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Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review – is it too soon for this device?

It’s not too often to see a software brand delve into the world of hardware. However, Microsoft is probably the first one that comes to mind when we think of one. Of course, they’ve had mixed success, starting from their smartphone endeavors, all the way to the laptop world.

Today, we are going to see one of their boldest notebooks. Of course, we are talking about the Surface Laptop Studio. It offers a fresh new look at the way we perceive convertibles. Instead of the “ordinary” 360-degree hinge, it comes with a conventional one, as well as a secondary one, which is responsible for the flip movement – more on that later.

Interestingly, it combines a 35W Tiger Lake CPU with the power of a dedicated graphics card – the RTX 3050 Ti. Furthermore, if you need the software and legal goodies of a professional GPU, you can get the laptop with the RTX A2000.

Undoubtedly, the gem of this device is its 14.4-inch 120Hz IPS display. It is incredibly unorthodox. Not only because of its size and the way it rotates but because of the rounded corners. This reminds us of those of the MacBook Pro 14 and 16, and we weren’t big fans back then. Nor are we now, to be frank. Basically, the four rounded corners eat up some of the pixels, and the software is not terribly good at recognizing that.

нNevertheless, let’s stop for a second, and talk about the shell that houses that special hardware.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/microsoft-surface-laptop-studio/

Contents

Specs Sheet

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review – is it too soon for this device? - Specs

  • Sharp LQ144P1JX01 (SHP1509)
  • Color accuracy  2.4  1.2
  • HDD/SSD
  • up to 2000GB SSD
  • M.2 Slot
  • 1x 2280 M.2 NVMe slot 
  • RAM
  • up to 32GB
  • OS
  • Windows 11 Pro, Windows 10 Pro, Windows 11 Home
  • Battery
  • 58Wh
  • Body material
  • Aluminum, Magnesium alloy
  • Dimensions
  • 323.8 x 228.32 x 18.94 mm (12.75" x 8.99" x 0.75")
  • Weight
  • 1.82 kg (4 lbs)
  • Ports and connectivity
  • 2x USB Type-C
  • 4.0, Thunderbolt 4
  • Card reader
  • Ethernet LAN
  • Wi-Fi
  • 802.11ax
  • Bluetooth
  • 5.1
  • Audio jack
  • 3.5mm Combo Jack
  • Features
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Web camera
  • FHD
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Microphone
  • Dual Far-Field Studio Microphones
  • Speakers
  • Quad Omnisonic Speakers with Dolby Atmos
  • Optical drive
  • Security Lock slot

All Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio configurations

#CommissionsEarned

What’s in the box?

Inside the package, you will find some paper manuals, as well as a 102W power adapter. If you opt for the Core i5 version of the laptop, you’ll receive the 65W charger.

Design and construction

Microsoft made this laptop’s body out of aluminum and magnesium. This results in an extremely sturdy body, while the lid is a bit flexy. However, the glass slab on top of the display certainly helps with that.

The laptop is both pretty thin, and relatively light, with a profile of 18.9mm and a weight of 1.82 kg. By the way, if you get the Core i5 (iGPU only) version, the device will be about 80 grams lighter. We also have to mention that the matte, rough surface of the laptop is very resistant to fingerprints.

Now, it’s good to see that the lid opens easily with one hand. The bezels around the display are relatively thin, and as we said, they have rounded corners, which is neither cool nor useful. On the bright side, the machine sports a Full HD Webcam, and an optional IR face recognition scanner.

Now, there is the truly interesting part – the display movement parts. To switch between positions, open the laptop fully, and grip the top portion. Try to form a 90-degree angle to the back, and the display will pop out of its place. Unfortunately, this doesn’t feel very stable, mainly because it’s a Gen 1 product.

Nevertheless, carefully position the lid in your desired pose, using two hands. Note that you can either place it in between the lid and the keyboard, essentially blocking the latter, or you can lay it flat, and close the device for a fully flat, tablet-like experience.

Also, the display works with the Surface Slim Pen 2, which has an “open garage” on the front side of the laptop.

Looking at the keyboard, we see a pretty standard unit with grey-colored keycaps and a backlight. It has an average key travel and clicky feedback. On the other hand, the touchpad was really good, with its glass surface offering a smooth gliding experience. Instead of a clicking mechanism, the device is paired with a Haptic motor, which produces a very satisfying sensation upon click, while letting you activate it across the entire surface of the touchpad.

Turn the laptop upside down, and you will see that the device has a really weird shape. The bottom part takes about 80-90% of the surface area and has some grills on the sides. They act as an air intake, air exhaust, and as sound gaps.

Ports

Unfortunately, the I/O consists of only two Thunderbolt 4 connectors, an Audio jack, and the magnetic charging plug.

Display quality

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio has a 120Hz IPS panel, model number Sharp LQ144P1JX01 (SHP1509). Its diagonal is 14.4-inch (36.6 cm), and the resolution is 2400 x 1600 pixels. The screen ratio is 3:2, and we are looking at a pixel density of – 200 ppi, and a pitch of 0.13 х 0.13 mm. The screen turns into Retina when viewed at distance equal to or greater than 43 cm (from this distance one’s eye stops differentiating the separate pixels, and it is normal for looking at a laptop).

Viewing angles are excellent. We offer images at 45° to evaluate image quality.

Also, a video with locked focus and exposure.

We measured a maximum brightness of 500 nits in the middle of the screen and 486 nits as an average for the whole area, with a maximum deviation of 6% (the following measurements are made with the “Vivid” Color profile and HDR turned off). The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen is 6700K – slightly colder than the optimal for the sRGB standard of 6500K.
In the illustration below you can see how the main display performs from a uniformity perspective. In other words, the leakage of light from the light source.

Values of dE2000 over 4.0 should not occur, and this parameter is one of the first you should check if you intend to use the laptop for color-sensitive work. The contrast ratio is very good – 1770:1.

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people on HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

The yellow dotted line shows Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio’s color gamut coverage.

Its display covers 100% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange, etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

Below you can compare the scores of Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio with the default settings (“sRGB” Color profile and HDR disabled) – left, and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile – right.

The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale, and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle, and the surrounding light conditions.

Response time (Gaming capabilities)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and vice versa.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 30 ms.

After that, we test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “Gray-to-Gray” method from 50% White to 80% White and vice versa between 10% and 90% of the amplitude.

PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio’s backlight uses PWM. However, the pulsations have a high frequency and a smaller amplitude above 65% of Brightness, which reduces the negative effect. What completely eliminates it, though, is our Health-Guard profile.

Blue light emissions

Installing our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin, and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

Buy our profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio configurations with 14.4″ Sharp LQ144P1JX01 (SHP1509).

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at bg.laptopmedia@gmail.com.

Read more about the profiles HERE.

In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.

Office Work

Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.

Design and Gaming

This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.

Health-Guard

Health-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.

Get all 3 profiles with 33% discount

Sound

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio’s speakers produce a sound of very good quality. Its quad-speaker setup produces clear low, mid, and high tones.

Drivers

Since this is a Microsoft device, it would be best to stick to the Windows Updates section of your OS, for the latest driver versions for your device.

Battery

Now, we conduct the battery tests with the Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits, and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with. The 58Wh battery pack here lasts for 10 hours and 30 minutes of Web browsing, or 10 hours and 10 minutes of video playback.

In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.

CPU options

This laptop can be found with either the Core i5-11300H or the Core i7-11370H. Both are quad-core Tiger Lake-H35 processors.

GPU options

Interestingly, the Core i5 version only comes with an integrated graphics card. Respectively, the Core i7 model features an RTX 3050 Ti with a 50W TGP or the professional iteration of the same GPU – the RTX A2000.

