Wasting no time kicking off fall, Microsoft today announced an entire family of new Surface computers including the new Surface Laptop Studio, a redesigned Surface Pro 8, updated Surface Go and a lower price for the Surface Pro X.
Remember a year ago when I said Microsoft had hit peak Surface with what could only be described as safe and modest updates to the Surface lineup? Well, Microsoft has apparently received the message loud and clear. Yesterday, I got to briefly play with the new Surface computers, and — ohhh man — do they look like the wake-up call Microsoft needs after years of incremental updates.
Surface Laptop Studio
The Surface Laptop Studio is easily the most exciting new Surface that’s coming. Whereas the Surface Pro/Surface Go are tablets that you can attach a keyboard to and the Surface Book is a laptop with a detachable screen, the Surface Laptop Studio is a laptop with a screen that can be repositioned at various angles to accommodate different applications.
To reposition the screen, you kind of press into the top half of the screen until it splits from the fabric-lined support hinge. It takes a few tries to not feel like you’re snapping it in half. But once you figure out how it works, it’s awesome. The 14.4-inch touchscreen can be angled all the way parallel to the keyboard for viewing or creating content. The three main “postures” include “laptop mode” (self explanatory), “stage mode” (angled), and “studio mode” (flat like a tablet for drawing and writing). The unique two-layer design of the base means there’s room for a Surface Slim Pen 2 to magnetically attach to the Surface Laptop Studio just below the trackpad.
Angela Chen Krauskopf, a senior director of engineering who worked on the Laptop Studio, told me the form factor is designed to keep you in your “flow” and the various “postures” (as Microsoft likes to refer to transforming modes) to allow flexibility for different use cases. Hearing these terms didn’t surprise me. Flow and postures are two terms that Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay has thrown around over and over whenever new Surfaces are introduced; CEO Satya Nadella has also repeatedly talked about the importance of “flow” driving Microsoft’s hardware, software, and services. It’s clear that flow is a core design principle for Microsoft.
The 10-point multi-touch touchscreen is superb. It’s a 3:2 aspect ratio with 2,400 x 1,600 resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. It supports Dolby Vision and has a 1,500:1 contrast ratio.
Underneath the keyboard and trackpad, which feel terrific to type and mouse on, the Surface Laptop Studio is all power. It’s powered by quad-core Intel Core i5 or i7 CPUs. The i5 model comes with Intel Iris Xe Graphics, while the Core i7 version comes with a beefier Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti laptop GPU with 4GB GDRR6 VRAM. There’s a Core i7 version with Nvidia RTX A2000 laptop GPU and 4GB of GDDR6 VRAM, but that’s a commercial SKU only.
Other specs: 16GB or 32GB of LPDDR4x RAM, a removable SSD (256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB), two USB 4.0 Thunderbolt 4 ports, a 1080p webcam with Windows Hello support, Dolby Atmos-ready Quad Omnisonic speakers, a Surface Connect port, and a headphone jack. For wireless, it supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1.
Microsoft says the Core i5 Surface Laptop Studio comes with a 65W power supply and lasts “up to 19 hours of typical device usage.” Meanwhile, the Core i7 version comes with a beefier 102W power supply and lasts up to 18 hours with “typical device usage.”
The Surface Laptop Studio releases on October 5, starting at $1,599.
Surface Pro 8
Next up is the Surface Pro 8. Microsoft has given its 2-in-1 tablet/laptop its biggest hardware refresh since the Surface Pro 3. In fact, the design is reminiscent of the thinner and sleeker Surface Pro X.
Microsoft has shrunken the bezels on the Surface Pro 8 which has allowed the screen to expand 11 percent larger to 13 inches (2,880 x 1,920). In addition to being larger, the display is also 10.8 percent higher resolution, 12.5 percent brighter, and supports 120Hz refresh rates (though it’s set to 60Hz by default).
The redesign means the Surface Pro 8 is a little heavier than Surface Pro 7, but it’s not a whole lot: 1.96 pounds versus 1.7 pounds. The weight could also be attributed to the Surface Pro’s aluminum body; the Surface Pro 7 was made of magnesium alloy.
As you can see, Microsoft’s brought over the Surface Pro X’s Type Cover with an integrated slot to store and wireless charge a Surface Slim Pen 2.
According to Microsoft, the Surface Pro 8 is over twice as powerful as the Surface Pro 7 with 40 percent more CPU performance and 75 percent faster graphics.
The Surface Pro 8 comes in two CPU configurations: quad-core 11th-gen Intel Core i5 and i7. The biggest rub is that LTE models are limited to commercial versions; there’s also a Wi-Fi dual-core Core i3 version that’s commercial-only. Graphics are Intel Iris Xe Graphics for the Core i5 and i7; the i3 is saddled with Intel UHD Graphics.
RAM configurations come in 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB. removable SSD storage in 128GB or 256GB (Wi-Fi or LTE); 512GB and 1TB storage options are limited to Wi-Fi models. There’s a 5-megapixel 1080p Windows Hello webcam on the front and a 10-megapixel camera on the rear with autofocus that can record at up to 4K resolution.
For ports, Microsoft’s ditched USB-A. The Surface Pro 8 has two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, a Surface Connect port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 are both present.
The new 2-in-1 comes with a 60W power supply and Microsoft says it supports fast charging (80 percent in over an hour). Microsoft rates the Surface Pro for up to 16 hours of usage on a single charge.
In summary: the Surface Pro 8 looks fantastic. The Surface Pro 7 needed a redesign badly and Microsoft seems to have delivered. The Surface Pro releases on October 5, starting at $1,099.
Surface Pro X and Go 3
Minor updates to the ARM-powered Surface Pro X. It now ships with Windows 11 (as do the Surface Laptop Studio and Surface Pro 8) and starts at $100 less at $899 for a Wi-Fi-only version. Previously, the Surface Pro X only came with built-in gigabit LTE.
Specs are the same as before. Configurations come in Microsoft SQ1 or SQ2 CPUs and GPU configs in either SQ 1 Adreno 685 or SQ2 Adreno 690. You get the option of 8GB or 16GB of RAM and removable SSD in 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB. No updates for Wi-Fi or Bluetooth — still Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0. Ports are identical, too: 2x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports, a Surface Connect port, and no headphone jack.
The Surface Laptop Studio releases on October 5.
As for the Surface Go 3, it’s a follow-up to the Surface Go 2. Microsoft’s smallest Surface with a detachable keyboard still has a 10.5-inch touchscreen (1,920 x 1,280). It ships with Windows 11 Home in S mode.
The Surface Go 3 is powered by either a dual-core Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y CPU or quad-core 10th-gen Intel Core i3 CPU, and 4GB or 8GB of RAM. Storage is the same as before: 64GB of eMMC or 128GB of SSD (256GB for commercial versions).
There’s a 5-megapixel 1080p webcam with Windows Hello support on the front and an 8-megapixel 1080p camera on the back. You get one microSD slot, a USB-C port, a headphone jack, and a Surface Connect port. For wireless, it’s got Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.
The Go 3 is the baby in the Surface family. It’s not going to offer a ton of power, but if you need a basic browsing or typing tablet/laptop, it should work fine. The Surface Go releases on October 5, starting at $399.