Microsoft's Surface Pro line of convertible tablets has carved itself a sizeable niche in a competitive market, but with no upgrade released in 2020, its contemporary design isn't quite the fresh-faced newcomer it once was. 2021 should see a return to Microsoft's regular release schedule, though, with the Surface Pro 8 rumored to debut in the latter months of the year.
With the Surface Pro 8 release date looming over the horizon, what can we expect from the Surface Pro 8 specs and features?
What's the Surface Pro 8 Release Date?
Microsoft hasn't made an official announcement about when the Surface Pro 8 will be officially released. It was initially expected to debut a next-generation Surface Pro device in the fall of 2020, but those plans were seemingly derailed by the ongoing global lockdown. Microsoft did release a business-focused Surface Pro 7+ in January 2021, 16 months after the original Surface Pro 7 release date, but it was only a minor improvement and not a true generational leap.
Microsoft now appears most likely to return to its previous Surface Pro release date schedule, and set the Surface Pro 8 release date for sometime in the fall of 2021, with September or October the most likely months.
What Are the Surface Pro 8 Specs?
Like the Surface Pro 8 release date, the Surface Pro 8 specs remain shrouded in mystery, at least officially. When we consider speculation and rumor, there is a lot of exciting potential in Microsoft's next-generation Surface Pro – especially considering the changes it recently made with the Surface Pro 7+.
The Surface Pro 7+ was fitted with the latest Intel 11th generation Tiger Lake processors, giving a sizeable increase to general compute performance and a huge leap in graphical power. Next-generation Surface Pro 8 specs could come with a similar line of CPUs, but there's also the possibility that they will instead adopt the next-generation Alder Lake processors which are lined up to release around the same time as the Surface Pro 8.
Alder Lake will leverage the now-classic big/little core strategy, pairing a handful of high-efficiency cores with a number of more powerful cores. Like the smartphone and tablet-powered devices that this sort of core configuration first found use in, it should lead to a big uplift in battery life and overall performance. Alder Lake is also based on a 10nm process, which will bring its own performance enhancements.
PCIExpress 5.0 support may unlock exceptionally fast SSD storage, too. Storage options will likely come in varied capacities up to 1TB of NVMe storage space. LPDDR5 memory support will mean denser, faster, and more efficient memory, potentially in capacities up to 32GB for the most expensive Surface Pro 8 specifications.
Combine that with 12th generation Xe graphics, and the Surface Pro 8 should be by far the fastest Surface device ever made.
If it turns out that the Surface Pro 8 specs include, or are solely based on Tiger Lake processors instead, it will mean less ambitious performance goals, but greater memory and storage configurations are still highly likely. The new-generation laptop would still be able to take advantage of the Tiger Lake CPU enhancements, and enjoy 12th-generation Xe graphics, for better gaming, 3D rendering, and video editing transition work. That would be largely unchanged from the Surface Pro 7+, however.
Surface Pro 8 Design
Beyond the Surface Pro 8 spec improvements, Surface Pro fans are hoping for a design overhaul for the new 2-in-1 too. Thinner bezels, a lighter frame, and a better port selection would go a long way to keeping the Surface Pro 8 competitive with a new crop of laptops and tablets based on cutting-edge hardware.
Thinner bezels seem likely, even if Microsoft has a propensity for maintaining thicker-than-average bezels to make the tablet portion easier to hold.
Surface Pro 8 Features
As for features, we may see USB 4 and Thunderbolt 4 ports as the major, if not only, option, as the laptop and tablet scene unifies behind the USB-C standard. You'll be able to find all the Surface Pro 8 cables you need on the Cable Matters store when the 2-in-1 launches. There will also be a host of docking station options to consider too. Take a look at some of Cable Matters' offerings.
Cable Matters USB-C Hub with Dual DisplayPort and PD
Cable Matters Intel Certified Thunderbolt 4 Cable
As for wireless, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 are almost a certainty. We may see options for LTE Advanced connectivity too, so the Surface Pro 8 can stay online no matter where it is.
The Surface Pro line has always come with a capable keyboard and an excellent touchpad. That will be likely to continue with the new-generation device, though we may see a larger touchpad as has become more common on premium laptops in recent years.