Microsoft’s Surface has created amazing designs over the years, focusing on convertible devices to highlight the flexibility of Windows. Given this, in recent years the design team has been largely under control as Microsoft has decided to focus on further refining its convertible designs. Fortunately, for 2021, the team is back in innovation and refinement with its latest device, the Surface Laptop Studio. With its dynamic woven hinge, the Laptop Studio is a true convertible device, as well as the spiritual successor to the now defunct Surface Book.
A unique feature of the Surface Laptop Studio is definitely the tilting screen. And while the idea of the ability to tilt the screen on a laptop isn’t unique, Microsoft’s dynamic woven hinge is. The articulated mechanism provides the ability to convert the laptop into three modes, which Microsoft calls Laptop, Stage and Studio. The ingenuity of the design is that Microsoft’s hinge provides these modes of operation without a significant amount, so unlike most convertible devices, the added functionality doesn’t come at the cost of compromising the laptop experience. The Surface Laptop Studio is first and foremost a laptop, and not recognizing the ability to add extra functionality is a big win.
As the successor to the Surface Book, performance is also key in Surface Laptop Studio. To that end, it’s equipped with Intel’s 11th-generation H35 core processors, a more powerful version of Intel’s quad-core “Tiger Lake” processors, along with integrated Iris Xe graphics. And with the Core i7 model, Microsoft goes a step further by adding a discrete GPU; or the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti for consumer models, or if you opt for a commercial model, the professionally oriented RTX A2000. In terms of memory, the base model comes with 16GB of LPDDR4x with a 32GB option on the i7. On the front of the storage space, Microsoft offers from 256 GB to 2 TB of solid-state PCIe 3.0 storage space, which can also be replaced by the user.
All this is powered by a new 14.4-inch PixelSense Flow screen. The exciting news is that the Surface Laptop Studio has a 120 Hz screen that improves the smoothness and responsiveness of the laptop. At 2400×1600 resolution, the board is not as dense as the outgoing Surface Book, but still offers a respectable 201 pixels per inch.
|Surface Laptop Studio
Tested: Core i7 / RTX 3050 Ti / 32 GB / 1TB / $ 2699.99
|Component||Core i5||Core i7|
4 cores 8 Thread
4 cores 8 Thread
|GPU||Intel Iris Xe
80 Executive units
|Intel Iris Xe
96 Executive units
NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti / RTX A2000
|RAM||16 GB LPDDR4x||16GB / 32GB LPDDR4x|
|Storage||256 GB / 512 GB PCIe||512 GB / 1TB / 2TB PCIe|
|Display||14.4-inch PixelSense Flow LCD
2400×1600 (201 PPI)
120 Hz variable refresh rate
3: 2 ratio
Dolby Vision support
|Networking||Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200
|I / O||2 x Thunderbolt 4
Windows Hello 2.0 IR
65W AC adapter (5W for USB-A charging)
102W AC adapter (7W for USB-A charging)
|Dimensions||323 x 229 x 17.8 mm
12.7 x 9.0 x 0.7 inches
|Weight||1.74 kg / 3.83 lbs||1.82 kg / 4.00 lbs|
|Starting price (USD)||$ 1,599.99||2,099.99 USD|
The Surface team was slowly adopting USB-C on their products, and when they finally agreed to demand, they decided not to enable Thunderbolt in their past products. Fortunately, for Surface Laptop Studio they have finally changed their attitude. Surface Laptop Studio now has two Thunderbolt 4 expansion ports, as well as the now traditional Surface Connect port for charging and connecting. This finally brings the Surface to modern times, although there will likely be some who will be disappointed to see that the Type A USB ports have completely failed. By designing a Surface Laptop Studio there is simply no room for a larger port. What would be nice to see is the included Type-A charging port built into the charger also allows data, but that’s not the case. Still, if the Surface was still invited to something, it was their choice of port, so it’s nice to see the most modern options on the new design.
It should come as no surprise to see support for Wi-Fi 6, powered by an Intel AX200 adapter. Although it’s a bit of a surprise not to see the newer AX210 with Wi-Fi 6E support, as it’s the latest model.
Microsoft calls the Surface Laptop Studio the successor to the Surface Book, which was their previous notebook. With an optional GPU and Intel 35W processors, the Surface Laptop Studio is the most powerful Surface notebook they have built. Let’s look at the design and check it out compared to its predecessors.
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