Surface Studio 2 Review: A Creative’s All-in-One Dream?
Updated: Aug 19, 2021
The Microsoft Surface Studio 2 could easily be the most beautiful computer on the market right now. It does have its faults, but it’s a computer that says “specs isn’t everything”.
The Surface Studio 2 has a 28″ PixelSense display, 4500 x 3000 with a Pixels Per Inch (PPI) count of 192 and runs on an Intel i7-7820HQ with a base clock of 2.9GHz. There are 1TB or 2TB SSD storage options, and 16GB or 32GB of DDR4 RAM options and comes with Windows 10 Pro installed.
It’s running on the NVIDIA GTX 1070 which has 8GB of DDR5 memory. In terms of ports, there’s one USB-C, four USB 3.0, an SD card reader slot, 3.5mm headphone jack as well as a 1 Gigabit Ethernet port. There’s also Stereo 2.1 speakers on the back with Dolby Audio Premium and a 5MP front camera with 1080p HD video recording capabilities.
With that out of the way, let’s talk design. This is, in our opinion, the most beautiful PC on the market, even when compared against Apple’s offerings. Pictures don’t do this justice, so you really have to take a look at it in person.
The hinge is great and designed in such a way that no matter which position you put the screen in, it doesn’t fall. While there are better displays on the market, the one on the Surface Studio 2 is beautiful and a joy to look at. There is a bezel, and maybe Microsoft will consider getting rid of it in a future iteration to give it an even sleeker look.
There’s three colour modes, Vivid for highly saturated images, sRGB for accurate colour reproduction and DCI-P3 which is good for editing videos.
While there are speakers built-in, they aren’t going to win any prizes for sound quality. It generally sounds decent and does the job, but don’t expect to get audiophile quality speakers here.
The keyboard really complements the Surface Studio 2. It’s a full size keyboard with numberpad by the side, and has great travel distance. It’s a great accessory, but when it comes to the mouse, that’s when things don’t look so great. It’s definitely not one of Microsoft’s best, but if you’re just looking to use a mouse out of the box, it works fine.
There’s also the pen, which is the same pen that you can get with the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2. It latches on magnetically to the side of the Surface Studio 2, but doesn’t charge there. The pen is quite precise and works great for detailed editing and drawing, with no real delay at all.
The Surface Dial can also be used here, and this is a product that can be a bit divisive. Some people will like it, others won’t. Bobby doesn’t use it everyday, personally, but it’s essentially an extension of the mouse. You can use it to scroll through webpages, select colours when editing and more. It’s not necessary to purchase one, but it’s definitely a nice bonus to have.
The Surface Studio 2 is the top of the line for Microsoft, but we wouldn’t call this a pro level PC anymore. It’s more suited to the prosumers now, while still being priced as a professional product.
Day to day performance, it handles web browsing with ease. Photo editing is also not an issue for this computer, with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom running smoothly with no problems. It’s definitely a lot more responsive than the Surface Pro 2 in this regard.
If you’re thinking about gaming, the computer can game for sure. But you definitely won’t be getting the highest resolutions or frame rates on this. Casual or less intensive games will be fine, however.
What about video editing, you say? The Surface Studio 2 actually performs quite admirably with 4K videos, but of course, if there was a better processor and graphics card, it would be smoother.
There are some issues with this though, that became apparent after a few weeks of usage. First off is the location of the ports. Everything is located at the back of the base, which makes it a hassle to have to reach around and blindly try to stab a USB into a matching port. It would have been much better, and more user friendly, if Microsoft had put the ports on the side of the base instead.
Secondly, there’s no Thunderbolt 3 support. Yes it’s a licensing issue, but for a computer that costs almost S$7000, there really is no reason to skimp out on this. Even just a single port with Thunderbolt 3 would have been good.
Even though we’re a tech review site that is always going on about having the latest and best, the Surface Studio 2 had enough computing power for our needs. If you’re a hardcore gamer or someone who really needs an i9 processor, then don’t look at this product because it might not fit your needs.
You might be wondering, then what’s the point of paying so much for a PC that uses an older chipset or doesn’t have Thunderbolt 3? The answer is the 28″ touchscreen display at this resolution. If you’re going to purchase a similarly-sized Wacom tablet, for example, to draw on, you’re also going to fork out quite a bit of money. At least with the Surface Studio 2, it’s an all-in-one package so you don’t have to clutter up your desk.
Find out more about the Surface Studio 2 (starting at S$5,548) on Microsoft’s website.