Getting started with Microsoft Surface Studio 2+: the classic all-in-one gets new elements

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Microsoft has just announced a set of new Surface products, featuring Surface Pro 9 and Surface Studio 2+. We were able to work with both devices.

At a press event in New York, we spent some time with the latest Surface Pro 2-in-1 detachable and the highly anticipated Surface Studio desktop update, following their public reveals. Both focus primarily on new internals, so while the designs might look similar (or identical) at a glance, there’s a lot to unpack inside.

You can check out our separate impressions of the Surface Pro 9 here and read our thoughts on the Studio 2+.


A long-awaited update, but the same design

The original Surface Studio launched in 2017, and the Surface Studio 2 followed in 2018. The age of iterative technology is long enough, and the urge for a new Studio has developed. Even at the time of release, the Studio 2 was a bit underpowered in its processor choice, but we couldn’t find much fault with the sleek tilting design and huge, crisp screen.

(Credit: Kyle Cobian)

Enter the Surface Studio 2+, named so because Microsoft recognizes it’s not quite a leap forward. After such a long wait, I think it’s fair to find this somewhat disappointing; you’d expect all those years off to result in at least one slightly new design. Perhaps thinner bezels, newly located ports, or other tweaks could have been added.

But let’s focus on what we did get into reality, rather than what might have been. Start with the name, or at least the “2+” part – the company isn’t trying to pass it off as the Surface Studio 3, at least. The beloved design is back, though these glasses look even thicker to me in person in 2022 than they did in the late 10s.

The design – essentially a Windows-based Apple iMac with a tilting touchscreen – is a dream for some artists and digital designers who can use a 28-inch screen with a resolution of 4,500 x 3,000 pixels. The aspect ratio remains a 3:2 paper size; color coverage includes sRGB and DCI-P3; and the contrast ratio is 1,200:1. Additionally, the panel supports Dolby Vision.

The cutting edge of Microsoft Surface Studio 2+

(Credit: Kyle Cobian)

The screen looks brilliant in person, and the tilting action of the hinge is still responsive but sturdy, resembling the premium device the Surface Studio has always been. A welcome new addition (brought by the new generation of processors): USB-C ports now include support for Thunderbolt 4, a boon for a variety of professionals and general users. Surface Pen and Surface Dial support, meanwhile, remain on the menu.

Microsoft Surface Studio 2+ with Surface Pen

(Credit: Kyle Cobian)

Microsoft Surface Studio 2+ with Surface Dial

(Credit: Kyle Cobian)

Since this update focuses almost entirely on component upgrades, it’s time to take a closer look at the new specs. There’s a setup, and it costs $4,499, but read on for what that entails, as well as our thoughts on the selections.


All About Internals: Introducing 11th Gen Intel, If A Little Late

As mentioned, one of the main complaints about the Surface Studio 2 was its processor, which was a bit long in the tooth even at launch. The Intel Core i7-7280HQ wasn’t exactly synonymous with desktop power, offering more of a “light laptop” class of performance.

A look at the back of the base on the Microsoft Surface Studio 2+

(Credit: Kyle Cobian)

Things get a lot better with the Surface Studio 2+, which launches with a Core i7-11370H processor. Although still a mobile processor, this is a significant upgrade over the previous version, as the 11th Gen “Tiger Lake” has proven to perform very well overall. , and the H-series denotes a more powerful level. (See our guide to understanding laptop processors.)

That said, even after all this time, this too seems disappointing. It’s much better than the previous chip, no doubt, but the same kind of error was repeated here to a lesser extent. It’s still a laptop processor, which is somewhat expected in an all-in-one, but the Surface Studio 2+ is very expensive, and it has a base to house the core components – they don’t all have to fit behind the screen, unlike many all-in-one models.

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Close-up of Microsoft Studio 2+'s multiple Thunderbolt 4 ports

(Credit: Kyle Cobian)

Second, Intel’s 12th Gen “Alder Lake” chips have been available for quite some time, and with their breakthrough hybrid designs (using Performance and Efficient cores), they’re generally much more impressive than Tiger Lake. So it’s not Microsoft’s state-of-the-art option. could have chosen. It won’t be long before 11th Gen is downright obsolete – 13th Gen “Raptor Lake” processors will be launching soon on desktop, and likely soon after on mobile – which is especially hard to swallow given the time. it took to update the Surface Atelier 2.

Performance here will almost certainly be much better than the Studio 2, which we’ll verify when we can run benchmark tests. But it looks like Microsoft is leaving performance on the table given the chip world at the end of 2022. There are other options to update that now, and an expensive desktop aimed at professionals could use more power . That said, most workloads can probably get by with the (still good) Tiger Lake chip.


A big graphics boost: the RTX 3060 is a welcome addition

Now this same position makes not apply to graphics, with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3060 GPU added to Studio 2+. If your workload is graphics-intensive, this is a very capable GPU, far better than today’s integrated options and entry-level GPUs. It’s also the mobile version of the GPU, but a full-size graphics card is never an option in an all-in-one, and we’ve seen this chip perform very well for gaming and 3D tasks. on many laptops.

An image produced by the Microsoft Surface Studio 2+ screen

(Credit: Kyle Cobian)

The GeForce RTX 40-series GPUs are just starting to launch on desktop (see our review of the first of these, the GeForce RTX 4090), and they will be expensive. Any laptop equivalent is also a long way off. So unlike the CPU choice, the RTX 3060 laptop GPU is a logical and current choice for this time and place. A GeForce RTX 3070 or RTX 3080 mobile GPU would be nice, but professionals who need that much graphics power should probably opt for a true tower PC, not an all-in-one, and the price would go up even more if those- these were included.


Takeaways: A Marked Upgrade, But Will It Be Enough?

Combined with the sleek design, huge screen, and supporting features like a 1080p camera, Windows Hello login, far-field mics, speakers equipped with Dolby Atmos and TPM 2.0, the Studio 2+ is clearly a high-end PC for pro users.

Microsoft Surface Studio 2+ screen

(Credit: Kyle Cobian)

However, we are concerned about the quality of a premium experience the Surface Studio 2+ can deliver in 2022 but – much more importantly – well beyond This year. After all, for $4,000 and up, you should expect years of service from your all-in-one, Surface or not. Check back for a full Studio 2+ review when units become available.

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