Microsoft has wrapped up its September 'see what's next' event (event stream recording link), which ran for about an hour and was probably the biggest Surface hardware event yet, with lots of attractive new portable Surface devices and accessories revealed. As well as refreshed members of existing gear, more about them in the news later, Microsoft showcased what it various describes as a "powerhouse," and "the most powerful Surface ever," – the Surface Studio Laptop.
The new Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio takes aim at hybrid work from a slightly different angle, and reminds me somewhat of Acer's R- Series, or the more recent HP Spectre Folio convertibles. Despite those previous works, it looks like Microsoft has formulated something different enough, with enough niche appeal, to make a bigger splash than those predecessors could do.
Transitioning from the decent spec portable laptop form factor to the Stage mode, to the Studio mode, is something that users might actually do here, with the artistic value of the Surface Slim Pen 2 making the tablet mode worthwhile (but the pen costs extra).
- In Laptop mode, enjoy a first-class typing experience with a full keyboard and Precision Haptic touchpad.
- In Stage mode, the 14.4-inch PixelSense touchscreen display is pulled forward to the perfect angle for gaming, streaming, docking, or presenting to clients. With the keyboard covered, immerse yourself in the display and interact with Surface Slim Pen 2, touch or touchpad.
- In Studio mode, make use of the optimal canvas for uninterrupted writing, sketching and other creative pursuits.
In the intro I shared some Microsoft quotes about the 'power' of the Surface Studio Laptop, and that must be put in context with the form factor and portability here – this isn't a fully fledged gaming, workstation, or desktop replacement style portable, but it will suit some. The CPU choice is a maximum Intel Core H35 i7-11370H, a modern 10nm SuperFin processor with TDP up to 35W, which clocks up to 4.8GHz, but limited to 4C/8T. For graphics, you can opt for up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti laptop GPU with 4GB GDDR6. We haven't had a laptop with an RTX 3050 Ti in the labs but from what I have observed, it can rival the RTX 2060 in gaming scenarios where the 4GB VRAM isn't a limit (mobile GeForce RTX X060 parts have 6GB).
Note the 'plinth' design with cooling vents. You can store the stylus under the plinth ledge.
The screen is an interesting aspect of the design, not just for its "ultra-durable Dynamic Woven Hinge". Microsoft has chosen a 14.4-inch PixelSense touchscreen, which Panos Panay characterised as offering the portable feel of a 13.3-incher, with visuals approaching a 15.6-inch experience. This display panel has 2400 x 1600 pixels (201 PPI), refresh rate of up to 120Hz, and contrast ratio of 1500:1, with Dolby Vision support.
Other features worth pondering over, and there are many, include the ability to configure up to 32GB of RAM, and up to 2TB SSD. If you choose the i5 version you should get up to 19 hours of mixed use, the i7/GeForce version is 18 hours, according to Microsoft. Standard features are; Windows Hello face authentication camera (front), Dual far-field Studio Mics, Quad Omnisonic speakers with Dolby Atmos, a large Precision Haptic touchpad, 2 x USB 4.0 with Thunderbolt 4 ports, Wi-Fi 6: 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.1, a backlit keyboard with quick access keys for media / brightness, 3.5mm headphone jack, 1 x Surface Connect port, dedicated charging port, integrated Surface Slim Pen 2 storage (stylus sold separately at US$129.99), and it ships with Windows 11.
Physical characteristics of this magnesium and aluminium design are the 323.28 x 228.32 x 18.94mm dimensions. The weight varies with processing choices, with the Core i5 version tipping the scales at 1.75kg, and the Core i7 with RTX graphics a little heavier at 1.82kg.
Microsoft's Surface Laptop Studio is priced from US$1,599.99 and is available for pre-order today in select markets. It is released on Windows 11 day, 5th October.