It’s been a long time since Microsoft updated its Surface Studio line of all-in-one PCs. While rumors had suggested a Surface Studio 3 was on the way, Microsoft is debuting its Surface Studio 2 Plus today instead — an upgrade on the Surface Studio 2 that launched four years ago. It includes some important upgrades on the inside, but the exterior is practically the same, and it all starts at an eye-watering $4,299.
The Surface Studio 2 Plus will ship with Intel’s 11th Gen Core i7-11370H processor, a chip that’s rapidly approaching two years on the market. We’re about to enter Intel’s 13th Gen era, so it’s hugely disappointing to see Microsoft not move to 12th Gen H series chips or wait for Intel’s latest and greatest.
“Our goal was ship to market sooner, especially for a lot of our commercial customers... so we focused on stability and supply with known good parts because the difference from 11th to 12th Gen on the H series wasn’t something we needed to push for,” explains Pete Kyriacou, vice president of program management at Microsoft, in an interview with The Verge.
Despite the disappointing CPU choice, Microsoft has opted for a graphics card upgrade here. The Surface Studio 2 Plus comes with Nvidia’s RTX 3060 laptop GPU with 6GB of VRAM. Microsoft has redesigned its Surface Studio 2 Plus motherboard, and the RTX 3060 itself will be running at around 60–70 watts in a laptop configuration. Microsoft hides all of the components in the Studio 2 Plus inside a little laptop-like enclosure underneath the 28-inch display.
“It’s the most performant device we’ve ever shipped from a graphics and compute perspective,” says Kyriacou. “If you compare it to the original Surface Studio, it’s about five times as powerful.”
The RTX 3060 will certainly help power games at 1080p, but it’s restricted by the laptop-like form factor where it’s housed underneath the display, and there’s no option to upgrade it to something like an RTX 3080. I’ve been wanting a gaming-focused Surface forever, but it seems like that’s something Microsoft has no plans for.
“I don’t think it’s about Surface hardware, actually,” says Panos Panay, chief product officer at Microsoft, in an interview with The Verge. “We have incredible OEMs right now and what they’re delivering, whether it’s Legion or Omen or Alienware, Razer, these products are phenomenal.”
At the heart of the Surface Studio 2 Plus is still the same 28-inch PixelSense touchscreen (4500 x 3000) now with Dolby Vision support. During my brief look at the device, it still has that same impressive weightlessness to the display, almost like the pixels are floating between your fingers as you move the hinge up and down.
One great improvement I did notice was at the rear of the Surface Studio 2 Plus. It now has three USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, which will be ideal for high-speed data transfers needed by the types of creators this all-in-one PC targets. You can even hook up three 4K monitors.
There’s only a single configuration of the Surface Studio 2 Plus, and it ships with the 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11370H, 32GB of DDR4 memory, and a 1TB SSD. It’s priced at $4,299 or $4,499 if you want the stylus, keyboard, and mouse. That’s a lot of money, even for commercial customers who want the wow factor that the Surface Studio 2 Plus delivers. For the rest of us, I’m still hoping that Microsoft delivers this as a monitor one day.