I’ve been ready for the Floor Professional 8.

Microsoft has been promoting Floor Professional fashions with principally the identical design since at the least 2015. In 2019, it considerably rectified that by releasing two flagship fashions. There was the Floor Professional 7 — a robust, sensible machine with a four-year-old design — and the Floor Professional X — a modern-looking, skinny system with a sluggish ARM chip that wasn’t suitable with all types of well-liked apps.

Neither of those gadgets was actually what I’d think about a really perfect machine — they each had severe drawbacks. “I wish this looked like the Surface Pro X,” lamented Tom Warren in his in any other case constructive assessment of the Floor Professional 7. Throughout the web, reviewers begged Microsoft to discover a approach to put the Professional 7’s chips within the Professional X’s chassis.

And now, two years later, that’s precisely what Microsoft did. The $1,099.99-and-up Floor Professional 8 is one of the best of each worlds — it takes one of the best components of the Professional 7 and one of the best components of the Professional X, and places them in a single actually glorious system.

The very first thing you’ll discover in regards to the Professional 8 is its display. The system has a 2880 x 1920 13-inch contact show, which is sort of an inch larger than that of the Professional 7. The facet bezels are visibly smaller than the Professional 7’s. The highest one remains to be chunky — which is smart, because you want one thing to carry for those who’re utilizing this as a pill — however the keyboard deck covers the underside one when the Professional 8 is in laptop computer mode.

The opposite new factor about this show is that it has a 120Hz refresh fee, which is uncommon to see outdoors of the gaming sphere. The additional frames make an enormous distinction in day-to-day use — the cursor is nicer to take a look at as you drag it across the display, there’s much less lag whenever you’re writing with the stylus, and scrolling is simply so a lot smoother. It makes for a greater Home windows expertise, whatever the app you’re utilizing. However I do want this system supported Dynamic Refresh Price, which is meant to be a part of Home windows 11 — that characteristic robotically swaps a tool between 120Hz and 60Hz relying on the app you’re utilizing, in an effort to save battery. Microsoft hasn’t advised us if or when that’s coming but, so for the second you’re caught ducking into Superior Show Settings if you wish to bump the refresh fee up or down. (I simply left mine on 120Hz and took the battery life hit.)

What does get robotically adjusted is the colour profile. With the Adaptive Coloration characteristic, the Professional 8 robotically adjusts the look of your display primarily based on the setting round you. This characteristic was adequately subtle that I didn’t actually discover it in motion whereas I used to be working — however you do see the distinction whenever you toggle it on and off, which you are able to do in brightness settings. It positively made the display simpler on my eyes, particularly at night time.

A user types on the Surface Pro 8 from behind. The screen displays the Windows 11 start menu on a white and blue background.

The display is lastly laptop-sized.

A user removes the Surface Slim Pen 2 from its slot in the Surface Pro 8’s keyboard cover.

That is the place the stylus lived on the Floor Professional X, too.

The removeable SSD with the cover removed on the bottom of the Surface Pro 8.

Simply flip the factor over to come out the SSD.

A user types on the Surface Pro 8 keyboard. The screen displays Microsoft Teams on a blue and white background.

It’s not cramped in any respect, which I can hardly ever say about removable keyboards.

Elsewhere, the Professional 8 additionally has a 10-megapixel rear digital camera (which the Professional X had however not the Professional 7). This could seize 4K video (in addition to 1080p) video. Like each of its predecessors, the Professional 8 additionally has a 5-megapixel front-facing digital camera, which might seize video in 1080p for Zoom calls and the like. I hardly ever get to say this about webcams, however the Professional 8 really delivers a great image. Colours had been vibrant, and my traces had been clear, even in less-than-ideal lighting. The digital camera additionally helps Home windows Howdy facial recognition, which is helpful. The digital camera app often received caught once I was making an attempt to change from entrance to rear, forcing me to reboot this system, however that’s my solely nitpick right here.

Talking of Zoom calls, the Professional 8 makes an important tele-conferencing system. There are two far-field studio microphones, which by no means had hassle choosing up my voice. And the audio additionally sounds good, with clear percussion and audible bass. That’s spectacular contemplating how small the system is — it’s 1.96 kilos and simply 0.37 inches thick, which is considerably large for a pill however fairly transportable as laptops go.

The Surface Pro 8 open, up close, with the keyboard pulled out and the stylus visible. The screen displays a blue swirl on a white background.

The keyboard is a little bit of a ache to tug out, however I received the hold of it.

The keyboard cowl (which prices an extra $179 — it’s not included within the costs you’ll see on Microsoft’s web site) is now made from a carbon fiber core. It’s a lot sturdier than earlier Floor Professional keyboards I’ve used prior to now; it wasn’t wobbling or sliding round even once I was typing on my lap or a sofa. You don’t get fairly the journey that you simply’d anticipate from a full laptop computer, however most removable keyboards are cramped and flat — that is positively one of the best one I’ve ever used.

