Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio Review: High-End Hybrid


Ever for the reason that Surface vary debuted a decade in the past, Microsoft has specialized in hybrid units. The unique Surface Pro tablet may change into a computer of varieties due to an not obligatory keyboard, however the corporate has experimented with other shape elements within the years since.

Another new one used to be added to the combination in 2021 within the type of the Surface Laptop Studio. Rather than detaching the keyboard fully, it has a versatile hinge that allows you to transfer the show between 3 key positions. It’s now not the primary time we’ve noticed a design like this, however its creation here’s a transparent sign of intent from Microsoft.

But does it do sufficient to persuade inventive execs clear of an iPad Pro or Mac? Or can it even tempt customers? I spent a couple of weeks trying out the Surface Laptop Studio to determine.

Design & Build

  • New 3-in-1 design works neatly however has its barriers
  • Great video calling options
  • Limited port variety

The Surface Laptop Studio replaces the Surface Book as Microsoft’s high-end hybrid computer, adopting an overly other shape issue within the procedure. Instead of a computer with totally removable show, the display screen at the Laptop Studio can also be pulled ahead in entrance of the keyboard or lay flat on most sensible of it.

This technically makes it a 3-in-1 tool, even supposing you lose the versatility of the usage of the display screen as a standalone tablet. You’re additionally restricted to those 3 fastened positions, not like on convertible laptops with 360° hinges. I discovered this in particular problematic with the show pulled ahead in Stage mode, which isn’t probably the most herbal perspective for staring at movies – however there’s no solution to alter it.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review

However, that used to be the one genuine state of affairs the place I discovered the design to be a limitation. The tool is superb in common Laptop mode, whilst Studio mode works nice for handwritten notes the usage of the brand new Slim Pen 2 stylus. My day by day workflow doesn’t contain shows, however I consider Stage mode is a lot more efficient right here.

It’s additionally extraordinarily simple to transport between the other modes. Within a few seconds, the Laptop Studio can really feel like an entire new tool, one thing that’s now not conceivable on many competitors.

But with the tool closed, you wouldn’t essentially know this capability is to be had. The top rate aluminium alloy construct is one thing we’ve noticed on Surface units numerous instances ahead of, whilst a Platinum end is your best choice. I’d have favored to look some selection colors, however this minimalist aesthetic is standard of {hardware} designed for trade use.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review

However, you’ll realize a few design quirks when having a look intently. The first is an extended cut up around the again of the tool – that is how the show stays hooked up when it’s shifting between positions.

The different is a big base which extends from the ground of the tool, giving it an bizarre dual-level design. This is probably to fortify balance (which is excellent), however it approach the tool is chunky at 17.88mm thick.

Microsoft has put the gap across the base to excellent use, although, with huge speaker grilles at the left and proper facet. You’ll additionally in finding sturdy magnets across the entrance, designed as a protected garage location for the Slim Pen 2 stylus. This doubles as a charging station, making it simply obtainable but nonetheless out of the way in which when now not required.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review

But the Surface Laptop Studio isn’t simply thick, it’s heavy too. The i7 type I examined is a hefty 1.82kg, whilst i5 variations aren’t some distance at the back of at 1.74kg. That’s heavier than maximum 14in laptops, so now not as moveable as you could be anticipating.

However, probably the most disappointing design selection for me is the port variety. Not best has Microsoft caught with Surface Connect as the principle charging means, it’s joined by means of simply 2x USB-C (with Thunderbolt 4 strengthen) and a three.5mm headphone jack. On a tool this thick, there’s in point of fact no excuse for the loss of USB-A ports, and there’s various room for an HDMI too.

However, it’s a lot better information on the subject of the webcam. The 1080p sensor delivers transparent, crisp video calls, whilst twin studio mics be certain you’ll be able to be heard loud and transparent. With an adjoining IR sensor, it approach the Laptop Studio helps Windows Hello face free up.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review

It’s rapid, dependable and simple to arrange, however stays your best biometric unlocking means. Microsoft has once more made up our minds towards a fingerprint sensor, whilst the Surface Book 3’s rear digital camera has additionally been sacrificed. Neither are deal-breakers, however I’d nonetheless be expecting them on the sort of top rate tool.

Keyboard & Trackpad

  • Decent keyboard, however may do with extra go back and forth
  • No fingerprint sensor
  • Impressive trackpad, however Slim Pen 2 bought one at a time

The Surface Laptop Studio has a big, full-size keyboard, even supposing Microsoft has opted towards together with a separate quantity pad. I want this design, each aesthetically and functionally.

