Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio specifications

Price: $1,600 - $3,000+
Display:
14.4-inch 120 Hz touchscreen (2400 x 1600 pixels)
CPU: eleventh Gen
Intel Core i5 | Intel Core i7
Graphics:
Intel Iris Xe built-in graphics | Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU
RAM:
16GB | 32 GB
Storage:
256 GB - 1 TB SSD
Ports: 2 Thunderbolt 4/1 ports, headphone/mic jack, Surface Connect port
Battery: 18-19 hours (advertised), 10.5 hours (tested)
Dimensions:
12.7 x 8.9 x 0.7 inches
Weight:
3.8 - 4.0 pounds

The Surface Laptop Studio (from $1,599) is Microsoft’s latest spin on the Surface system, a reimagined Surface Book with a more MacBook Pro-like design and an crowd pleasing hinged show.

This is Microsoft’s flagship instrument for Windows 11, which promises to make Windows a extra inviting position for both work and play. Like Windows 11, the Surface Laptop Studio is advertised as a one-stop shop for productivity, leisure and inventive paintings: a device you can use similarly properly for schoolwork, virtual artwork or gaming at the move.

After spending some time with the device for this Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review, it’s transparent that the claims for this system most commonly ring true. But there are some important caveats that would possibly now not make it the best laptop for your wishes. 

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review: Price and availability 

The Surface Laptop Studio is that can be purchased from Microsoft’s website presently at a beginning value of $1,599. For that, you get this hinged ultraportable configured with an eleventh Gen Intel Core i5 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB NVMe SSD. The Surface Laptop Studio's SSD is removable, so that you will have to be capable to upgrade it beautiful easily down the street.  For another $200 prematurely, you'll get the same style with a 512GB SSD.

Pay $2,099 and you can get a Laptop Studio with a extra tough 11th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics card. This version of the Studio has sufficient muscle to double as a tight gaming laptop, in a pinch. If you’re prepared to pay gaming laptop prices you'll get an excellent beefier type: $2,699 will get you the i7 CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU along 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, whilst $3,099 will get you a similar model with a 2TB SSD. 

Microsoft also gives plenty of non-compulsory accessories you can package deal in along with your acquire, from Bluetooth headphones and mice to USB hubs. The one you will have to in reality consider making an investment in is the Surface Slim Pen 2, a $129 stylus that you simply charge by way of magnetically attaching it to the Surface Laptop Studio.

Our review unit arrived wearing the Core i7 CPU, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD and the Nvidia discrete GPU. It additionally came packaged with the aforementioned Surface Slim Pen 2 and a $25 Microsoft Ocean Plastic Mouse, which is a cheap, decent Bluetooth mouse. All instructed, you’d pay a little greater than $2,900 to shop for the similar package deal for your self.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review: Design 

The Surface Laptop Studio is a fairly compact but weighty laptop, measuring 12.7 x 8.Nine x 0.7 inches and weighing 3.8 (Core i5 fashions) to Four kilos (Core i7 fashions). Its magnesium and aluminum casing comes in one color, Platinum, and there’s a small lower lip operating across the base of the entire laptop, making it appear to type of glide reasonably above the table. 

If you purchase a Surface Slim Pen 2 stylus, it can magnetically attach to the entrance facet of this lip, permitting you to stash the stylus away when now not in use. This is how you price the stylus at the Surface Laptop Studio, and it only fees if you happen to attach it below the front edge of the laptop — attach the Slim Pen to the keyboard deck (the place it's going to also magnetically connect) and it doesn’t appear to rate. 

Lift the Surface Laptop Studio's lid and also you’re greeted with essentially the most MacBook Pro-like Windows laptop I’ve noticed all year. There’s no speaker grille flanking the keyboard, but another way you’re looking at a very similar matte silver chassis with thick black bezels around the screen, soft gray plastic keys in the keyboard, and a haptic touchpad laid out under them. 

MacBooks have had haptic touchpads for years, but they’re still lovely uncommon in Windows laptops. They’re potentially higher than physical touchpads because there are not any shifting parts: as a substitute, the Surface Laptop Studio’s touchpad makes use of instrument and haptic motors to make it really feel such as you’re clicking on one thing. 

That way there’s less likelihood of the trackpad breaking (fewer portions) and, at least on the Laptop Studio, it signifies that the touchpad acknowledges presses on the edges and corners simply as readily as within the heart, which isn’t at all times the case with physical touchpads.