The keyboard deck features a helpful storage for Microsoft’s Floor Slim Pen 2 (additionally not included within the value). This stylus comes with a built-in haptic motor which is supposed to make you are feeling such as you’re really writing on bodily paper when you draw or take notes. Whereas I did really feel the additional vibrations whereas I wrote with the Slim Pen 2, I wouldn’t say the impact essentially mimics writing on paper — there are styluses like Lenovo’s Lively Pen that try this higher. However it’s a pleasant stylus total.

The opposite factor to notice is that solely a small group of apps at present appear to help this haptic suggestions. I’m glad this characteristic exists, however I look ahead to seeing Microsoft broaden it.

For all of the bodily similarities the Professional 8 shares with the Professional X, it couldn’t be extra totally different on the within. The bottom consumer-facing Professional 8 fashions have Intel Core i5 chips — mine has the Core i7-1185G7, which is among the strongest chips that Intel makes for skinny and lightweight laptops. It powers the highest fashions of the Dell XPS 13 and the Lenovo Yoga 9i — it’s the actual deal.

This take a look at unit, which additionally has 16GB of RAM and Iris Xe built-in graphics, was quick. It booted up shortly and ran no matter I wanted it to. I used to be recurrently operating video calls on prime of 15 or 16 Chrome tabs, a pair totally different apps, and even some streaming — masses which have given all types of premium ultraportable laptops hassle in my testing — with none slowdown or vital warmth. That’s in regards to the naked minimal for this processor, in fact — it’s a chip meant for highly effective transportable gadgets, so it could be regarding if issues had been freezing left and proper. However it’s a stark distinction to the Professional X, the place many apps had been sluggish, and others weren’t suitable with the ARM processor in any respect.

The Professional 8 additionally makes use of an energetic cooling system, which is a flowery method of claiming it has a fan (in addition to a vapor chamber, three warmth pipes, and three graphite warmth spreaders). That is doubtless why it’s a bit thicker and heavier than its predecessors. The fan did an honest job right here — the chassis was typically toasty, however by no means uncomfortably scorching, and I may run heavy masses for lengthy durations of time with out difficulty.

Microsoft claimed that the Floor Professional 8 would get 16 hours of steady battery life. I didn’t get that a lot to a cost, however I did common eight and a half hours of constant use with my (pretty Chrome-intensive) workload at 60Hz, with Battery Saver on and the display at medium brightness. Utilizing the display at 120Hz, I usually noticed nearer to seven hours from the identical duties (which is worse however nonetheless not a disastrous consequence).

Charging can be decently speedy. I received the system as much as 60 p.c in 50 minutes with gentle Chrome use (it’ll cost sooner in standby). That was with the Floor Join charger that ships with the system. It’s also possible to cost the Professional 8 over USB-C, however that gained’t be fairly as quick, and the 2 Thunderbolt ports are in a barely extra awkward place. It’s (understandably, given the skinny chassis) a considerably restricted port choice, however you’ll be able to join exterior GPUs or as much as two 4K shows.

The Surface Pro 8 seen from above and to the right on a table with the Surface Slim Pen 2 next to it and Signature Keyboard attached. The screen displays a blue swirl on a white background.

Very related dimensions to the Floor Professional X, however barely thicker.

Up to now few years, I can’t let you know how many individuals I’ve talked to who weren’t positive whether or not to purchase the Professional 7 or the Professional X. They wanted the Professional 7’s processor for his or her workload, however they a lot most well-liked the best way the Professional X seemed.

And it was laborious for me to suggest both system to these individuals, or to most of the people. They each got here with severe compromises. However the Professional 8 doesn’t. It combines a contemporary design with fashionable specs. It’s the pc these individuals have been ready for. It’s the primary Floor Professional I can actually see myself shopping for as a major driver.

The Surface Pro 8 on a table seen from the back to the right, open, with the Signature Keyboard attached and the kickstand out. In the background is a green wall and a potted plant.

That trusted Floor brand is on the again.

In fact, the flip facet of all that is that the Floor Professional isn’t low-cost, even for what it affords. Fashions begin at $1,099 — however that’s going to be $1,279 with the keyboard cowl, and $1,379 with the Slim Pen 2. I additionally don’t anticipate too many individuals to purchase that base mannequin, which solely has 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM — my take a look at mannequin, which has a sooner processor, twice the RAM, and 256GB storage, nets $1,879 with the keyboard and stylus, goes to be extra affordable for a lot of workloads. You will get any variety of common clamshell laptops with its specs for just a few hundred {dollars} much less, together with the MacBook Professional and the Dell XPS 13.

That doesn’t make the Floor Professional 8 a nasty system. It simply makes it a considerably particular system. It’s actually focusing on fans for the Floor Professional kind issue — individuals who want probably the most efficiency within the thinnest and lightest chassis attainable. Up to now, these individuals haven’t fairly had a tool that met all of their wants. For the previous two years, you’ve needed to compromise on efficiency to get a Home windows pill that seemed this cool. This 12 months, you now not need to sacrifice that efficiency. You simply need to sacrifice some further money.

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