Microsoft’s most powerful PC isn’t the most attractive

After Surface Book, Surface Laptop Studio. Microsoft recently renewed its high-end laptop and removed its old flagship. It was about time since the Surface Book had not been renewed since 2020.
The Surface Laptop Studio is a very different proposition. No more, the huge detachable screen: the Laptop Studio has swapped it for a slab that can tilt to hide the keyboard, or fold completely on the base of the computer, to transform it into a (very thick) tablet.
Obviously, at first glance, the machine looks like a Surface Laptop, Microsoft’s ultraportable. Hence the presence of vents on both sides of the case, expel hot air.
A result is a machine that is necessarily fatter and heavier than an ultraportable (1.82 kg). But Microsoft now has the bottle. Inspired by MacBooks from the start, he always pays attention to the finishes of his machines. Come on… we would have just liked a screen with a little thinner borders!

A beautiful screen, less crazy than that of the Surface Book

It is a modern IPS panel, which is distinguished by a refresh rate that can go up to 120 Hz. First observation: the resolution of the screen, of 200 pixels per inch, is not extraordinary for such a machine expensive. Above all, it is much lower than that of the machine that the Surface Studio replaces, the Surface Book (3000 x 2000 pixels, 264 dpi). Let’s be honest, it didn’t bother us at all during our test, but it might annoy picky pros.

Overall, the balance sheet of the slab is rather good.
On the other hand, the brightness is not extraordinary. With 464 cd/m2, we’re a little below the average of the computers we’ve tested over the past year. A small disappointment that the contrast does not catch up.

A pleasant machine to use… despite some ergonomic flaws

Heir to the Surface Book and Surface Laptop Studio, this new laptop aims to bring together the best of its two ancestors. It is therefore a large, powerful portable PC… which, like the only desktop PC marketed by Microsoft, can easily be transformed into a tablet. All it takes is a little pressure behind the screen to tilt it backward. You can then put it in “tent” mode to hide the keyboard, or even fold it completely to fold it down. the demo will definitely impress your loved ones.
Yes, the hinge seems expertly designed and is solid. it has a futuristic and cool side. It remains to be seen whether you will often use this flip screen during your daily use. The tablet mode is not very practical for consultation, because the machine is too heavy for that. It is rather reserved for graphic designers and designers, who can thus take full advantage of the stylus.
Anyway, the Surface Laptop Studio is a very pleasant machine to use. Windows Hello facial recognition works wonders, and unlocks the computer instantly, even when your face is not perfectly in the center. It’s a real comfort.
The keyboard and trackpad are excellent, but that’s no surprise, as input devices are generally good in Surface products. There are also excellent speakers, which deliver strong and ample sound, and a very good webcam, with a quality similar to that which equips the other new-generation Surface PCs.
What is really less good is the connection. Microsoft has made a radical choice on its next-generation Surface products: to switch to 100% Thunderbolt – after having been obsessed with this technology for a long time. As a result, the Surface Laptop Studio, a PC intended for professional use, no longer has a conventional USB port… Still happening, especially since if you work on mains power, you can still take advantage of a USB-A socket on the charger.

We almost have the impression of seeing in this sketch at Microsoft… the Apple before the MacBook Pro 14, which prioritized design over practicality. Apple has since seriously revised the copy of its high-end pro machine by adding a connection worthy of the name

Performance: The most powerful Surface computer, but…

As for the Laptop Studio, it is presented by Microsoft as “the most powerful Surface”. For all daily tasks, it is certain that the machine will not disappoint you. Its performance even explodes that of traditional hybrid machines, which are much less endowed with CPUs and GPUs… but also much thinner and lighter.

Things get a bit spoiled when you place it against more serious competitors, including some gaming machines that we have been able to test lately and which our PC is closer to in terms of its specifications.

Subjected to the PCMark benchmark, whose tests aim to reproduce different demanding tasks for a machine, the Laptop Studio obtains results very similar, although slightly lower, than those of an MSI machine for “creatives” that we tested recently. A PC less thin, less well finished, but with a larger screen (16 inches) and above all much cheaper (around 1800 euros).

On the other hand, it is obviously no match for an Alienware x14, an ultrathin gaming computer, with an even more modern CPU (12th generation Core, 14 cores, six high performance, and eight low consumption), and RTX 3060, and 16 GB of RAM. However, this machine is also cheaper (approximately 2,500 euros).

And in-game?

Microsoft also considers its computer as a machine for casual gamers. Certainly, its 3050 Ti will allow you to launch all recent games without much concern… But you will sometimes have to seriously lower your graphics options to try to achieve a decent framerate. Especially on the most demanding titles.
Take the example of Cyberpunk 2077, which is difficult to play without both decreasing the graphic details (forget the ray tracing effects), and the definition. Not great, especially since the 3:2 panel is not ideal here. Many games do not take this ratio into account, starting with CD Projekt’s blockbuster. Still, we barely managed to play Cyberpunk 2077 – 30 constant fps – in “low” quality mode in the native resolution of the panel. To go beyond, you will have to adopt a much lower definition.

On less demanding games – or better optimized, it depends – fortunately, things go better. An example? Forza Horizon 5 in 1900 x 1200 pixels, “Ultra” details, will not exceed 20 fps. But it crosses 60 fps in “high” details. That’s absolutely right.

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