Is it more than just a spec bump—or does this join Microsoft’s long list of tragically aging hardware?
- The Surface Laptop Studio 2 offers a unique design and versatile usage with its fold-over hinge, making it suitable for digital creators who prioritize design flexibility and workflow transition between modes.
- The laptop’s articulating display, excellent keyboard experience, and new inclusive haptic trackpad are standout features that enhance user experience.
- However, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 falls short in terms of battery life, processing power for future-proofing, and port selection, and its high price tag may make it less appealing compared to competitors like Apple’s MacBook line.
The Surface Laptop Studio 2 maintains its distinctive design and articulating display, bringing in marginal hardware upgrades that align it closer to the needs of power users and creatives—albeit at a similarly steep price point. But is it more than just a spec bump, or does it join Microsoft’s long list of tragically aging hardware?
Microsoft’s ambitious goal of creating an ultimate creative computer for modern artists with its Surface hardware has always been what sets the Surface lineup apart from the rest; with the Surface Laptop Studio, the company essentially created a hybrid between the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop, while giving it more power than the Surface Book. It was the ultimate Surface.
In terms of design, there isn’t much new here we haven’t seen in the previous Laptop Studio. The laptop still features an all-aluminum build with a stacked ventilation system underneath the MacBook-esque deck that elevates the device slightly off its resting surface. The bottom ridge of this design allows the new Surface Slim Pen 2 to sit under the trackpad for charging.
Visually, the Laptop Studio 2 looks bulkier than almost any other traditional laptop, but with its 22mm thickness and weighing just under 2kg (4.37lbs), remains surprisingly portable to carry around through classes or around the city.
One of the hallmark features of the Surface Laptop Studio 2 is its unique fold-over hinge design. This is the form factor’s main selling point, and it facilitates three distinct modes—clamshell, tablet, and tent—each catering to different use scenarios. Whether it’s drafting designs, giving presentations, or traditional typing, the adjustable positions give way for the device to be as versatile as possible.
The main difference between this new Laptop Studio 2 and the previous Laptop Studio, aside from the spec bump, is the inclusion of a new USB-A port and MicroSD card slot. Aside from that, this design remains identical to the original.
The Surface Laptop Studio 2 has a 14.4” PixelSense Flow Display with a resolution of 2400 x 1600, supporting Dolby Vision HDR and offering a dynamic refresh rate of up to 120Hz. It also retains the signature 3:2 aspect ratio seen in the Surface Laptop 5 and Book 3, which continues to be the ideal ratio for productivity; the display makes apps like Word and Excel feel more expansive, and the taller orientation is a boon for multitasking on Windows. While the bezels have slimmed down compared to the Surface Laptop 5, they’re still aggressively rounded like the previous Surface Laptop Studio, which looks a little weird in different apps.
Of course, the main attraction of this specific display is its ability to articulate the way it does. Using the previous Surface Laptop Studio, I didn’t really appreciate the versatility of having such a screen that lets you seamlessly transition from a laptop to canvas mode, aside from putting it in tent mode and consuming media, but having used it in university, to be able to take notes on the screen and then transition to the regular laptop layout to code or type has been incredibly useful.
A USB-A and MicroSD card slot is a nice addition to the device’s connection options, complementing the two Thunderbolt 4 ports, the 3.5mm headphone jack, and the Surface connector for charging. Given that the laptop is intended for users who may use numerous accessories in addition to it, the variety of ports is still limited. Microsoft ought to have included an HDMI port in addition to a full-sized SD card slot, as opposed to what it is doing here.
Using this instead of something like the Surface Pro or even a convertible 2-in-1 laptop makes sense for digital artists and creatives in particular because you’re saving time by actively switching up your workflow instead of having to deal with swiping the keyboard over or taking it apart. It seems to flow naturally.
In order to improve performance, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 now has an upgraded 13th Gen Intel Core i7-13700H Processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4050, 4060, or Ada Generation Laptop GPU choices. But when you take its price into account, the value proposition is less obvious.
The Studio 2’s specifications include up to 64GB of LPDDR5x RAM and 2TB of SSD storage, which are plenty for handling demanding workloads. In contrast to other laptops at its price range, it exhibits a mixed bag of strengths and weaknesses in real-world performance tests.
