The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is a hybrid laptop that has been around for a long time. It was and continues to be, one of the few successful efforts to create a Windows PC that also functions as a tablet.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is the eighth version of the Surface Pro 7, and it doesn’t deviate too much from the preceding Surface Pro 7. We observe design enhancements and performance boosts in accordance with whatever Intel has done with its new chipsets, as we have in past years. However, the modifications this year are important in terms of real-world application.

If you keep your expectations reasonable, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is ultimately a really great small gaming machine. We get a little bigger display without adding weight, and the pen is smoother than ever before.

You must, however, pay for it. The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 begins at £899, however, the most affordable model you should get is £989. A 128GB SSD will not suffice. The keyboard and stylus add £260 to the total, and RAM and storage upgrades are not cheap. Our review setup will set you back £1610. You want it to be the only PC you need for this money, so be sure you’re okay with a battery that won’t last all day.

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DESIGN: Microsoft Surface Pro 8

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Are you familiar with the Surface Pro line? You may skip the following few paragraphs of this review, but let’s not pretend that everyone knows what Microsoft has to offer.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is a convertible tablet that can also be used as a laptop. Microsoft has been doing this for a while before Apple caught up with its iPad Pro range and keyboard add-on.

Its keyboard base is a must-have, but the tablet portion is not included as normal. It uses magnets to connect to the main portion. The Surface Pro 8 stylus is an optional accessory, but there is a space for it on the keyboard this time. This small cubby hole is completely covered when the keyboard is raised to create a better typing angle. It’s a great example of sleek design in action.

The kickstand is something you won’t see on any other hybrid of its sort. It’s a robust metal plate that slides out from the back of the screen and can be adjusted to almost any angle — the ideal balance of strength and adjustability.

The Surface Pro 8’s shell is made of a magnesium-aluminum alloy, as is customary for Microsoft. This lowers the weight down to 890g while yet providing adequate strength and a premium feel. However, the sides are curvier this time, easing the screen surround outlines.

Although it isn’t a significant change, Microsoft has adopted the screen bezel improvements found in “regular” laptops in order to fit in a bigger display. The previous Surface Pro 7 featured a 12in the display, while this one has a 12.3in the display.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 isn’t moved to a new category, but that’s the purpose. This gadget is the size it is for a reason: to allow great portability while yet being just big enough to fit full-size keys on the keyboard attachment.

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SCREEN: Microsoft Surface Pro 8

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Aside from the screen size, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 screen seems to be familiar. The display screen features squared-off edges rather than the rounded ones seen on a Samsung Galaxy Tab S7. It serves as a reminder that, although this is primarily a leisure device, it can also be used as a business PC if necessary.

The display features well-saturated, well-calibrated color, but it lacks the next-generation micro-LED technology seen in the most expensive iPad Pros.

Even though the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has a glossy glass display surface, the maximum brightness of 450 nits — exactly on Microsoft’s promise — is high enough to allow you to work comfortably outdoors on a sunny day, which we did attempt.

At roughly 1000:1, the contrast ratio of an IPS LCD is usual, making blacks seem a tad elevated if you play a game late at night. However, we believe that being able to handle outdoor usage is more vital than being able to match the punch of an OLED TV display in a gloomy, darkroom.

The Surface Pro 8’s resolution is very high, at 2736 x 1828 pixels, so pixilation isn’t a problem until you approach too near to the screen.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has a 3:2 aspect ratio, which is similar to previous iterations of the series. It’s known as a PixelSense screen, and it’s designed for applications rather than video. If you play a widescreen film on this tablet, you’ll see large black bars on the top and bottom, but the impression of having a lot of areas to work with compared to the tablet’s real size is striking.

Although it is a 120Hz panel, we recommend operating it at 60Hz practically all of the time. The panel lacks the fastest-reacting pixels that are required to get the most out of a high refresh rate. Even at 120Hz, motion handling is just fair, and it has a major influence on battery life. That will be discussed later.

One day, we’ll probably have a small LED Surface Pro with even more brightness and even deeper color. However, we’re not at the point where the Surface Pro 8 seems to be without one. It’s a fantastic display.

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KEYBOARD AND TOUCHPAD

The Slim Pen 2 is a new pen for the Surface Pro 8. It features a rounded rectangular barrel with a button on top that allows you to quickly start an app of your choosing, and it connects wirelessly to the tablet. This implies that you don’t have to be hovering directly above the screen for this button to work.

