'Surface Studio 2' wish list: 5 things we hope to see in Microsoft's next AIO PC

Microsoft's original Surface Studio is a beautiful yet imperfect Windows 10 AIO. It's been over a year since the original Surface Studio was announced, so now it's time to start thinking about what might be next for Microsoft's unique AIO.

Factoring in all the issues the first Surface Studio had, here's my wish list for what I'm hoping Microsoft will address with the Surface Studio 2, which we're hearing could make an appearance at some point this year.

Surface Studio review

Better specs

An obvious wish for the Surface Studio 2 is a better selection of technical specifications. The original Surface Studio launched with specs that were ... questionable to say the least. It was rocking a laptop-class processor with a previous generation graphics card. For the price you paid for the baseline Surface Studio, the specs made that price even harder to swallow.

So, with the Surface Studio 2, I'm hoping Microsoft makes a beefy, all-out version for those who want to pay lots of money for the best hardware possible. With the latest processors and the latest graphics cards, for example. Microsoft could do a similar thing it did with the Surface Book 2: create a wide range of models ranging from mid-range performance to super high-end performance, and priced accordingly.

More affordable

On the subject of price, I'm hoping the baseline Surface Studio 2 is a little more affordable so more people can buy one. The original Surface Studio starts at $3,000, which is simply out of the question for many people. I know the Surface Studio is a niche product designed for a low-volume market, but it can't hurt making that market a little bit more approachable with a lower price.

Microsoft could make a base-line Surface Studio 2 with a smaller screen, and less powerful specifications that could rival the pricing of Apple's iMac series. For example, $1500 starting for an Intel Core i5 with 8GB RAM, 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) and a smaller, perhaps lower-resolution screen.

Thunderbolt 3

At the time of the original Surface Studio launch, the exclusion of a USB-C port was somewhat forgivable. But in 2018, a product launching without it will likely cause an uproar. I'm hoping with the Surface Studio 2, Microsoft bundles a couple of USB-C ports, sporting Thunderbolt 3 for that extra power.

This will not only allow for faster transfer speeds but the addition of using external GPUs. While I hope the offerings for internal graphics cards will be great, it can't hurt to allow users to hook up their own external GPUs.

SSD instead of HDD

Surface Studio

Surface Studio (Image credit: Windows Central)

The biggest gripe many had with the original Surface Studio was that it used a hybrid hard-disk drive (HDD). It had a small amount of SSD storage for the OS, but everything else was saved to a standard 5400rpm hard drive. That drive was incredibly slow, and it made the Surface Studio as feel slower than it should have.

With the Surface Studio 2, Microsoft should switch out its HDD offerings with SSD ones. While that may be slightly more expensive, SSDs aren't super expensive in 2018, especially on the low-capacity side. A model with a 256GB SSD should still be relatively doable without causing the product to skyrocket in price.

What are you hoping for?

That's our list of things we're hoping to see in the next Surface Studio, but we want to know what you want the most. Let us know in the comments.

See Surface Studio at Microsoft (opens in new tab)