Each key provides a tight quantity of go back and forth, even supposing I used to be hoping for extra from a tool of this length. It definitely gained’t rival mechanical keyboards and even Dell’s XPS line, however typing enjoy is ok for the general public. You additionally get 3 other settings for backlighting, whilst the F keys double as fast get entry to to many not unusual purposes.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review

But with all this area to paintings with, I in point of fact don’t perceive why Microsoft made up our minds towards a fingerprint sensor. I respect the huge palm rests, however the present structure is rarely too cramped to deal with it.

Indeed, there’s nonetheless various room for a big trackpad at the Surface Laptop Studio. Its haptic comments takes slightly of having used to, however it delivers a extra convincing navigation enjoy than maximum competitors. Of direction, there are many possible choices, together with contact, mouse or pen enter.

The latter calls for a stylus (such because the Slim Pen 2) to be purchased one at a time, however it’s price citing right here. As I discussed in my Surface Pro 8 overview, this has a flatter design than earlier Microsoft styluses, however this feels extra herbal when taking handwritten notes or sketches.

It’s in a position to hit upon many alternative ranges of power sensitivity (4096, to be explicit), and the 2ms latency provides it a pen-on-paper-like enjoy. Magnetically attaching and charging underneath the trackpad is the icing at the cake. It’s only a disgrace it’s not incorporated in the associated fee.

Screen & Speakers

  • Great 120Hz LCD show
  • Adaptive refresh price characteristic at the method
  • Quad audio system are cast however unspectacular

With the Laptop Studio, Microsoft has opted for a display screen length we haven’t noticed from a Surface tool ahead of: 14.4in. It’s what the corporate describes as a ‘PixelSense Flow’ show, however that is LCD and now not OLED. I used to be hoping for the latter on Microsoft’s most costly computer, however it’s now not a large factor.

The display screen itself has a answer of 2400×1600, which means it adopts the now-customary 3:2 side ratio. Colours are bright and colourful, whilst the extent of element is superb. Only a handful of other people will desire a upper high quality show – that is masses excellent sufficient for the general public.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review

Figures again that up, with 100% protection of the sRGB color gamut, 83% of Adobe RGB and 87% of DCI-P3 in my trying out. I additionally recorded an outstanding max brightness of 532 nits, even supposing outside utilization remains to be a combat as a rule.

But one of the most giant benefits of the Surface Laptop Studio show is its excessive refresh price. The tool can output at each 60Hz and 120Hz, with the latter turning in silky-smooth visuals and superb responsiveness.

Microsoft is operating on a Dynamic Refresh Rate (DRR) characteristic for Windows 11, which permits the refresh price to routinely alter relying at the state of affairs. However, that isn’t to be had on the time of writing, so that you’ll have to make a choice from 60Hz and 120Hz.

The show is surrounded by means of an impressively narrow bezel, and I respect Microsoft’s determination to make it the similar thickness on either side.

You’ll additionally discover a overall of 4 audio system, which output by the use of huge grilles at the left and proper underside. Audio is apparent and crisp, however I used to be hoping for additonal bass and a extra immersive sound. However, one merit here’s that the sound very hardly ever will get distorted, even at excessive volumes.

Specs & Performance

  • Great efficiency on i7/RTX 3050 Ti type examined
  • Can’t touch upon i5/Iris Xe
  • Plenty of garage

The Surface Laptop Studio is Microsoft’s maximum robust computer to this point, and it’s were given the internals to check. Entry-level configurations characteristic an Intel Core i5-11300H processor and Iris Xe built-in graphics, however you’ll be able to pay extra for the Core i7-11370H and an RTX 3050 Ti GPU as an alternative.

It’s uncommon to look a Microsoft computer with a discrete graphics card, even though it’s considered one of Nvidia’s less expensive choices. Alongside a bumper 32GB of RAM at the type I examined, efficiency is superb around the board. Nothing in my day by day workflow – which contains internet surfing, electronic mail, Adobe Photoshop and multitasking – brought about any slowdown or stuttering.

I examined it as a productiveness tool, however the Surface Laptop Studio could also be succesful of a few gentle gaming. Don’t be expecting it to excel at AAA titles although, in spite of the Nvidia GPU.

This cast efficiency is mirrored within the benchmarks underneath:

Microsoft is beneficiant with its garage choices, partially because of a loss of expandable garage. The most cost-effective type has a 256GB SSD, however this can also be configured the entire method as much as 2TB.

