Microsoft announced a new version of the Surface Pro last week, along with the Surface Laptop Studio. The Surface Pro 8 feels very much like a logical evolution of Microsoft’s tablet / laptop. Some of the more notable improvements include a 120Hz display with slimmer bezels, Thunderbolt 4 support, as well as a reworked surface keyboard that includes a dedicated space to store and charge the new Surface Slim Pen 2.
Meanwhile, the Surface Laptop Studio features a uniquely hinged screen and more powerful hardware. This is effectively a replacement for the Surface Book 3, with a three-point adjustable display that can lay flat for drawing or snap upright to deliver a more traditional laptop experience. This laptop comes equipped with an Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti GPU and a four-core, 4.8GHz, 11th Gen Intel processor.
Perhaps the coolest thing to come out of the event was the Surface Slim Pen 2, which aesthetically appears like any other stylus, but includes haptic feedback to simulate the subtle tactile response you get from putting a pen to paper. While the inclusion of a stylus is hardly revolutionary, improvements to the overall user experience are nice to see.
But how do the new Surface Pro 8 and the Surface Laptop Studio stack up against other laptops that occupy the creator and power user space? We’ve collected a few of our favorites below for comparison based on our early impressions and spec sheets, with full reviews to follow in the coming weeks.
Versus the Surface Laptop Studio
We chose the 14-inch models of the HP Spectre X360 and the Acer ConceptD Ezel because of their competitive pricing, which includes a stylus, and also for their ability to reorient themselves in some creative ways. (The new Microsoft devices don’t include the Surface Slim Pen 2, which costs $130 separately.) The Spectre is technically a 2-in-1 and can operate effectively as a tablet if you flip the screen over, though it doesn’t hold it up at an angle quite like the Surface Laptop Studio. The ConceptD Ezel, meanwhile, can flip out its screen and prop itself up like an easel or lay flat like a tablet.
We also threw in the Laptop Studio’s predecessor, the 13.5-inch Surface Book 3. The screen may not fold or flip, but it can still operate as a tablet when detached from its keyboard. We considered adding the 15-inch version of the Surface Book 3, but its starting price of $2,300 made it just a little too expensive when stacked against its competition.
Still, the Surface Laptop Studio sets itself apart by offering a greater battery life and likely a superior dedicated GPU option to any of these other machines. It also has the distinction of being the only laptop in our lineup with a 120Hz refresh rate display, a feature typically reserved for gaming laptops. You’d generally need to look at a gaming-class laptop if you need a higher-end GPU.
Surface Laptop Studio Comparison
|Specification||Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio||HP Spectre X360 14||Acer ConceptD 3 Ezel 13-inch||Microsoft Surface Book 3 13.5-inch|
|Starting price||$1,600; $1,730 with Pen||$1,100 (HP Tilt Pen included)||$1,200 (Acer Active Stylus included)||$1,600; $1,700 with Pen|
|OS||Windows 11||Windows 11 Pro||Windows 10 Home or Pro||Windows 10 Home|
|Resolution||2400 x 1600||1920 x 1280 or 3000 x 2000 OLED||1920 x 1080||3000 x 2000|
|Pixels per inch||201 PPI||163 or 267 PPI||157 PPI||267 PPI|
|Brightness||500 nits||400 or 1,000 nits||340 nits||400 nits|
|Dimensions||12.72 x 8.98 inches||11.75 x 8.67 inches||12.9 x 9.0 inches||12.3 x 9.14 inches|
|Thickness||0.74 inches||0.67 inches||0.90 inches||0.90 inches|
|Weight||3.83 pounds (4.0 pounds Core i7 models)||2.95 pounds||3.8 pounds||3.38 pounds|
|Quoted battery life||19 hours||15 hours||14 hours||15.5 hours|
|CPU||11th-gen Core i5-11300H or Core i7-11370H||11th-gen Core i5-1135G7 or Core i7-1165G7||10th-gen Core i7-10750H||10th-gen Core i5-1035G7 or Core i7-1065G7|
|GPU||Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics or GeForce RTX 3050 Ti 4GB||Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 4GB or 1650 Ti 4GB||Intel Iris Plus integrated graphics or Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q 4GB|
|RAM||16GB or 32GB||8GB or 16GB||16GB||8GB, 16GB, or 32GB|
|Storage||Up to 2TB NVMe SSD||Up to 2TB NVMe SSD||512GB NVMe SSD||Up to 1TB NVMe SSD|
|Ports||2 x USB 4.0 with Thunderbolt 4 support, 1 x Surface Connect||2 x USB 4.0 with Thunderbolt 4 support, 1 x USB-A, 1 x MicroSD||1 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 support, 2 x USB-A, 1 x full-size SDXC card reader, 1 x Mini DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI||1 x USB-C, 2 x USB-A, 1 x full-size SDXC card reader, 2 x Surface Connect|
|3.5mm headphone jack||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Rear camera||N/A||N/A||N/A||1080p , 8MP|
|Front camera||1080p||720p||720p||1080p, 5MP|
|Biometrics||Windows Hello||Fingerprint reader, Windows Hello||Fingerprint reader||Windows Hello|
|Power adapter||Surface Connect, 60W (Core i5 models), 95W (Core i7 models)||Type-C, 65W||DC barrel, 135W||Surface Connect, 65W (Core i5 models), 102W (Core i7 models)|
|Colors||Silver||Blue, black, silver||White||Silver|
|Wireless options||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0|
Versus the Surface Pro 8
The unique form factor of Surface devices makes them tough to compare, but the Lenovo Yoga 9i and Apple MacBook M1 Air make a strong case as ultraportables outside the Surface ecosystem that cater to creatives, and we’re also including the previous-gen Surface Pro 7 for comparison.
