Microsoft is announcing the Surface Laptop Studio today, a successor to the Surface Book line of powerful laptops. It presents a total redesign for Microsoft’s flagship laptop, ditching the removable display in favor of one that pulls forward to transform from laptop into tablet (or what Microsoft calls studio mode).
“Surface Laptop Studio is the most powerful Surface we’ve ever built,” says Pete Kyriacou, vice president of devices at Microsoft. “It is the culmination of years of Surface innovation – on hinges, display, silicon, and more – and brings the best of the Surface heritage together in one powerhouse device.”
The most immediate and obvious change to this Surface Book successor is the display and hinge. The 14.4-inch PixelSense Flow display (2400 x 1600) supports up to 120Hz and Dolby Vision. Microsoft is using a new flexible Dynamic Woven Hinge, which it says is durable and allows this laptop to transition between modes much like the larger Surface Studio. The Surface Laptop Studio supports three modes: laptop, stage, and studio.
The laptop mode arranges the display just like a regular laptop, with a full keyboard and a new touchpad with haptics. The stage mode is where things get interesting, as you can pull the display forward to an angle that’s designed for gaming, streaming, or presenting. This will cover the keyboard, and the angle is more suited toward watching Netflix or playing games, touching the display, or using the new Surface Slim Pen 2 for digital inking.
Microsoft’s final mode is studio, and just as the name implies it’s designed for writing, sketching, and anything else creative. Microsoft is carefully avoiding calling this “tablet mode,” as the Surface Laptop Studio isn’t exactly lightweight at nearly four pounds, and it’s 0.7 inches thick.
I never removed the Surface Book display when using it, so I feel like this new Laptop Studio design rightly keeps the primary focus on laptop modes, while offering some versatility for those who are fans of inking. To me, it looks like a more elegant version of Acer’s Ezel range of laptops.
Unlike the Surface Book, Microsoft has moved the majority of components to the base of the Surface Laptop Studio. That will certainly help with the sturdiness of the laptop, but it does mean any potential heat will be dissipated onto your lap. The base also neatly houses the Surface Slim Pen 2, which is surprisingly sold separately.
Intel’s quad-core 11th Gen Core i5 or Core i7 processors are available to power the Surface Laptop Studio. The Core i5 models will ship with Intel Iris Xe graphics, while the Core i7 variants will include Nvidia’s RTX 3050 Ti GPU with 4GB of VRAM. There will be options between 16GB and 32GB of RAM, and up to 2TB of removable SSD storage.
All of these specs do make the Surface Laptop Studio very capable of running the latest PC games. Microsoft has traditionally shied away from promoting the Surface Book as a full gaming laptop, but the company leans into this idea with the Surface Laptop Studio.
Just like the Surface Pro 8, Microsoft is moving to Thunderbolt 4 on the Surface Laptop Studio. There will be two USB 4 ports with Thunderbolt 4, and the usual Surface Connect charging port and 3.5mm headphone jack. The Thunderbolt support means you can connect the Surface Laptop Studio to multiple 4K displays, use high-speed external storage, or even use an external GPU enclosure to turn this device into a full gaming PC.
Microsoft is accepting preorders for the Surface Laptop Studio today, and it will ship on October 5th priced starting at $1,599.99.