Microsoft's new Surface Laptop Studio is very expensive for old tech
The new Surface Laptop Studio with the 14.4-inch display replaces the previous Surface Book models (13 & 15-inch), which are not available anymore. After the laptop was launched in Europe with some delay, we had the chance to take a close look at Microsoft's latest high-end device. Overall, it s a good overall package and the performance is sufficient for everyday tasks, but considering the high price, there are some aspects where the Surface Laptop Studio disappoints.
We start with the display, because the basic picture quality of the 14.4-inch IPS screen is good and the colors are accurate, but the panel only covers the small sRGB gamut. This would be completely fine for business laptops, but according to Microsoft the Surface Laptop Studio is also designed for professional users or content creators, where the larger P3 color space would have been the better choice.
The new folding mechanism leaves a solid impression and all components are now located inside the base unit (the Surface Book 3 had the necessary components in the tablet section), so the performance is also stable when you use it as a tablet. But this leads us the the biggest issue, the old Tiger Lake processor.
The CPUs are basically the same Tiger Lake processors with the integrated Iris Xe GPU, which is already familiar from the regular Surface Laptop 4 (13 or 15-inch). The CPU in the Surface Laptop Studio can consume more power, but the CPUs are still very similar and the performance is not much higher, either. This is very disappointing, because this means the performance does not only fall behind the rivals from AMD and Apple (even the regular Apple M1 in the MacBook Pro 13 is faster, let alone the M1 Pro), but also the regular Surface Laptop with the old AMD Ryzen 4000 processor offers between 40-60% more performance in multi-core applications.
We suspect the Surface Laptop Studio was originally intended to be shipped with the new Alder Lake processors, but it did not work due to delays from Intel's side. The choice of Tiger Lake-H35 processors is still a bad one for customers, and the quad-core just does not make much sense when you pair it with the dedicated RTX 3050 Ti. There would have been alternatives, even if Microsoft did not want to delay the launch for Alder Lake. The simplest solution would have been Tiger Lake-H45 CPUs with 6 or 8 cores, or - like on the Surface Laptop - an AMD processor.
Microsoft does not use the latest technologies in other areas as well, as you do not get a Wi-Fi 6E module or the latest PCIe-4.0 standard for the latest SSDs. Considering all the points, it is currently hard for us to recommend the device and even though it is a nice overall package, we can only hope there will be an update with Intel's new Alder Lake CPUs shortly. Please see our full review for more information on the test unit: