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Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 review: Premium pricey convertible

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 review: Premium pricey convertible

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2

The Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 is, like its predecessor, one of the more interesting, premium Windows 2-in-1 convertibles in the market. The new version retains the same design that folds the screen over the keyboard or touchpad, but upgrades the hardware. There are some other minor improvements, though it's still too expensive for what it offers.

Quick specs

  • 14.4-inch (2,400 x 1,600 pixels, up to 120Hz) touchscreen
  • Intel Core i7-13700H processor with 64GB RAM and 1TB SSD
  • 2x Thunderbolt 4, USB-A 3.1 port, headphone jack, and Surface Connect port
  • 58 watt-hour battery

The Laptop Studio 2 offers three usage mode: Laptop mode, Stage mode (screen folds over the keyboard like a tent), and Studio mode (screen covers keyboard and touchpad, resembling a tablet). Switching between modes is pretty easy, and the display is held securely in place with magnets in each mode. It makes for a flexible yet solidly-built laptop that feels premium. But it's heavy for a 14-inch notebook at 1.98kg, albeit with an Nvidia graphics chip. Even the less-powerful integrated graphics version is 1.89kg. The touch display is excellent as usual — bright and crisp, though the bezels are not the thinnest. You can also set a dynamic refresh rate of 60Hz or 120Hz. Thanks to Windows Hello, you log into Windows 11 via facial recognition. This infrared webcam is pretty good, and like many modern laptops, come with AI-powered features such as automatic framing and background blur.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2
There's now a USB-A port. Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

Microsoft also rectified the limited port options on the previous version. The latest model now comes with a USB-A port, on top of two Thunderbolt 4 ports. This could mean going without a dongle for some users. However, Microsoft does not bundle the excellent Microsoft Slim Pen 2 (S$210), which works great with the Laptop Studio 2, and attaches magnetically to the front lip of the convertible. Another new feature is Adaptive Touch, which makes the touchpad more accessible. When enabled, you can use other body parts (palm or knuckle), instead of fingers. It works pretty well. When updated to the latest version of Windows 11, you can preview the new Microsoft Copilot, an AI-powered assistant that can help with everyday computing tasks. It's still a work-in-progress, but I can see the potential, especially for folks who aren't that familiar with Windows 11.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2
Stage mode is great for watching videos. Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

The biggest upgrade in the Laptop Studio 2 is in the processor and graphics option. Unfortunately, its 13th-gen Intel chip will be eclipsed in less than a month by newer laptops sporting Intel's 14th-gen processors. But it does get a nice graphics upgrade (either Nvidia's GeForce RTX 4050 or 4060) that makes playing AAA games possible. For example, the Laptop Studio 2 managed 64fps in Watch Dogs: Legion (Ultra, 1080p) compared with 69fps for the Aftershock Forge 15X. Note that the Laptop Studio 2 gets pretty warm in intensive apps like gaming, especially the palm rest. However, it isn't quite as capable as the latest MacBook Pro in Geekbench 6. The former scored 1,641 (single-core), and 9,629 (multi-core) versus the MacBook's 3,048 (single-core) and 11,905 (multi-core). In PCMark 10, the Laptop Studio 2 scored 5,687, similar to the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED (5,660). That's severe underperformance.

But it turns out that the default Recommended power setting is too conservative. Switching to the Best performance option saw the PCMark 10 score increase significantly to 7,697. This is close to the similarly-specced Dell Inspiron 16 Plus (7,855), though the Laptop Studio 2's cooling fans become noticeably louder, too. Battery life is decent enough at around 7 hours video playback at maximum screen brightness. To sum up, the performance is fine for a Windows notebook. But the price will remain a sticking point. My Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 review set costs almost S$5,000. It's more expensive than the maxed-out Apple MacBook Pro (14-inch) with M3 Max. The Laptop Studio 2 only makes sense if you need its versatile, multi-mode capability, because for gaming or content editing, there are better, and cheaper options. It's available now from Lazada, and Shopee.

See Also
Asus ROG Azoth

Note: Review unit provided by Microsoft.


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Verdict



CAN BUY...BUT

Niche and expensive

Buy it at Shopee
Buy it at Lazada

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