As a consequence, it requires a battery, which charges wirelessly when placed in the divot in the keyboard base. It’s clever and painless.

This generation is also the first to use tactile feedback. When you “ink” with the pen, a small haptic motor within the stylus fires, simulating the sensation of a genuine pen drawing across the paper. While it won’t fool your brain into believing you’re holding a real paintbrush or marker in your hands, it does enhance the experience, and the pen includes 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity and tilt detection for more precise input in painting programs.

The keyboard base, which we’ve previously said is a must-have item, remains mostly unchanged from the previous version. While our awe at Microsoft’s ability to create a tablet keyboard that feels as nice to write on as many laptop keyboards has faded, typing on this device is still a delight.

The travel is adequate, typing is quick, and the overall quality of the action is outrageously good given we’re talking about something that’s not much thicker than some tablet screen protector covers.

The touchpad, too, is remarkable. The pad’s surface is ultra-smooth textured glass, and the clicker’s easy-to-press yet high-quality feel puts many a laptop to shame.

The keys on the keyboard are also illuminated, and the keyboard is finished with Alcantara like it was last time. This is a synthetic suede that is both durable and comfortable to wear.

We constantly have to complain about how, unless you discover a package, you have to purchase a keyboard separately when you buy a Surface Pro. Also, these keyboards are usually a touch more costly than you’d want. However, the price is usually justified by the quality and variety of features offered by Microsoft.

However, it’s worth remembering what it’s like to work with the Microsoft Surface Pro 8. It might seem like working on a laptop if you have a firm surface to work on. The keyboard, on the other hand, is placed on our thighs, with the kickstand resting on our kneecaps while we type. It’s simply not as pleasant to use in certain scenarios as a regular small and light laptop. But, hey, it’s still functional.

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BATTERY LIFE: Microsoft Surface Pro 8

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After all of the praise has been given, it’s time to look at one of the Microsoft Surface Pro 8’s biggest flaws. It has decent battery life. This series has never had amazing battery life, which stands out since iPads and Samsung tablets, which you would be tempted to compare it to, have been around for a long time.

It lasted four hours and 56 minutes in a basic video streaming run-down. This was frustrating at first, but we realized it was because the screen was set to 120Hz. It lasted a far more reasonable eight hours and four minutes when switched back to 60Hz.

If you’re not plugged in, don’t utilize 120Hz. The battery consumption is just not worth it. In any scenario, you’ll get significantly less run time with mixed-use, since web browsers may be unexpected battery eaters at times.

It lasts around four hours 20 minutes when used outside as a fancy typewriter with the screen maxed out, although this was at 120Hz, indicating it may last up to seven hours at 60Hz. Playing a challenging game like Control will take you roughly 90 minutes.

This is probably not the greatest choice if you require a hybrid tablet/laptop that will last a full day of work. It also casts doubt on Microsoft’s boast of 16-hour battery life. The Surface Pro 8’s significant power and small, light design come at a cost. But, to be honest, things might be a lot worse.

The charger for the tablet is magnetic, similar to Apple’s iconic MagSafe design. If you grab the cord by accident, it will fall out instead of causing the Microsft Surface Pro 8 to tumble off the table. There are two USB-C ports on the device, both of which support the ultra-fast Thunderbolt 4.0 standard.

This implies that a Thunderbolt dock can provide all of the ports that the Surface Pro 8 lacks. It would have been good to have had more connections, but we already knew we wouldn’t be able to buy them here.

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CONCLUSION

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is without a doubt the most entertaining Surface Pro ever. This series was already a strong competitor for people looking for a tablet-laptop hybrid that can do serious work, but Intel’s Xe graphics turn it into a minigame console. Yes, “serious” gamers may scoff at the concept, but imagine how excited everyone would be if iPads could suddenly play games like Control and Skyrim without having to connect to the internet.

However, it is rather expensive. The Surface Pro 8 tablet, which we reviewed, costs £1349 on its own. The keyboard is £160 and the new Surface Slim Pen 2 costs £120. You can save £20 if you buy them all together, but the total is still £1610. Yikes. With a battery life that doesn’t quite last a full day of work, it won’t be ideal for some of you.