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Microsoft engineers walk you through the wonders of Surface Laptop Studio

Surface Laptop Studio Hero
Surface Laptop Studio Hero (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • The Surface Laptop Studio gets a breakdown in the latest Microsoft Mechanics video.
  • The Intel H35 CPU can reportedly boost to 64 watts of power when needed.
  • The SSD is replaceable, though Microsoft says technically you need a tech to do it.
  • Display brightness peaks at 500 nits.

The Surface Laptop Studio is making the news today for a good reason. The creative design merges the best of Surface Pro with Surface Laptop into one innovative and powerful Surface. Its announcement was undoubtedly one of the most interesting of for the event.

The latest six-minute Microsoft Mechanics video sheds some details on Surface Laptop Studio, which we'll summarize here, as some of it has not been answered before until now:

Source: Microsoft Mechanics (Image credit: Source: Microsoft Mechanics)
  • Laptop Studio uses dual fans with heat pipes that go across the CPU and GPU to maximize and share cooling.
  • The Intel H35 CPU can boost up to 64 watts of power when needed.
  • You can remove the bottom panel of the Laptop Studio to access the SSD, although Microsoft says only authorized technicians should do so.
  • Display brightness peaks at 500 nits and go all the way down to 2 nits, which is very good (most laptops hover around 400 nits).
  • The full HD camera uses AI face detection and has a larger sensor resulting in more consistent lighting and focusing than regular webcams.
  • Quad audio speakers, hidden, of course, use adaptive equalization for "fuller and richer" sound adjusting automatically as you increase volume.

The Intel Core i5-11300H and Core i7-11370H processors are unique as they can have TDP configured for 28 or 35 average watts (from 3.0 to 3.3 GHz in the i7 model), but can draw more power when needed, which is why it can Turbo to 4.8GHz for short durations.

We grabbed some early benchmarks from those processors and compared them to current Surface devices and PCs. Our bet is Microsoft's thermals and TDP tuning will likely beat the recent averages, but we'll have to wait until our review to find out.

Although not surprising, the removable SSD is also a friendly nod as Microsoft has been doing that for all its recent Surface releases, including Surface Pro X, Surface Pro 7+, and Surface Laptop 4. While Microsoft only wants authorized technicians to do so, anyone with the right tools could upgrade the CPU with not much work.

There are many other tidbits in the video that make it worth watching, including a discussion around how the hinge works.

See more

Related to all of this, Microsoft's Scott Hanselman posted a picture of Surface Laptop Studio compared to his Surface Book 15-inch. You can see just how compact the Laptop Studio is with its design compared to the older Surface Book.

Likewise, you can read more about Surface Laptop Studio and everything else in my hands-on roundup.