Like previous generations of Surface, the new Surface Pro 8 doesn’t come with a pen or keyboard to start. The new Slim Pen 2 and Surface Pro Signature Keyboard will cost you $130 and $180, respectively, but can also be bundled for $280. Obviously, the other laptops we’re discussing come with built-in keyboards, and the Yoga i9 includes the pen as well.
The Surface Pro 8 is Microsoft’s biggest upgrade in years. The excellent 2-in-1 touts Thunderbolt 4 support, a 120Hz display, a better camera, and a more modern design. This package is bundled with a black keycover.
The Lenovo also shares many of the same hardware specifications as the Surface Pro 8, with options for an 11th Gen Core i5 or i7 CPU. It does make a couple of compromises, most notably in the resolution and refresh rate of its display. These caveats could be overlooked by anyone who needs to save a little more money, though.
The MacBook M1 Air is really the outlier of this lineup, not just because of its OS, but because it’s also the only laptop we picked that doesn’t have a touchscreen or can operate as a 2-in-1. It does, however, strike a solid balance in terms of features, performance, and price.
The biggest draw for the Surface Pro 8 — besides its unique form factor — is the display, which boasts the highest resolution and refresh rate out of the contenders below. It’s also the only model that features a 4K rear camera.
Surface Pro 8 Comparison
|Specification||Microsoft Surface Pro 8||MacBook M1 Air||Lenovo Yoga 9i||Microsoft Surface Pro 7|
|Starting price||$1,100; $1,380 with Pen and Signature Keyboard||$1,000||$1,250 (Lenovo Active Pen Included)||$750; $1,010 with Pen and Signature Keyboard|
|OS||Windows 11||MacOS Big Sur||Windows 10 Home or Pro||Windows 10 Home|
|Resolution||2880 x 1920||2560 x 1600||1920 x 1080||2736 x 1824|
|Pixels per inch||267 PPI||227 PPI||157 PPI||267 PPI|
|Brightness||450 nits||400 nits||400 nits||395 nits|
|Dimensions||11.3 x 8.2 inches||11.97 x 8.36 inches||12.57 x 8.51 inches||11.5 x 7.9 inches|
|Thickness||0.37 inches||0.63 inches||0.61 inches||0.33 inches|
|Weight||1.96 pounds||2.8 pounds||3.02 pounds||1.7 pounds|
|Quoted battery life||16 hours||15 hours||15 hours||10.5 hours|
|CPU||11th-gen Core i5-1135G7 or Core i7-1185G7||Apple M1 chip||11th-gen Core i5-1135G7 or Core i7-1185G7||10th-gen Core i3-1005G1, Core i5-1035G4, or Core i7-1065G7|
|GPU||Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics||Apple M1 graphics||Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics||Intel UHD Integrated graphics or Intel Iris Plus graphics|
|RAM||8GB, 16GB, or 32 GB||8GB or 16GB||8GB or 16GB||4GB, 8GB, or 16GB|
|Storage||Up to 1TB NVMe SSD||Up to 2TB NVMe SSD||Up to 1TB NVMe SSD||Up to 1TB NVMe SSD|
|Ports||2 x USB 4.0 with Thunderbolt 4 support, 1 x Surface Connect||2 x USB 4.0 with Thunderbolt 4 support||2 x USB 4.0 with Thunderbolt 4 support, 1 x USB-A||1 x USB-C, 1 x USB-A, MicroSD card reader, 1 x Surface Connect|
|3.5mm headphone jack||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Rear camera||1080p and 4K, 10MP||N/A||N/A||1080p, 8MP|
|Front camera||1080p, 5MP||720p||720p||1080p, 5MP|
|Biometrics||Windows Hello||Fingerprint reader||Fingerprint reader, Windows Hello||Windows Hello|
|Power adapter||Surface Connect, 60W||Type-C, 30W||Type-C, 65W||Surface Connect, 60W|
|Colors||Silver, gray||Gold, silver, gray||Silver, black||Silver, black|
|Wireless options||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0|
Correction October 1st, 2:13PM ET: The Microsoft Surface Book 3 features a USB-C 3.1 port, not a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port as initially stated in this article. We regret the error.