Microsoft announces Surface Pro 8 with bigger 13-inch 120Hz display and Thunderbolt

Microsoft is announcing the Surface Pro 8 today, the biggest upgrade to its Intel-powered Surface Pro lineup since the Surface Pro 3 in 2014. While we’ve seen tweaks to the design of the Surface Pro for seven years, the Surface Pro 8 jumps to a 120Hz display with thinner bezels, Thunderbolt 4 support, and a new keyboard that neatly houses an upgraded Surface Slim Pen 2.

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 8 has taken most of the best parts of the Surface Pro X and paired them with an Intel chip. It’s the Surface Pro we’ve been waiting years for.

The 13-inch PixelSense Flow Display, as Microsoft calls it, is larger than the 12.3-inch display found on most other Surface Pro devices, and it has a higher resolution, too. In fact, it’s 11 percent larger than before, 12.5 percent brighter, and with 11 percent higher resolution, according to Microsoft. The display also supports Dolby Vision and Adaptive Color Technology. Microsoft calls it “the most technically advanced display we’ve ever built.”

The bigger display helps reduce the bezels on the sides of the Surface Pro 8, making it look closer to the Surface Pro X. But the most important part of the Pro 8’s display is the fact it’s now 120Hz. While it will run at 60Hz by default, the display will jump up to 120Hz dynamically for touch or stylus tasks.

The Surface Pro 8 will make use of Windows 11’s new Dynamic Refresh Rate feature. Dynamic Refresh Rate operates similar to Apple’s high refresh rate ProMotion displays, allowing the display to fluctuate between different refresh rates depending on tasks. Microsoft is primarily using this new Surface Pro 8 display to boost inking performance on the device and make touch-based scrolling a lot smoother.

The separate Surface Pro Signature Keyboard also now includes a new Surface Slim Pen 2 that’s similar to the keyboard and stylus combo found on the Surface Pro X. The stylus charges in the keyboard base and includes a built-in haptic motor that attempts to replicate the feeling of writing on paper. This new stylus also has reduced latency and better precision, thanks to a redesigned tip.

Inside is where the Surface Pro 8 gets even more interesting. Microsoft is finally supporting Thunderbolt 4 here and dropping the aging USB-A port. The Pro 8 will ship with two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports and the usual Surface Connect port for charging. That means you can connect the Surface Pro 8 to multiple 4K displays, use high-speed external storage, or even connect up to an external GPU to turn this tablet into a gaming PC.

The Surface Pro 8 will also ship with a choice between an 11th Gen quad-core Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors. On the commercial side, there will also be a Core i3 option and LTE models. The base model will include 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, all the way up to 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. Microsoft says the Surface Pro 8 is 40 percent better than the Surface Pro 7 at sustained CPU performance and 74 percent faster on the graphics side.

My big question around the Surface Pro 8 is battery life. Microsoft says it will last for 16 hours, but those estimates never translate into real-world usage. Microsoft is starting to accept preorders for the Surface Pro 8 today, and it will ship on October 5th priced from $1,099.99.