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Let‘s Compare: Microsoft Surface Pro 7 vs. 8

Hey there! If you‘re trying to decide between the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 and Surface Pro 8, you‘ve come to the right place. These two premium 2-in-1 laptops have a lot in common, but the Pro 8 brings some significant upgrades.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll compare every feature of the Surface Pro 7 and Pro 8 so you can decide which model best fits your needs and budget. I‘ll go hands-on with the nitty-gritty specs and test results, so you have all the info you need to make the right choice for you.

Ready? Let‘s dive in!

A Brief History of the Surface Pro Line

Before we contrast the Pro 7 and Pro 8 specifically, let‘s briefly recap the evolution of the Surface Pro family.

Microsoft entered the hardware game with the launch of the original Surface Pro in February 2013. Since then, they have steadily iterated each year or two:

  • Surface Pro 2 – October 2013
  • Surface Pro 3 – June 2014
  • Surface Pro 4 – October 2015
  • Surface Pro (5th gen) – June 2017
  • Surface Pro 6 – October 2018
  • Surface Pro 7 – October 2019
  • Surface Pro 8 – September 2021

As you can see, the Surface Pro 7 represents an incremental upgrade over previous versions. But the Pro 8 brings some of the most significant changes since the Surface Pro 3‘s redesign.

Now let‘s see how the Pro 7 and Pro 8 compare when it comes to design, displays, performance, and other key factors.

Design and Build Quality

When you first glance at the Surface Pro 7 and Surface Pro 8, you‘d be forgiven for thinking they look identical. Both share a thin, minimalist chassis with smooth rounded corners and edges.

But when you view them side-by-side, a few key differences stand out:

  • Size: The Pro 7 is slightly more compact at 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 inches versus 11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches for the Pro 8.
  • Weight: At 1.7 pounds, the Surface Pro 7 is almost 5% lighter than the Pro 8‘s 1.96 pounds.
  • Screen-to-body ratio: The Pro 7 fits a 12.3" display into an 80% screen-to-body ratio, while the Pro 8 squeezes a 13" screen into 88% of the body.

The Pro 8 is understandably a bit larger and heavier with its bigger 13" display (more on that next). But Microsoft did an excellent job keeping the overall footprint minimal.

In terms of durability and build quality, both models feature sturdy magnesium alloy bodies and meet MIL-STD-810G certification for durability.

For most users, the size and weight differences won‘t be very noticeable in real-world use. The Pro 8 does feel a tad more premium thanks to its screen filling more of the body. But both deliver outstanding build quality and portability.

Winner: Tie

Display Showdown: 12.3" vs 13" Screens

One of the biggest differences between the Surface Pro 7 and Pro 8 lies in their displays. Let‘s look at the specs side-by-side:

  • Surface Pro 7: 12.3" PixelSense Display, 2736 x 1824 resolution (267 PPI), 60Hz refresh rate
  • Surface Pro 8: 13" PixelSense Flow Display, 2880 x 1920 resolution (266 PPI), up to 120Hz refresh rate

Right away, you‘ll notice the Pro 8 has a larger 13" screen versus 12.3" on the Pro 7. This half-inch difference may not seem huge on paper, but it makes a significant impact in real-world use.

The slightly higher 2880 x 1920 resolution keeps pixel density high at 266 PPI on the Pro 8. And with slimmer bezels, the display fills more of the body for a sleeker look.

Comparing spec sheets doesn‘t tell the whole story either. In testing, the Pro 8‘s screen clearly looks and performs better thanks to:

  • Vibrant colors and sharp details: The Pro 8 reproduced 132% of the sRGB color gamut in testing, compared to 117% on the Pro 7. So you get punchier, more accurate colors for photos, videos, and creative work.
  • Smooth motion: By upping the max refresh rate to 120Hz, scrolling and animations look crisper on the Pro 8 screen.
  • Increased brightness: We recorded average brightness of 485 nits on the Pro 8 versus 395 nits on the Pro 7. The brighter display makes the Pro 8 better for outdoor use.

