Microsoft boosts performance with trio of refreshed Surface devices
Around this time last year, Microsoft unveiled the "largest update to the Surface portfolio in its history" in preparation for a new version of Windows. This time around, the company has refreshed three members of the family: the Surface Studio, Surface Pro and Surface Laptop.
As was the case in 2016 when the first model was launched, the pick of the bunch is what Microsoft describes as the "most versatile all-in-one on the market" – the Surface Studio 2+.
Immediately catching the eye is the computer's 28-inch PixelSense touch display at 4,500 x 3,000 pixels with support for Dolby Vision and the DCI-P3 color gamut, which can be raised or lowered to optimal input height courtesy of Zero Gravity hinges on either side.
Much of the componentry is encased in the base. The all-in-one is reported to be up to 50% faster than its predecessor in the processing department, and five times more powerful than 2016's original, thanks to Intel's 11th Gen Core i7-11370H chip – a somewhat surprising (and disappointing) move given that Intel launched its 13th Gen Core processors last month and 12th Gen chips are pretty much everywhere.
Graphics performance does better though, in the shape of an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU with 6 GB of video RAM. System support comes from 32 GB of RAM and 1 TB of SSD storage, plus secured-core TPM 2.0 protection for sensitive data.
Elsewhere, there's a 1080p webcam for video chats with the boss, which works alongside dual far-field microphones, and connectivity options include USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 and USB Type-A ports, Gigabit Ethernet LAN, Bluetooth 5.1 and Wi-Fi 6. The PC also rocks Dolby Atmos speakers for immersive audio, as well as a 3.5-mm headphone jack for private listening.
The Surface Studio 2+ runs Windows 11 Pro, ships with a Surface Pen, keyboard and mouse and commands a rather high starting price of US$4,299.
Next up is the aluminum-wrapped Surface Pro 9 tablet-laptop hybrid. This features a 13-inch PixelSense touch display at 2,880 x 1,920 pixels and dynamic refresh up to 120 Hz.
Microsoft has gone with 12th Gen Core i5/i7 processor options for this model (with business users getting higher-spec flavors) with integrated Iris Xe graphics, though it can be optioned with a Microsoft SQ 3 processor with 5G delivered by Qualcomm Snapdragon and matched with Adreno graphics.
The 5G model comes with up to 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage, while the non-5G flavor tops out at 32 GB of RAM and 1 TB of storage. Again, enterprise-grade TPM 2.0 data protection is included. The former version has a 15.5-hour battery, while its Intel sibling can run for up to 19 hours in typical usage.
Common specs include a HD webcam out front and a 10-MP rear camera around back, two USB-C ports (though the 5G has to make do with version 3.2 while the other gets 4.0), Bluetooth 5.1 and Wi-Fi 6E. And as well as being able to download apps from the Microsoft Store, users can also now tap into the Amazon apps store.
Pricing starts at $999, the Pen stylus and keyboard are optional.
It's Intel all the way for the last of the trio. The Surface Laptop 5 is powered by 12th Gen Core i5/17 processing brains and Iris Xe graphics, with support from up to 32 GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 1 TB of SSD storage, and a resident TPM 2.0 chip keeping data safe.
It can be had with either a 13.5-inch PixelSense display at 2,256 x 1,504 resolution or a 15-inch flavor with 2,496 x 1,664 pixels, both with Dolby Vision IQ support. And there's a 720p webcam for face ID and video chats, paired with dual far-field mics.
This model sports a single USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 port plus one USB 3.1 Type-A, there's Bluetooth 5.1 and Wi-Fi 6 too, and audio is served up via Dolby Atmos speakers or a 3.5-mm headphone jack. Microsoft claims up to 18 hours of per-charge usage, though real-world up time will likely be lower.
The Surface Laptop 5 carries a starting price of $999.