Microsoft made a surprise announcement in this year’s Microsoft Event in the form of the Surface Laptop Studio. A portable computer that combines the best of the Surface Laptop, Surface Book, and Surface Studio.
It’s a breathtaking device and a powerful one too. Here’s a technical deep dive into the brilliant engineering behind the new Surface Laptop Studio.
Arguably the most impressive aspect of the Surface Laptop Studio is the new hinge mechanism. Microsoft describes it as a “Dynamic Woven Hinge made of woven fabric with embedded cables that can bend 180 degrees”, and here what it looks like on the inside.
It’s a rather complex system of hinges, cables, and magnets designed to fold and bend and hold itself securely in place as you work on the device, whether you’re using it with the screen up in laptop mode, brought forward in entertainment mode, or folded down in canvas mode.
Now that the processor is no longer behind the display as it was on the Surface Book, instead being in the base like a more traditional laptop, Microsoft has greater thermal headroom to include more powerful Intel processors. The Surface Laptop Studio uses either the Core i5-11300H or the Core i7-11370H processors. These 11th gen quad-core H-Series chips consume more power than their Y-Series counterparts at up to 64W, but perform better in return.
With the additional power comes additional heat. Microsoft addressed this by including dual fans and dual connected heatpipes to ensure the device expels as much of that heat as possible. We’ll have to wait for the reviews to see just how well the Surface Laptop Studio can do so while maintaining consistent clock speeds under load.
Microsoft also included the latest generation of Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series graphics based on the Ampere architecture. There’s only one option though, which is the RTX 3050 Ti. This particular chip is configured to run at 50W with Dynamic Boost 2.0. The Nvidia RTX A2000 is also available on business versions of the Surface Laptop Studio. Of course, both GPU’s support hardware-enabled raytracing in supported applications and games.
The lower-end Core i5 model doesn’t include a dedicated GPU, instead utilizing the integrated Intel Xe graphics from the CPU.
The Surface Laptop Studio features a 120Hz 14.4″ display with a resolution of 2400 x 1600 and a pixel density of 201 PPI. This is a bit surprising given the Surface Pro 8 with a smaller 13″ screen has a higher resolution and pixel density. It does support Dolby Vision though and goes up to 500 nits of brightness. It’s a touch screen of course, with 10-point multitouch, Surface Pen support, and cute rounded corners that go well with Windows 11.
For the first time in a Surface device, the Surface Laptop Studio supports Thunderbolt 4 via two USB-C ports. So you can use these ports with the host of Thunderbolt docks, storage devices, displays, and more, utilizing all of the 40 Gbps of throughput available.
Despite the more powerful components, Microsoft rates the battery life at an impressive 19 hours of “typical use” for the Core i5 model with integrated graphics, and 18 hours for the Core i7 model with the Nvidia GPU. Your mileage may vary.
Microsoft continues to make advances in touchpad technology, with the Surface Laptop Studio featuring the largest touchpad ever on a Surface device. The touchpad also provides haptic feedback which is a nice touch – excuse the pun.
Camera & Audio
Microsoft paid a lot of attention to the camera experience on the Surface Laptop Studio, probably as a result as how important video calls have become in this work-from-home world we live in today. The camera is AI optimized with face detection to ensure that the dynamic range doesnt fluctuate as you move around in challenging lighting conditions.
Audio also plays a big role in the Surface Laptop Studio, with a new quad Omnisonic setup that also supports Dolby Atmos. The audio dynamically adjusts depending on the different modes you have the device in to ensure that audio is always crisp and clear.
The Surface Laptop Studio is a worthy successor to the Surface Book in my opinion. Improving on almost every aspect of Microsoft’s most powerful portable computer.