• Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 test: a convertible that lacks breath


Nov 26, 2021

Microsoft has not reinvented the wheel. The Surface Pro 8 is still a tablet that borders on the centimeter thick in a magnesium shell with a kickstand. The manufacturing quality is at the rendezvous and the finishes are impeccable.
The more informed will have noticed the small openings allowing the fan to extract the heat from the Core i7. Yes, this tablet has a fan!
To transform the Surface Pro 8 into a real PC, you have to associate its keyboard sold separately (179 €).

Magnesium shell and mirror logo. © Digital

The upper keyboard cover has a touch close to that of cork, with a slightly absorbent effect, while its rear part is covered with Alcantara. The keyboard is magnetized on the edge of the tablet, communication with the latter taking place through a small connector in a lug.

The optional keyboard. © Digital

A housing for the new stylus is now present at the front of the keyboard. To position the keyboard correctly, the front must be placed on the lower edge of the tablet. The keyboard is thus slightly raised on its front part and the housing of the hidden stylus.

The typing is very correct for a detachable keyboard, with a rendering close to what can be found on a laptop PC. However, the whole lacks rigidity. Moreover, when typing, we can clearly hear the mechanism of the other keys resonating. Note that the keys are backlit on three possible levels.

The touchpad on the front of the keyboard is quite wide, but shallow. The glide is fluid, but the particularly loud left and right clicks resonate throughout the keyboard. To use it silently, you have to get used to using Windows gestures and a simple tap for the left click.

The connection is relatively limited. Microsoft simply equipped the Surface Pro 8 with two Thunderbolt 4 ports and a mini-jack. We also regret the placement of the Thunderbolt ports on the upper part of the right edge. Once your peripherals are plugged in, or even your Thunderbolt dock, the wires hang miserably on the side; we saw cleaner.

Two Thunderbolt 4 ports and the Surface Connect port in the foreground. © Digital

Wireless connectivity is provided by the Intel AX201 chip which is part of the Intel package with its Tiger Lake processor. Wi-Fi 6 at 2400 Mb / s and Bluetooth 5.2 are therefore part of the game.
On the webcam side, the Surface Pro 8 has two modules: the first on the front of 5 megapixels, compatible with Windows Hello in the absence of a fingerprint reader, and the second on the back of 10 megapixels. The front webcam offers excellent performance compared to what we are used to seeing on laptops and the definition of the photo sensor is sufficient to help professionals on the move.

In low light.
In full light.

Cooling is done by a fan which extracts hot air from the top of the tablet. The onboard Intel Core i7 processor has a thermal envelope of 28 watts. Thus, after ten minutes of encoding, we noted nearly 41 ° C on the screen and 43 ° C on the magnesium back which acts as a perfect diffuser. This is obviously an extreme situation that allows us to test the capabilities of the Surface Pro 8.

The noise pollution is very low: 36.2 dB at the end of our encoding of about fifteen minutes, which corresponds to a slight hiss barely audible from your neighbors in the open space. In office use, the Surface Pro 8 remains perfectly silent, its fan only activating during heavy demands on the processor.

In return for a certain compactness, the scalability is very limited. The dismantling is almost impossible and we did not even consider undertaking it. Only a small hatch provides access to the SSD. To do this, press with a paper clip in the hole provided for this purpose and the hatch will lift. Microsoft does not really want this to be touched since a Pentalobe screw holds this SSD in 2230 format.

Only possibility of evolution, the SSD. © Digital

The company does not seek to deceive its world on this point since it does not even provide the index of repairability. The latter is not yet mandatory for tablets, we have not taken it into account in the calculation of the final grade.

The Surface Pro 8 is equipped with a 13-inch IPS panel displaying 2880 x 1920 px at a refresh rate of 120 Hz. Microsoft has however set the refresh rate at 60 Hz by default. The panel is also tactile and therefore benefits brilliant processing.

The move to a 13 inch slab has reduced curbs. © Digital

We measured the contrast of 1342: 1, which is an average value. The colorimetry is perfectly mastered (Delta E measured at 0.9, which is far from the threshold of 3 where the drifts become perceptible). The color temperature (6284K) is a bit low (the video standard is 6500K). The colors displayed are therefore a little too warm and draw very slightly towards orange-red.
Measured at 439 cd / m², the maximum brightness is a bit low for a product with a mobile vocation. In addition, the reflectance of the panel (53% of reflected light) is particularly high.

From left to right, the gamma curve, the color temperature and the delta E. © Les Numériques

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 measures 28.7 x 20.8 x 1cm. Its keyboard is 1.8 cm thick at the stylus housing. The weight is 896 g for the tablet (+100 g compared to the previous generation) and the keyboard adds 280 g, the stylus 13 g and finally the charger 290 g, for a total weight of 1.19 kg without charger. This footprint is smaller than that of a 13-inch ultrabook. Another advantage is that the Surface 3 is perfectly usable without its keyboard.

The autonomy of the Surface Pro 8 is 7 h 15 min under our protocol which consists of playing a Netflix series under Chrome with a brightness of 200 cd / m². A result lower than our expectations, since the previous version held 1 h 15 min under the same conditions.
By switching the screen to 120 Hz, the autonomy logically drops to 5 h 40 min. Funny choice on the part of Microsoft that this panel of 120 Hz, especially since, for the moment, the dynamic change of the frequency (DRR) announced with Windows 11 is not available.

One thought on “Microsoft Surface Pro 8 test: a convertible that lacks breath”
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