The Surface Laptop Studio is Microsoft’s latest premium convertible laptop targeted at creative professionals, designers, developers, and other power users who need versatility and performance on the go. Announced in September 2021 and released later that year, the Surface Laptop Studio features a unique hinge design that allows the touchscreen to tilt down over the keyboard into different modes for working, presenting, drawing, and more.
This innovative 3-in-1 device packs impressive specs including 11th or 12th Gen Intel Core processors, Nvidia GeForce RTX dedicated graphics, up to 32GB RAM, and up to 2TB of SSD storage. The Surface Laptop Studio runs Windows 11 Pro and starts at $1599.
In this comprehensive guide, we will dive deep into all aspects of Microsoft’s newest Surface device. We’ll take a look at the Surface Laptop Studio’s standout features, benchmark performance results, design and display quality, battery life, pricing and configurations, and how it compares to competitive devices like the MacBook Pro 14 and Dell XPS 15.
We’ll provide detailed analysis and evaluations from both Microsoft’s own product pages as well as professional reviews from top technology sites. By the end, you’ll have all the information you need to determine if the Surface Laptop Studio is the right convertible creative laptop for your needs and budget. Let’s get started!
Surface Laptop Studio Features and Specs
The Surface Laptop Studio stands out with its versatile design and high-end specs targeted at creative professionals. Let’s dive into the details:
The Surface Laptop Studio has a 14.4″ PixelSense touchscreen display with a 120Hz refresh rate for smooth scrolling and animation. The 3:2 aspect ratio provides more vertical space for browsing and documents. Resolution is 2400 x 1600 pixels, giving sharp image quality. The display supports Dolby Vision HDR and is rated for 500 nits of brightness.
Processor options consist of 11th gen Intel Core i5 and i7 processors (H35 series), or upgraded 12th gen Core i7 (H-series) on the second-gen model. These are powerful quad-core chips with boost speeds ranging from 4.0 to 4.8GHz. The H-series CPUs are unlocked for potential overclocking as well.
For graphics, Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3050 Ti or upgraded RTX 4050 Ti/4060 dedicated GPUs handle graphics-intensive creative workflows and some gaming. They have 4GB of dedicated GDDR6 memory. The RTX 40-series brings better performance through Nvidia’s Ada Lovelace architecture.
Memory and Storage
The Laptop Studio is configurable with up to 32GB of LPDDR4x RAM and up to 2TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD storage. High memory and fast solid state drives are ideal for large creative assets.
Connectivity options include two Thunderbolt 4 ports for power delivery, charging and high-speed peripherals. There is also a Surface Connect port for charging, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB-A port for additional accessories.
Microsoft claims up to 18 hours of typical device usage on a full charge. However, creative workflows will drain the 58Wh battery faster.
Design and Dimensions
The Laptop Studio has an aluminum unibody design with clean lines and a premium feel. It measures 12.7 x 9.0 x 0.7 inches and weighs 3.83 pounds.
Performance and Benchmarks
With its 11th or 12th Gen Core i5/i7 processors and RTX 3050 Ti or RTX 4050 Ti/4060 graphics, the Surface Laptop Studio delivers excellent performance for creative workflows, productivity, and even gaming. Here’s an overview of its capabilities.
In CPU-based tests like Geekbench, the Surface Laptop Studio achieves single and multi-core scores comparable to other premium ultrabooks in its class. The 12th Gen Core i7 model sees a nice performance bump over the 11th Gen version.
GPU performance is solid in creative apps like Blender thanks to the dedicated Nvidia RTX graphics. The RTX 40-series in the second-gen Laptop Studio provides better rendering speeds and performance in GPU-accelerated tasks.
For gaming, the Laptop Studio can handle many modern titles at smooth frame rates at its native 1440p resolution, especially with the upgraded RTX 4060 configuration. Games like Valorant, Fortnite, Apex Legends, and GTA V can achieve 60-100+ fps on high settings.
Compared to competitors like the Dell XPS 15 with similar CPU and GPU specs, the Surface Laptop Studio performs on par in most tests. The inclusion of discrete RTX graphics gives it an edge over consumer ultrabooks with only integrated graphics.
Thermal management is decent thanks to the vapor chamber cooling. While temperatures under load can get warm, throttling is minimal on the Laptop Studio during long intensive workloads. Overall, performance is very solid for professional creative workflows, especially with higher configurations.
Design, Display and Versatility
One of the most unique aspects of the Surface Laptop Studio is its convertible design using a patented hinge mechanism. Let’s take a closer look at the build quality, display, and the three different usage modes.
The Surface Laptop Studio has an aluminum unibody construction giving it a premium, durable feel. The exterior has clean lines and styling with minimal Surface branding. With an overall weight of 3.83 lbs and 0.7 inch thickness, it remains fairly portable.
The 14.4″ PixelSense touch display is bright, vibrant, and immersive thanks to the high resolution and 120Hz refresh rate. It provides excellent color accuracy and covers 100% of sRGB. The panel has great viewing angles as well. The taller 3:2 aspect ratio gives more vertical space for browsing and documents.
In regular laptop orientation, the Surface Laptop Studio provides a high-quality typing experience thanks to the responsive keyboard with 1.5mm travel. The large haptic trackpad is smooth and accurate. This mode works great for productivity and everyday tasks.
By partially folding the screen over the keyboard, Stage mode is ideal for presentations, watching movies, and interacting with the touchscreen. The speakers sound full and clear in this orientation.
In Studio mode, the display fully covers the keyboard providing a canvas-like experience for drawing, sketching, and other creative work with the Surface Pen. The Pen attaches magnetically to the side for charging and storage.
Overall, the innovative hinge provides excellent versatility that makes the Surface Laptop Studio unique compared to conventional convertible designs. The build quality and display also enable great usability across the different modes.
Display Quality Deep Dive
- Brightness measured at over 500 nits peak, excellent for HDR content
- Contrast ratio above 1500:1 for deep blacks
- Color accuracy with an average DeltaE of less than 2.0
- 100% sRGB and 80% AdobeRGB gamut coverage
- Low response time of 21ms ensures minimal ghosting or blurring in motion
Immersive Speaker Sound
- Quad Omnisonic speakers with Dolby Atmos tuning
- Strong volume output without distortion even at max levels
- Dedicated woofers in the hinge for punchy bass
- Far-field mics provide noise cancellation during video calls
Comfortable Backlit Keyboard
- Chiclet-style backlit keyboard with 1.5mm key travel
- The large, responsive haptic trackpad supports multi-touch gestures
- Excellent tactile typing experience for long coding or writing sessions
Studio Mode Drawing Experience
- Supports low-latency Surface Pen input for digital inking
- Pen attaches magnetically to the side of the display for charging
- The hinge keeps the screen stable at any angle for drawing comfort
- Pen has tilt support and pressure sensitivity for shading effects
- Great for digital art, note taking, annotating documents, etc.
Battery Life and Real-World Usage
Battery life is important for creative professionals who need to stay mobile. Here’s an overview of the Surface Laptop Studio’s battery runtimes and performance for real-world workflows.
In standard productivity-focused testing with web browsing, document editing, and video playback, the Laptop Studio is able to last between 7-11 hours on a full charge depending on screen brightness and power settings.
In more intensive workloads like 3D rendering, coding compiles, or gaming, the battery drain is faster. For creative tasks like 4K video editing in Premiere Pro or 3D modeling in Blender, expect battery life closer to 4-6 hours.
Gaming drains the battery fastest, lasting just 1-3 hours depending on the game graphics load. Dedicated GPU usage requires more power. Lowering the screen refresh rate helps extend play time a bit.
Overall, the 58Wh battery capacity provides decent runtimes given the high-performance components. Carrying the compact charger helps top up as needed throughout a long workday.
Thermals are well managed thanks to the vapor chamber cooling. While the chassis can get moderately warm, even under extended heavy loads the Laptop Studio avoids severe throttling in most cases. Performance stays relatively consistent on battery power as well.
The selection of Thunderbolt 4, USB-A, and Surface Connect ports provide versatility for connecting peripherals and external displays at a desk setup. The laptop charges quickly via Thunderbolt or Surface Connect.
In summary, the Surface Laptop Studio delivers excellent performance and usability for real-world creative workflows, though battery life understandably takes a hit under heavy loads. Thermals are managed well and the port selection is ideal for productivity.
Battery Runtime Benchmarks
- MobileMark 2018 (productivity): 11 hours
- TechRadar web browsing: 7 hours 22 minutes (120Hz), 10 hours 13 minutes (60Hz)
- PCMag video playback: 9 hours 56 minutes (tested at 200 nits brightness)
Thermal Performance Under Load
- CPU sustained all-core turbo boost up to 3.7GHz over 15+ minute stress test
- GPU maintained 1.2-1.3GHz clock through intensive GPU compute benchmark
- Maximum external chassis temperature measured 45°C at top center during combined CPU/GPU load
- Throttling minimal with proper airflow, sustained performance within 10% of max
Ports for Connectivity
- 2x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) – 40Gbps speed, power delivery up to 100W
- 1x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 – 10Gbps for external storage, peripherals
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- Surface Connect port – provides charging and docking capabilities
- Connect up to two 4K external displays or one 8K display
Surface Laptop Studio vs. Competitors
How does the Surface Laptop Studio stack up to premium competitor laptops aimed at creative professionals? Here’s a breakdown of how it compares to options like the MacBook Pro 14, Dell XPS 15, and more.
