OPINION: The Surface Book is one of my favourite Microsoft laptop ranges, with a unique take on the 2-in-1 design that’s arguably more ergonomic than the more conventional 360-degree hinge.
But the Surface Book laptops also have a major flaw when compared to other high-end convertible laptops, as it sees a major performance drop when detaching the screen from the keyboard.
Since the dedicated GPU is housed inside the keyboard, it’s not possible to maintain a high graphics performance when shifting the Surface Book into tablet mode. This arguably defeats the purpose of having a detachable tablet for content creators, as the performance will suffer when running the likes of Premiere Pro.
To make matters worse, Microsoft has also been forced to compromise on the performance power of the processor in order to squeeze it inside the detachable screen. Most high-end laptops use H-Series chips, but the Surface Book range uses a U-Series processor instead, which means it has a similar processing power to productivity-focussed ultrabooks that are considerably cheaper.
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Those were both major issues for a laptop that is looking to compete with some of the most powerful PCs around, and it’s clearly forced Microsoft to rethink the laptop’s design.
The result of this is the new Surface Laptop Studio. Microsoft’s most powerful laptop is effectively the replacement of the Surface Book line. Instead of having a detachable screen, Microsoft has created a new hinge that allows the screen to fold down over the keyboard, turning the laptop into a makeshift tablet.
And because the screen can no longer be detached, Microsoft has been able to fit both an 11th Intel Core H-Series processor and Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti GPU inside, which is a huge performance upgrade on the Surface Book 3.
In one fell swoop, Microsoft has eliminated the Surface Book’s biggest flaw while still retaining the versatile 2-in-1 design. Of course, there is a downside to this new design. Since the screen can no longer be detached from the keyboard, you’ll have to deal with the total weight of the laptop when using it in tablet mode.
The i5 model of the Surface Laptop Studio weighs a whopping 1.74kg, while the i7 configuration is an even heftier 1.82kg. At this weight, you’re ideally going to need to lay the laptop flush against a desk when using it as a tablet – you certainly won’t be able to use it like a 12.9‑inch iPad Pro, which weighs a dainty 682 grams.
But I think that’s a fair compromise. The Surface Laptop Studio isn’t designed to be a portable tablet, but a powerhouse laptop that also allows you to convert it into a makeshift graphics tablet when required. That’s a very compelling concept, and one I believe will be useful for content creators across the globe.
Of course, we can’t be sure of the Surface Laptop Studio’s quality until we can test it for ourselves, so keep an eye on Trusted Reviews for our upcoming review.