Choosing between the Surface Pro 8 vs. Surface Laptop Studio? This guide is here to help. Microsoft unveiled both devices during its September Surface event, and each looks promising enough to contend for a spot on our list of the best 2-in-1 laptops you can buy.
Both the Surface Pro 8 and Surface Laptop Studio are due to debut in October alongside Windows 11, but knowing which one best fits your needs can be tricky. Each is designed to double as a great digital canvas, and they’re the only two devices which currently support the advanced haptic feedback features of the new Microsoft Surface Slim Pen 2 stylus.
So if you’re having trouble deciding which to buy, read on for a thorough breakdown of the Surface Pro 8 vs Surface Laptop Studio.
Surface Pro 8 vs Surface Laptop Studio: Price and availability
Both Surface devices are currently available to preo-order ahead of their October 4th ship date. The Surface Pro 8 is available for pre-order now at a starting price of $1,099. You can pay an extra $179 for the detachable Surface Pro Signature Keyboard (which lets the tablet double as a decent laptop) and $129 for the new Surface Slim Pen 2 stylus.
That’s a bit more affordable than the Surface Laptop Studio, which you can pre-order now at a starting price of $1,599. It also has a few optional accessories you can shell out for. That includes the $129 Surface Slim Pen 2 with its new haptic motor that provides tactile feedback when you use it on devices which support the feature — which, for now, is just the Pro 8 and the Laptop Studio.
So you should expect to pay more for the Laptop Studio, but you also get more too: the entry-level Laptop Studio costs $500 more than the base Pro 8, but it has a slightly bigger screen and double the RAM and storage space. And if you’re willing to pay up to $2,099 for the Laptop Studio, you can get a model configured with a Core i7 CPU and a discrete Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU. That’s enough power to serve as a decent gaming laptop, which is something the Surface Pro 8 can’t do.
Surface Pro 8 vs Surface Laptop Studio: Specs
|Surface Pro 8||Surface Pro Studio|
|Price||from $1,099||from $1,599|
|Display||13-inch 60 – 120 Hz touchscreen (2880 x 1920 pixels)||14.4-inch 120Hz touchscreen (2,400 x 1,600 pixels)|
|CPU||11th Gen Intel Core i5-i7||11th Gen Intel Core i5-i7|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Xe Graphics||Iris Xe (i5 model), GeForce RTX 3050 Ti (i7 model)|
|RAM||8-32 GB||16-32 GB|
|Storage||128-256 GB (LTE), 128 GB – 1TB (Wi-fi only)||256 GB-2 TB SSD|
|Ports||2 x Thunderbolt 4/USB 4, Surface Connect port, 3.5mm headphone jack, Surface Type Cover port||2 x USB 4/Thunderbolt 4, 3.5mm headphone jack, Surface Connect port|
|Size||11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches||12.7 x 9.0 x 0.7 inches|
|Weight||1.96 pounds||3.83 lbs (i5 model), 4 lbs (i7 model)|
Surface Pro 8 vs Surface Laptop Studio: Design
Both the Surface Pro 8 and the Surface Laptop Studio can function as both a Windows 11 tablet and laptop, but only the Surface Laptop Studio can do that out of the box. To use the Pro 8 as a laptop, you’ve got to pay nearly $200 more for the detachable keyboard — and when you attach it it’s a little unwieldy to use, if our time with the Surface Pro 7’s keyboard is any indicator.
That said, Microsoft appears to have updated the design of the Surface Pro 8 in small but meaningful ways. It’s about the same size and a bit heavier than the Pro 7, with a 13-inch display — a minor but welcome improvement over the 12.3-inch screen in the Pro 7. The Pro 8 also sports a pair of Thunderbolt 4/USB-C Type 4 that will let you hook up multiple external monitors, even 4K models.
The Surface Laptop Studio is a bit larger and heavier than the Pro 8, but it also has a larger screen, and its intriguing sliding hinge design means you can slide the screen down over the keyboard to turn it into a (thick) Windows 11 tablet. Plus, if you like the idea of using your tablet like an easel, you can slide the screen about halfway down (into what Microsoft calls “stage mode”) so that it sits over the keyboard at roughly a 45-degree angle, which could be a more comfortable way to use the screen as a digital canvas.
In terms of ports, the Laptop Studio’s design is little different from the Pro 8, as it also offers just a pair of Thunderbolt 4/USB4 Type-C ports for hooking up external devices. Both Surface devices also have headphone jacks and Surface Connect ports, which are used for charging.
If you just need a great Windows 11 tablet, the Surface Pro 8’s design offers everything you need for about $500 less than the Laptop Studio. But if you want your tablet to double as a laptop, you’ll have to pay $179 to equip the Pro 8 with its detachable keyboard, and at that point you’re getting close to the price of a Studio. Plus, the Studio has a larger screen and that cool sliding hinge design that we can’t wait to test out for ourselves.