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

69 Comments
  • Put a xeon processor
  • Hopefully, by the time RS5 is released, we can see a Cannon Lake based Studio 2 and a SD845 based Andromeda be released at the same time.
  • The  Surface studio 2 will be launched with Surface television.  The Andromeda device is call surface mini it is to launch with surface phone and surface watch.   
  • I thought this was quite funny. Then I re-read it and got concerned you might be serious. Because .... none of those things are ever gonna exist ...
  • Except you can get something better for less with AMD Threadripper, probably even with Epyc.
  • No thunderbolt on AMD processors yet though.
  • A shell model. Add, touch, pen, and that gorgeous screen to the computer of your choosing. 
  • THIS! I already have a high end desktop and a laptop. I don't need another computer, but I would sure love to have that display.
  • Yes!  What I really want is a new "Surface Studio" i/o peripheral that is effectively just a giant touchscreen dock for a Surface Pro/Book.  I have two SP3 docks for my SP4 (one at home, one at the office), and there is just nothing better than knowing you brought everything with you and that things are just the way you left them.
  • It exists and it's called Dell Canvas for +/- 1800 USD
  • What you want is a Surface Display.
  • Sure
  • Some people would hook it up to a Mac, something neither Apple or Microsoft would be thrilled about.
  • Zero fan noise when idling. Raven Ridge 2400G configuration for lower cost model for people that don't need heavy GPU acceleration.  I just want a beautiful AIO office PC for my legal work that is silent and doesn't cost over $2500.
  • Oh i hear ya. I also have separate machines for my legal work vs my illegal work. Definitely worth having a nice machine for your legal work too.
  • I could list a lot of things but it might be easier to just take a look at this video. https://youtu.be/mCUljtIVdEA And yes the Specs need a serious update.
  • Would be cool if the base is replaceable and upgradeable
  • - Adjustable hinges like Wacom Cintiq
    - Upgradability
    - Add-on modules, something like Moto Z play did
  • While the price was certainly steep, especially after I swapped the HDD for an SSD, I have really loved the mid-level Surface Studio that I bought at launch.  More importantly, my wife who uses it for her photography business has loved it.  Not directly related to the Studio, I think it would be great to see Dial support rollout for Adobe Lightroom.  My wife primarily uses Lightroom and, while I know Adobe has rolled out support for Photoshop and Premier, it isn't yet there for Lightroom, so our Dial has really just been gathering dust for the past year or so.  As for what I would like to see in a Studio 2 - SSD options from the start without having to perform surgery on my Studio; desktop-quality processors; Surface Precision mouse (best mouse ever) included in the box; at least 1 USB port located somewhere more accessible than the rear of the device.  And maybe allow more system configuration options at time of purchase; we definitely didn't want/need to go to the top of the line version when we bought ours, but it would have been nice to have been able to opt for more memory and/or the more powerful GPU if we wanted it in our mid-range model.
  • Great suggestions
  • - A version that's just the monitor so we can use our own PC's with it. - Modular upgrade parts, i.e., the original patents. When Surface Studio came out it was almost identical from the patents about it... except the patents called for a system with modular stackable parts that a user could choose and replace themselves. Before Studio was announced I hoped they would be able to achieve this as I see it as a way to revolutionize how people buy PC's (non technical people) as well as add longevity to the device. Need a new processor? GPU? Bigger HDD? Pull out the specialized modular CPU block and replace it by snapping down the new one like legos. I suspect it either turned out to not be feasible either from a cost perspective or by how much it could actually be upgradable over time (e.g., CPU's require specific chipsets that change over time). There would always be an overhead cost from making standard PC parts more "lego" modular as well as a premium I'm sure Microsoft would want to tack on for each part sold in this manner. In the end, I figure Microsoft didn't find it profitable, but I still hold out a bit of hope they find a way of making it actually work.
  • $3000 for a 5400rpm drive is a disgrace. Microsoft never thinks things all the way
    through.
  • The Surface line is intentionally overpriced to keep OEMs happy. They're basically retail proofs-of-concept made in order to guide the industry by raising the bar from a design perspective.
  • Hanley, then why is the $1,000 Surface Laptop a Macbook clone that is a compelte regression from the design avancements MS allegeedly was making over the past 5 years?
  • Why is your question set up on an incorrect assumption posited as fact?
  • That's what I also said when the XB1 laucnhed at $500 with a 5400 RPM drive. It's also what I said when MS bragged about their "enthusiast console" with a 5400 RPM drive.
  • the reason MS thought this was ok was because Apple still uses slow 5400/7200 rpm drives in all iMacs.  lots of companies now think if Apple does it, so can we.  aka Apple: $1000 phone.  Samsung: challenge accepted: Note 8, S9+ 
  • You don't get fully upped specs into a machine this tiny. That's hoping into the blue.
  • "The original Surface Studio starts at $3,000........." Wow.  Its a Good Thing that MS is NOT a "luxury goods maker".  
