Released in 2021, the first-generation Surface Laptop Studio was an attempt to fill the hole left by the discontinued Surface Book. The Surface Laptop brought some new ideas. In addition to its regular clamshell laptop mode, the display on the Surface Laptop can be placed at a 45-degree angle to the keyboard or almost flat like a tablet. Its base also had a cool trick: It could store and charge a slim pen.
A few things hindered the Surface Laptop Studio – weak battery life, mediocre performance, only two USB-C ports, and $2,099.99 beginning price.
The good thing is, Microsoft has paid attention to performance and ports in the Surface Laptop Studio 2. As for performance, the configuration can be specified with a 13th Gen Intel Core i7-13700H CPU, RTX 4050 or 4060 options with Nvidia GPU, or RTX 2000 Ada. , up to 64GB of LPDDR5X RAM, and up to 512GB of removable SSD storage.
The price starts at a low $1,999.99, but it comes with the major compromise of Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics. The Surface Laptop Studio 2 with RTX 4050, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD starts at $2,399.99; The RTX 4060 with 64GB RAM and 1TB SSD starts at $3,299.99; And the RTX 2000 Ada with 32GB RAM and 1TB is priced at $3,599.99.
It’s not cheap, but not aggressive either, if you compare it to a MacBook Pro with the same RAM and SSD configuration. At an event in New York City, Microsoft was so confident in the Surface Laptop 2’s graphics performance – it pitted the machine against an M2 Max MacBook Pro to show its edge.
The jury’s out on whether battery life is improved or not – we’ll have to test it ourselves when we get a device for review. Microsoft is claiming up to 15 hours of battery life on a single charge.
In my short time with the Surface Laptop Studio, it seems to be mostly the same Surface Laptop Studio with a few upgrades.
Despite having a similar design, the body is actually made of aluminum rather than painted magnesium. With higher tensile strength, aluminum is more durable and less likely to bend. In fact, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 feels less flexible in my opinion.
Microsoft also added more ports. In addition to two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, the Surface Connector, and a 3.5mm headphone jack, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 has a full-size USB-A 3.1 port and a microSDXC card slot. A full-sized SD card reader like the MacBook Pros would have been better (preferred by photographers and creators), but a microSD card slot is better than nothing.
I’m told the webcam’s field of view is wider and the precision haptic touchpad has been completely redesigned to allow people with disabilities to use it.
Apart from these improvements, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 remains a solid laptop. The 14.4-inch touchscreen is large, high-resolution and bright. When I used my fingers and the Slim Pen 2 it felt extremely responsive.
I’m curious to see how well the Surface Laptop Studio 2 fares for gaming. The Nvidia RTX 4050 and 4060 GPUs should be quite capable of running the game at high settings with ray tracing turned on. What I’m more interested in is the onboard Intel Neural processor, which could potentially give CoPilot or other AI-centric applications a big boost.
We will have a Surface Laptop Studio 2 soon. Pre-orders are available today directly from Microsoft with a release date of October 3rd.