MICROSOFT Surface Laptop Studio Review

exciting times it’s a new kind of surface on the block this is the surface laptop studio kind of a weird name it’s both i guess a combo the surface laptop with some ideas from the surface studio desktop uh just call it this the sls that’s what people are doing even if it does sort of sound like a lexus or an acura model right so this replaces the surface book family surface book 3 which was a 13.5 and a 15 inch option set there for you so this sits in between at 14.4 inches and i think the new design is something that most people but not everybody is going to like we’re going to find out now this is a surface product so don’t expect it to be budget priced right it’s premium design everything is put together really well here we still have that magnesium alloy casing where surface pro 8 and surface laptop have gone to recycled aluminum and it starts at sixteen hundred dollars for a core i5 with 16 gigs of ram and 256 gig ssd and integrated graphics only my guess is most people who have their butts in their seats right now watching this video probably are watching this because they’re more interested in the higher performance model which is what we have we have the core i7 which has the nvidia rtx 3050 ti gpu 16 gigs of ram and a 5 12 gig ssd that’s 2100 that ain’t cheap but when you compare this to surface pro 8 which i know some of you are doing and trying to decide which you want it’s actually priced the same as a surface pro 8 with the same i7 the same amount of ram same ssd capacity plus a type cover so if you’re kind of on the fence and you’re thinking you’re saving money by getting a surface pro you know you’re not all right so you can go even higher with the configurations here you can go up to 32 gigs of ram and a one or a two terabyte ssd if you go with that one terabyte ssd though the price starts to get i bleedingly painful at twenty eight hundred dollars i don’t even remember the prices of the two terabytes just just shoot me now it’s expensive right so at least this has an upgradeable ssd if you wanna do it after the fact we’ll talk a little bit more about that it’s hard to default the build quality in any way it is really well put together and it has updated design language the bezels have gotten a little bit smaller there’s rounded corners on board and the most obvious and interesting two design features are well first the pedestal design which looks pretty weird in photographs and if you focus on it just from a side view but when you use it when it’s sitting on a desk or something that you actually don’t see the inset pedestal at all it kind of looks like it’s just floating slightly off the desk it’s kind of clever it makes it look thinner because this is by no means a particularly thin laptop clearly it’s not as thin as surface pro 8 which is just a straight tablet right that pedestal i like it a lot why because it really works for cooling first off there’s no vents on the bottom to block with your legs you know like a lot of gaming and performance laptops always say don’t put it on your legs you’re going to block the vents and cook that thing that’s not a problem here and the vents run all around there are two fans inside and it vents out mostly on the sides and it disperses the heat very effectively you’ll feel warm air coming out from there but not blowing at you and not frying your legs it’s really pretty remarkably effective and i have to applaud microsoft because this is a product that’s designed for creators that sort of crowd not the gaming laptop crowd we’re used to putting up with a lot of heat and a lot of noise and we put desk fans behind them and do anything else that we can this is something that’s actually usable for somebody who’s doing adobe premiere or compiling some code or working in photoshop or doing some stuff in blender without taking the hair off your legs if you know what i mean and the fans on it are actually pretty quiet most of the time too even when playing games like i was playing a plagues tale which is a modern enough title you could hear the fans but way quieter than the gaming laptop so for those of you thinking well i you know i couldn’t go with an asus rogue zephyrus g14 well yes you could if you don’t need the convertibleness the pen and all the things that this brings to the table in terms of performance but let’s face it the g14 is a hotter and louder machine too and creatives bring these things into workplaces and don’t want to annoy everybody so that’s starting to sound promising and as a surface book 3 replacement you want to see some horsepower and the gotcha with the surface book 3 was always the fact that it still had a basic 15 watt ultrabook cpu in the tablet section which is where the brains were that’s why you could detach it and still use it there was a second battery and a gpu in the base and those you would lose the functionality of if you detached it right i tried using a surface book as my main computer and that were well that didn’t last more than two months because of the things that i used it for it was throttling the fans were always loud i feel like i was going to kill the thing early and this one has enough horsepower the intel h35 35 watt cpu that it can hold up to my kind of workloads which is occasionally video editing we my video editor has their own machine to use so i don’t actually do a lot of that on my machine but still it can handle that it can handle photoshop it can handle some blender it can handle lots of tabs and chrome and all that sort of thing so it is creator suitable and it handles real-time export of 4k video in adobe premiere which means you got a 5-minute 4k video it takes five minutes to export sure you can get a much more powerful desktop or alienware gaming x17 laptop or something and do it even faster but for something that’s 14.4 inches that’s not a difficult thing to carry around it looks premo it’s fair enough so for the cpu again this is a quad core this is not a six core cpu so keep that in mind if you for those who need the most horsepower you can find actually get the gpu is actually pretty good that nvidia rtx the 3050 ti is 50 watt you can get that card anywhere from 35 to 80 watts depending on the configuration so microsoft didn’t just go with the lowest they possibly could go with there so that’s not too bad so horsepower wise they probably found