Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio vs. Surface Laptop 4: Which laptop is for you?

Surface Laptop Studio
Surface Laptop Studio (Image credit: Microsoft)

Surface Laptop 4 is the latest in Microsoft's premium laptop series, ideal for on-the-go productivity, entertainment, and everyday personal computing. It's one of the best Windows laptops on the market, portable, and sporting a conventional yet high-end design. It vastly differs from the Surface Laptop Studio, instead focused on best-in-class performance for digital creatives and power users. It has leading specifications and a hinged display that slides flat for precise inking, delivering the ultimate mobile workstation.

Surface Laptop Studio vs. Surface Laptop 4 specs

Surface Laptop 4 Amd 2021 Hero

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

The past decade has seen the Microsoft Surface family sprawl from its iconic laptop-meets-tablet Surface Pro line into a growing lineup of devices. The Surface Laptop sits outside those category-bending form factors, a conventional clamshell designed to take on the premium Windows market.

The Surface Laptop has become a best-seller since Microsoft introduced the device back in 2017, with annual revisions bumping specifications with minor aesthetic tweaks. It's essentially the closest product to a Windows-powered MacBook, delivering upon the fundamentals for everyday productivity in a slick high-end package.

Microsoft has also taken the Surface Laptop in a new direction through its Surface Laptop Studio, an experimental, higher-end product geared to digital creatives. The device fuses the DNA of the Surface Studio with a laptop, translating to high performance, with a glass canvas for inking and editing.

The full Surface Laptop and Laptop Studio specifications follow, as provided by Microsoft.

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CategorySurface Laptop StudioSurface Laptop 4
ProcessorIntel i5-11300HIntel i7-11370HIntel i5-1135G7 (13.5-inch)Intel i5-1145G7 (13.5-inch, commercial)Intel i7-1185G7AMD Ryzen 5 4680U (13.5-inch)AMD Ryzen 7 4980U
GraphicsIris Xe (i5)NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti Laptop (i7)NVIDIA RTX A2000 Laptop (i7, commercial)Intel Iris XeRadeon RX Graphics
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB SSDUpgradeable256GB, 512GB, 1TB SSDUpgradeable
Display14.4 inches2400x1600201 PPI3:2 aspect ratioDolby VisionUp to 120HzTouch13.5 inches, 15 inches2256x1504, 2496x1664(201 PPI)3:2 aspect ratioUp to 60HzTouch
PortsTwo USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 4)Headphone jack (3.5mm)Surface ConnectTwo USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen2)One USB Type-C 3.1 (Gen2)Headphone jack (3.5mm)Surface Connect
AudioOmnisonic speakersDolby AtmosTwo far-field micsOmnisonic speakersDolby AtmosTwo far-field mics
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6Bluetooth 5.1Wi-Fi 6Bluetooth 5.0
CameraFront-facing 1080pIR cameraFront-facing 720pIR camera
PenSurface Slim Pen 2(Not included)Surface Pen(Not included)
SecurityIR cameraFirmware TMP (consumer)Hardware TPM 2.0 (commercial)IR cameraFirmware TMP (consumer)Hardware TPM 2.0 (commercial)
BatteryUp to 19 hours (i5)Up to 18 hours (i7)Up to 19 hours (Ryzen 5)Up to 17 hours (Core i5)Up to 17.5 hours (Ryzen 7)Up to 16.5 hours (Core i7)
Dimensions12.7 x 9.0 x 0.7 inches(322.6mm x 228.6mm x 17.8mm)13.5-inch: 12.1 x 8.8 x 0.57 inches (308mm x 223mm x 14.5mm)15-inch: 13.4 x 9.6 x 0.58 inches (339.5mm x 244mm x 14.7 mm)
Weighti5: 3.83 pounds (1.7kg)i7: 4.0 pounds (1.8kg)13.5-inch: From 2.79 pounds (1.27kg)15-inch: From 3.4 pounds (1.5kg)

Surface Laptop Studio vs. Surface Laptop 4 design and features

Surface Laptop Studio Stage Mode

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4, like previous Surface Laptop entries, adopts a traditional clamshell design, akin to most modern laptops. It's one of the thinnest laptops out there, measuring less than 15mm when closed, both in 13.5-inch and 15-inch configurations. It's also built with premium materials in mind, from its aluminum casing to the choice of metal or Alcantara fabric palm rests. Unlike the Surface Laptop Studio, you also have several colors available.