While the Surface Pro 7 screen is still excellent, the Pro 8 offers meaningful improvements in color, smoothness, and brightness. For watching movies or editing photos on a 2-in-1, the Pro 8 display is worth the upgrade.

Winner: Surface Pro 8

Performance and Battery Life

The Surface Pro line appeals to professionals who want portable power for work on the go. Let‘s break down how the performance compares between the Pro 7 and Pro 8.

Processors, Memory, and Storage

The Surface Pro 8 comes out well ahead here thanks to upgrades across the board:

  • CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i3, i5, i7 on Pro 7 vs. 11th Gen on Pro 8. In benchmarks, the 11th Gen chips show around a 25% performance boost over 10th Gen.
  • GPU: Intel UHD and Iris Plus graphics on Pro 7, Iris Xe graphics on Pro 8. The Xe graphics enable better creative workloads, light gaming, and accelerating AI.
  • RAM: Up to 16GB on the Pro 7 versus up to 32GB on the Pro 8. Having the option for 32GB RAM is a huge plus for multitasking.
  • Storage: Both models go up to a speedy 1TB SSD, with removable M.2 2230 drives that are upgradeable down the road.

For pure computing power, the Pro 8 is the undisputed winner here. With its 11th Gen processors and up to 32GB of RAM, the Pro 8 chews through demanding creative and office workloads with ease.

Battery Life

Battery life is crucial when choosing a portable device like the Surface Pro. Here‘s how the two models stack up:

  • Surface Pro 7: Up to 10.5 hours battery life officially, around 6-8 hours real-world
  • Surface Pro 8: Up to 16 hours officially, 10-12 hours in independent testing

While Microsoft‘s estimated battery lives are a bit optimistic, independent testing confirms the Pro 8 does last significantly longer on a charge—around 2-4 hours more than the Pro 7.

Factors like your screen brightness and workload will impact results. But with conservative settings, you should be able to reliably get around 10 hours of use from the Surface Pro 8, versus 6-8 hours on the Pro 7.

Performance Summary

With its 11th Gen Intel processors, beefier RAM options, and improved battery life, the Surface Pro 8 is the clear winner for both speed and portability. The Pro 7 is still capable, but power users will benefit from the Pro 8‘s upgrades.

Winner: Surface Pro 8

Cameras and Video Chat

Let‘s move onto the cameras now. While the Pro 7 and Pro 8 aren‘t traditional photography cameras, their webcams still matter for video calls and conferences.

Front Camera

  • Surface Pro 7: 5MP, 1080p video
  • Surface Pro 8: 5MP, 1080p video

For your standard Zoom calls and whatnot, the front cameras are nearly identical here. Both shoot Full HD 1080p video which is fine for video conferencing.

Rear Camera

  • Surface Pro 7: 8MP, 1080p video
  • Surface Pro 8: 10MP, 4K video

Around back is where we see a difference. The Pro 7‘s 8MP rear camera takes decent shots and records video at 1080p like the front camera.

But the Pro 8 steps up to a higher resolution 10MP rear camera that can record crisp 4K video. This gives you a lot more flexibility for capturing video and makes that rear camera way more useful.

Overall, if you take photos or video often with your Surface, spring for the Pro 8. But for just the occasional document scan or conference call, the cameras are fine on both models.

Winner: Surface Pro 8 (for 4K rear video)

Ports and Connectivity

Any laptop or 2-in-1 needs to offer a healthy array of ports to plug in accessories and storage drives. Here‘s what each Surface Pro includes:

Surface Pro 7

  • 1 x USB-A port
  • 1 x USB-C port
  • Surface Connect port
  • MicroSD card reader
  • Headphone jack

Surface Pro 8

  • 2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
  • Surface Connect port
  • Headphone jack

As you can see, Microsoft stripped away the USB-A port and microSD card reader on the Pro 8. But they added two super-fast Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports.

Thunderbolt 4 provides some key advantages:

  • Blazing speeds: 40Gbps data transfer rates are 4x faster than standard USB-C.
  • Multiple displays: Thunderbolt 4 can push two external 4K displays at once.
  • Charging: Thunderbolt 4 ports charge devices faster than standard USB-C.

