With Microsoft’s Surface 2022 reveal event wrapping up, we now know what the tech giant’s next Windows tablet will be: the next-gen Surface Pro 9.
We spent some time hands-on and liked what we saw, which means the Surface Pro 9 may soon take the top spot in our ranking of the best Windows tablets.
However, to do that, you’ll need to shell out the current champ — its immediate predecessor, the generally excellent Surface Pro 8. At first glance, the two Surface tablets look remarkably similar, but once you dig down Surface (Huh) There’s a lot to take them apart.
Which is better? With Black Friday just around the corner, there’s a good chance we’ll see some sales on the Surface Pro 8 once the Pro 9 goes on sale on October 25th. If you want the new model, or are waiting for a discount on the current model – General Surface Pro? Let’s break down the details.
Surface Pro 9 vs. Surface Pro 8: Price
- Surface Pro 9 price starts at $1,000 / £1,099 / AU$1,649
- The Surface Pro 8 had a higher MSRP, but is now available at a lower price
- Greater variety of models for the Pro 9
The Surface Pro series has always straddled the line between tablet and laptop, and its use of Windows and Intel Core processors gives it the capabilities of better laptops while maintaining the tablet form factor. This means that their prices generally approach those of professional laptops rather than cheaper Android tablets.
The Surface Pro 9 actually has a slightly lower US MSRP at launch than the Pro 8’s similar starting spec model: $1,000 versus the Pro 8’s $1,099. However, the Pro 8 is now available for a much lower price; We’ve seen i5 models on Amazon for just $800.
Now, you obviously get more processing power for your money with the Surface Pro 9, although some of the higher-spec models can be quite pricey. If you want a more powerful device, the latest Pro 9 is definitely the way to go. If you don’t plan to run any highly demanding software, the Pro 8 is the best value.
It should be noted that the Pro 9 is available with either an Intel Core processor or the new Microsoft SQ3 chip (found in the Surface Pro 5G). The 5G-enabled SQ3 models have a slightly higher starting price, which also means there’s a larger selection of overall models than the Pro 8. There’s also a cheaper non-Evo i5 version of the Pro 9, which only appears to be available in the US.
Surface Pro 9 vs. Surface Pro 8: Specifications
- The 12th Gen Intel chips in Surface Pro 9 are powerful
- The Pro 9 5G will use the yet to be tested Microsoft SQ3 processor
- The Surface Pro 8 is only one generation behind Intel chips, but it’s a huge leap
This is a (mostly) clean wipe for the Surface Pro 9. Just like the Pro 8, it’s available with either an i5 or i7 processor — a step to ensure the new tablets meet Intel Evo specifications. No i3 models here.
The main difference is that these are 12th generation Intel Core processors, also known as “Alder Lake” CPUs. The 11th Gen ‘Tiger Lake’ chips found in the Surface Pro 8 aren’t slack, to be clear, but Alder Lake brings a unique new microarchitecture called big.LITTLE, which uses two different types of CPU cores: performance cores and efficiency cores.
Essentially what this means is a huge generational leap in multi-core performance, with efficiency cores handling background processors while performance cores doing more complex tasks. The 12th generation Intel basically blows the previous generation out of the water, so we can expect much better performance from the Surface Pro 9.
It’s worth noting that the Surface Pro 9 5G runs on an ARM-based Microsoft SQ3 chip instead, and we haven’t tested this ourselves yet, so we don’t know how it stacks up against the Intel models.
Surface Pro 9 vs. Surface Pro 8: Design
- Very similar overall design
- Surface Pro 9 has a more rounded finish
- Slight differences between Pro 9 and Pro 9 5G
This is a tough category, because the overall design hasn’t changed here. The Surface Pro 8 has slightly changed its exterior design compared to previous models; Switching to Pro 9 feels like a minor adjustment at most.
Both are incredibly sturdy tablets, with a sturdy kickstand hinge and a mostly metal casing. The Surface Pro 9’s edges are rounded a bit more than the Pro 8’s, likely a callback to the more curved design of the Surface Pro X, which birthed Microsoft’s SQ CPUs.
Differences between the Intel and SQ3 models in the Pro 9, too. Both versions have a ventilation duct that runs discreetly around the back of the screen, but the Intel-only version has perforations cut into the back of the chassis to better cool the chip.
We like the Surface Pro 9’s slightly rounded finish, as it’s more comfortable to hold in hands.
Surface Pro 9 vs. Surface Pro 8: Which should you choose?
Look, the Surface Pro 9 is the clear winner here. We can’t say we were surprised by the result. It’s simply a newer, faster device that we fully expect to outpace the Surface Pro 8 in almost every department when we get to test it properly.
However, the question of which one to buy is largely down to your personal needs and budget. If you can afford to buy a mid-to-high-spec model of the Pro 9, we highly recommend you to get your pre-order now. If you want a 5G-enabled tablet, the Pro 9 is again the only choice.
If you’re shopping on a budget, or realize you don’t need a lot of processing power, it might be a good idea to keep an eye on the Surface Pro 8 for sale. It’s not quite as powerful, but it can still comfortably handle everyday tasks like web browsing and office work. .
So while our overall winner might be the Surface Pro 9, don’t discount its predecessor just yet. The Pro 8 is still one of the best Windows tablets money can buy, and if you can find one at a good price, we still highly recommend it.
- Overall winner: Surface Pro 9