With an i7 processor, 64GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage, our review model has all the makings of a well-performing machine. The Surface Laptop Studio 2 on battery power received an overall score of 4,428 on PCMark 10, with higher scores of 7,180 for Essentials and 6,082 for Digital Content Creation.
These give a very clear impression of the possibilities of the Laptop Studio 2. This laptop handled numerous open tasks without any issues, and I used Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom frequently. I believe that most individuals can use this laptop for professional-level work, gaming, and video editing; nonetheless, the chipset is the primary area of concern for this laptop’s performance.
While you shouldn’t buy a laptop at this price point for a power user-focused model, Intel has already announced its next-generation Meteor Lake processors. Still, it’s important to take that into account when selecting a new computer that you’ll likely have for a few years.
Although the Studio 2’s performance is undoubtedly important, it’s obvious that Microsoft wants you to pick it for its adaptable design rather than its raw power, and both arguments have merit. It’s important to think about whether you want to pay for the design or look for a more potent substitute depending on which group you belong to.
Webcam and Speakers
The Surface Laptop Studio 2 has a passable audio-visual configuration that provides a passable overall webcam and speaker experience. When combined with Dolby Atmos, the Quad Omnisonic speakers produce a very pleasing sound stage that produces clear and crisp audio for gaming, entertainment, and music. Nevertheless, these lack the richness and bass of Apple’s MacBook Pro’s six-speaker system.
When it comes to the Full HD front-facing studio camera on the Surface Laptop Studio 2, Microsoft makes a noticeable stride forward; with a resolution of 1080p, the image is sharp and clear. The AI-enhanced features like the automatic framing, similar to Apple’s Center Stage on iPad, background blur built into the core software, and eye contact correction to maintain a more natural interaction during virtual meetings, collectively elevate the webcam experience. It’s a suite of thoughtful enhancements that cater to the present-day remote and hybrid workflows of many people.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Like its predecessor and every other Surface device from Microsoft, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 has an industry-standard keyboard and trackpad. The newly redesigned trackpad is made more accessible with an Adaptive Touch function that enables users of all sorts can connect with the computer without having to buy additional specialist hardware, which is amazing. The keys are tactile and have terrific travel. The entire deck is backlit.
Together with Microsoft’s years of software and hardware optimization on its trackpads, this trackpad utilizes Microsoft’s adaptation of Apple’s Force Touch technology, which simulates clicks using haptics. This has to be among the greatest trackpads I’ve used on a Windows computer. The trackpad on my MacBook Pro has a more expansive and precise haptics system than this one, but it more than makes up for it with accuracy and quickness as well as the ability to click anywhere on the surface.
There is still space for improvement when it comes to the Surface Laptop Studio 2’s battery life, which is reminiscent of a similar situation from the earlier Laptop Studio. Even with the encouraging improvement in specs, Microsoft’s stated battery life for regular day use is not quite met by the battery longevity. The model with Intel Iris Xe graphics claims to be able to run on a device for up to 19 hours on average. Our setup, on the other hand, runs on NVIDIA graphics, and the 2 TB SSD NVIDIA model runs on up to 16 hours on average.
These numbers don’t really reflect the day-to-day struggle, though. When performing a combination of standard operations like browsing, streaming, and editing documents, the battery would often discharge earlier than expected. Though not a sharp decline, it is apparent, particularly if you’re used to laptops like the 14-inch MacBook Pro still setting the standard for power efficiency in the laptop market.
Should You Buy the Surface Laptop Studio 2?
With its distinctive appearance and technical updates that make it slightly more appealing to power users, professionals, and artists, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 keeps shining. However, there are obstacles at this price point that make it difficult to promote widely due to the faults of its predecessor, which included factors like battery life, processing future-proofing, and certain performance issues.
I think there is a market for this laptop for many individuals because I have used it in my particular workflow as a student and photo editor. Potential customers may find it difficult to select this laptop above others due to its high price, particularly when compared to high-performing models like the Lenovo X1 Carbon line, the Apple MacBook, and the Dell XPS. If you’re searching for a laptop that expressly supports the workflow of digital creators, I can suggest the Surface Laptop Studio 2, which offers aggressive performance and a distinctive user experience that more conventional professional laptops don’t.