The Surface Laptop Studio 2’s best new features are on the inside

The Studio 2 boasts an improved CPU, GPU, more RAM, and an AI accelerator

While much of the focus at Microsoft’s September 21st event was on Copilot and AI, the company also debuted two new Surface laptops at the low- and high-end of its lineup. There’s the new powerhouse Surface Laptop Studio 2 and the lightweight Surface Laptop Go 3.

The Surface Laptop Studio 2 will be instantly familiar to anyone who followed the coverage of the first Laptop Studio. Like before, the Studio 2 offers a mix of use experiences, including the traditional clamshell laptop. However, users can also pivot the screen into a tent mode that hides the keyboard, or lay the screen flat over the keyboard and trackpad for an almost tablet-like experience.

Similarly, the Studio 2’s plinth makes a return — in fact, the Studio 2 changes very little of the exterior save for the addition of a USB-A and microSD card ports (surprisingly not an SD card port). Most of the major changes were internal, with the Studio 2 gaining an improved CPU, GPU, storage, RAM, and more.

Power boost

The transparent Surface I didn’t know I needed.

The Studio 2 now offers up to twice as much power with 13th Gen Intel Core H-class chips and boosted graphics performance with either Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 or 4060 laptop GPUs. There’s also an option for Nvidia RTX 2000 Ada Generation laptop GPUs for design, engineering, and rendering work.

The Studio 2 can also be configured with up to 64GB of RAM and up to 2TB of SSD storage.

Another notable addition to the Studio 2 is the Intel Gen3 Movidius 3700VC vision processing unit (VPU). This chip is designed to accelerate AI workloads and enable Windows Studio effects like background blur, eye contact, and automatic framing. These features can be applied across Windows apps for better camera experiences, such as in video calls.

On paper, all of these changes are excellent, though it remains to be seen how much of a difference it makes when the core product is the same.

Premium build quality

In my brief hands-on time with the Laptop Studio 2 at the Microsoft event, I noted that the build quality remains premium and the device, overall, feels great. Naturally, it’s not possible to test the upgraded internals and evaluate the performance uplift in a brief hands-on, so you’ll have to wait for the full review for that.

I also briefly demoed some of the inking features and watched a Microsoft employee enjoying some Cyberpunk 2077 on a Laptop Studio 2. The inking felt great, though I can’t say what, if any, improvements there are over the Laptop Studio since I never had a Surface Pen to test with the first-gen model.

On the gaming side, it was impressive to see a heavier game like Cyberpunk 2077 running on the Studio 2. The visuals look great and the framerate seemed stable. Once again, gaming performance is something that will benefit from more in-depth testing than what was available at the event.

Familiar, for better or worse

What I can say, however, is that the Laptop Studio 2 feels just like the first-gen Studio. It’s an excellent premium laptop with high-end specs and tons of power, which is great. But as I noted in the first-gen Studio review, if you don’t need that extra power in a laptop, there’s little reason to go for the pricier Studio 2 over other options.

Moreover, how you feel about the Laptop Studio form factor will have a significant impact on a potential purchase decision.

I’ll be the first to admit the Laptop Studio is not a product for me. I like the unique hinge and screen system, but in my day-to-day work, it’s not something I ever found myself needing. But there are plenty of people out there that will benefit from the form factor.

Ultimately, the Laptop Studio 2 is a spec bump and little else. Whether that spec bump is significant is a question that will wait for full-fledged reviews.

The Surface Laptop Studio 2 will be available in Canada starting October 3rd at $2,699.99.

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