Surface Laptop Studio: Microsoft launches new MacBook Pro M1 rival

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Microsoft has unveiled a new Surface Laptop Studio hybrid, marketing it as its most powerful mobile device to date, in a bid to entice creatives away from the new MacBook Pro 2021.

The device was unveiled alongside the Surface Pro 8, Surface Go 3 and Surface Duo 2 devices at Microsoft’s Live Stream launch event earlier this week.

It came in place of the Surface Book 4 convertible rumoured to launch ahead of the event, replacing it as Microsoft’s flagship device for creatives, coders and power users. Here’s what you need to know about it.

Release date and price

Microsoft has confirmed pricing for the Surface Laptop Studio will start at $1599.99 in the US. There is no information on higher configurations’ or different regions cost. Outside of this all Microsoft has revealed is that it will arrive and an unspecified point in 2022.

Surface Laptop Studio screen

Design and specs

The Surface Laptop Studio has a very different design to past Microsoft Convertibles. It features a new hinge mechanic that replaces the detachable model seen on past Surface Books and Pros. The hinge lets you slide the display forward over the attached keyboard, to turn it into a tablet or set it as an artists easel.

Surface Slim Pen 2 and Microsoft G6 processor support are confirmed. The processor to help improve the user experience using the Surface Slim Pen 2, delaying lag and latency. The pen also features a tactile feedback engine to help it mimic the feeling pen on paper. The laptop features a magnetic docking and charging station that sits under the sliding screen for secure storage.

This is a welcome change that will make it easier to use the device on the go without worrying about the stylus dislodging or going missing, as it occasionally does with the iPad Pro, based on our experience.

Surface Laptop Studio Pen

Specs

Microsoft claims the Surface Laptop Studio is its most powerful mobile device to date and has loaded it with a wealth of top-end hardware. Up front there is a 14.4-inch, 120Hz refresh rate, PixelSense screen and haptic feedback trackpad. The screen shares the same atypical 3:2 aspect ration as past Surface Books and Laptops and is confirmed to support Dolby Vision HDR, with a quoted contrast ratio of 1500:1.

Windows 11 will be preinstalled and it will be powered by an Nvidia GeForce 3050 Ti GPU and Intel 11th Gen chip. This marks it as a device for creatives, not gamers. Tech fans will also be moderately disappointed about the use of the 11th Gen family of chips on the Surface Laptop Studio. Intel unveiled its latest 12th Gen Alder Lake chips earlier this year. The chips are are scheduled to launch later this year, offering a variety of performance and power efficiency upgrades which makes there absence on a device slated for a 2022 release a little odd.

The Surface Laptop Studio will feature quad, Dolby Atmos speakers and Thunderbolt 4 connectivity. The latter is a key addition creatives have been asking for for quite some time, that should let it offer significantly faster data transfer speeds.

Every configuration will 1080p front camera featuring the same AI features debuted for the Surface Pro 8. These will let it track faces and auto optimise where it’s focussing.

For video calls it will feature new “Surface Mics” Microsoft claims will reduce background noise during calls. It didn’t disclose details how they work.

Outside of this the specifics around its specs will depend on which configuration you choose in the Microsoft Store. You can see a full breakdown of all the device’s spec options in the table below.

Display14.4-inch PixelSense, “Flowtouch” (120Hz) screen with 2400 x 1600 resolution and 3:2 aspect ratio
CPU11th Gen Intel Core i5-11300H or i7-11370H
GraphicsIntel Irix Xe or Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti
Dimensions12.7 x 9 x 0.7-inches
Weight1742.9g (i5 model) or 1820.2g (i7 model)
Battery life19 hours (i5 model) or 18 hours (i7 model) “typical use”
Memory16Gb or 32GB LPDDR4x RAM
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB and 2TB SSD options
Ports2x USB 4.0 with Thunderbolt 4, Microsoft Surface Connect Port, 3.5mm Headphone
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The Surface Laptop Studio is undeniably a compelling looking device, especially for creatives. The use of an 11th Gen Intel CPU and Nvidia 3050Ti GPU should give it enough graphical grunt for even the most intense creative projects, based on my experience with similarly specced devices. But, without further details about key details like its price, it’s hard to gauge how it will compare to its arch-rival, the MacBook Pro with M1. Either way, I’ll be excited to put it through its paces trying key things like Vector work and 3D Modelling when I get it in for testing.

Alastair Stevenson

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