In brief: The successor to the Surface Book is here, but it's probably not what you expected. Microsoft blended design concepts from the Surface Laptop, the Surface Studio, and even Apple's MacBook to create this device. The result is a chunky laptop powerhouse with a display that can slide into different positions and look great while doing it.
Microsoft today unveiled the Surface Laptop Studio, the rumored crossover between the company's Surface Laptop and the Surface Studio. In a sense, this feels like the true Surface Laptop that Microsoft originally envisioned, but just needed more time to get it right. However, this is being marketed as a successor to the Surface Book lineup, with fewer quirks and slightly more practical design choices.
The company even used the "Pure Imagination" song once again to send the same vibes as it did during the unveiling of the Surface Studio. At first glance, this looks like a redesigned Surface Laptop sporting a non-removable 14.4-inch PixelSense Flow touchscreen display with a resolution of 2,400 x 1,600 pixels, support for Dolby Vision and up to a 120Hz refresh rate. And just like Windows 11, it has rounded corners.
Look more closely, and this seemingly normal-looking display actually has a mechanism that allows you to pull it towards you and flip it to turn the Laptop Studio into a giant tablet. Microsoft calls this the "Dynamic Woven Hinge," and it essentially allows you to transition between modes just like you would on a Surface Studio, with magnets to guide you to the snap points.
The three supported modes are laptop, stage, and studio, which makes it ideal for developers, designers, and everyone looking to create on a device that can act as a portable workstation.
The base of the laptop has the same quiet keyboard that Microsoft has been touting for years, but below it there's a new Haptic TouchPad that allows you to "click" anywhere on its surface. Leaving aside the obvious fact that this looks like Microsoft copying Apple's Force Touch trackpad, it's good to see that it at least didn't choose to copy the infamous butterfly keyboard.
Interestingly, Microsoft designed the base in a way that allows you to tuck a new Surface Slim Pen 2 underneath it for charging. And unlike the Surface Book lineup, which is notorious for glitching when trying to remove the detachable tablet portion, the Surface Laptop Studio houses all of the essential internals inside the base.
Speaking of internals, the laptop is powered by Intel's 11th generation Core i5 and Core i7 H35 processors. The Core i5 models are limited to Intel's Iris Xe integrated graphics, while the Core i7 models pair the more powerful CPU with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU or an RTX A2000 GPU, depending on your needs. You can also choose between 16 and 32 gigabytes of RAM and up to two terabytes of NVMe storage.
Those are some serious specs for a laptop that weights a little under four pounds, and Microsoft's Scott Hanselman also demoed its gaming abilities with the upcoming Forza Horizon 5. The game ran at a locked 60 frames per second at a resolution that's slightly higher than 1440p, so the Surface Laptop Studio can be used for casual gaming sessions at the end of a workday.
An interesting design detail of the tiered base is that the narrower bottom half has a lot of vent holes to help with thermal management and keep the heat away from your hands and lap -- at least in theory.
As you can tell from the images above, this device isn't exactly thin, but the added volume inside the base allowed Microsoft to cram enough battery in there to confidently claim that it can last through a typical day of use.
The company says the Surface Laptop Studio can survive up to 18 hours when unplugged from a wall, or 19 hours if you choose a model equipped with a Core i5 CPU and integrated Xe graphics. You'll probably get only half as much in real life, but that's still a respectable number.
In terms of connectivity, you get two Thunderbolt 4 ports, the customary Surface Connect for charging, a 3.5 mm headphone jack... and that's it. Microsoft definitely wants you to use a dock with the Surface Laptop Studio, should you need as much as an SD card reader to get your work done.
Overall, this device is a weird mix between a MacBook, a Surface Laptop, and a Surface Studio that is both powerful and intriguing. If you're interested in getting one, Microsoft has already started taking pre-orders. Pricing starts at $1,599.99, and the company will begin shipping the device on October 5. The $129.99 Surface Slim Pen 2 is sold separately.