Microsoft just launched the Surface Laptop Studio 2, and the reviews are in. Tech experts from throughout the industry, including our own Editor-in-Chief, Daniel Rubino, have gone hands-on with the Surface Laptop Studio 2. Rubino gave the unique and powerful laptop a 4.5/5
Thanks to a significant spec bump that includes up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060, a 13th Gen Intel Core i7, and up to 64GB of RAM, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 is the most powerful Surface to date.
With those powerful specs comes a high price tag. The Surface Laptop Studio 2 starts at $1,999.99 but ranges up to $3,699.99 if you want the version with a 13th Gen Core i7, 2TB SSD, RTX 4060 GPU, and 64GB of RAM.
Is the most powerful Surface to date worth its price tag? How does it fair as the new flagship of Microsoft's hardware division and as a showcase for Windows 11? Let's dive into the early reviews for the Surface Laptop 2 to get an early verdict.
Surface Laptop Studio 2: Reviews so far
Windows Central: "The quintessential Windows 11 laptop"
I'll kick things off with our own Editor-in-Chief's thoughts on the laptop. Rubino has tested as many Surface devices as anyone. After some time with the Surface Laptop Studio 2, he was impressed.
"While its extremely high price tag keeps Surface Laptop Studio 2 out of most people's hands, I can't deny that it is also one of the best laptops demonstrating all that Windows 11 can do," said Rubino.
In his review, Rubino broke down the unique design of the Surface Laptop 2 and its drastically increased power compared to its predecessor. In addition to serving as the flagship laptop for Surface, the Surface Laptop 2 stands as an example of what Windows 11 can do on a laptop.
Rubino explained that "the Surface Laptop Studio 2 is a testament to exceptional design and unparalleled uniqueness."
While there's a lot to love about the Surface Laptop Studio 2, Rubino pointed to shorter battery life, a high price tag, and a thicker and heavier design as negatives of the device.
Overall, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 earned high marks, covering the core elements of a laptop while delivering a unique form factor.
In a nutshell
- Excellent performance
- Multiple modes
- HDR400 is awesome
- Type-A and microSD ports
- Intel NPU and AI
- New Aluminum chassis
- Quiet fans
- Extremely high price
- Surface Pen is not included
- Display is reflective
- Shorter battery life
- Thicker, heavier
PCWorld: "Still ahead of its time"
PCWorld has years of experience with a massive catalog of computers. Its Senior Editor, Mark Hachman, spent time with the Surface Laptop Studio 2 to get an authentic hands-on experience. The Surface Laptop Studio 2 earned a 3.5/5 rating from Hachman. That middling score was dragged down due to the device's premium price tag, the fact that the Surface Pen is not included, and poor performance when not using performance mode.
However, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 earned high marks from Hachman for its pull-forward display, excellent speakers, and significant performance increase over the previous generation.
"Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Studio 2 is both an overpriced content-creation laptop and an underappreciated content-consumption device with a hidden turbo boost," said Hachman in his verdict of the PC.
In a nutshell
- Almost unique pull-forward display
- Excellent content consumption experience
- Designed for inking
- Solid gen-over-gen performance increase
- All-day battery life
- The Surface price premium persists
- Pen costs extra
- Poor performance, unless performance mode is enabled
- AI features aren’t all that, yet
ZDNet: "No laptop can do what it can do, even MacBook Pro"
ZDNet highlighted the uniqueness of the Surface Laptop Studio 2 in its review.
"No laptop can do what the Studio 2 can and flex the screen down to be used as a writing canvas/tablet. The unique form factor, coupled with its beefier specs, will prove to be worth it for some creatives who want the most control out of their laptop," said ZDNet's Max Buondonno.
The review also echoed similar sentiments to what other experts experienced; the Surface Laptop Studio 2 nails the fundamentals.
"Microsoft delivers a solid experience with the Studio 2, one that's still as unique as it was the first time around," said Buondonno.
In a nutshell
- Beautiful, innovative design
- Excellent performance thanks to improved specs
- Plenty of ports
- Trackpad and keyboard feel great
- Even thicker and heavier than previous generation
- Battery life is underwhelming
- Webcam isn't very sharp
The Verge: "This could be so much more"
The Verge came away far less impressed than experts from other outlets. The Surface Laptop Studio received a 5/10 in The Verge's review. The outlet's Monica Chin criticized the laptop for its short battery life, high price, and lack of a full SD card slot.