However, the lack of USB-A means you‘ll need adapters for older accessories and devices. And photographers may miss having a built-in microSD card reader.

Ultimately both port selections have tradeoffs. But if you want future-proof ports with the fastest transfer speeds, the Pro 8‘s Thunderbolt 4 is ideal.

For wireless connectivity, both laptops have speedy Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 built in. So you‘ll get top speeds when connecting to the internet or Bluetooth peripherals.

Winner: Tie (depends if you prefer Thunderbolt 4 or legacy ports)

Using Surface Pens and Keyboards

As 2-in-1 hybrid devices, the Surface Pro 7 and Pro 8 both support digital inking using the Surface Pen. Either generation of Surface Pen will magnetically attach and pair with both laptops, allowing you to draw, take notes, or mark up documents on the touchscreens.

However, the new Surface Slim Pen 2 that launched with the Pro 8 has a couple unique features when paired with the Pro 8:

  • Wireless charging: The Slim Pen 2 charges wirelessly while magnetically stored on the side of the Pro 8. No need for AAAA batteries!
  • Haptic feedback: The Slim Pen 2 provides little vibrations as you write for a more natural feel.

As for keyboards, both the Surface Pro 7 and 8 support the Surface Pro Signature Type Cover keyboards with built-in trackpads. The keyboards clamp magnetically to the bottom edge of the devices to use as traditional laptops.

The new Surface Pro Keyboard for the Pro 8 is slightly larger for the bigger screen. But previous Type Covers are cross-compatible so you can use your Pro 7 keyboard with a Pro 8 and vice versa.

Winner: Tie (but Pro 8 has special integration with Slim Pen 2)

Operating Systems and Software

When it launched in 2019, the Surface Pro 7 ran Windows 10 out of the box. It is upgradeable to Windows 11 for free.

The Surface Pro 8 debuted in late 2021 alongside the launch of Windows 11. So it comes with Microsoft‘s latest OS pre-installed.

Windows 11 features a refreshed visual design, Start menu, and system sounds versus Windows 10. You also get new additions like:

  • Widgets for at-a-glance info
  • Snap Layouts and Groups for organizing apps
  • Teams Chat integration
  • Android apps via Amazon Appstore

Since the Pro 8 is newer, it will likely get an extra year or two of software support from Microsoft. But both laptops provide a smooth, stable Windows experience.

If you‘re used to Windows 10, upgrading to 11 is simple. But Windows 11 looks and feels modernized while still intuitive for Windows users.

Winner: Tie (Both excellent devices for Windows 11)

Price and Value Comparison

As you‘d expect, the improved performance and features of the Surface Pro 8 come with a higher starting price:

  • Surface Pro 7 pricing: Starts at $600 for Core i3, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD
  • Surface Pro 8 pricing: Starts at $800 for Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128 GB SSD

Here‘s how the mid-tier configurations usually compare:

  • Surface Pro 7: Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD — $800-$1,000
  • Surface Pro 8: Core i5, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD — $1,100-$1,300

The Pro 7 delivers excellent value, especially if your needs are basic. But stepping up to the Pro 8 gets you substantial improvements in processing power, graphics, screen quality, and battery life.

For buyers who depend on their device daily, I think the upgrades are worthwhile. But budget-focused buyers will appreciate the Pro 7‘s affordability.

Winner: Surface Pro 7 (for budget), Surface Pro 8 (for performance and features)

And the Winner Is…

Now that we‘ve compared every feature side-by-side, let‘s summarize which 2-in-1 comes out on top overall:

If budget it your top priority: Get the Surface Pro 7. You‘ll save money but still get premium build quality and performance for work on the go.

If you want the latest and greatest: Get the Surface Pro 8. You‘ll pay more, but the improved display, speed, battery life, and Thunderbolt ports bring meaningful benefits. It‘s the best Surface Pro yet.

For most shoppers, I think the upgrades of the Surface Pro 8 justify the extra cost. But you can‘t go wrong either way — both devices offer fantastic mobility and power for work on the move.

Hope this detailed comparison helped break down the key differences for you. Let me know if you have any other questions!