  • If you cannot afford it buy something else. simple!  If they are selling,  they are priced correctly.   Just because YOU cannot afford one does not mean it's LUXURY!  It means YOU need to make more money!   Back to the topic,  I would love to see a studio monitor so you can plug in the surface pro or book and have the studio like experience 
  • But Nadella said that MS is not a "luxury goods maker", referring to Apple.  Just because YOU cannot afford an iPhone does not mean its a luxury!  
  • iPhones are a luxury, especially outside the US where they're subject to hefty mark ups via VAT and tariffs.
  • Just because YOU cannot afford one does not mean it's LUXURY! 
  • I have 4 Iphones atm.   I totally do not get your point.   
  • Exactly.  Its the same point YOU tried to make.  
  • Your original post I commented on made is sound like you think the surface brand is "luxury".   Apple is not a Luxury brand either.   Just a company who makes products.   
  • naddy6969:  You don't seem to understand Nadella's point. It's not about "luxury goods" vs "cheap goods" -- A "luxury goods" maker still depends on moving a significant number of units at a high profit margin to make their revenue. Microsoft is not positioning the Suracfe Studio as a luxury good, it is a showcase concept device designed to spur innovation among OEMs. Apple relies on iPhone margins for their profits. Microsoft doesn't need to do that with respect to Surface revenue.
  • LOL, right.  Keep telling yourself that.  
  • He should. He's right. Microsoft cannot overtly compete with OEMs. Simple as that. Apple is a consumer electronics company with some services bolted on. Microsoft is the opposite: a services and software company with the proof of concept devices bolted on.
  • It's like a Rolls Royce, If you have to ask how much it will cost, you are not the targeted customer....  Folks: just being ironical
  • You want better better better, more this and more that....more power, more high end graphics card...and you want it more affordable? Doesn't make any sense to me.
  • Those aren't mutually exclusive. We can desire higher specced models for those that need and can afford, but also want less expensive models for those that don't need much power. They would be different SKUs with different internals and prices. I just want it to be a monitor with a USB hub (both type A and Type C), networking, a great camera and mic and great speakers.
  • It makes sense because the Surface Studio is incredibly overpriced. And the Laptop versions of CPUs and GPUs aren't cheaper than the Desktop variants, if they would've done that people wouldn't be as angry as they were. And you can't say me that a 1500$ PC can't have a SSD. They are literally asking 3000$ for a i5 PC with a SSHD wich is unacceptable (it would still be unacceptable if it was 2000$).
  • iMac pro eat surface studio for breakfast. Microsoft should do something...
  • Since when can you write/draw/edit with a pen directly on a gorgeous display on an iMac Pro?  What people don't realize is that one of the most compelling features of the Studio (and something that added significantly to the price of the machine) is the huge touch-/pen-enabled display.  The latest iMac Pro was released, what, like a year after the Surface Studio came out?  So, of course they'll have better specs available for the iMac Pro at this point.  I'm sure that the next Studio will have much better specs than the first one did, hopefully, putting the Studio ahead of the iMac Pro in terms of overall horsepower.
  • No,  it' does'nt.   The Surface studio while not packing as much horsepower is a WAY better device than the crappy Imac Pro.  
  • Depends on the use case. If I were doing heavy editing of 4k video or music production, the higher specs of an iMac Pro would be more useful than a Surface Studio.... Not that I would ever buy a Mac. I would use a desktop PC instead, since the specs there can scale to whatever I can afford.
  • The surface studio can do all of that quite easily,  plus having touch, inking etc makes it a far better tool than the Imac "pro".   Regardless if the marketing Dept at apple says otherwise.  Oh,  if you think the surface studio is expensive...price a "pro".    They are wacky.  
  • Are you seriously saying that a surface studio with a laptop grade i5 and an SSHD can edit 4K video as well as an iMac pro with a Xeon processor and an extremely fast SSD?!?
  • And very powerful GPU.
  • You do not know what you are talking about - sorry for being so blunt.
  • I just wonder what Intel is cooking up with their 3DXP memory.  Seems this is headed to the Data center.  Then you read about photonics connecting the processor to GPU and Memory.  The question I guess has to do with the bandwidth between the parts moving all the info around.  May not be applicable to the Surface Studio.  But we are now on 8th gen iCore processors.  What happens when they move to 9th gen iCore?  I believe most of this push by Intel and MSFT is for the always-connected device, which doesn't need the horsepower required for the full utility of the Surface Studio screen.
  • Hanging out for the better specs. I wanted this and need it, but would not have purchased it with those specs. Otherwise, can't wait for that SS II AT A LOWER PRICE!!! 😀😎
  • Ditch the AiO. Remove the computer part from the base (make it just metal) and sell it as a "Surface Display". That I would buy. An AiO, no. I don't need it.