According to Chin, the Surface Laptop Studio 2's accessible trackpad, "gorgeous build," unique design, and 120Hz display were not enough to overcome the aforementioned shortcomings.
Many of The Verge's criticisms focused on the Surface Laptop Studio 2 not being a true successor to the Surface Book.
"I am glad that a Windows convertible for creative professionals, with this level of craftsmanship and quality, exists. But I wish it were more... I wish it could be something like the Surface Book — an exceptional laptop that happens to have a fun bonus quirk."
In a nutshell
- Adaptive touchpad great for accessibility
- Gorgeous build
- 120Hz display with dynamic refresh rate
- Unique convertible hinge
- Short battery life
- Very expensive
- Lacks a full SD slot
XDA: "The most powerful Surface ever"
The folks over at XDA got their hands on the Surface Laptop Studio 2 as well. Editor-in-Chief Rich Woods wrote XDA's review and was overall impressed with the PC. Woods gave the Surface Laptop Studio 2 an 8.5/10, lauding its power, display, and keyboard. The PC got some points knocked off for its thick design, fan placement, and webcam.
"It definitely punches well above its weight," said Woods of the unique PC. In his review, Woods breaks down the design changes and overall improvements of the Surface Laptop Studio 2. While most of those changes resulted in better performance and an improved experience, Woods highlighted Microsoft's odd choice to blow fan air toward your hands.
"It's such a strange phenomenon because the hot air blows on your hands while you're using a mouse. I feel like my dog when it sits by the heating vents in my apartment," he said.
Despite the odd fan placement, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 earned overall positive marks from Woods.
In a nutshell
- Very powerful for a sub-15-inch laptop
- 120Hz display is smooth, and writing on it feels natural
- Great keyboard
- Thicker and heavier
- Webcam issues
- Fans are in the front
PCMag "An unmatched convertible for creative pros"
PCMag's Matthew Muzzi said the Surface Laptop Studio 2 was "outstanding" in his review and gave the laptop a 4.5/5. Muzzi discussed the wide range of improvements seen in the Surface Laptop Studio 2 compared to its predecessor, but much of his review highlights the unique form factor of the laptop.
"Microsoft's Surface Laptop Studio 2 already starts with a leg up given its unique value proposition and form factor. It’s portable and converts to a touch-friendly form like smaller systems, but it also packs the power of a larger professional creator laptop. When all of those are executed especially well."
PCMag's review also highlighted the high price tag of the Surface Laptop Studio 2, one of the universal negatives reviewers shared about the PC.
In a nutshell
- Convertible touch screen becomes drafting tablet
- Latest Intel and Nvidia silicon
- Dedicated neural chip for local AI
- 120Hz screen refresh rate
- Added USB-A and microSD
- Long battery life
- Cleverly located, charging magnetic stylus holder
- Surface Pen still sold separately
- Just-okay Adobe RGB and DCI-P3 color coverage
- AI boosts only Windows Studio Effects, for now
Surface Laptop Studio 2: Early verdict
While scores for the Surface Laptop Studio 2 range between outlets, most pros and cons are the same in each review. The Surface Laptop Studio 2 is a unique laptop significantly more powerful than its predecessor. While looking similar to the original Surface Laptop Studio, Microsoft made several changes that improved the overall experience.
Just about every reviewer criticized the high price tag of the Surface Laptop Studio 2 and called out Microsoft for not including the Surface Pen with PC that starts at $1,999.99 and can cost over $3,000.
Generally speaking, reviewers agree that Microsoft nailed the core points of a laptop with the Surface Laptop Studio 2. Things like the display, keyboard, and machine build earned praise.
The big debate about the Surface Laptop Studio 2 is about its value. Almost every reviewer said the Surface Laptop Studio 2 was an impressive PC with a unique experience. The question is if that experience is worth the premium price tag. Opinions on that topic vary among experts, and your own personal answer will likely depend on your workflow and budget.
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Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at email@example.com.