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Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 Review: Power, Design, and Draw

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 caters to daily stylus users in the creative realm. However, it may not be cost-effective for those indifferent to touchscreens.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 Review: Power, Design, and Draw

Pros:

Cons:

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2: Brief Evaluation


Microsoft’s inventive tilting screen design stands out as a notable laptop innovation in recent years. This versatile 2-in-1 seamlessly transitions from a self-supported laptop display to media playback or flat drawing formats

Tech Premium:

Despite its compelling features, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 demands a substantial premium, surpassing similar options even with discounts.

Performance and Pricing:

For those with the means, the integration of advanced touch capabilities, Intel 13th Gen, and Nvidia 40 series components offers unparalleled creative freedom. The optimal value lies in the Nvidia RTX 4050 GPU, providing the best performance per dollar.

Discount Consideration:

While sales may bring it closer to competitive pricing, the integrated GPU and 4060 models still command a premium, limiting affordability.

Versatility and AI Enhancement:

Beyond handling gaming and graphics, the dedicated AI processor enhances Microsoft Copilot operations and elevates web conferencing functionality. Dolby Atmos speakers, a 2400 x 1600 pixel display, and a 120Hz refresh rate contribute to an immersive experience.

Battery and Additional Features:

The device maintains reasonable battery life, lasting 6 hours and 37 minutes in light tasks. Updated processors ensure ample power, complemented by minor perks like a USB Type-A socket and a microSD Card reader.

Whether for writing, drawing, or everyday stylus use, Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Studio 2 excels as a versatile 2-in-1 creative workstation, albeit at a premium.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2: Pricing Overview

Release Date: October 2023

Price and Configurations:

Released in October 2023, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 comes at a premium, starting at $1,999.99 / £2,069 / AU$3,519 for a 13th Gen i7 H-series CPU, integrated GPU, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD. Despite the hefty price tag, the 13-inch New MacBook Pro 14 from Apple offers similar or better performance at a significantly lower cost.

Affordable Alternatives:

Even for those seeking touchscreen capabilities, the larger Dell XPS 15 with comparable specs and a touchscreen comes at a much lower price point. Explore more budget-friendly options in the “also consider” section below.

Specialized Configurations:

Tailored for different needs, configurations range from a $2,400 / £2,469 / AU$4,199 model for digital artists to a $3,300 / £3,369 / AU$5,729 version catering to gamers with double the storage, an RTX 4060 GPU, and 64GB RAM.

Graphics Options:

Another US and UK variant offers an Nvidia RTS 2000 Ada GPU and 32GB RAM for $3,200 / £3,199, ideal for those requiring a workstation graphics card rather than a gaming-oriented one.

Consideration for Bargain Hunters:

Despite their appeal, all models are priced considerably higher than competitive laptops. Bargain hunters may need to wait for a sale or explore alternative options, as the premium for the unique touch interface may outweigh the perceived benefits for many.

Value Score: 3 / 5

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2: In-Depth Specs Analysis

The spec sheet for each model offers a well-balanced configuration. Entry-level options with integrated GPU may not satisfy users seeking more GPU power for creative tasks.

GPU Considerations:

The 4060 model shares an 80W TDP with the 4050, offering limited performance gains. The powerful CPU, drawing 45W, complements Nvidia RTX GPUs, balancing power and battery life effectively.

Pricey Upgrades:

While RAM and storage upgrades are costly, configurations, including 32 or 64GB of memory, align logically. However, these specs come at a higher cost compared to more value-centric devices in the market.

Detailed Specs List:

ComponentSpecification
CPUIntel Core i7-13700H, 14-core 20-thread, 2.9-5GHz, 45W
GPUNvidia GeForce RTX 4060 (80W)
RAM64GB RAM
Storage1TB SSD
Ports1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 2 x USB 4 (Thunderbolt 4), MicroSD Card Reader, 3.5mm headphone jack, Surface Connect Port
Screen14.4-inch PixelSense Flow display at 2400 x 1600 pixel resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, Display HDR400 DolbyVision, color calibrated
WirelessWi-Fi 6E
CameraIR FHD 1080p
Weight4.37 lbs (1.98 kg)
Dimensions12.72” x 9.06” x 0.86 inches (323 x 230 x 22mm)

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 offers impressive specifications, yet its higher pricing challenges its value proposition against more affordable alternatives on the market.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2: Aesthetic Evaluation

The Surface Laptop Studio 2’s design mirrors its predecessor, with slight changes to accommodate more powerful processors. The subtle alterations introduce a USB Type-A socket and microSD Card reader, enhancing interface options.

