Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio Review: Windows 11 on a Pedestal

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio hands-on: 1 weird, powerful computer

That’s 1 way to put something on a pedestal

Alongside the new Surface Pro 8, Microsoft is introducing an all-new computer: the Surface Laptop Studio. It’s the successor to the Surface Volume 3, merely instead of featuring a detachable screen, it has one that flips into tablet mode. Where other ii-in-1s ordinarily simply go for a 360-degree swivel that flips the screen to the back, Microsoft’southward system has it settling in on top of the keyboard.

The Laptop Studio starts at $1,599.99, which is a premium price for what Microsoft is clearly positioning as a premium device. While information technology looks just like a MacBook when information technology’s in laptop fashion, that comparison is mostly down to it being a very well-made device with a silver, aluminum body. Once yous kickoff moving the screen, it becomes some other kind of device entirely.

It’due south a clever design that Microsoft has implemented somewhat more elegantly than nosotros’ve seen on other laptops. Merely somewhat, though: unlike the desktop Surface Studio that inspired it, the Laptop Studio tin can’t hold its screen up at whatsoever angle when it’s out of laptop mode. It can’t bladder out over the keyboard. You can simply set information technology into three modes: laptop, flat equally a tablet, or up in a kind of tent style, leaving the trackpad visible. In that location are magnets in the laptop that aid guide the screen into place.

Folding the Surface Laptop Studio into tablet mode.
GIF: Vjeran Pavic

None of that is especially weird, nor is Microsoft’s positioning of the Surface Laptop Studio somewhere in between major powerhouse gaming laptops and sparse-and-lights. I’ll become into specs beneath, but they’re in line with what you’d expect the successor to the Surface Book 3 to accept.

What’s weird is the plinth.

Perhaps “pedestal” is a meliorate discussion. See, if you look at the Laptop Studio from above, it looks for all the globe similar a MacBook, right on down to the oversized trackpad that uses haptics instead of physical clicks to annals your clicks. (One difference, I suppose, is that Microsoft made a good keyboard on the
try with the Laptop Studio.)

The Surface Laptop Studio looks exactly like a MacBook before you move the screen into a new mode or see the bottom.

The Surface Laptop Studio looks exactly like a MacBook before you move the screen into a new mode or see the bottom.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Simply sitting underneath the standard-looking laptop part is a rectangular base that is narrower than the laptop itself. It is part of how the Laptop Studio kicks out heat, out of the sides of that plinth. It ways that from the angle yous ordinarily see information technology, the laptop looks thinner than it actually is
like it’s floating a half inch or so in a higher place the table.

One matter the inset plinth does is make space to shop the new Surface Slim Pen 2. It tin can magnetically click in under the trackpad portion and accuse there. The $129.99 Pen has a more than tapered, sharper tip and likewise has some haptics. When you begin drawing on the screen, the pen attempts to mimic the drag y’all’d feel on newspaper. In my very short time with it, information technology didn’t experience very realistic, just a lilliputian vibration at the kickoff of the pen stroke. However, there’s fourth dimension for developers to update their apps with better support.

Tablet or “Studio” mode.

Tablet or “Studio” mode.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

The screen is very nice. It’due south a 14.four-inch touchscreen in a three:two aspect ratio — 2400 x 1600 pixels (201 PPI). It can achieve a 120Hz refresh rate and of class works with Surface Pens. Bezels around it are on the small-scale side, and at that place’s a Windows Hullo camera for logging in at the top — and Microsoft says it’s better at recognizing faces and then they’re lit properly for videoconferencing. There are four speakers in the trunk of the laptop with support for Dolby Atmos. I heard them become quite loud with very dainty stereo separation but not a ton of bass.

Maybe more of import to creatives is that Microsoft has finally begun supporting Thunderbolt on its Surface devices this year. The Surface Laptop Studio has two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports opposite the Surface connector and headphone jack. Sadly, there is no SD card slot.

The Laptop Studio tin have either an 11th Gen Core i5 or Core i7 processor (specifically, the 35-watt i5-11300H or i7-11370H) and tin either feature integrated Xe graphics or an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti laptop GPU with 4GB of GDDR6 RAM. Yous can get sixteen or 32GB of LDDR4x RAM and storage ranges from 256GB to 2TB. (Enterprise customers can spec an NVIDIA RTX A2000 laptop GPU with 4GB GDDR6 GPU RAM.)

Those specs are another indication that this computer is part of the Surface Book’s lineage, aimed more at creators than gamers. Microsoft has put a lot of ability in here, but directed at coders and creatives.

We’ll review the Surface Laptop Studio equally soon as we can with an eye toward whether it makes sense for that kind of user — and also to see if nosotros tin get used to the plinth. Sometimes polarizing designs terminate upwards feeling iconic and sometimes they simply end up looking weird. If nothing else, Microsoft deserves credit for taking that gamble in the starting time place.


Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio Review: Windows 11 on a Pedestal


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