Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review: A laptop in the original format for professionals and creators

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review: A laptop in the original format for professionals and creators

We now know the Microsoft Surface well and the finishes are always impeccable. The slightly rough anodized aluminum body gives the PC a premium look. Its touchpad is in the same line, pleasant to use and completely streamlined.

The keyboard deck is pleasant too, but the keys are smaller than most computers; An amazing choice and really impractical on a daily basis because it causes regular typos, at least at first. There is no fingerprint reader or numeric keypad here, and the backlight is adjustable to 4 levels.

The keyboard keys are a bit small.

The keyboard keys are a bit small.

Fortunately, Windows Hello allows you to quickly unlock your computer with the facial recognition powered by the webcam. This video is shot in 1080p, and therefore provides good image quality, is slightly dark, but its brightness can be slightly improved in the software. However, in low light, the noise is really felt.

In difficult lighting conditions.
In a bright office.

On the connectivity side, the PC is limited to two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports and a mini-jack jack, which frankly seems exclusive to us for the model that wants to be “pro”; Even rival Apple, which we used to be very sober, now offers more possibilities on the MacBook Pro M1 Pro and Max.
USB ports can be used to recharge the computer if you forget the special charger, but it will be slower than the latter.

Communication is frankly limited.

Communication is frankly limited.

So far, nothing too unusual, but the secret of the Surface Laptop Studio is hidden behind its screen: specific hinges allow it to go to the front of the keyboard, or until it is completely flattened. This allows it to be used as a display or graphics tablet. However, we have some doubts about the durability of the fabric that holds the hinges on the back of the monitor. For more details and photos about the capabilities this monitor offers, we recommend reading our dedicated lab article:

on the other side of the screen.
The screen can go forward.

If the pen can be inserted under the chassis, it’s because it’s so special. It consists of “two stages”, with a smaller base leaving a gap to accommodate the Slim Pen. This original Microsoft design allowed ventilation grilles to be integrated on both sides of the PC and to ensure good ventilation. The computer thus remains extremely quiet, even while encoding the video under HandBrake; We recorded only 34.1 decibels and a temperature of barely 40 degrees Celsius. In the game, ventilation becomes more audible, even if it is not the primary use of this form.

The Surface Laptop Studio doesn't get very hot.

The Surface Laptop Studio doesn’t get very hot.

Unfortunately, Microsoft has made no effort to allow users to jailbreak the PC and we advise you not to attempt the process. Not only are the screws hidden by the rubber feet under the chassis, but one of the screws is placed directly under an invisible piece of plastic. You may therefore run the risk of damaging the chassis as well as voiding the warranty. FYI, the M2 SSD is still replaceable, but do not plan to change the RAM, which is soldered, or even the battery, which is not standard.

This computer is difficult to disassemble.

This computer is difficult to disassemble.

Here we tested a model with a quad-core Intel Core i7-11370H clocked at 3.3GHz with a TDP (thermocouple) of 35W, it also has a 512GB SSD and 16GB of RAM, but above all an Nvidia GeForce RTX graphics card 3050 Ti with 50 Watt TGP.

We already had the opportunity to test this processor, but it turned out to be less efficient here, as it was restricted by Microsoft so as not to cause excessive heating. Once the temperature exceeds 80°C, CPU throttling and operating frequencies decrease, which particularly affects the processing times of challenging applications. In absolute terms, the processor is quite good, but it is clearly not at the level of the most high-end models. It’s got a score of 80.3 according to our protocol, a little more than the Core i7-1165G7 found in many ultraportable laptops.

computer against its competitors.

computer against its competitors.

Fortunately, the RTX 3050 Ti comes to the aid of applications where hardware acceleration is available, allowing in particular to significantly reduce processing times in video, photo or 3D editing or rendering. This chip remains at the entry level and of course doesn’t come close to, say, the RTX 3070 Ti, whose processing times are 3-4 times faster.

You can, of course, enjoy video games with the Surface Laptop Studio, even if the RTX 3050 Ti ultimately remains limited by its low 50W thermal envelope. Visibly reduces the graphics of the most demanding games. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Rendered at 1080p, for example, it barely holds 17fps in Ultra mode (unplayable so to speak), and we had to go down to a “Medium” setting to get a very smooth experience (67fps). The GPU, on the other hand, allows you to take advantage of DLSS to improve the fluidity of compatible games, but it may be necessary to forego raytracing.

Super test result.  Therefore, it will be necessary to lower the graphics quality to be able to play the desired titles.

Super test result. Therefore, it will be necessary to lower the graphics quality to be able to play the desired titles.

strength point

  • finishes.

  • Convertible shape versatility.

  • 120 Hz screen.

  • Good autonomy.

  • Full HD webcam.

  • calm.

Weak points

  • Average performance for a “professional” computer.

  • The keys are rather small.

  • Audio processing cannot be disabled.

  • Texture behind the screen looks crisp.

  • Very difficult to disassemble.

Conclusion

We tested it, we loved it

How does grading work?

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Studio is a quirky PC that doesn’t fit everyone. Its specialized format is primarily aimed at creators and professionals who need to work in tablet mode or view content. For general use, or to focus on pure performance, this laptop does not offer good value for money. Processor performance isn’t really its strong point, even if the onboard Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics card gets it right and allows hardware acceleration to be used for certain applications. The 120 Hz screen provides service at the highest level and the autonomy is excellent, which enhances the final result.

Sub notes

  • Building

  • performance

  • Screen

  • My voice

  • Mobility / Autonomy

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