But what’s truly attention-grabbing in regards to the Studio is its show: the 14.4-inch display screen lifts up from the deck like a normal laptop, nevertheless it has a fabric-covered hinge running lengthwise around the middle which helps you to pull the display screen’s backside edge out toward you. You can then slide the display towards you to set it up as a tent over the keyboard (it magnetizes to the keyboard deck in the right kind position, to make this more uncomplicated), slide it all the approach down onto the deck to show the Studio into a hefty pill, or even spin it just about 360 degrees round in order that the display is at the again of the laptop lid dealing with away from you.

Getting the hang of transferring the display is slightly tough: there’s a good amount of magnetic pressure holding it into position like a normal laptop display, and in the event you try to just pull the ground fringe of the display toward you, it’s fairly hard to get it to detach. 

I’ve discovered the best way to control the display is to open the Studio like an ordinary laptop, then snatch one aspect of the display about where the hinge is and hang the top half steady while pushing gently on the rear backside half of the display, at which level the screen pops out smoothly and slides toward you. 

All instructed, it’s a neat design trick inspired through the flexible hinged show of Microsoft’s Surface Studio 2 all-in-one, but in contrast to that desktop, the Surface Laptop Studio can’t enhance more than a few positions. Instead, you could have the 4 major positions I described: standard laptop, tablet, screen tented over the keyboard like a bit easel (which leaves the touchpad obtainable), and display flipped across the again so any individual sitting throughout from you can see it, a peculiar configuration which might be useful for shows. 

In apply, I discovered the Studio’s hinged show very cool however rarely helpful. You may feel another way in the event you plan to make use of this laptop for developing digital artwork, as it is great to have some other supported position for the screen besides flat or open. It would have been even nicer to have the similar type of “zero gravity hinge” as the Surface Studio 2 does, since that lets you regulate the height and angle of the display on a much more granular level. 

Surface Laptop Studio review: Display 

Once you recover from the newness of the hinge at the back of it, you'll be able to respect the standard of the Surface Laptop Studio’s display. The 14.4-inch, 3:2 touchscreen (2400 x 1600 pixels) has a tight pixels in line with inch ratio of 201, and it could achieve refresh rates of up to 120Hz. That’s a nice refresh price to have should you’re planning to play video games at framerates that high (and an Nvidia-equipped Laptop Studio makes that a cheap proposition) or do numerous stylus work: having a display that refreshes sooner way it can reply to inputs sooner, and thus the enjoy of sketching or writing at the display screen will have to really feel smoother.

The Laptop Studio’s display also supplies a pleasing surface for observing movies and flicks. Sure, it may possibly’t do 4K or HDR, but I nonetheless loved my time streaming movies like Hellboy and catching up on episodes of The Sopranos. The blues and reds of the Hellboy leads appeared especially crowd pleasing on the Studio’s show, even though darker scenes with quite a lot of blues and greens tended to look washed out and blurry. 

When we pointed a colorimeter on the Surface Laptop Studio all through lab checking out, we found that the Studio’s show can achieve 105.6% of the sRGB colour gamut (typically the closer to 100%, the easier) and nil.21 of Delta-E (the nearer to zero, the better). Our brightness meter registered a median of 487.2 nits throughout all of the display, regardless that the center were given as shiny as 504 nits and the lower edges as dim as 472 nits. That’s brighter than maximum competing laptops, including the Dell XPS 15 OLED (389 nits) and the MacBook Pro M1 (439 nits). 

To my humble human eyes, the display screen will get plenty shiny sufficient: at maximum brightness I had no hassle using it in direct daylight, and even at extra reasonable brightness ranges, I rarely caught sight of my mirrored image in the display. 

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review: Ports 

Sadly Microsoft really doesn’t provide you with a lot to paintings with, ports-wise, at the Surface Laptop Studio. You get two Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports on the left aspect of the laptop, and a headphone jack and Surface Connect port at the right facet.

It’s nice to have the Thunderbolt 4 ports, particularly if you’re making plans on hooking the Studio up to an exterior 4K display, besides it’s kind of a ache to have them both next to each other. I’d have much most popular to see one on every aspect, for extra handy get right of entry to. 

It would even be nice to see Microsoft seize grasp of the zeitgeist and switch to USB-C charging: competing laptop makers like Dell have, and gadgets just like the Dell XPS 15 OLED have USB-C ports on all sides, which makes it convenient to plug in your charger at whatever angle is most comfy for anywhere you occur to be working. 

Ditching the Surface Connect energy jack would potentially give Microsoft extra space for additional ports. A microSD card reader for pulling footage off virtual cameras would were particularly welcome, given that this 2-in-1 is marketed to inventive types.