Surface Laptop is Microsoft's answer to the MacBook Pro, with power in a portable package, without compromising aesthetics. Its 3:2 aspect ratio is suited to productivity, with an integrated touchscreen and inking support for added flexibility. It also has a front-facing 720p webcam for calls, also offering Windows Hello face sign-in.

The Surface Laptop Studio is a different beast designed for those who need more than a standard PC. It's intended to be adaptable, with a screen supporting various postures, accommodating all types of work styles.

It can be a traditional laptop, with a fixed 14.4-inch, 3:2 display, suitable for every day at-home and in-office productivity. The onboard webcam outputs 1080p video, while dual microphones and upgraded speakers make the cut. It's also well constructed, with a magnesium and aluminum shell, albeit a little bulkier than the standard Surface Laptop, at 19mm thick.

But adaptability is what makes the Surface Laptop Studio unique, with a hinged display, allowing the device to transform on the fly. It can also be an angled display, great for presentations and content consumption, while it also lays entirely flat for drawing and annotations with the pen. It's also simply more powerful than the Surface Laptop on paper just like the Surface Book series it succeeded.

Surface Laptop Studio vs. Surface Laptop 4 performance

Surface Laptop 4 Amd 2021 Display

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Surface Laptop 4 ships in a variety of configurations, spanning Intel 11th Gen and AMD Ryzen processors, albeit held back by the lack of a discrete GPU. The device effortlessly wrangles everyday productivity, delivering slick performance across Windows 10 and Windows 11, whether browsing the web, editing documents, or dabbling in lightweight photo and video editing. Our Surface Laptop 4 review provides a deeper dive into Microsoft's latest and its performance, and whether the device works for you.

Improved performance can be found with the Surface Laptop Studio, rocking newer 12th Gen chips, and no AMD configurations. The entry-level models boast better hardware, while the top-spec devices hugely outpace what's found inside the costlier Surface Laptop models. While the Laptop Studio handles everyday computing with ease, you're also getting more power for photo and video editing, programming, and other intensive tasks. While it doesn't join the best gaming laptops, as discussed in our Surface Laptop Studio review, you'll have a much better time here for light video games, versus the Surface Laptop.

The Surface Laptop 4 also boasts impressive battery life, although expectations vary depending on your chosen configuration. Estimated battery life ranges from 16.5 hours to 19 hours, varying based on your choice of screen size or processor, Microsoft says. The larger screen size draws more power, decreasing battery life, while AMD generally comes out on top over Intel. The Surface Laptop Studio lasts a little longer, between 18 and 19 hours, with the i7 processor falling just short of the i5 SKU.

Surface Laptop Studio vs. Surface Laptop 4 pricing

Surface Laptop Studio Studio Mode

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Current Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 pricing sees 13.5-inch devices start at $800 via Microsoft, while upgrading to 15 inches means a $1,050 starting price. Top-spec models range from $1,500 to $1,550, with incremental pricing depending on your chosen configuration. The Surface Laptop Studio starts at $1,400, while investing in higher-end models could cost as much as $2,900. The full breakdown of Surface Laptop 4 and Surface Laptop Studio prices follow, via current Microsoft Store pricing in 2022:

Surface Laptop 4 (13.5-inch) pricing: Consumer

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Ryzen 5, 8GB RAM, 256GBPlatinum$800
Ryzen 5, 8GB RAM, 512GBPlatinum$900
Ryzen 5, 16GB RAM, 256GBPlatinum$1,000
Core i5, 8GB RAM, 512GBPlatinum, Blue, Black, Sandstone$1,100
Core i5, 16GB RAM, 512GBPlatinum, Blue, Black, Sandstone$1,300
Core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GBPlatinum, Blue, Black, Sandstone$1,500

Surface Laptop 4 (15-inch) pricing: Consumer

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Ryzen 7, 8GB RAM, 256GBPlatinum$1,050
Ryzen 7, 8GB RAM, 512GBPlatinum, Black$1,250
Core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GBPlatinum, Black$1,550

Surface Laptop Studio pricing: Consumer

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Intel Core i5, 16GB RAM, 128GB storage, Iris XePlatinum$1,400
Intel Core i5, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage, Iris XePlatinum$1,600
Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 TiPlatinum$1,900
Intel Core i7, 32GB RAM, 1TB storage, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 TiPlatinum$2,500
Intel Core i7, 32GB RAM, 2TB storage, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 TiPlatinum$2,900
Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.