Microsoft announced updates across its range of Surface devices today. While previous years have brought mostly modest evolutionary changes, this round of updates brought some major improvements and a few surprises, too.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8
Let’s start with the Surface Pro 8. Microsoft says that it’s twice as fast the Surface Pro 7 thanks to 11th generation Intel Core processors. Consumer models will run either an i5-1135G7 or an i7-1185G7 while business editions add an i3-1115G4 option. Onboard SSDs range from 128GB to 1TB , and they’re now user-replaceable. That’s great news for anyone who plans on upgrading to a larger drive down the road, but it’s even better news for system administrators that want to be able to remove the drives when the time finally comes to decommission their Surface Pro 8s.
RAM is not, on the other hand, so you’re locked in to the 8, 16, or 32GB the configuration ships with.
What else is new? There’s an improved display with narrower bezels that allowed Microsoft to stretch it from 12.3 to 13 inches. It also refreshes at a crisp 120Hz and boasts a native resolution of 2880 x 1920 pixels. The Surface Pro 8 also offers Thunderbolt 4 support on its dual USB-C ports. They’ll come in handy when you want to hook up to high-performance external storage, multiple 4K displays or add some gaming muscle with an external GPU.
Microsoft says the battery in the Surface Pro 8 will last for about 16 hours under normal usage. When it’s time for a recharge, it’ll go from zero to 80% in “just over an hour.”
Normal usage today naturally includes plenty of time spent on video calls, and you’ll look great on them thanks to the full HD, Hello-ready front facing camera. You’ll also sound great thanks to the Surface Pro 8’s dual far-field Studio mics. Shooting video with the rear-facing camera? You’ll be able to record in glorious 4K.
Microsoft has also introduced the Surface Slim Pen. It’s a bit flatter and wider than previous Pens. Since Microsoft managed to make the tablet itself a bit thinner there was also room to add a magnetic tray for the Pen at the top of the slightly-thicker Type Cover — and the overall thickness remains about the same as previous models with the Cover attached.
Consumer editions of the Surface Pro 8 will ship with Windows 11, while businesses can opt for Windows 11 or Windows 10. Pricing starts at $799.
Microsoft Surface Pro X (2021)
There’s a new Surface Pro X, too. This year’s model has the same Microsoft SQ2 (Qualcomm Snapdragon-based) processor as last year’s model. And it also has has the same The new model features the same 13” 2880 x 1920 PixelSense display as the Surface Pro 8. Its battery is rated for 15 hours, and the tablet weighs in at 1.7 pounds.
You can opt for 8 or 16GB of RAM and 128, 256 or 512GB of removable SSD storage.
One change is that Microsoft now offers a WiFi-only model, with prices starting at $900.
The Surface Go 3
Microsoft Surface Go 3
The Surface Go 3 was also revealed today. As expected, the base model 10.5-inch tablet will feature a Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, while a higher-end model will sport an Intel Core i3-10100Y CPU, 8 GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage.
It still brings a micro SD slot for expansion and USB-C (no Thunderbolt 4 like the Surface Pro 8) for peripheral hook-ups. Microsoft pegs battery life at about 13 hours.
Windows 11 will come factory installed and prices range from $400 to $630 depending on the configuration:
- Pentium 6500Y/4GB/64GB for $400
- Pentium 6500Y/8GB/128GB for $550
- Core i3/8GB/128GB for $630
As with all Surface tablets though, those prices don’t include optional accessories like a Type Cover (keyboard) or Surface Pen, so you’ll need to budget $100 to $200 extra if you want those items.
Microsoft will also offer models with 4G LTE within the next few months.
Wait, so the i5-powered Surface Pro 8 has a 16 hour battery, and costs $799.
While the ARM powered Surface Pro X has a 15 hour battery, and costs $899?
I’m a little confused about the SQ1 and SQ2 processors. Those were already used in the last generation Surface Pro X. If they’re reusing last year’s SOCs, I’m extremely disappointed. I was hoping for something big in the way of Windows on ARM.
The X is .25 lb lighter than the Pro 8. (1.7 lbs vs 1.96 lbs.) I’d assume that every ounce of that difference is battery, so the X is probably getting almost the same endurance out of less battery. Also the $799 seems to be some sort of business rate for the i3 model. The i5 version starts at $1,099.
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