Microsoft Unveils New Surface Laptop Studio. Is This The End Of The Surface Book?

The Laptop Studio introduces a new Surface form factor and is now Microsoft’s leading laptop.

The new Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio. (Source: Microsoft.)

The new Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio. (Source: Microsoft.)

The Microsoft Surface line has a new flagship laptop, and it’s not the Surface Book 4. The Surface team last week announced the new Surface Laptop Studio, a blend between the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop that appears to have supplanted the erstwhile Surface Book, now stalled in its third generation.

The Surface line is known for its unique form factors that split the difference between notebooks and tablets to create something that transcends both. The long-running Surface Pro line amounts to a full-Windows tablet with a detachable keyboard, a form factor that’s been mimicked recently by Apple’s iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard (minus the full operating system). The trademark feature of the Surface Pro is its rear kickstand, which folds open on a smooth hinge to keep the Surface upright in a variety of positions. Microsoft continues to refresh this product, and announced the new Surface Pro 8 alongside the Surface Laptop Studio last week.

The new Microsoft Surface Pro 8. (Source: Microsoft.)

The new Microsoft Surface Pro 8. (Source: Microsoft.)

The Surface Laptop is the most conventional member of the Surface family, amounting to a normal clamshell laptop with a touchscreen. The most Surface things about it are its 3:2 ratio display and compatibility with the Surface Pen stylus, two hallmarks of the Surface brand.

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 4. (Source: Microsoft.)

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 4. (Source: Microsoft.)

The new Surface Laptop Studio looks like Microsoft stuck a Surface Pro on top of a Surface Laptop, and then put that on top of another Surface Pro:

The new Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio. (Source: Microsoft.)

The new Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio. (Source: Microsoft.)

Meet the Surface Laptop Studio

The three modes of the Surface Laptop Studio. (Source: Microsoft.)

The three modes of the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio. (Source: Microsoft.)

Here’s the gimmick with the Surface Laptop Studio: the screen has a hinge that lets it fold down over the keyboard. Unlike the Surface Pro, the hinge doesn’t offer a continuous range of angles, but locks into the three positions shown above—laptop mode, stage mode, and studio mode, as Microsoft calls them.

I mentioned up top that the Surface line is known for its innovative form factors. I think the Surface team genuinely tries to stretch the boundaries of what a computer can be, and I commend them for that. But this latest design seems downright uninspired (Monica Chin documents just how played out the form factor is in this article). Not to mention it’s kind of an eyesore—that thick protrusion below the keyboard looks like a clunky design compromise to me, not only aesthetically jarring but seemingly uncomfortable for the hands.

Regarding the name of the new device, the Studio moniker, overused in the laptop market, already belongs to the Surface Studio, a giant all-in-one desktop (see our review of the Surface Studio for more). Crossing more wires, the name Surface Laptop Studio implies this device is a continuation of the Surface Laptop line, though it differs from last year’s Surface Laptop 4 in both form and price (the Laptop 4 starts at $1000, the Laptop Studio starts at $1600).

These are the specs of the Surface Laptop Studio:


11th Gen Intel Core i5-11300H (4 Cores, 3.1GHz to 4.4Ghz Turbo, 8MB Cache, 35W)  /  

  11th Gen Intel Core i7-11370H (4 Cores, 3.3GHz to 4.8Ghz Turbo, 12MB Cache, 35W)


NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti (4GB GDDR6 VRAM)  /  



16GB or 32GB LPDDR4x


256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB SSD


14.4” 2400×1600 touchscreen with 120Hz refresh rate


2x USB 4.0 with Thunderbolt 4  /  
3.5mm headphone jack  /  
Surface Connect port (power)


3.83lbs (i5) or 4lbs (i7)




$1599.99 to $3799.99

*Discrete GPU only available with Intel Core i7 CPU

**Available on Surface Laptop Studio for Business

Microsoft calls the Surface Laptop Studio “the most powerful Surface ever,” yet it leaves a lot to be desired. I’m far from the first to point out that the CPU options on the Surface Laptop Studio are underwhelming—four cores is low by most standards, even though the chips are from Intel’s latest generation and have decent clock speeds.