Noteworthy Features:

The standout feature remains the PixelSense Flow display, maintaining a 2400 x 1600 pixel resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and optimized touchscreen capabilities. Microsoft elevates display quality with individual calibration, VESA DisplayHDR 400 certification, and vivid color presets, though it lacks an enhanced color gamut for advanced editing tasks.

Enhanced Touch Experience:

The touchscreen, featuring a fabric hinge, enables versatile usage as a laptop or a standalone screen. It excels with the Surface Slim Pen 2, offering shortcut buttons and a fully foldable back for seamless drawing or note-taking experiences.

Innovation and Limitations:

While it impresses creatively, the device falls short of being the ultimate choice for precise color editing tasks. Nevertheless, it smoothly runs applications like Photoshop, Lightroom, and Pro.

Design Rating: 4.5 / 5

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2: Performance Analysis

The Surface Laptop Studio 2 showcases notable enhancements in performance, particularly with the introduction of upgraded processors. With Intel’s 14-core i7-13700H, there’s a substantial boost, especially in demanding, multi-threaded tasks favored by creatives.

Graphics and Gaming:
While the entry-level device relies on Intel’s integrated GPU, most models incorporate Nvidia’s discrete graphics card. The 16GB RAM, 512GB, 4050 model stands out for its impressive 60fps-plus frame rates in modern games at 1080p Ultra settings, catering to both gamers and professionals.

Enhanced Gaming Experience:
For an even better gaming experience, the configuration with Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU offers around 10% better performance, translating to 70fps-plus averages in 1080p Ultra games and improved synthetic workloads.

AI Acceleration:
The addition of Gen 3 Intel Movidius 3700VC VPU enhances AI tasks, supporting Microsoft’s new AI chatbot assistant, Copilot. Copilot, integrated into Windows 11 22H2 and 23H2, offers accurate assistance and improves workflows.

Web-Conferencing and Multimedia:
The AI chip improves web conferencing, enhancing the 1080p wide-view webcam with auto framing, eye contact, and background blur effects. Studio microphones, Unisonic speakers, and Dolby Atmos certification contribute to clear virtual meetings and excellent media playback.

Performance Rating: 4 / 5

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2: Battery and Buying Guide

Battery Life:
With a 58Wh battery, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 offers 6 hours and 36 minutes of light work, falling short of all-day use. Media playback extends to 7 hours and 38 minutes, decent for a Windows device but overshadowed by MacBook Pro’s longer battery life.

Battery Score: 4 / 5

Should You Buy the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2?

AttributesNotesRating
ValueExpensive for premium power.3 / 5
DesignGreat for drawing, powerful components, leading AI.4.5 / 5
PerformanceSolid for creativity and essential GPU work on the go.4 / 5
Battery6-7 hours under moderate usage.4 / 5
Average TotalGreat for drawing, powerful components, and leading AI.4 / 5

Buy It If:

  1. You need the ultimate drawing/writing experience: A unique offering with adjustable screen angle and built-in pen storage.
  2. You want a graphically capable Ultrabook: Ideal for those requiring both drawing capabilities and graphical power.
  3. You want a device optimized for Copilot: A dedicated AI chip ensures swift integrated chatbot assistance.

Don’t Buy It If:

  1. You’re on a budget: Pricey, especially at full RRP, with additional costs for the Slim Pen 2.
  2. You just want a gaming device: More affordable or higher-performing gaming laptops are available.
  3. You won’t use the touchscreen: The touchscreen’s premium comes at a cost, better value elsewhere.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Value
Design
Performance
Battery

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Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 caters to daily stylus users in the creative realm. However, it may not be cost-effective for those indifferent to touchscreens. Pros: Exceptional foldable sketching screen Boasts discrete gaming graphics Utilizes onboard AI acceleration Cons: Relatively high price point Competing lighter alternatives available Stylus not included, an additional...Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 Review: Power, Design, and Draw