a good balance here more powerful than an ultrabook certainly or surface pro 8 or an intel surface laptop but not up there with the dell xps 15 in terms of horsepower or gaming laptops but this is the convertible model for people who are not looking for a sole purpose gaming machine or super duper compute power thing something you can use adobe programs on for example and that’s because it has the poll forward hinge design i won’t call it new because way back in 2013 we reviewed the sony vaio duo which was one of the first as far as i remember pull forward design though it didn’t pull forward to cover the keyboard area we’ve seen this with the acer concept the easel which are really gaming laptops and more powerful and more heavy and not quite as pretty and we’ve seen in the hp folio that vegan leather clad laptop that had the design like this so what that means is instead of detaching the display and having that complex serpentine hinge that i think in the end discourage some people from detaching their surface book tablet from the base you’ve got something you can always keep it facing forward which is kind of nice it doesn’t take you out of the flow of things i’ve discovered i really do enjoy it here so like many folks i have a feeling i sit down and i’m just going to watch a video or surf through reddit or something like that i think i don’t need a keyboard and i do this with my ipad and then sure enough you want to respond to a post or start doing something like that and then you’re like okay now i got to flip it back to where the service pro and get the keyboard out in front of me again and it’s kind of annoying with this if i have it in that tent pull forward mode which is great for the touch screen use the pen use and consuming content all i do is there are magnets just lift it up put it back in laptop position got the keyboard do what i need to do pull it back and forward forward if i want to use it as a tablet granted a heavy one this thing is around four pounds or so weighing in between a surface book 3 13 and a half and 15 inch model then you can put it in tablet mode as well and use it on a table obviously it’s kind of on the heavy side you can put it on your legs if you want to flip it over backwards to present something to somebody else you can do that though that gets pretty weird because you can’t see what’s going on on the screen anymore but you could do that without detaching the display picking it up turning it around remounting it waiting for the gpu to connect disconnect all that thing it’s pretty good and that’s who this laptop is for it’s for people who want convertibles it’s not for people who want a 16-inch macbook pro or a dell xps 15 or a dell xps 13. they want something that turns into a convertible they want the touchscreen and the pen experience they want to be able to put it in tablet mode or tent mode for consumption nice on airplane tray tables for example that sort of thing and that gets us to the pen which the new slim pen too is the one you’re supposed to buy to go with this which is not in the box that’s a hundred and thirty dollars and no comp no longer comes with a charging sled and i tried the last chance charging slide it didn’t work maybe it’ll be a firmer update for the base but anyway the pen charges by connecting under the pedestal right under the front lip it’s real easy to slide it in there in fact you get anywhere near there the magnet just sucks it in there and it holds it so you probably won’t lose it in your bag but this is a good pen and i have never really loved surface pens and entering technology the line jitter the palm rejection used to not be so good they got better at that just the line quality i do a lot of artwork for note-taking you’re probably less picky and now it’s really enjoyable in part because the new nib design is a much longer conical tip sort of like an apple pencil too and it’s more grippy so you’re not skating across the glass and they have the haptic feedback on board here so when you’re writing for apps that support it like sketchable or microsoft’s own journal program which is really actually pretty excellent i you it feels like a pencil you feel that little bit of scratchiness going along if you’re doing a paint brush it’s a little swooshy feeling if you use the eraser it really feels like it’s scrubbing and that makes you feel more connected to what you’re doing and it gives you a greater sense of control it’s very hard to describe you just have to experience it i thought it was just going to be a party trick but it’s actually excellent and we also have 120 hertz display here so that helps too just like with apple’s promotion so you get a faster refresh so the line draws more immediately to reflect what you’re doing and that’s something that i think a lot of people like you should only see this on a gaming laptop right and to see this on a creator laptop is kind of cool not only is it pleasant to use if you’re scrolling up and down and you don’t want to see the shmeary looking thing but it’s great for art now that said out of the box it’s set to 60 hertz so you have to go to advanced display settings to enable 120 hertz variable refresh is supposed to come with an os update later i think this year from microsoft for windows 11 which this ships with but so far not there so it also depends on how you feel about your battery life there’s about an hour run time difference between 60 hertz and 120 hertz the display itself is still billed as ips and a pixel sense display it is not as high resolution as the surface book 3 15 inch so that’s a bit of a downgrade it still looks really good so i’m okay with that i can’t see the individual pixels on this the colors on this are very nice uh but still for this price i would like to see a hundred percent p3 color gamut instead of the 90 that we got here you got a full srgb you got a decent adobe rgb but they could have done a little better there i feel it’s certainly bright at 500 nits of maximum brightness which means you there’s another way to kill your battery life for those of you just like to max the brightness out and seared eyeballs be who cares right uh yeah that’s the only thing there but very nice looking display great for consuming content supports dolby vision we also have dolby atmos and speaking of dolby atmos we have quad stereo speakers on board two of them fire up the