Gaming tests

Metro ExodusFull HD, Low (Check settings)Full HD, High (Check settings)Full HD, Extreme (Check settings)
Average FPS84 fps41 fps20 fps

Borderlands 3Full HD, Medium (Check settings)Full HD, High (Check settings)Full HD, Badass (Check settings)
Average fps78 fps54 fps41 fps

Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018)Full HD, Lowest (Check settings)Full HD, Medium (Check settings)Full HD, High (Check settings)
Average104 fps69 fps54 fps

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon WildlandsFull HD, Medium (Check settings)Full HD, High (Check settings)Full HD, Very High (Check settings)
Average fps62 fps58 fps50 fps

Temperatures and comfort

Max CPU load

In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.

Average core frequency (base frequency + X); CPU temp.

Intel Core i7-11370H (35W TDP)0:02 – 0:10 sec0:15 – 0:30 sec10:00 – 15:00 min
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio3.74 GHz (B+13%) @ 98°C @ 59W3.57 GHz (B+8%) @ 98°C @ 49W3.38 GHz (B+2%) @ 91°C @ 40W
ASUS VivoBook Pro 16X OLED (N7600)4.01 GHz (B+22%) @ 95°C @ 61W3.81 GHz (B+15%) @ 95°C @ 53W3.80 GHz (B+15%) @ 95°C @ 49W
ASUS ZenBook Flip 15 UX5643.66 GHz (B+11%) @ 92°C @ 43W3.47 GHz (B+5%) @ 91°C @ 38W3.39 GHz (B+3%) @ 92°C @ 34W
Acer Predator Triton 300 SE (PT314-51s)3.97 GHz (B+20%) @ 95°C @ 64W4.03 GHz (B+22%) @ 97°C @ 63W3.87 GHz (B+17%) @ 93°C @ 50W
ASUS TUF Dash F15 (FX516)4.01 GHz (B+22%) @ 78°C @ 64W4.00 GHz (B+21%) @ 82°C @ 64W3.96 GHz (B+20%) @ 90°C @ 60W

Here, the Surface Laptop Studio was definitely not the best device. However, it performs similarly to the ZenBook Flip 15, which serves a surprisingly close purpose.

Real-life gaming

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 TiGPU frequency/ Core temp (after 2 min)GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 30 min)GPU frequency/ Core temp (Max fan)
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio1610 MHz @ 73°C @ 49W1629 MHz @ 70°C @ 50W
ASUS ROG Flow Z13 (GZ301)1299 MHz @ 62°C @ 40W1285 MHz @ 62°C @ 40W
Lenovo ThinkBook 15p Gen 21539 MHz @ 69°C @ 50W1536 MHz @ 69°C @ 50W
HP Omen 16 (16-b0000)1781 MHz @ 68°C @ 80W1767 MHz @ 71°C @ 80W
HP Envy 15 (15-ep1000)1681 MHz @ 87°C @ 75W1376 MHz @ 74°C @ 48W
ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 OLED (UM535)1530 MHz @ 66°C @ 50W1529 MHz @ 68°C @ 50W
HP Pavilion Gaming 15 (15-dk2000)1613 MHz @ 65°C @ 60W1576 MHz @ 73°C @ 60W
MSI Sword 151633 MHz @ 73°C @ 60W1605 MHz @ 79°C @ 60W1644 MHz @ 69°C @ 60W
Dell XPS 15 95101187 MHz @ 74°C @ 40W1293 MHz @ 75°C @ 44W
Dell G15 55111882 MHz @ 71°C @ 88W1878 MHz @ 72°C @ 89W
Dell G15 55151857 MHz @ 76°C @ 80W1850 MHz @ 77°C @ 80W
Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-57)1616 MHz @ 70°C @ 66W1607 MHz @ 72°C @ 65W1632 MHz @ 69°C @ 66W
MSI Katana GF761619 MHz @ 76°C @ 60W1594 MHz @ 82°C @ 60W1632 MHz @ 70°C @ 60W

On the other hand, the laptop does a great job in the graphics department, where it obliterates the likes of the Dell XPS 15 9510 in terms of clock speed. Also, the GPU was not too warm with a temperature of just 70°C at the end of the test.