Software

  • Windows 11 Pro out of the field
  • Handful of additional safety/control options
  • Performs virtually identically to Windows 11 Home

Unlike Microsoft’s different laptops, the Surface Laptop Studio runs Windows 11 Pro out of the field, because it’s basically designed for creatives and bosses the usage of it in a trade atmosphere. There are a couple of further safety and control options in comparison to Windows 11 Home, however those aren’t in point of fact related to customers. Most other people gained’t realize a distinction between the 2.

But Windows 11 normally is reasonably a departure from Windows 10 – particularly visually. There is a solution to roll again to Windows 10, however I wouldn’t counsel doing that when you purchase the Surface Laptop Studio. Almost each characteristic you wish to have remains to be right here, and Microsoft is steadily including new options to Windows 11.

These come with some it ignored with the creation of the brand new OS, however Windows 10 is not likely to get any longer options of be aware. Windows 11 feels just like the position to be shifting ahead.

Battery Life & Charging

  • Battery capability 56.3Wh-58Wh
  • Doesn’t reasonably hit Microsoft claims, however battery lifestyles nonetheless cast
  • Decent charging speeds

Microsoft says the battery within the Surface Laptop Studio can vary from 56.3Wh to 58Wh, which is standard for a computer of this length. However, the corporate has made some giant claims about how lengthy it’ll closing – as much as 18 hours at the Core i7 type I examined, or 19 hours on Core i5 variations.

While I couldn’t reasonably achieve the ones heights in trying out, battery lifestyles remains to be spectacular. In our 720p video loop check, I recorded 15 hours and 22 mins on a unmarried rate. This used to be with the brightness set to 120 nits so now not essentially reflective of real-world utilization, a complete running day remains to be neatly inside of achieve.

A software-based battery saver mode can lend a hand in case you’re operating low, however charging speeds are cast too. Using the charger incorporated within the field (Microsoft doesn’t quote a particular wattage), I reached 20% battery in quarter-hour from off. By half-hour, this used to be 37%, whilst you’re having a look at round 2 hours quarter-hour for a complete rate.

Not dangerous in any respect, however you’ll be able to want to use the proprietary Surface Connect port for the quickest speeds. It attaches magnetically, however can simply be displaced with any vital motion. I want Microsoft totally embraced USB-C for charging.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review

Price

As chances are you’ll already know, the Surface Laptop Studio doesn’t come reasonable. It begins at £1,449/US$1,599.99 for a type with an Intel Core i5 processor, Iris Xe built-in graphics, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.

However, costs climb steeply from there. The Intel Core i7/RTX 3050 Ti configuration I examined (16GB RAM /1TB SSD) will set you again £2,479/US$2,699, whilst you’ll be able to pay much more for double the garage.

Discounts seem to be reasonably widespread, however that is greater than maximum customers can be keen to spend on a brand new computer. It could be a distinct tale for trade customers, however you’ll be able to nonetheless in finding higher price for cash somewhere else in our trade computer chart. Other 2-in-1 units additionally be offering extra flexibility.

Remember, the Surface Slim Pen 2 you notice in some footage is an not obligatory accent – it prices an additional £119.99/US$129.99. Ultimately, value is the principle explanation why now not to shop for the Surface Laptop Studio.

Verdict

The Laptop Studio is a compelling new addition to Microsoft’s Surface vary, however it doesn’t get the entirety proper.

I’m inspired by means of the capability to be had in all 3 modes, however some will pass over the additional flexibility afforded by means of the Surface Book. However, a slick design makes switching between them really feel seamless.

It additionally is helping Microsoft pack in additional energy than the Book 3. While it used to be introduced ahead of Twelfth-gen Intel computer chips had been authentic, combining Tiger Lake CPUs with an RTX 3050 Ti GPU yields a pleasant efficiency spice up.

Other highlights come with an outstanding 120Hz show (with adaptive refresh price at the method), cast battery lifestyles and a really perfect video calling enjoy. However, a restricted port variety and no fingerprint sensor take the shine off the enjoy.

At those costs, those shortcomings are tough to forget about. But let’s hope extra corporations experiment with shape elements like this someday.

Specs

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio: Specs

  • 14.4in 2400×1600 LCD show, 120Hz refresh price (adaptive)
  • Intel Core i5-11300H/i7-11370H processor
  • Intel Iris Xe/Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU
  • 16/32GB RAM
  • 256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB SSD garage
  • Windows 11 Pro
  • 10Mp rear digital camera
  • 1080p digital camera with Windows Hello strengthen
  • Quad stereo audio system with Dolby Atmos
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • Up to 19h battery lifestyles (i5), as much as 18h (i7)
  • 1.74kg (i5), 1.82kg (i7)



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