How to pick the right Surface Type Covers & Surface Pens — everything you need to know

Arif Bacchus

If you’re considering buying a new Surface Pro 8 or Surface Laptop Studio, then we have some words of advice for you. For the best experience, you’ll need to buy a Type Cover and/or a Surface Pen to go with your new purchase, but all are not created equal. Newer Surface devices are not always backward compatible with older accessories, and we’re here to help make sense of it all for you with our latest buying guide covering the Slim Pen 2, Surface Pro 8 Type Cover, and more.

Editor’s note: This guide is focused on buying Type Covers & Pens for the newest Surface devices introduced in October of 2021. If you’re buying Surface Pen accessories or Type Covers for the older Surface devices, check out our legacy piece here.

Surface Pro Signature Keyboard with Slim Pen 2 — $270 

Due to the new slim-bezel design, older Type Cover keyboards designed for the Surface Pro 7, Surface Pro 6, or older won’t work on the Surface Pro 8 or Surface Pro X. The POGO connectors on the keyboard and device are different and spaced further apart. Connections with older Type Covers on the Surface Pro 8, and Surface Pro X are physically impossible. However, any Type Cover keyboard that works with the Pro X also works with the Surface Pro 8 as the connectors on the two are the same.

That’s why we start first with the newest Type Cover accessory. If you’re buying a Surface Pro 8 or Surface Pro X, then the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard with Slim Pen 2 is one of your choices. This Type Cover works exclusively with the Surface Pro 8, as well as the Surface Pro X.  It has the premium Alcantara finish and comes reinforced with a Carbon Fiber core on the inside to make the Type Cover feel more rigid.

Priced at $270, it includes the Surface Slim Pen 2 and has a spot on the keyboard for that pen. With this option, you’re saving some money. The standard Type Cover is $180, and the Slim Pen 2 is $130. So by buying the bundle, you save $30. It’s a nice option if you really want to get the most out of the Surface Pro 8, including the new in-screen haptics (which only Slim Pen 2 and Surface Pro 8 supports.)

Surface Pro Signature Keyboard — $180

Another option for the Surface Pro 8 or Surface Pro X is the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard. This keyboard is the same as the Signature Keyboard with the Slim Pen 2 but comes without the pen. If you really want a premium-feeling keyboard with the Alcantara finish, but don’t care for the Surface Pen, then this is the one to buy. It’s $90 cheaper than the Type Cover that includes the Slim Pen 2.

Surface Pro Keyboard — $140

The third option for the Surface Pro 8 or Surface Pro X is just known as “Surface Pro Keyboard.” This is the most affordable Type Cover keyboard, as it drops out the Alcantara finish for a more standard fabric. It also doesn’t have a slot for the Slim Pen or Slim Pen 2.

If you’re a close follower of the Surface range, then you might remember that this keyboard first came out with the first-gen Surface Pro X, as an alternative to the original Signature Keyboard with Slim Pen. It’s the same product, but it now works with both the Pro 8, as well as the Pro X.

We say that because the new Signature Keyboards all have a “Flat” Windows logo, that mimics the Windows 11 and Microsoft Logo. The old ones (and this “Surface Pro Keyboard) still have the old Windows 8 logo.

Surface Slim Pen 2 — $130

Next up is the Surface Slim Pen 2. This Surface Pen is designed for the Surface Pro X, Surface Pro 7, Surface Pro 7+, Surface Pro 8. It also works with the Surface Laptop 4, Surface Laptop Studio, and Surface Duo 2. Microsoft also mentions that Slim Pen 2 works on Surface Go 2, Go 3, Laptop 1 and 2, Studio 1 and 2, Surface Books 1-3, and Surface Pro 3-6.

Compared to the original Surface Slim Pen, a couple of things have changed, The Slim Pen 2 has a longer tip, as well as support for haptics, and according to some artists, is more accurate. Note that the haptics, however, only work on the Surface Pro 8 or the Surface Laptop Studio.

The Surface Slim Pen 2 also only wirelessly recharges in the Signature Type Cover on the Pro 8 or the Pro X, or at the bottom of the Surface Laptop Studio and the top part of Surface Duo 2. If you’re using Slim Pen 2 on any other device, you’ll have to purchase the Surface Slim Pen Charger. It’s an additional $35 purchase.

Surface Slim Pen — $144

Last on our list of accessories is the original Surface Slim Pen. We have both the original Slim Pen as well as the Surface Slim Pen 2 and can confirm that the original Slim Pen works fine on both the Pro 8 as well as the Laptop Studio. The only notable difference in our hands-on time is the accuracy as well as the lack of haptic support. It doesn’t make sense to buy the Slim Pen anymore, as it’s more expensive than the Slim Pen 2. Do note, though that the Slim Pen comes with a charging cradle, and the Slim Pen 2 does not.

Happy buying!

We hope that this buying guide helped you in any purchasing decisions. If you so happen to pick up any of the accessories we mentioned in this review, let us know. And do consider purchasing through our affiliate links at the top of each section, as you’ll be helping support OnMSFT!