Picking the best Cyber Monday deal on laptops can be difficult, but it’s easier if you’ve decided to jump into the world of Microsoft Surface. The Surface line ranges from the iconic Surface Pro to the super expensive Surface Studio 2+. Choosing which one can be a daunting challenge. As someone who literally has all of them (including Studio 2+) if I had to choose just one Surface to use as my daily machine it’d be Surface Laptop Studio.
Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Studio came out late last year as is spiritually the successor to the Surface Book line, but it’s better in every way. The pull-it-forward display is more practical and amazing for watching videos or inking. It has a more powerful CPU and GPU that doesn’t throttle under pressure like Surface Book, and it has the best touchpad around thanks to its haptic mechanics.
As to why I like it so much it comes down to the fact that at its heart, it’s just a semi-powerful, beautifully designed standard laptop that has a few useful tricks up its sleeve.
|Category||Surface Laptop Studio|
|OS||Windows 11 Home|
Windows 11 Pro
Windows 10 Pro
|Processor||11th Gen Intel|
|Graphics||Iris Xe (i5)|
NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti Laptop (i7)
NVIDIA RTX A2000 Laptop (i7, commercial)
|Storage||256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB SSD|
3:2 aspect ratio
Up to 120Hz
|Ports||Two Thunderbolt 4|
|Audio||Four Omnisonic speakers|
Two far-field mics
|Pen||Surface Slim Pen 2|
Firmware TMP (consumer)
Hardware TPM 2.0 (commercial)
Up to 19 hours (i5)
Up to 18 hours (i7)
|Dimensions||12.7 x 9.0 x 0.7 inches|
(322.6mm x 228.6mm x 17.8mm)
|Weight||i5: 3.83 pounds (1.7kg)|
i7: 4.0 pounds (1.8kg)
I always remark about the “fundamentals” when it comes to a laptop: Keyboard, touchpad, display, webcam, and speakers. If the laptop nails all those the rest mostly falls into place and comes down to personal preference. Surface Laptop Studio excels in all these areas. The 120Hz touch display looks fantastic, is color accurate, and is a perfect match for the Surface Slim Pen 2 and its haptic engine. The keyboard and haptic touchpad are the best. Audio from the hidden speakers is outstanding, especially with support for Dolby Atmos. And no one does webcams like Microsoft – they’re simply the best.
And battery life is actually good on this thing!
What are the downsides? Well, it’s running an older 11th Gen Intel processor instead of 12th Gen. They are the more powerful H-series (Core i5-11300H and Core i7-11370H, respectively). Intel 12th Gen is very impressive, and I look forward to Microsoft adding them or 13th Gen to this series. But Intel 12th Gen is also not amazing on battery. It’s worse than the 11th Gen unless you “fix it” by adding a larger, heavier battery. So, trade-offs.
Now, if this was a low-powered 11th Gen Intel U-series chip, that’d be tough to swallow, but 11th Gen H-series is great. Case in point: Surface Laptop Studio with a Core i7 performs just as well as the Razer Blade 15 (2021) – a full-blown top-tier gaming laptop – on PCMark 10.
You can’t call it weak.
And the NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti? Well, RTX 4000 Mobile series doesn’t yet exist and the 3050 Ti – for a non-gaming laptop – delivers excellent performance. Certainly, more than Surface Book could ever muster. I could play Destiny 2 on it and hit 90 FPS, so that’s good enough for me. Bumping it up to full resolution (2400x1600) and still hitting 46-65 frames per second with medium graphics.
Another possible negative is the port selection with just two Thunderbolt 4, Surface Connect, and a headphone jack. It’d be nice to have a Type-A, but I have no issue with my workflow. Surface Laptop Studio also works great with the best Thunderbolt 4 docks.
But in the end, it’s just the design of Surface Laptop Studio that I adore. The 14.4-inch 3:2 display is a perfect size – not too big, not too small. The laptop’s build quality is stellar, and I just prefer to use it whenever I can.
As to which model should you get? You could go certified refurbished and go with Intel Iris Xe graphics if you just want a powerful non-gaming laptop with exceptional battery life. Pricing for that version with 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD is $1,159 ($200 savings). Unfortunately, the refurbished models with discrete RTX graphics are all sold out, but I’m sure more will appear in the future.
Surface Laptop Studio (Refurbished) $400 off at Microsoft Store
Microsoft's most powerful Surface laptop is up for grabs for $400 off, which features an 11th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7, 16GB RAM, and either Intel Iris Xe or NVIDIA RTX 3050 graphic in a unique 2-in-1 form factor that allows its 14.4-inch 120Hz display to be pulled forward and laid flat like a draft board.
And if I had to choose one model? Go for the Core i7/16GB/512GB/RTX 3050 Ti for $1,800. That’s $300 off the regular $2,100 price. It gives you the best bang for the buck and won’t feel outdated in 2 years.
In my mind, you can’t go wrong with Surface Laptop Studio. It’s one of the best laptops I’ve used that finds the right balance between power and performance. And it’s just fun to use, so I think you’ll like it too.
Need more? Make sure to read my deep-dive review of Surface Laptop Studio.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.