Microsoft has slightly tweaked its Surface Pro 8 with a slightly larger screen and a switch to 11th generation Intel processors. This convertible without a keyboard (sold as an option) offers foolproof versatility.
Microsoft's convertible dedicated to mobile workers gets a slight facelift, both inside and out. The Surface Pro 8 now has a 13-inch screen and 11th-generation Intel processors, but its keyboard is still sold as an option. We tested the version equipped with the Intel Core i7 processor and 256GB of storage; a configuration listed at €1680, without the essential keyboard.
Microsoft hasn't reinvented the wheel. The Surface Pro 8 is still a tablet that is almost a centimeter thick in a magnesium shell with a kickstand. The quality of manufacture is there and the finishes are irreproachable.The more knowledgeable will have noticed the small openings allowing the fan to extract heat from the Core i7. Yes, this tablet has a fan!
To transform the Surface Pro 8 into a real PC, you need to add the keyboard, sold separately.
The top of the keyboard has a cork-like feel, with a slightly absorbent effect, while the back is covered in alcantara. The keyboard is magnetized to the edge of the tablet, and communication with the latter is done through a small connector in a lug.
A housing for the new pen is now present on the front of the keyboard. To position the keyboard correctly, the front must be placed on the lower edge of the tablet. The keyboard is thus slightly raised on its front part and the pen slot is hidden.
The typing is very correct for a detachable keyboard, with a rendering close to what you can find on a laptop. However, the whole thing lacks rigidity. Moreover, when typing, you can clearly hear the mechanism of the other keys resonating. Note that the keys are backlit on three possible levels.
The touchpad on the front of the keyboard is quite large, but shallow. Gliding is smooth, but the left and right clicks are particularly noisy and make the whole keyboard resonate. To use it silently, you have to get used to using the Windows gestures and a simple tap for the left click.
The connectivity is relatively limited. Microsoft has simply equipped the Surface Pro 8 with two Thunderbolt 4 ports and a mini-jack plug. We also regret the placement of Thunderbolt ports on the upper part of the right edge. Once your peripherals are connected, or even your Thunderbolt dock, the wires hang pitifully to the side; we've seen cleaner.
Wireless connectivity is provided by the Intel AX201 chip that is part of the Intel package with its Tiger Lake processor. Wi-Fi 6 at 2400 Mb / s and Bluetooth 5.2 are part of the package.
As for the webcam, the Surface Pro 8 has two modules: one on the front with 5 megapixels, which is Windows Hello compatible if it doesn't have a fingerprint reader, and the other on the back with 10 megapixels. The front webcam offers excellent performance compared to what we are used to seeing on laptops and the definition of the photo sensor is sufficient to help professionals on the move.
The cooling is done thanks to a fan that extracts the hot air on the top of the tablet. The embedded Intel Core i7 processor has a thermal envelope of 28 watts. So, after ten minutes of encoding, we found almost 41°C on the screen and 43°C on the magnesium back that acts as a perfect diffuser. This is obviously an extreme situation that allows us to test the capabilities of the Surface Pro 8.
Noise pollution is very low: 36.2 dB at the end of our 15-minute encoding, which corresponds to a slight murmur barely audible from your neighbors in open space. In office use, the Surface Pro 8 remains perfectly silent, its fan only activating when the processor is heavily used.
As a counterpart to a certain compactness, the scalability is very limited. Disassembly is almost impossible and we did not even consider doing it. Only a small hatch allows access to the SSD. To do this, you have to press a paper clip into the hole provided for this purpose and the trapdoor will lift off. Microsoft doesn't really want us to touch this since a Pentalobe screw holds this SSD in the 2230 format.
The company is not trying to deceive its audience on this point since it does not even provide the reparability index. As the latter is not yet mandatory for tablets, we did not take it into account in the calculation of the final score.
The Surface Pro 8 is equipped with an 11th generation Intel processor called Tiger Lake: either a Core i5-1135G7 (4C/8T) or a Core i7-1185G7 (4C/8T). In practice, the difference should be minimal since the Core i7 has an additional 4 MB in L3 cache and can reach 4.8 GHz, against 4.2 GHz for the Core i5. We tested the Core i7 version with 16 GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD.
With our new protocol, the Surface Pro 8 gets a performance index of 74. It is therefore slightly less efficient than models equipped with an AMD Ryzen 5 5500U processor (78) or a Core i7-1165G7 (86) (such as the Envy 14, which is better cooled and therefore holds its operating frequencies much better).
In practice, the Surface Pro 8 can perfectly accomplish all the tasks submitted to it and even play a few light titles. For example, we averaged 53 fps on Diablo 3 with all the details at their maximum in Full HD.
The Surface Pro 8 is equipped with a 13-inch IPS panel displaying 2880 x 1920 px at a refresh rate of 120 Hz. However, Microsoft has set the refresh rate to 60 Hz by default. The panel is also touch-sensitive and therefore benefits from a glossy treatment.
We measured the contrast of 1342:1, a value in the average. The colorimetry is perfectly mastered (Delta E measured at 0.9, far from the threshold of 3 where the drifts become perceptible). The color temperature (6284 K) is a little low (the video standard is 6500 K). The colors displayed are therefore a little too warm and tend very slightly towards orange-red.
Measured at 439 cd/m², the maximum brightness is a little low for a product with a mobile vocation. Moreover, the reflectance of the panel (53% of reflected light) is particularly high.
The two speakers located in each upper corner deliver a convincing sound. The volume and stereophony are more than enough to enjoy a movie or a series without the need for headphones.
The headphone output benefits from the same treatment: our measurements are almost all within the current market average. The output level is slightly lower, but nothing prohibitive since it will only handicap headphones with very high impedance.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 measures 28.7 x 20.8 x 1 cm. Its keyboard brings the thickness to 1.8 cm at the level of the housing of the pen. The weight is 896 g for the tablet (+100 g compared to the previous generation) and the keyboard adds 280 g, the pen 13 g and finally the charger 290 g, for a total weight of 1.19 kg without charger. This is less than the weight of a 13-inch ultrabook. Another advantage is that the Surface 3 is perfectly usable without its keyboard.
The autonomy of the Surface Pro 8 is 7 h 15 min under our protocol which consists in reading a Netflix series under Chrome with a brightness of 200 cd/m². A result below our expectations, since the previous version lasted 1 h 15 min in the same conditions. By switching the screen to 120 Hz, the autonomy logically drops to 5 h 40 min. It's a strange choice on the part of Microsoft to use a 120 Hz screen, especially since, for the moment, the dynamic frequency change (DRR) announced with Windows 11 is not available.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is particularly well finished and is an interesting solution for users seeking mobility. We appreciate the reduced screen borders and its overall performance. We regret that the autonomy is not as good as the previous generation and that the optional keyboard is still expensive.