Microsoft offers some of the best quality laptops money can buy. Take the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2, which is our current pick for the best affordable laptop. Microsoft’s more premium models however, haven’t quite hit the same impressive heights. The original Surface Laptop Studio demanded a high price, but couldn’t quite offer the power pro users needed.
Microsoft hopes to build on the Surface Laptop Studio with a new, upgraded model – the recently announced Surface Laptop Studio 2. The laptop is powered by the Intel Core i7-13800H CPU, increases connectivity and promises seamless integration with the Surface Slim Pen 2. But when it comes to one of Microsoft’s most popular laptops, the Surface Laptop 5, how does the Surface Laptop Studio 2 compare? Until we get our hands on the Surface Laptop Studio 2, it’s hard to say for certain. We can however, take an educated guess.
Design and build
The original Surface Laptop was built with creatives in mind. The screen could be laid flat, and doodled on with the Surface Slim Pen 2.
This updated model keeps the 14.4in display of the original, and it’s hard to find any major differences in how the laptop looks. The key upgrades can be found on the side of the laptop, though. Connectivity has been given a major boost, with two USB-C ports, a single USB-A and a microSD card reader. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone port, and Surface Connect port. The haptic touchpad has been upgraded to be more responsive, and there are extra customisation options that allow for improved accessibility.
The Surface Laptop 5 is available in 13.5in and 15in versions. They keyboard is incredibly responsive and smooth to use, and is easily one of the best laptop keyboards money can buy. The Surface Laptop 5 doesn’t match the Surface Laptop Studio 2 when it comes to connectivity, though. The Thunderbolt 4 port is present alongside a USB-A, and the Surface Connect. Microsoft’s own dock seems a little pointless though, as the laptop can be charged via USB-C. Still, the Surface Laptop 5 looks smooth and sleek.
On first impressions, it seems that Microsoft has certainly bolstered the grunt of the Surface Laptop Studio 2 compared to its predecessor. It’s powered by the Intel Core i7-13800H CPU, with Intel Iris Xe onboard graphics. Given how the Surface Laptop 2 is geared more towards creatives, that simply may not be enough power for your tasks. That’s why Microsoft gives you the choice between Nvidia RTX 4050 and RTX 4060 GPUs, or an RTX 2000 Ada Generation enterprise GPU. You can add up to 64GB of RAM, and 2TB of storage. It’s also the first laptop with an Intel Neural Processing Unit, designed to make AI-based jobs a doddle.
In our review of the Surface Laptop 5, we noticed a big powered improvement compared to previous models. That’s largely down to the 12th-generation Intel Core i5/i7 processor, which delivered speedy multitasking. But it now falls behind on sheer muscle to its newer stablemate.
The Surface Laptop Studio 2 screen has a 2400×1600 resolution and 120Hz refresh rate, with HDR, 10-point multitouch and a 1500:1 contrast ratio. It also supports Dolby Vision video, that uses HDR imaging tech to bring heightened colour, contrast, and brightness to the screen. It’s also compatible with the Surface Slim Pen 2.
The Surface Laptop 5 features a PixelSense display, and the 2256×1504 screen remains very impressive. Sadly, it doesn’t support HDR, but ambient light adjustment is provided by Dolby Vision IQ. A 400-nit brightness falls a little short when compared to its competitors, though.
Currently, the Surface Laptop 5 is on sale from $870/£949, while the Surface Laptop Studio 2 will start from $1,999/£2,069. The gulf in price points between both models will likely be a major deciding factor, especially if the Surface Laptop Studio 2’s on paper specs don’t translate to real-life productivity. For now, we’d recommend waiting for a hands-on review before deciding to pre-order the Surface Laptop Studio 2.
On first impressions, Microsoft seems to have made a big leap in power with its Surface Laptop Studio 2. The connectivity upgrades were also much needed, but it demands a hefty price as a result. Meanwhile, the Surface Laptop 5 is a decent choice, but it’s not exactly world beating. It’s a more mainstream machine, so will probably appeal to more people, but creatives should still check out the Surface Laptop Studio 2 first.