The discrete GPU options, available only with the i7 CPU, are better than nothing, especially the RTX A2000. As NVIDIA’s entry level RTX chip, the RTX A2000 offers actual RTX tech, including RT and Tensor Cores (the same could not be said for its predecessor, the Turing-based T2000). However, a configuration with the RTX A2000 will run at least $3399.99, which is pretty pricey for entry-level RTX graphics and a quad core CPU.

Finally, the 58Wh battery seems quite low—especially with a 120Hz display—but we’ll have to get our hands on an actual Surface Laptop Studio to judge its real-world performance.

The Surface Laptop Studio is currently available for pre-order and will be released on October 5th, 2021.

What the Surface Laptop Studio Means for the Surface Book

It seems like the Surface Laptop Studio is killing off two branches of the Surface tree—the Surface Laptop, of which this new device may well be an evolution, and the Surface Book, of which it most certainly is not. And it’s the Surface Book which I think is the bigger loss.

While the Surface Pro is the low-hanging fruit of the hybrid market, the Surface Book is (was?) a truly novel take on the concept. It appears at first to be a regular old clamshell notebook—albeit with a funny looking curve between screen and keyboard. But take a closer look and you’ll discover that the screen of the Surface Book pops right off and becomes a tablet in its own right. There was no other device quite like the Surface Book on the market.

The Surface Book 3. (Source: Microsoft.)

The Surface Book 3. (Source: Microsoft.)

I’ve both praised and pilloried the Surface Book. When I reviewed the Surface Book 3 last year I called it a great laptop with brilliantly versatile hardware, a stance I mostly continue to hold. My main caveat at the time was that the Surface Book 3 was ill-suited for professional graphics applications, and users looking to maximize performance per dollar could find much better options (that same argument applies to the Surface Laptop Studio, by the way, at least on paper).

I later came to recognize a more serious caveat, a potential hardware failure that affects a significant portion of Surface Book and Pro users which I detailed in The Microsoft Surface Swollen Battery Problem. While this titular problem has not yet manifest itself in the Surface Book 3, it remains an uncomfortable possibility for users of that device and has convinced me to avoid buying any Surface hardware until the issue is demonstrably resolved.

The Surface Laptop Studio may offer a solution. One of the reasons that Surface Pro and Book devices of the past have been susceptible to swollen batteries is their poor thermal design, which accelerates battery deterioration. The new Surface Laptop Studio, with its thick and vented pedestal, looks much better equipped to handle the heat. However, only time will tell, and somehow I don’t quite trust Microsoft anymore when they claim “industry-leading thermal design.”

A look inside the Surface Laptop Studio. (Source: Microsoft.)

A look inside the Surface Laptop Studio. (Source: Microsoft.)

Despite my complaints about the Surface Book, I’m sad to see the end of the line. In three generations Microsoft never quite fixed the shortcomings of the Surface Book form factor—in fact, they never really updated the form factor at all—but I and other loyal users loved the device anyways. It was one of a kind, and while I’m curious to see how the Surface Laptop Studio fills the role of flagship Surface laptop, I can’t help but feel that the Surface Book got closed too soon.

UPDATE (September 29, 2021): A Microsoft spokesperson responded to a request for comment regarding the fate of the Surface Book line:

Surface Laptop Studio is inspired by what our customers love most about Surface Book, and takes those things to a new level. Providing new levels of versatility and performance, Surface Laptop Studio will assume the place previously occupied by Surface Book. With the performance advancements made across our other 2-in-1s and laptops, the team stepped back to reimagine what a performance laptop could be. The result is a product that adapts to how you want to work, watch, create, or play.

Written by

Michael Alba

Michael is a senior editor at He covers computer hardware, design software, electronics, and more. Michael holds a degree in Engineering Physics from the University of Alberta.