Surface Pro 8 vs Surface Laptop Studio: Display
When it comes to displays, the Pro 8 is no slouch. It offers a 13-inch touchscreen display with a 3:2 aspect ratio and a nearly 3K resolution (2880 x 1920 pixels) that delivers 267 pixels per inch. You also switch the Pro 8’s screen between either 60 Hz or 120 Hz in Windows 11. While 60 Hz is more than good enough for day-to-day tasks, bumping it up to 120 Hz should make the experience of using a stylus (like Microsoft’s new Surface Slim Pen 2) a little smoother and more enjoyable, since the screen can only respond to input as fast as it can display a new image.
The Surface Laptop Studio has a larger 14.4-inch touchscreen display with a 3:2 aspect ratio but a lower resolution (2400 x 1600 pixels) with just 201 pixels per inch. It also has the capacity to function at either 60 or 120 Hz, and presumably if you’re using it with a stylus you’ll want to keep it at 120 Hz. That higher refresh rate is a bit more meaningful on the Studio, as it has the muscle to run some games at framerates higher than 60 FPS if you configure it with a discrete Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU — and with a 120Hz display, those 60-plus framerates should look real nice.
So while the Laptop Studio has a larger display than the Pro 8, it has a lower resolution and won’t deliver quite the same fidelity as the Pro 8 and its 267 PPI pixel density. However, while both devices can do 120Hz, that might be more valuable on the Laptop Studio if you configure it to double as a decent gaming laptop.
Surface Pro 8 vs Surface Laptop Studio: Performance
In terms of potential performance, the Surface Laptop Studio outshines the Surface Pro 8 — if you’re willing to pay for the best components.
However, the Surface Pro 8 should be able to hold its own. Microsoft upgraded the 2-in-1 to 11th Gen Intel Core CPUs, and the Surface Pro 8 now offers up to 32GB of RAM onboard. The RAM on the entry-level model has also been doubled to 8GB over the 4GB of RAM the base Pro 7 came with, which is a nice change. However, there’s no option to configure it with a discrete graphics card, ensuring the Pro 8 is ill-equipped to play demanding games.
The Surface Laptop Studio can also be configured with the latest 11th Gen Intel Core CPUs, but even the entry-level model offers double the RAM (16GB) as the base Pro 8, which ships with 8GB. Both devices can be configured with up to 32GB of RAM, a beastly amount for devices not built primarily for playing games or editing video.
Plus, if you upgrade to the $2,099 model you can get a Laptop Studio with a discrete Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics card, as well as a Core i7 CPU, which gives it enough power to run the latest games at respectable framerates.
Surface Pro 8 vs Surface Laptop Studio: Cameras
Camera-wise, the Pro 8 offers a pair of cameras on the front and rear, as you might expect from a tablet. The Surface Laptop Studio offers a more traditional laptop camera setup, with a single 1080p webcam mounted in the display.
The Surface Pro 8 sports a 5MP front-facing camera with the capacity to capture video in up to 1080p. It also supports Windows Hello, meaning you can log into Windows 11 with your face. Mounted on the back is a more impressive 10MP camera that can capture 1080p or 4K videos.
In comparison, the Surface Laptop Studio looks a bit weak. It has just the 1080p webcam up front, and while that’s great for a laptop (far too many still ship with 720p cameras these days, despite the rise of Zoom) it’s not quite as good as the Surface Pro 8’s 5MP selfie camera. However, the Laptop Studio’s webcam does also have IR sensors, so you can use it for facial authentication/login via Windows Hello.
So if camera quality’s important to you, the Surface Pro 8 is definitely the better device. However, the 1080p webcam on the Surface Laptop Studio should be more than enough for your needs if all you plan to use it for are video calls and the occasional selfie.
Surface Pro 8 vs Surface Laptop Studio: Battery life
It’s tricky to compare the battery life of these devices without testing them for ourselves in our lab, where we can effectively evaluate and compare their performance under simulated real-world conditions. In the meantime, we can use Microsoft’s advertised battery life for both as a decent benchmark.
Microsoft claims the Surface Pro 8 can last for up to 16 hours of use on a single charge. The Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio’s advertised battery life is a few hours longer: 19 hours for models with a Core i5 CPU, and 18 hours for models sporting Core i7 CPUs.
So if battery life is critical for you, it’s likely that the Surface Laptop Studio will last a bit longer than the Pro 8 — though both are likely to last far fewer hours under real-world conditions than advertised.
Surface Pro 8 vs Surface Laptop Studio: Verdict
The question of which new Surface device to buy really comes down to how much you’re willing to spend, and what you plan to use your new computer for.
The Surface Pro 8 is a premium Windows 11 tablet that doubles as a decent laptop in a pinch, and its high-res 120Hz screen should feel great to doodle on — especially if you shell out for the new Surface Slim Pen 2 stylus, with its new haptic motor and improved accuracy. The Surface Pro 8 is cheaper and less powerful than the Surface Laptop Studio, but if you don’t plan on doing any demanding gaming or video editing it should be more than enough for your needs.
If you want a more traditional Windows 11 laptop that can transform into a (weighty) tablet, and you can afford the extra cost, the Surface Laptop Studio looks like a worthy investment. The unique sliding hinge design lets you set the 120Hz screen up in multiple angles, and the option to kit it out with a Core i7 CPU, 32 GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU makes the Surface Laptop Studio a contender for one of the best gaming laptops on the market — or at least, certainly one of the most unique. Such extravagance will cost you, though.