still among the best for this type of device. It isn't the most comfortable for lap use but is well suited for use atop a desk or table, or as a tablet. This laptop isn't ideal for creative professionals who work on a deadline. However, its great keyboard and touchpad, remarkable webcam and microphone, and bright, vibrant display make it a great standalone productivity device.

Microsoft Surface Go 3 (2021)

The Microsoft Surface Go 3 (2021) and the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021) are both Windows tablets with detachable keyboards. The Surface Pro is better overall, with a sharper, brighter, more color-accurate display that goes up to a 120Hz refresh rate, a better-spaced keyboard and larger touchpad, and two USB-C ports that both support Thunderbolt 4. Also, the Surface Pro is available with much more powerful Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs, lasts much longer when playing back video, and its SSD is replaceable. The Surface Go is lighter and more compact, so it's easy to bring around, but its screen flickers below 100% brightness, which can cause eye strain and headaches in people who are sensitive to strobing.

Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020)

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021) and the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) are both thin and light devices suitable for on-the-go productivity use. The Surface is a tablet that runs Windows, while the MacBook is a traditional clamshell that runs macOS. The MacBook's M1 chip performs better when multitasking and running demanding tasks, and it provides almost double the battery life when browsing the web compared to the Surface. The MacBook also has a more color-accurate display with full DCI P3 coverage that's better suited for content creators, and its touchpad and speakers are better. On the other hand, the Surface's screen is sharper, brighter, and goes up to a 120Hz refresh rate, its keyboard feels better to type on, and its webcam and microphone are much better suited for video calls. Also, the Surface throttles less, and its two USB-C ports support Thunderbolt 4 as opposed to Thunderbolt 3 on the MacBook.

Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021)

The Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021) and the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021) are both very different laptops. The MacBook is a mobile workstation aimed towards content creators with heavy workloads, whereas the Surface is a tablet meant for productivity use. The MacBook's M1 Pro and M1 Max chips are significantly better at handling heavy tasks like video editing and 3D rendering than the Surface's Intel chips. Additionally, the MacBook's display, touchpad, and speakers are significantly better, and it has a more flexible port selection and a much longer battery life. On the other hand, the Surface's slightly taller 3:2 aspect ratio means you have to scroll less when reading articles or formatting text, and since it's lighter and more compact, it's easier to bring around. Also, you can easily replace its M.2 drive.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 (2020)

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 (2020) is a convertible with a 360-degree hinge, while the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021) is a tablet with a detachable keyboard. The Surface is better for most uses, with a high refresh rate 120Hz display that's sharper, brighter, and more color accurate, a much better touchpad, and a far superior webcam and microphone that are better for video conferences. Additionally, it's much more portable since it's lighter and more compact. On the other hand, the Lenovo has a more flexible port selection, its battery lasts much longer, and you can get it with a dedicated NVIDIA MX330 GPU.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 (2019)

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021) and the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 (2019) are both Microsoft-made devices that run Windows. The Surface Pro is a tablet with a detachable keyboard, while the Surface Laptop is a traditional clamshell. The Surface Pro is better with a sharper, brighter display that has a wider color gamut and goes up to a 120Hz refresh rate, better-sounding speakers, and two USB-C ports that both support Thunderbolt 4. Also, it's more compact, has slightly longer battery life for light productivity tasks, and is available with newer and much more powerful Intel CPUs. On the other hand, the Surface Laptop's build quality is significantly better and sturdier, its display is significantly more color-accurate, and its touchpad is larger and tracks gestures better.

Microsoft Surface Go 2 (2020)

The Microsoft Surface Go 2 (2020) and the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021) are both Windows tablets with detachable keyboards. The Surface Pro is better overall, with a sharper, brighter display that goes up to a 120Hz refresh rate, a better-spaced keyboard and larger touchpad, and two USB-C ports that both support Thunderbolt 4. Also, the Surface Pro is available with newer, much more powerful Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs, lasts longer when playing back video, and its SSD is replaceable. On the other hand, the Surface Go is much more lightweight and compact, making it easy to bring around, it lasts longer when browsing the web, and its display is much more color-accurate.

Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2019)

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021) and the Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2019) are both very different laptops. The MacBook is a mobile workstation aimed towards content creators with heavy workloads, whereas the Surface is a tablet meant for productivity use. The Surface's screen looks sharper, it supports a faster 120Hz refresh rate, and its slightly taller 3:2 aspect ratio means you have to scroll less when reading articles or formatting text. Additionally, it's easier to bring around since it's much smaller and lighter, its keyboard feels significantly better to use, and its 1080p webcam is better for video conferences. On the other hand, the MacBook's display has a wider color gamut with full DCI P3 coverage, its touchpad and speakers are far better, it has more Thunderbolt ports, and its battery lasts much longer. Also, its selection of higher-end Intel 9th Gen CPUs outperforms the more power-efficient Intel 11th Gen CPUs on the Surface, and you can get the MacBook with dedicated mobile workstation GPUs.

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