Gaming comfort

At the same time, the two fans inside of the Surface Laptop Studio were not spinning too fast, which meant they weren’t too loud. In fact, if you’re not gaming, there is a high chance you won’t hear them. However, what is more, worrying is the way Microsoft handled the thermals. They use an unconventional cooling system, which pushes the two fans and heat sinks to the bottom two corners. This saturates the palm rest area with heat, thus making it uncomfortable for long periods of use, except if you’re living in Canada. Speaking in numbers, the hotspot is around 42°C, while the palm rest area reaches 35°C.

Verdict

We are baffled by Microsoft’s decision here. Why would one think that it is a good idea to put some of the hottest elements of a PC right beneath the user’s wrists?

One thing is known for sure – once again, Microsoft has done a poor job in the upgrade department. Indeed, they offer one M.2 PCIe x4 slot, however, you risk damaging your laptop. All of the screws are hidden, some of which require the destruction of a thin portion of the device. Indeed, by hiding the screws, the laptop looks special, but we prefer seeing the mounting elements than having to destroy our device.

Interestingly, the battery life stated by Microsoft is a huge overstatement. According to the manufacturer, the Core i7 model should last about 18 hours of “typical device usage”. What they tell you in lowercase, is that this includes a mixture of active use and “modern standby”. Well, our tests lack the standby, and we got 10 hours and a half of Web browsing, or about 20 minutes less of video playback. Of course, this is not a bad result by any means – it just proves that you shouldn’t trust everything stated on an official Web page.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio’s touchscreen panel has a high resolution, wide viewing angles, and a very good contrast ratio. It covers 100% of the sRGB color gamut and has a very high maximum brightness. Furthermore, our Gaming and Web design profile helps it achieve an Average dE of 1.2, which is great for the professionals out there. Although the panel uses PWM, it is not among the most harmful ones out there, plus, you can install our Health-Guard profile to completely eliminate the issue.

In terms of construction, the laptop is built very well. Its magnesium-aluminum chassis really proves its worth. Also, you get quite the amount of pleasant features – a Full HD Web camera, an optional IR face recognition scanner, and Wi-Fi 6.

Also, its quad-speaker sound system produces really good audio. However, the main event here leaves more to be desired. The secondary hinge feels flimsy and is unable to securely support the weight of the display. You have to be extremely cautious when you operate with it if you don’t want to scratch your device. Plus, it doesn’t provide a smooth operation – it just locks in three positions – regular, bottom half forward, and tablet.

On the other hand, the concept is really good. It is very reminiscent of that of the professional screen tablets for illustrators and designers. Plus, it works with a stylus and has a 120Hz refresh rate.

Yet again, we were disappointed by the I/O. You only get two Thunderbolt 4 connectors and an Audio jack beside the power plug. How can a Studio-branded laptop not offer more display outputs or at least a regular-size USB port?

In conclusion, we would like to say that Microsoft has a lot of work for the next-generation model, should there be one. Having that much room to improve is not a bad thing, actually, considering that this is a first-gen product.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/microsoft-surface-laptop-studio/

Pros

  • Groundbreaking design
  • Quad-channel LPDDR4x memory
  • Great speakers
  • Decent battery life
  • Covers 100% of sRGB
  • Accurate color representation with our Gaming and Web design profile
  • Doesn’t use aggressive PWM to adjust screen brightness
  • Work-friendly 3:2 aspect ratio with 120Hz refresh rate and a touchscreen usability
  • Very quiet


Cons

  • No SD card reader
  • No USB Type-A port
  • Hard to get inside of
  • Questionable placement of cooling components
  • Unstable secondary hinge