Where the Surface Laptop Studio gets really interesting is when you step up to the Core i7 models, which get Nvidia GeForce RTX graphics cards. The cheapest is $2100, and you can keep adding RAM and SSD space until you reach the top model with 32GB of RAM and 2TB SSD for $3100.
The model I tested featured a Core i7 chip with 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, which retails for $2,700. That’s a lot of money, but it’s on the same playing field as a similar team MacBook Pro and the Dell XPS 15.
No matter which model you choose, you’ll get one of the best monitors you’ve seen in a long time. It’s a large 14-inch, with a resolution of 2400 x 1600 pixels, which comes in at 197 pixels per inch. This isn’t quite as sharp as a 4K Dell XPS 15, but I barely noticed the side-by-side difference. Like the rest of the Surface devices, the Laptop Studio has a 3:2 aspect ratio.
Where the Laptop Studio screen stands out from just about anything else in the consumer market (except Surface Pro 8) is the refresh rate of 120 Hz. You can read files A guide to screen refresh rates For the nitty-gritty of what this means and why you want it, but the short story is that ultra-smooth animations and interactions, once the domain of high-end game consoles, are now available on mainstream laptops. The result is noticeable. Windows 11 on Laptop Studio is a visually pleasing experience. I’m underselling Windows 11 functionally. More on this in a minute.
What’s as impressive as the performance and screen is the battery life. The studio always lasted a full working day and ran nearly 12 hours on the loop video battery drain test. Those aren’t the 18 hours Microsoft is claiming, but it beats the XPS 15.
Audio is also a standout feature on this Surface. It has four speakers, including a subwoofer, and it sounds great. The trackpad is also the best I’ve ever used, except for anything. It’s large, has excellent gesture support, and has a haptic feedback system that makes you feel like you’re pressing a button even when you’re not.
The problem with Windows tablets
Windows 11 takes several steps forward, and almost same amount again. you can read Windows 11 Overview To see new features and some problems. The biggest problem from Laptop Studio’s point of view is that almost no desktop apps are optimized for studio mode. Not that you can’t use apps like Adobe Illustrator or Lightroom, but they lack the tablet-friendly aspects of their iOS counterparts.
What sets the iPad apart is that apps are forced to deal with the idiosyncrasies of the tablet experience. The great thing about Laptop Studio is that the apps don’t have to deal with the power limitations of the iPad. Somewhere in the blending of these two different poles lies ideal, but neither system has yet been achieved.
It’s tempting to think that running Android apps in Windows 11 might solve this problem, but if you’ve ever used Android on a tablet, you know you’ll have to hold your breath. A laptop with a detachable screen that starts Android when you remove it and seamlessly reverts back to Windows when you reconnect it, all without closing your apps or otherwise interrupting your work, seems far-fetched. So does tablet optimization on Windows 11.
The world is a series of compromises, and the Surface Laptop Studio straddles these hardware lines better than anything else I’ve ever used. It’s not perfect, but for a certain type of user, it’s as close as you can get right now.