Laptop designs aren’t refreshed every day like in smartphones, and when it does, it opens up whole new avenues of experiences and use-cases. The Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio that launched today pushes the envelope of laptop design and matches it with performance crucial for creative workloads, and as much as Microsoft doesn’t like to admit it, gaming. Yep, the Surface Laptop Studio is as much a creative workstation as it is a gaming laptop.
The Surface Laptop Studio is essentially a MacBook competitor, and it looks and feels like it carries a lot of potential to actually be one. At the heart of it is a new PixelSense Flow display on a hinge that lets you use the laptop in three ways — Laptop, Studio, and Stage Mode. While the laptop mode is pretty self-explanatory, Stage Mode lets you hoist the display forward and place it at an angle to enjoy watching videos, playing games, or even editing on Adobe Premiere Pro using the Surface Slim Pen 2. The Studio Mode lays it all the way flat and transforms into a miniature Surface Studio, and you can use the Pen and the Surface Dial to unleash your creativity.
Microsoft has worked with apps and game developers to optimize their apps to work with Stage Mode on the Surface Laptop Studio. So, apps like Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Office, Microsoft Teams work in the new interface.
Let’s check out its hardware in detail —
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio Specs and Price
The PixelSense Flow display on the Surface Laptop Studio measures 13-inches and features a 120Hz refresh rate, same as the Surface Pro 8. But on this one is a hinge that can prop up the display or lay it flat on the keyboard itself. So it doesn’t rotate 360-degree but bends and folds into a tablet. The display carries 2400×1600 pixels and can be used with both the old Surface Pen Classic and the new Surface Slim Pen 2.
The Surface Laptop Studio runs on 11th Gen Intel Tiger Lake H35 processors, which is a fantastic choice. Intel made space for H35 CPUs in its 11th Gen lineup just so that thin and light machines could offer extra performance. So you can configure it with either the Intel Core i5-11300H or the Core i7-11370H, with 4 cores and 8 threads. The Core i5 variant comes with integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, but the Core i7 variant is paired with a discrete Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU with 4GB GDDR6 memory. This is the first time we’re getting a Surface device with discrete Nvidia RTX graphics, and this pushes the lineup to allow creative workloads that are hardware-intensive. You can configure it in either 16GB or 32GB LPDDR4X RAM and SSD storage up to 2TB. The storage and RAM are not user-upgradable and it’s hard to get inside the Surface Laptop Studio on your own.
Needless to say, this makes the Surface Laptop Studio pack a powerful punch. The H35 CPU combined with a discrete GPU will supercharge workloads and perform much better than the U-series processors that power the Surface Pro 8 and Surface Laptop 4. It finally gets Thunderbolt 4.0 support, so you can also pair up an eGPU to unleash desktop-grade gaming or pair up two 4K displays to it. The Surface Slim Pen 2 offers new ways for designers to work on new projects on the Stage Mode and the Studio Mode, allowing you to use both the pen and the keyboard simultaneously. In all, this is a transformative laptop that can serve as a reference design for Microsoft’s OEM partners to follow through.
It features dual far-field microphones and Quad Omniosonic speakers with Dolby Atmos. There’s also Windows Hello Face Authentication.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio starts at $1600 and can be preordered starting today. It will be available offline and online, including Microsoft Store, Best Buy, Walmart, and Amazon. The availability is listed as Early 2022 on Microsoft’s website, and at the beginning, shipments will be restricted to the North American countries only.