Microsoft Surface Pro 8 gets performance boost plus Thunderbolt 4

Latest generation of the perennial tablet favorite, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 arrives today with the newest iteration of the Surface Pro X (2021), offering touch-first Windows 11 with the flexibility of a removable keyboard cover. Promising to be the biggest change since the launch of the Surface Pro 3, the Surface Pro 8 doubles the speed of its predecessor, while also finally embracing Thunderbolt 4.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8

It is, Microsoft claims, the most powerful 2-in-1 on the market, and the company's rejoinder to Apple's latest iPad Pro. Delivering that is a choice of quad-core 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 or quad-core 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1185G7 processors, on the Intel Evo platform. They're paired with either 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB of storage.

The screen is a 13-inch PixelSense Flow display, with 2880 x 1920 resolution, Dolby Vision support, and up to 120Hz refresh rate. There's 10-point multi-touch and GPU ink acceleration, using the Intel Iris Xe graphics. For storage, there's a removable SSD: up to 256GB in the LTE configurations, or up to 1TB in the WiFI models.

Despite the new hardware, the Surface Pro 8 is just 0.37-inches thick, and 1.96 pounds. It still has the popular multi-position hinge, which can adjust to up to 165 degrees, and an anodized aluminum body. Microsoft will offer it in Platinum or Graphite finishes.

For connectivity, there's WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, and an optional Snapdragon X20 LTE model. Maybe more exciting, though, is the arrival of two USB-C ports supporting USB 4.0 and Thunderbolt 4. There's also a Surface Connect port, a Surface Type Cover port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The front gets a 5-megapixel 1080p webcam, while the back has a 10-megapixel camera with autofocus and up to 4K support.

For power, there's up to 16 hours of battery life, Microsoft claims. A zero to 80-percent charge takes just over an hour, with the included 60W power supply; that has a useful 5W USB-A port for charging up accessories at the same time. There are dual far-field Studio Mics, and 2W stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos.

With the new Surface Slim Pen 2 – which docks and charges in a slot in the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard – there's support for inking, annotation, and sketching. Windows 11 should deliver more than 40-percent higher sustained CPU performance and 74-percent faster graphics sustained performance, Microsoft claims, versus the Surface Pro 7.

Preorders kick off today, with the Surface Pro 8 priced from $1,099.99. The Surface Slim Pen 2 is $129.99.

Microsoft Surface Pro X (2021)

For the Surface Pro X, the changes are a little more straightforward. Microsoft is adding a new WiFi-only model to the range, joining the model of Surface Pro X with Gigabit LTE support. It'll bring the starter price down to $899.

As before, there's Windows 11 on ARM, with support for x86 and x64 emulation. The 13-inch PixelSense touchscreen is carried over too, with a 5-megapixel camera above it, and there are dual far-field Studio Mics. Support for the new Surface Slim Pen 2 is included, too, with a charging nook for the stylus in the Signature Keyboard.

The Surface Pro X WiFi configuration is available to preorder from today.