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

  • Personally I think this one's the star of the show. I think it's the most interesting blend of innovations, and at $1600 for that entry level configuration with (if we believe MS) 19 h of typical battery life, that's also better value than we're used to for the Surface lineup. I hope the big emphasis on thermals pays off.
  • I'm tempted to get one of these. Does the lip around the bottom look weird to anyone else, or is that just me?
  • It's definitely different, but I kind of dig it too.
  • is Windows Central a subsidiary of Microsoft or sponsored by them?
  • Uhm, what?
    What else, other than Microsoft, would you expect Windows Central to cover?
  • Is this your first time here? Is iMore sponsored or subsidiary of Apple?
  • "is Windows Central a subsidiary of Microsoft or sponsored by them?"
    We actually own Microsoft and they work for us. We designed the 5G nano-chips for the vaccines. But seriously, "no" to both questions.
  • Go tell Panos to beat that Qualcomm employee with a broomstick for failling to come up with an SQ3 chip.
  • @DanielRubino Ok. Thanks for the witty clarification Mr. Rubino. I only asked because the Windows Central App (on Win10) shows a lot of articles clustered together - and most of these seem to follow a theme. For instance; most articles posted on 21.09.2021 were for HP products (about 5-6 articles) and on 22.09.2021 were for Microsoft products (about 6-7 articles). Hence, my confusion...
  • Those are related to timed embargoes. Companies announce new products, pre-brief media beforehand, and we release the news at a predefined time.
  • @Daniel Rubino Ah... okay. That makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the info!
  • What happens when you press down hard along longer edges (both sides) while it is in tablet mode?
  • It's certainly interesting, but I'm still not sure I get the point of this device. Also, if it can ramp up to 64W, then I really don't get why they aren't considering AMD, which can offer double the cores and threads in that same package, likely without needing to peak that high on power draw. The display brightness seems good, but also not overly impressive. The Macbook Pro (where this seems most likely to compete) already matches the SLS, which its upcoming refresh is rumored to surpass that. A lot of premium ultrabooks live at 400 nits, yes, but so do a lot of laptops at half this thing's price. With how artist-oriented this laptop is, 500 nits feels more adequate than impressive. I'm really interested to see how this thing is received at launch. It's a novel design, but also feels quite gimmicky and niche. Is the hardware potent enough to convince an artist looking at a Surface Pro 8 to majorly raise their budget? Is this going to be an insane uptick in price just for the form factor, but not impressive enough in its base config to get good adoption? $1,600 is already a big ask, and having to raise that to $2,100 to get the dGPU makes finding a real target audience pretty tough.
  • "Also, if it can ramp up to 64W, then I really don't get why they aren't considering AMD, which can offer double the cores and threads in that same package, likely without needing to peak that high on power draw."
    I'll keep hammering how AMD chips don't do advance things like AI that this device relies on. Also, AMD chips get throttled down, by OEMs, to reach that good battery life, often negating the mobility-performance part.
    "The display brightness seems good, but also not overly impressive."
    I disagree. I measure all laptop displays for reviews. 500 nits is above average. Most hit 400 nits, Maybe 415. I can't name a laptop that goes higher than 500 except for older Samsung ones with "outdoor mode" which obliterates battery life. Some HPs can, but only with SureView, which is needed to overcome how that tech works. The bigger issue, imo, is the lack of anti-reflection.
  • I've given up on anti reflection these days, I just always buy matte screen protectors for my devices because manufacturers frustratingly are STILL making gloss displays that just give you a mirror in sunlight. Although I imagine the higher brightness on this thing would help alleviate that somewhat.
  • Yeah, that's one option. Thing is, Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc are all doing AR on their premium lines now and have been for ~2 years. I have no idea why MS is so against it. It's a usability issue.
  • Aww, man, I must have been a year early on my last upgrade, I've got the HP Elite X2 and it glared like crazy until I got a matte protector. At least I'm happy to know my next upgrade in a couple years will be better.
  • Put it to a vote for the people that will actually be buying these and they would overall most likely want the AMD chip over "AI" whatever that means
  • Don't know why you would put it to a vote since you have already answered for everyone.
  • "Put it to a vote for the people that will actually be buying these and they would overall most likely want the AMD chip over "AI" whatever that means"
    Only if we can then include how AMD laptops don' have THUNDERBOLT 4. I'll take TB4 and the option for eGPU over a "faster AMD chip ... when plugged in, but slower single-core speeds when on battery" with no TB4 any day. Chip nerds care about AMD. Rest of the world wanted TB4, which is what we got.
  • If this handles 64W this could not only handle the 8 core H series AMD CPUs, but it could also hold Intel's 8 core CPUs. In my opinion the problem with this device is the specs, a 4 core and a 3050ti is what kills this device, an 8 Core Intel CPU + 3060 would be enough to make this the ultimate device.
  • Eh, not for me. And it feels like the surface line has run out of innovation ideas now, this thing sits in the Apple school of innovation where it takes ideas already established and puts them together in a single package. For me, personally, a detachable tablet is still far and away the most versatile option for a touch screen device. That being said, chucking a 3050 in this thing is pretty sweet, unfortunately the Microsoft markup is going to mean that particular variant will likely be well north of four grand in Australia.
  • Once you get past a certain size, I don't think you are going to care about detaching it. Look at the Surface Studio. You going to take that off the base and walk around with it? I see Surface Book screens being used on NCIS, but they seem a bit awkward at that size. Beyond that, I don't see this as predominantly touch devices. They are pen enabled devices, with all that permits. drawing, writing music, drafting, that sort of thing. Getting the Surface book into that art table sort of configuration was a bit fiddly, and prone to mechanical issues. I think this solution is going to be well received, by those that would make use of it.
  • Yeah, it's probably just me (and I do agree on the sizing comment and kinda meant in the laptop sector) but for my work I switch between table and moving around a bit, so anything that has a keyboard attached to it is just finicky. I have a case on my current tablet PC with a hand strap so it's super comfortable to walk around for extended periods of time while using it. But like Daniel mentioned below they definitely seem to be few and far between, my last upgrade the only options I could find in stores was Surface or HP, and I opted for the latter for improved performance when I'm docked at home (Thunderbolt). I guess it says more about the state of laptop devices at the moment, like does it just mean what there is nowhere to go from where we are at from an innovation perspective? Because the Pro and Book changed the game for what can be achieved with a portable device (Surface Studio is an engineering marvel as well, but it's not something I personally would use) but it seems like that initial wow factor, at least for me, hasn't been matched since.
  • "For me, personally, a detachable tablet is still far and away the most versatile option for a touch screen device."
    It is a cool idea, but, sadly, the market rejected it. Otherwise, MS would keep at it with SB4.
  • "We engineered a hinge using a special form of woven fabric." Like mithral chain mail. Nice. Keep up the good work, Panos and Durin. An alliance for the ages.
  • How does the screen stay in that middle posture -- does it set in a track/indentation between keyboard and trackpad? I originally thought it was just the natural stiffness of the display hinge and that it could be at any angle, the original Surface Studio, but Dan said in the Wed review that it's not a stiff hinge.
  • One of the articles mention there are magnets in the display that snap it to the base, it's why it only has the three (I think, laptop, tent, flat) positions.
  • This is correct.
  • I was hoping for the Neo to complete my work setup, but with the improvements of the Duo 2, I think all I'll need is the Duo 2 and the Laptop Studio.
    I'm loving his laptop.
  • The Surface Book Hinge never bothered me at all but I understand everyone doesn't share the same opinion on it that I do. I had a SB1 on initial release and now have a SB3 (15", i7, 1TB, 32GB RAM, RTX 3000). I have been a big fan and I was ready to upgrade to whatever was announced but this just doesn't feel like a worthy upgrade. No 15" option. No SD card slot. No NVIDIA Quadro option. A downgrade from in graphics card tier to the 3050 series instead of 3060 series. 4GB instead of 6GB in VRAM. No XBox wireless. It also seems like the keyboard may no longer be backlit. It seems like they downgraded a good chunk of the computer despite attempting to create a form that should have offered improvements in these areas. I love the idea of a better CPU and Thunderbolt but these tradeoffs should not have to be made for it. It almost feels like it was better to just keep the hinge and add Thunderbolt and newer generation internals.
  • I have the 1st gen Surface Book and I kinda agree with you... I want to upgrade right now but this gives me mixed feelings. Obviously coming from the 1st gen this would be a massive upgrade, but things like lower resolution, SD slot, elevated palm rest, no rear camera (great for scanning documents and whiteboards), worse location for pen storage and such make me doubt at the moment.
    This will have a backlit keyboard for sure though.
    And they are probably testing the waters with 1 model before they produce a bigger option (just like they did with the SB). I will wait for lots of reviews before jumping in.