Surface Laptop Studio review: Audio

Music and sound effects are nice and transparent when coming out of the Surface Laptop Studio, which may have something to do with the truth that the instrument has each a subwoofer and tweeters: the subwoofer fires in the course of the facet, while the tweeters fan the flames of in the course of the keyboard itself.

Like Microsoft’s own Surface Laptop 4, the Surface Laptop Studio delivers louder, richer audio with higher bass than I expected from a laptop. It can get virtually painfully loud, and the bass on tracks like Massive Attack’s “Angel” or Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” feels virtually bodily. 

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review: Performance

The entry-level Laptop Studio ships with reasonably robust parts, and should you kit it out like our review unit with the Core i7 CPU, 32GB of RAM, and Nvidia GPU, the Studio can deliver pretty good efficiency. Certainly, in day by day tasks, it packs greater than enough energy for your wishes. I loaded our Windows 11 Studio up with all the apps I need for my day-to-day work, and even with 20-plus tabs open in Edge (together with more than one video streams from different sites) plus Spotify, Discord, and extra, I never stuck the Studio stuttering.

When we put the gadget via Geekbench 5.4’s multicore CPU benchmark (an artificial check which measures efficiency), the Surface Laptop Studio accomplished a ranking of five,820. That’s lovely good, however it’s a little lower than what we normally see from laptops that cost $2,000 to $3,000. The Dell XPS 15 OLED (7,477), the Razer Blade 14 (7,471), or even the significantly cheaper Asus Zenbook 13 OLED (6,411) all performed higher in the similar test. 

We also tasked the Studio with transcoding a 4K video file down into 1080p the use of Handbrake, which it did in 13 mins and 30 seconds. Again, that’s first rate but no longer nice: the Dell XPS 15 OLED (8:10), the 15-inch Surface Laptop 4 (8:21), and the M1-powered MacBook Pro (7:46) all treated the similar task in significantly less time.

However, the Laptop Studio’s SSD is without doubt one of the quickest we’ve observed yet, if our file switch test (which tasks the laptop with duplicating 25 GB of multimedia files) is any indication. The Studio managed to reach a document switch fee of one,051 MBps, which is quicker than the the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 (869.Five MBps) and the Dell XPS 15 OLED (825.6 MBps), despite the fact that now not regardless that not as fast as a high-end gaming laptop like the Razer Blade 15 Advanced (1,ninety five MBps). 

I also spent a while enjoying games on the Studio, and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti in our review unit gave me enough power to run even quite fresh three-D video games like Forza Horizon 4 and Control at a good clip. When we ran it throughout the Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm graphical benchmark, the Studio achieved a mean 66.2 frames per 2nd operating the sport at 1080p and 57.2 frames per 2d at its native 2,Four hundred x 1,Six hundred solution. That’s neck and neck with the Dell XPS 15 OLED (67.1 fps, 41.Nine fps) configured with the similar Nvidia GPU.   

Put simply, the Surface Laptop Studio gives quite a lot of energy for productivity applications, and it could possibly even perform a little half-decent video modifying and photo enhancing should you configure it with the most productive elements. 

However, in maximum spaces, the Surface Laptop Studio can’t quite fit the efficiency of similarly-priced laptops, so if gaming or video modifying is your priority you might be better served with one of the most different laptops indexed here. 

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review: Keyboard, touchpad and touchscreen

I like the keyboard on the Laptop Studio more than I expected I might. At first glance the keys glance gentle with little go back and forth, besides, I discovered them rather comfy to kind on. They’re spaced out sufficient that even my giant hands felt comfortable resting on the house row, and typing for extended periods on lengthy tasks (like this review) didn’t leave me aching.

The touchpad beneath the keyboard could also be properly made and relaxed to make use of. I couldn’t have informed you it’s now not a physical touchpad if Microsoft hadn’t instructed me, as the haptics do a decent task of making it really feel like you’re physically miserable the metal. In my enjoy it’s accurate and simple to use, and I had no drawback the use of gesture instructions to navigate thru Windows 11.

The Studio’s touchscreen is equally efficient, and I had no hassle using the Surface Slim Pen 2 stylus Microsoft sent us to create some really terrible artwork temporarily and painlessly. I also had no hassle tapping and swiping my approach thru my daily work since it reliably registers gesture commands, and while it does pick out up fingerprints they seem much less noticeable at the Studio’s display than on different touchscreen laptops. 

