Update: Our Surface Studio 2 review is out! Spoiler alert: If this can’t win over Mac fans, nothing can.
When the Microsoft Surface Studio first came out, it seemed like a timely and ambitious project: An all-in-one, flexible desktop computer with a stunning screen and tons of designer-friendly features. A closer look revealed some problems with this large addition to the Surface family, including an underwhelming processor and a few too many peripherals to keep track of. Fortunately, a new Surface Studio 2 was announced at Microsoft’s October 2 media event in New York and it comes with a number of important upgrades.
If you’re considering buying the new all-in-one, it’s a good idea to understand just what you’ll be spending several thousand dollars on. Here’s everything you need to know about the Surface Studio 2.
The entry-level Surface Studio 2 starts at $3,500, with options for more expansive options with better graphics cards, and greater amounts of memory and storage for $4,200, and $4,800 depending on your preferences. That’s a higher starting and finishing price than the last-generation device, but there is no option for mid-tier hardware this time around.
There are discounts for students, parents, teachers, and members of the military, though despite crossing our fingers, no configuration comes with bundled accessories like the Surface Dial.
Microsoft hasn’t made an official announcement about when the Surface Studio 2 will be available at retail, but the Microsoft store claims that they will start shipping on November 15.
The overall aesthetics and design of the second-generation Surface Studio will feel immediately familiar to anyone who’s used the first. The 28-inch display still dominates and it sports the same “zero-gravity” hinge for easily adjusting it between its standing, tilted, and near-flat angles. Ports are still located on the back of the base and accessories still connect wirelessly.
The only real physical difference in the design is that the hinge system has been blackened, much like a number of other new Surface products.
As much as the original Surface Studio shipped with decent hardware, it wasn’t great. Everything was a little outdated and last-generation, despite it offering plenty of memory and storage options. The Surface Studio 2 does a better job of offering newer and more powerful chips and cores, but it’s still a little old.
The Surface Studio 2’s CPU is a Core i7-7820HQ, a reasonable upgrade over the last generation’s 6820HQ. It maintains the same four cores and eight threads (thanks to hyperthreading) and the core clock is increased by a couple of hundred megahertz. It’s disappointing not to see an upgrade to the more capable eighth-generation of Intel’s CPUs, which we were really hopng for — especially since the chips were released over a year ago.
The much more tangible upgrade to the Surface Studio’s hardware line up is its graphics processor. Where the original Surface Studio only offered mobile GPUs, the Surface Studio 2 ships with full-sized GTX 1060 or GTX 1070 graphics chips. While these aren’t as powerful as the recently debuted RTX-series of Nvidia graphics cards, they offer an enormous performance boost over even the top-tier 980M from the original Surface Studio. That means better and faster 3D rendering, video playback, and gaming.
Microsoft has also done away with the hybrid drive solution of the first-generation Surface Studio too, and offers the new iteration with a choice of either 1TB or 2TB solid-state drives, delivering high-speed performance throughout the entire drive.
Although Microsoft didn’t increase the resolution or pixel density of the Surface Studio 2’s 28-inch, 4,500 x 3,000 display, it has changed the LCD technology behind it. Through the use of “oxide transistors,” Microsoft claims that the Surface Studio 2’s display is 38 percent brighter (as much as 500 nits more so) and offers a 22 percent improvement in contrast, delivering whiter whites, blacker blacks, and better coloring throughout the image.
The port selection on the Surface Studio 2 isn’t exactly revolutionary, with most of the same ones as the original Surface Studio carrying over to the new-generation. However, of particular interest is the addition of a USB-C connector, which almost all other Surface products are lacking — we’re looking at you, Surface Pro 6.
The Surface Studio 2 comes with the same four USB 3.0 ports as its predecessor, as well as a full-size SD card reader, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Microsoft did ditch the mini DisplayPort connector, though, so any external displays will need to use the new USB standard.