Microsoft's Surface Pro range is renowned for its design quality and strong performance. The Surface Pro 9 is the latest model in the range and offers some upgrades over the Surface Pro 8. This blog will compare these two product ranges, focusing on their design, performance, battery life and other key features. Our aim is to help you understand the differences and decide which range might be the best fit for your needs.
The physical design of the Surface Pro hasn’t changed with the release of the Surface 9. Both models boast Microsoft's hallmark design philosophy,with an anodised aluminium chassis which emphasises sleekness and minimalism. The Surface Pro 9 has more rounded edges than the Pro 8 but this is a subtle tweak rather than a design overhaul. This design choice ensures that both models are highly portable, an essential feature for mobile professionals and students. The similarity in design also means that users familiar with the Surface Pro 8 will find the Surface Pro 9's aesthetics and handling quite familiar. Weights are similar too with just a few grams difference depending on whether you opt for a 5G model. Both 8 and 9 models come with a built-in kickstand at the back allowing you to position the tablet in different angles. If colour choice is important, the 9 is available in four colours whereas here are just two options for 8 models.
The Surface Pro 8 comes with a 13-inch PixelSense display, offering a resolution of 2880 x 1920 pixels. The screen quality is notable for its vibrant colours and clarity, making it suitable for various tasks, from media consumption to productivity applications. In contrast, the Surface Pro 9 sports a slightly larger 14-inch PixelSense display, maintaining the same resolution. This larger screen is complemented by Dolby Vision IQ™ technology, providing an immersive viewing experience, especially beneficial for media-intensive tasks. Both the 8 and 9 support up to a 120Hz refresh rate and a 3:2 aspect ratio.
Performance-wise, the Surface Pro 8 models are equipped with various Intel processors, ranging from the i3 to the i7, with the i7 offering up to 4.80 GHz clock speed. The Surface Pro 9, however, makes a significant leap in performance thanks to its use of newer 12th Gen Intel chips. These have more cores and threads and run at a lower wattage meaning longer battery life on Surface 9 models. It introduces an octa-core SQ3 option for consumers and several deca-core CPUs for both consumer and business segments, promising improved single and multi-core performance. This upgrade is particularly noticeable in demanding applications like video editing and 3D rendering, where processor speed and multi-core capabilities are crucial.
Battery life is a key factor for mobile devices. The Surface Pro 8 offers a robust battery life of up to 11 hours, which is generally sufficient for a full day's work. The Surface Pro 9, however, takes this a step further, offering up to 15.5 hours of battery life. This extended battery life is particularly advantageous for users who are often on the move and don’t have regular access to charging points.
In terms of connectivity, both the Pro 8 and Pro 9 are well-equipped, with Bluetooth 5.1 on both ranges, WiFi 6E on the Pro 9 and WiFi 6 on Pro 8 models. All models feature two USB-C, USB-A ports, and a Surface Connect port. The Surface Pro 8 is equipped with a 3.5mm headphone jack whereas the Surface Pro 9 isn’t. The Surface Pro 9, however, enhances its connectivity options with USB 4/Thunderbolt ports on the Intel models and USB-C 3.2 on the SQ3 model. Additionally, the Surface Pro 9 includes a magnetic Surface Connect port and a keyboard connector. An interesting addition to the Surface Pro 9 is the inclusion of a nano-SIM slot in the SQ3 model, broadening its connectivity capabilities. Both the 8 and 9 ship with front and rear facing cameras with the rear camera capable of recording HDR video up to 4K resolution. The 5G Surface Pro model supports Windows Studio Effects, which includes portrait blur, automatic framing and eye contact. These are all useful features for helping you look more professional on video calls.
It's worth noting that the keyboards for both Surface Pro models are sold separately. They are known for their high quality, featuring chiclet-style keys with three-stage backlighting. The keyboards also include a slot for the Slim Pen 2 stylus (this also has to be purchased as an add-on). Despite the keyboards' slenderness, they provide a rigid and comfortable typing experience.
Both the Surface Pro 8 and Pro 9 come with integrated Intel Xe graphics. This is fine for routine office work, web browsing, music/video streaming and basic gaming or 3D modelling. Sound is handled by 2-watt stereo speakers that are tuned by Dolby Audio, for a more immersive audio experience.
The Surface Pro 8 is a solid choice for those seeking a balance between cost and performance. It's particularly well-suited for everyday use, including moderate gaming and multimedia applications. The Surface Pro 9, with its enhanced display, battery life and processor capabilities, caters more to power users who need a device for more intensive tasks or prefer the latest technology. The choice between the two ultimately depends on your specific needs and budget. The Surface Pro 8 offers great value for general use, while the Surface Pro 9 is the go-to option for those requiring top-tier performance and longer battery life.
image credit: Microsoft