If I had to pick one Surface to get this Cyber Monday, it’s Surface Laptop Studio. Here’s why.

Picking the best Cyber Monday deal on laptops can be difficult, but it’s easier if you’ve decided to jump into the world of Microsoft Surface. The Surface line ranges from the iconic Surface Pro to the super expensive Surface Studio 2+. Choosing which one can be a daunting challenge. As someone who literally has all of them (including Studio 2+) if I had to choose just one Surface to use as my daily machine it’d be Surface Laptop Studio.

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Studio came out late last year as is spiritually the successor to the Surface Book line, but it’s better in every way. The pull-it-forward display is more practical and amazing for watching videos or inking. It has a more powerful CPU and GPU that doesn’t throttle under pressure like Surface Book, and it has the best touchpad around thanks to its haptic mechanics.

As to why I like it so much it comes down to the fact that at its heart, it’s just a semi-powerful, beautifully designed standard laptop that has a few useful tricks up its sleeve.

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Category Surface Laptop Studio
OS Windows 11 Home
Windows 11 Pro
Windows 10 Pro
Processor 11th Gen Intel
Core i5-11300H
Core i7-11370H
RAM 16GB, 32GB
LPDDR4x
Graphics Iris Xe (i5)
NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti Laptop (i7)
NVIDIA RTX A2000 Laptop (i7, commercial)
Storage 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB SSD
Upgradeable
Display 14.4 inches
2400×1600
201 PPI
3:2 aspect ratio
Dolby Vision
Up to 120Hz
Touch
Ports Two Thunderbolt 4
3.5mm audio
Surface Connect
Audio Four Omnisonic speakers
Dolby Atmos
Two far-field mics
Connectivity Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5.1
Camera Front-facing 1080p
IR camera
Keyboard Backlit
Touchpad Precision
Haptic
Pen Surface Slim Pen 2
(Not included)
Security IR camera
Firmware TMP (consumer)
Hardware TPM 2.0 (commercial)
BitLocker (commercial)
Battery 56.3WHr
Up to 19 hours (i5)
Up to 18 hours (i7)
Dimensions 12.7 x 9.0 x 0.7 inches
(322.6mm x 228.6mm x 17.8mm)
Weight i5: 3.83 pounds (1.7kg)
i7: 4.0 pounds (1.8kg)

I always remark about the “fundamentals” when it comes to a laptop: Keyboard, touchpad, display, webcam, and speakers. If the laptop nails all those the rest mostly falls into place and comes down to personal preference.  Surface Laptop Studio excels in all these areas. The 120Hz touch display looks fantastic, is color accurate, and is a perfect match for the Surface Slim Pen 2 and its haptic engine. The keyboard and haptic touchpad are the best. Audio from the hidden speakers is outstanding, especially with support for Dolby Atmos. And no one does webcams like Microsoft – they’re simply the best.

And battery life is actually good on this thing!

What are the downsides? Well, it’s running an older 11th Gen Intel processor instead of 12th Gen. They are the more powerful H-series (Core i5-11300H and Core i7-11370H, respectively). Intel 12th Gen is very impressive, and I look forward to Microsoft adding them or 13th Gen to this series. But Intel 12th Gen is also not amazing on battery. It’s worse than the 11th Gen unless you “fix it” by adding a larger, heavier battery. So, trade-offs.

(Image credit: Daniel Rubino)

Now, if this was a low-powered 11th Gen Intel U-series chip, that’d be tough to swallow, but 11th Gen H-series is great. Case in point: Surface Laptop Studio with a Core i7 performs just as well as the Razer Blade 15 (2021) – a full-blown top-tier gaming laptop – on PCMark 10.

You can’t call it weak.

And the NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti? Well, RTX 4000 Mobile series doesn’t yet exist and the 3050 Ti – for a non-gaming laptop – delivers excellent performance. Certainly, more than Surface Book could ever muster. I could play Destiny 2 on it and hit 90 FPS, so that’s good enough for me. Bumping it up to full resolution (2400×1600) and still hitting 46-65 frames per second with medium graphics.

The keyboard, touchpad, and hidden speakers are fantastic.  (Image credit: Daniel Rubino)

Another possible negative is the port selection with just two Thunderbolt 4, Surface Connect, and a headphone jack. It’d be nice to have a Type-A, but I have no issue with my workflow. Surface Laptop Studio also works great with the best Thunderbolt 4 docks.

But in the end, it’s just the design of Surface Laptop Studio that I adore. The 14.4-inch 3:2 display is a perfect size – not too big, not too small. The laptop’s build quality is stellar, and I just prefer to use it whenever I can.

Thunderbolt 4 makes it very powerful. (Image credit: Daniel Rubino)

As to which model should you get? You could go certified refurbished and go with Intel Iris Xe graphics if you just want a powerful non-gaming laptop with exceptional battery life. Pricing for that version with 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD is $1,159 ($200 savings). Unfortunately, the refurbished models with discrete RTX graphics are all sold out, but I’m sure more will appear in the future.

And if I had to choose one model? Go for the Core i7/16GB/512GB/RTX 3050 Ti for $1,800. That’s $300 off the regular $2,100 price. It gives you the best bang for the buck and won’t feel outdated in 2 years.

In my mind, you can’t go wrong with Surface Laptop Studio. It’s one of the best laptops I’ve used that finds the right balance between power and performance. And it’s just fun to use, so I think you’ll like it too.

Need more? Make sure to read my deep-dive review of Surface Laptop Studio.

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