vs. MacBook Pro 14
- Both have similar premium metal designs and finishes
- MacBook has a slightly brighter 500 nit XDR display
- Laptop Studio has a touchscreen, a more flexible hinge mechanism
- Performance is comparable though MacBook offers M1 Pro/Max Apple silicon
- MacBook has slightly better battery life, weighs less
- Laptop Studio offers more ports, has dedicated GPU options
- Laptop Studio starts around $400 less for similar specs
vs. Dell XPS 15
- XPS 15 has a larger 15.6″ 16:10 display
- Laptop Studio’s 3:2 aspect is better for documents and browsing
- RTX 3050 Ti GPU in Studio gives it an edge in creative apps
- Battery life is fairly similar, XPS 15 is lighter
- Laptop Studio has a more versatile hinge, touchscreen
- Both are very well built with premium designs
- Pricing is close, but XPS 15 is often discounted more
vs. HP Spectre x360 16
- Spectre x360 is a convertible 2-in-1 with taller 16″ display
- Display not as bright or vibrant as the Laptop Studio panel
- Pen experience better on Microsoft device
- Laptop Studio has much better graphics, gaming performance
- Battery life is close, but Spectre lighter starts at 3lbs
- Laptop Studio praised for overall superior design
vs. Lenovo Yoga 9i 14
- Yoga 9i is also a 2-in-1 convertible, but lower end
- Weaker 11th Gen Core i7 processor integrated Intel GPU
- Much poorer performance and creative app speeds
- Laptop Studio is far superior for drawing, creative workloads
- Yoga has a better battery, more affordable starting at $1200
vs. iPad Pro 12.9″ M1
- Both are amazing devices for creative professionals
- Laptop Studio far more powerful chip, GPU, storage
- iPad has more mobility, tablet focused apps
- iPad battery life is longer, has a cellular option
- Laptop Studio runs full Windows apps, powers multiple monitors
- Laptop Studio is better value for the money at their price points
In summary, the Surface Laptop Studio holds its own against top competitors with its combination of performance, display quality, design, and versatility. It wins out over many comparably priced models.
Pricing, Configurations and Availability
The Surface Laptop Studio starts at $1599.99 for consumers and is aimed at creative professionals and power users. Here are the key details on pricing, models, and where to buy one.
- The entry level Surface Laptop Studio retails for $1599.99.
- It comes with an 11th Gen Intel Core i5-11300H CPU, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, and Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti graphics.
- This configuration is powerful enough for most creative workflows like photo and video editing, 3D modeling, coding, graphics design, etc.
- Stepping up to an 11th Gen Core i7 CPU costs an additional $300.
- Increasing RAM to 32GB is a $400 upgrade, while the 1TB SSD option costs $600 more.
- For maximum performance, the Core i7 with 32GB RAM and 1TB SSD tops out at $2799.
- The updated Surface Laptop Studio 2 released in June 2022 starts at the same $1599.99 price.
- It now includes a faster 12th Gen Intel Core i7-11370H processor and Iris Xe integrated graphics in the base model.
- Nvidia RTX 4050 Ti and 4060 graphics are configurable upgrades.
Where to Buy
- The Surface Laptop Studio is available directly through Microsoft online and in their retail stores.
- Large electronics retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, and B&H Photo also sell various configurations at MSRP.
- The aluminum exterior is offered in two color options – Platinum or Graphite.
Conclusion and Verdict
After extensively covering all aspects of Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Studio, here is a summary of my verdict as a tech product reviewer:
- Innovative and versatile hinge design enables multiple use modes
- Fast performance with 11th/12th Gen Intel Core i7 and Nvidia RTX graphics
- Brilliant 14.4″ high-res 120Hz touchscreen display
- Excellent build quality and premium fit and finish
- Good port selection including Thunderbolt 4
- Runs Windows 11 smoothly for full desktop app compatibility
- Better value than comparably equipped MacBook Pro
- Battery life capped at around 11 hours for productivity
- Can get warm under heavy loads
- A bit heavy at nearly 4 pounds
- Creative professionals and power users who need flexibility
- Designers, artists, and engineers benefit from touchscreen
- Gamers who want a capable gaming laptop with a premium design
Not Recommended For
- Users want the longest battery life
- Travelers need the lightest laptop possible
With its unique convertible design, speedy performance, brilliant display, and generous port selection, the Surface Laptop Studio is an outstanding laptop for creators looking for flexibility and power. The innovative hinge provides excellent versatility, while the premium metal chassis exudes quality craftsmanship. While battery life is just average, the Surface Laptop Studio delivers an excellent overall experience if you need a premium creative workhorse.