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


Big update

Surface Pro 8


Surface Pro 8

ARM-powered

Microsoft Surface Pro X


Microsoft Surface Pro X

The Surface Pro 8 is the biggest redesign to the Surface Pro lineup in a number of years. It now combines the sleek, improved form factor of the Surface Pro X with powerful internals, optional LTE and finally, Thunderbolt 4.

From $1,100 at Microsoft (preorder)

Pros

  • Same larger display as the Surface Pro X
  • Latest generation Intel processors
  • Thunderbolt 4
  • Supports new Slim Pen
  • Wi-Fi 6 and optional LTE

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Still requires extra purchase for keyboard

The Surface Pro X is powered by a custom Microsoft SQ1 or SQ2 CPU with Adreno 685 or 690 graphics (GPU) for ARM power and good battery life. The redesign to the Surface Pro 8 overshadows it, though.

From $900 at Microsoft (preorder)

Pros

  • Adreno GPU is pretty potent
  • LTE connectivity standard
  • Two USB-C ports
  • Thin and light
  • Smart design with Surface Slim Pen

Cons

  • No Wi-Fi 6 connectivity
  • Still requires extra purchase for keyboard
  • No 3.5mm audio jack

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.

Category Surface Pro X (late 2021) Surface Pro 8
OS Windows 11 Home on ARM
Windows 10 Home on ARM (LTE)
Windows 11 Pro on ARM (commercial, LTE)
Windows 11 Home
Windows 11 Pro (commercial)
Windows 10 Pro (commercial)
Processor Microsoft SQ1
Microsoft SQ2
Consumer:
11th Gen Intel
Core i5-1135G7
Core i7-1185G7
Commercial:
11th Gen Intel
Core i3-1115G4
Core i5-1145G7
Core i7-1185G7
RAM 8GB, 16GB
LPDDR4x
8GB, 16GB, 32GB
LPDDR4x
Graphics SQ1 Adreno 685
SQ2 Adreno 690
Intel UHD (i3)
Intel Iris Xe (i5, i7)
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB SSD
Upgradeable
128GB, 256GB SSD (Wi-Fi, LTE)
512GB, 1TB SSD (Wi-Fi)
Display 13 inches
2880×1920
267 PPI
3:2 aspect ratio
Touch
13 inches
2880×1920
267 PPI
3:2 aspect ratio
Up to 120Hz (60Hz default)
Touch
Ports Two USB-C 3.2 (Gen 2)
Surface Connect
Nano SIM (LTE model)
Two Thunderbolt 4
Surface Connect
3.5mm audio
Audio Dual 2W speakers
Dolby Audio
Dual far-field studio mics
Dual 2W stereo speakers
Dolby Atmos
Dual far-field studio mics
Connectivity Wi-Fi 5
Bluetooth 5.0
Snapdragon X24 LTE
Nano SIM, eSIM support
Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5.1
Snapdragon X20 LTE
eSIM support
Camera IR camera
Front-facing 5MP (1080p)
Rear-facing 10MP (1080p, 4K)
IR camera
Front-facing 5MP (1080p)
Rear-facing 10MP (1080p, 4K)
Keyboard Surface Pro Signature keyboard
Surface Pro keyboard
Not included
Surface Pro Signature keyboard
Not included
Touchpad Precision Precision
Pen Surface Slim Pen 2
Not included
Surface Slim Pen 2
Not included
Security Firmware TPM
BitLocker support
IR camera
TPM 2.0
IR camera
Battery Up to 15 hours Up to 16 hours
Dimensions 11.3 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)
Weight From 1.7 pounds (774g) 1.96 pounds (891g)
Color Platinum
Matte Black
Platinum
Graphite

Surface Pro 8 gets its biggest upgrade in years

Surface Pro 8 HeroSource: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

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 XSource: 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 ProSource: 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.


Surface Pro 8

Surface Pro 8

Microsoft thinned the bezels and refined the design of its flagship 2-in-1 to make the Surface Pro 8. It’s more than twice as fast as the Surface Pro 7 as well.


Surface Pro X

Surface Pro X

The Surface Pro X didn’t get a design refresh or a spec bump. It did, however, gain an option for a model without LTE, which lowers the starting price of the device.

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