Surface Laptop Studio review: Surface Slim Pen 2 stylus 

The Surface Laptop Studio doesn’t include a stylus, so in case you’re planning to do any doodling you’ll need to buy your own. Microsoft is closely advertising its new $129 Surface Slim Pen 2 stylus as a good supplement for the Studio; the two devices had been unveiled in combination, and the Slim Pen 2 is particularly designed to magnetically connect to the Studio for charging and safekeeping. 

The Slim Pen 2 additionally sports activities a brand new haptic motor for providing tactile comments; Microsoft calls this comments "tactile signals," and it's lately handiest supported if you find yourself the usage of the Surface Slim Pen 2 with either the Surface Pro 8 or Surface Laptop Studio running Windows 11.

Handily, Microsoft sent us a Surface Slim Pen 2 stylus for review at the side of the Surface Laptop Studio operating Windows 11, so I’m well-equipped to inform you how properly it really works. In quick: slightly nicely, particularly when you’re the usage of the Slim Pen 2 in an app which helps haptic feedback. 

You received’t confuse the slight vibration that occurs when you touch stylus to display screen with the sensation of actually dragging a pencil across paper, but it’s still a pleasing little bit of comments that makes drawing and sketching on the Studio feel nice. You also revel in haptic feedback while you use the Slim Pen 2 to execute gesture commands in apps like Microsoft Word, or switch inventive implements in Microsoft Whiteboard, and these little spurts of sensation make sliding the stylus across the display screen really feel more attractive and responsive.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review: Camera 

If you’re planning to do a large number of video calls, the Surface Laptop Studio received’t allow you to down. The chassis sports a 1080p digital camera built into the highest bezel, and in my experience it makes you glance pretty excellent on video calls. 

You too can use the integrated IR digital camera for facial authentication by way of Windows Hello, and Microsoft claims that are meant to be more straightforward than ever since the Surface Laptop Studio supports Windows Hello 2.0. The thought is that facial popularity must be sooner and more straightforward, although you’re wearing a masks or glasses, as a result of some under-the-hood upgrades to how Hello works. 

In my revel in, that is absolutely true: I wear glasses about half the time, and once I set up Windows Hello on a new laptop I've to take them off as it never seems to paintings properly otherwise. On the Surface Laptop Studio, though, I had no such bother -- Windows Hello recognized my face and logged me in inside of seconds each time I sat down in entrance of the screen, without reference to whether or not I had my glasses or mask on. 

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review: Battery existence 

Microsoft advertises that the Laptop Studio can last as long as 18 or 19 hours on a single charge, depending on whether or not you buy the Core i5 or i7 configuration. In our battery trying out, which fees the laptop to full and units it to perpetually browse the web by the use of Wi-Fi with display screen brightness set to One hundred fifty nits, our Core i7-equipped Studio lasted 10 hours and Forty two mins.  

That’s pretty just right, albeit some distance not up to Microsoft’s marketed max. It method the Surface Laptop Studio can live longer than the Dell XPS 13 (7:59) on battery energy, regardless that the brand new Microsoft gadget isn't nearly as long-lived as the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 (13:33) or the Asus Zenbook Thirteen OLED (15:00). And in fact, it’s nowhere near the MacBook Pro with M1’s exceptional 16-hour battery existence.

The battery charges pretty fast, regardless that — I plugged it in at 9% and an hour later, it was juiced up to 51%; Within 2 hours it used to be topping 97% charged.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review: Heat 

In the course of scripting this review I by no means as soon as spotted the Surface Laptop Studio getting noticeably hot, even if I was playing challenging 3-d games. My revel in was backed up by way of our lab trying out: once we put the laptop to paintings for quarter-hour after which ran a heat gun over it, we found it by no means got hotter than 89 degrees Fahrenheit.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review: Verdict 

The Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio is well-built and somewhat robust, with a nice bright screen, nice audio system, and a battery just right sufficient to look you through a day at paintings. 

But if that’s all you care about, you could most likely be at an advantage making an investment in a cheaper, more powerful Windows laptop like the Dell XPS 15 OLED or the Asus Zenbook 13 OLED, which can’t fit the Studio’s sound quality but make up for it with but stunning OLED monitors. 

The thing that makes or breaks the Surface Laptop Studio as a must-buy is how you're feeling about that crowd pleasing 120Hz hinged display. If you’re out there for an ultraportable Windows laptop that doubles as a tight creative tool for digital artists, the Surface Laptop Studio paired with a Surface Slim Pen 2 is a powerful contender for one of the most best laptops you can purchase at this time. The haptic comments is cool, the sliding display screen gives you a extra easel-like angle for working, and the Surface Laptop Studio has the ability and longevity to be an excellent laptop for college or paintings.

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