sides of the pedestal base and two from under the keyboard and the audio is very good here we’re approaching the 16-inch macbook pro level of audio very clear highs gets quite loud has bass i actually ended up not using headphones when playing games on this and when watching videos it’s good stuff the keyboard and trackpad on this also excellent i mean typically microsoft with their surface products does a good job at the keyboard i like this even better than surface book three so it’s very tactile it kind of made me feel like i was going back like eight years in time when laptops had very tactile keyboards with actual key travel it’s 1.3 millimeters it actually feels deeper on this but boy did i love typing on and it’s backlit in white the trackpad is large and it’s a haptic trackpad much like what apple uses and it’s scentsy so i’ve seen this used in some other windows laptops and i wasn’t as impressed but they did a good job here it never misses a beat it responds to taps and clicks just the way they should and the click isn’t too too loud which sometimes can be a problem with some surface products now for ports no legacy ports that’s the bad news other than the 3.5 millimeter headphone jack we have two thunderbolt 4 ports so which means no more surface docks and problems with multiple monitors and all that sort of thing you can use thunderbolt 3 and thunderbolt 4 docks and usb c docks here you want multiple monitors no problem you want to use an e gpu you can do that and though i still don’t think the cost is worth it between the egp and the cost of a graphics card these days and the challenges of having an internal and an external nvidia card well you know anyway that that’s reasonably good connectivity by today’s so-called modern standards where we don’t get legacy ports anymore the one thing that i will complain about and something that’s geared towards creators there’s no sd card slot so immediately you’re going to need an sd card reader with this or a usb c dock with an sd card slot so how about battery life right something else to give here we got a 58 watt hour battery which isn’t really that big a battery for a 35 watt quad core cpu and an nvidia dedicated gpu as well well if you’re using this unplugged i could say microsoft did a pretty good job of not pulling up the gpu unnecessarily which does help and this does support whisper mode and xq technologies for the dgpu and all that sort of thing it’s highly dependent on what you use it for if you’re doing productivity tasks office and slack and all that sort of thing i it can run at 60 hertz up to eight hours which isn’t too bad it’s not class leading but that’s not too bad given how small the battery is on this if you’re running at 120 hertz knock an hour off that run time when playing video which usually is where you see more efficiency for laptops these days actually i got a bit shorter run times than that about six and a half hours streaming video high resolution high quality video and i imagine just the big high resolution three by two aspect ratio display has something to do with that or maybe there’s some future optimizations so let’s before we close talk about that upgradable ssd so it’s not like surface pro 8 or the latest surface laptop that has a nifty little magnetic door that leads to a half height m.2 2230 ssd with this one you have to take the bottom cover off and i don’t know why not that they’re finally using a fairly conventional laptop design that they didn’t make it a little bit easier you have to pull off the two rubber strips on the bottom to remove seven torx screws now these strips don’t deform like hp spectres strips do at least and then you have to pull off some rubber around the back edges near the hinge to get two more screws and then one under the trackpad so you got to work for it to replace that ssd the good news is is the ssd is compatible with both 2230 that microsoft likes to use and the full 2280 full height more common m.2 ssd so it’s upgradable but you got to be pretty geeky if you want to do that one thing i will complain about sort of is the hinge on this this is not like surface studios hinge which is stiff at a variety of positions pretty much they expect you to use it in tent laptop or tablet modes where it’s super stable no screen balance anything like that in laptop mode is well done or intent mode but the hinge doesn’t support other positions i would like to see that in the future no doubt that kind of design would add weight to it and that was a consideration for them and the fabric cover in the hinge assembly where the cables run it’s just odd i don’t know but i guess it does the job but certainly if you put in any position in between this girl’s flippy floppy flippy floppy which might be a little disconcerting to some so that’s the surface laptop studio and really they have done a very good job here and for the price they should have too but i think for the creator types who are looking for the pen experience the touch the convertible design something that’s easier to use on a tray table and is more portable than a 15-inch surface bug 3 certainly but thanks to the 3×2 aspect ratio you still feel sorry like you’re using a 15-inch laptop it checks a lot of boxes you know there are a few caveats though you don’t get the six core cpu and this price range you might be hoping for it even though then you’d be complaining about the heat and the noise right and there’s no sd card slot the hinge is great and the design is useful but it is flippy floppy in the middle positions which may be disconcerting for some and compared to the hp spectre x360 14 and 16 inch well the 14 inch is less performant the 16 inch is more of a competitor it really depends on which kind of design you’re looking for doesn’t it the acer concept d easel i think is a gaming laptop really it’s a different market bigger heavier hotter louder not out yet for the latest generation too but uh compared to the pricing on surface book three back in the day also this is more attainable and affordable the fact that you can get this in the same configuration plus a gpu versus a surface pro 8 in the same price it means that this is not as bad of value as some surface products

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Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio

9.1

Performance

9.5/10

Price

8.7/10

Value

9.1/10