  • I passed on the first one because while it's very cool, I could not justify that amount of money for what I was getting.  When the Studio came out it was already old specs.  I give it a pass for that because it was the first generation of the device. If the price stays the same or lower and the Studio 2 has SSD, updated graphics, 8th generation i7 I'm all in. 
  • I just find it hard to pay that much for the studio, considering the price and specs of the Surface book with performance base, or now the Surface book 2.
  • Raven Ridge and a SSD. Also, a Surface Display product line in a few sizes would be quite welcomed. Give us Freesync, pen/touch support, and size options ranging from maybe $300-1,000. I'd actually buy such a display, it woudl be awesome, if I could get a Surface Studio-like display as a 27" monitor or something of the sort.
  • 10 Gigabit ethernet
  • I'm hoping for a Surface Studio empty shell: The screen and a slot for an eGPU in the base. You connect a Surface "Phone" to it and bang: a great desktop! :D
  • It would be great to have a monitor only option. I would buy one. Can't see myself using touch on a desktop but, there's plenty there to work with.
  • The first thing I want is a small LED that tells me that the PC is 'on'. Twice in the last week or so I've sat down and moved the mouse and had nothing happen . . .  After trying a few things for a minute I find that it's been unplugged. Sheesh. Just let me know that it's powered on (green) or on standby (yellow) or unpowered (no light). And for anyone wondering about it: Yes, that screen is wonderful.
  • Just a config to beat iMac pro!
  • More affordable prices is what I'm hoping for. A Intel core i7, Nvidia GTX 1060, 512ssd for €2000, would be amazing. I'd save up for that! No I'd go in to debt for that LOL
  • If the first one could have ran two external monitors, I would have gone with the studio instead of the SB2.
  • Am I the only one who noticed the article's title mentions 5 things Zac wanted to see in a Surface Studio 2, but he effectively only lists 4 - better specs, more affordable, Thunderbolt 3 and SSD instead of HDD - in the article itself?
  • Support for HDCP 2.2 and 4K. Should be possible to watch Netflix in 4K on this screen.
  • Hi Zac, what would be your suggestion for a be your suggestion for beefier specs on a Surface Studio? Who do you see this device for? If I"m not mistaken this device was mainly meant for business and creators. Or should this device also expand it's market potential and  cater for gamers (seeing there is an xbox controller in the image)? And if so, does the hinge and design matter anymore? Does it even need a touchscreen? I agree a better ssd drive with specs that can accomadate better graphics performance for video and photo editing would be nice. a usb would be a bonus too. From my perspective it would be nice to see this device more modular in the base design, with future upgradable ram, chp, harddisk and adding new peripheral ports. I think this is device for longterm use. Times and standards change fast now, but the screen will likely still be awesome in more than 5 years time. I think a more modular pc design will go a long way to accomodate wish list changes over time and be a better investment in the longrun.  I think since the base is the pc it has nice room on top for wireless charging for me mobile device. Supporting nfc and wireless charging would help connect my smartphone to my pc and charge it simultaneously.
  • I agree with those people who want to see in the Surface Studio 2 a more powerful GPU (I would prefer the nVidia GTX 1080 Ti because it can handle 4K graphics seamlessly) and a bigger Solid State Drive replacing the conventional hard drive .  But some of us need a much more substantial size in that SSD--I would like to see at least a 1 TB SSD drive be an option.  I would be willing to pay whatever is necessary for that. This is a great piece of hardware, and I am ready to buy the new version the moment it is released if its specs are sufficient for my needs....
  • I agree with the items in the article and certainly agree with the notion of having a Surface the complements my Surface Book 2. But some of my areas that I think MS needs to rethink is how we choose to use the space on a such a large touch device. This is software to me, not hardware. For example:
    - instead of thinking of dragging to corners, think of how you may split screens into zones easier without having to move things around. If I am drawing a lot, I still might want a sidebar of my email/Teams to get communication. I am saying you can’t do it now, but large screens bring new accordances - I think there is more that can be done with gestures. For example, I use TouchMe to move from one virtual desktop to the next. But I would love that to be in the OS - when the Surface is in the down position, it is awesome, but this doesn’t remove the need for others to use multiple monitors. For example, in the audio production industry, having the surface can be cool for turning virtual mixers, but you may still have an overhead. But to access that other monitor requires you to switch back to keyboard and mouse. What if you rethink the touch screen to also have things like touch bad to make it less of a hassle switching between the two? - more real-estate also means you want to switch between keyboard and mouse to touch and pen less. But you still have to. When in PS, and other tools, you use those because it is still faster for shortcuts. But what if Windows thought of more creative ways to be speedy with shortcuts by having more global gesture control or shortcuts controls? I am very excited with where this can go, but I don’t want us to stop at making bigger screens for Windows. I’d like for some boldness in rethinking how we work with computers with such large screens.