Microsoft has finally updated Surface Studio after four years, but is it enough?

The Microsoft Surface Studio 2 all-in-one PC represents the pinnacle of Microsoft device engineering. The beautiful 28-inch touchscreen feels more compact than the recommended size due to its slim design. And with the Zero Gravity Hinge bringing the display down to the surface, artists and designers can jump into drawing mode after sorting through their emails on the device. However, after being launched in 2018, this laptop was abandoned by even mid-performance laptops. At its device launch event on October 12, Microsoft finally released the Surface Studio 2+ to speed things up, albeit at a tempting fee of CA$5,960.

Both the processor and graphics have received significant upgrades. The Intel Core i7-11370H has replaced the now archaic Intel Core i7-7820HQ. Similarly, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics have been upgraded to the much more competent Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060. In addition to the faster graphics cores, the updated graphics brings a host of new technologies such as accelerated ray tracing and Nvidia Tensor cores. Note that this component is designed for laptops and is slightly slower than its full-fledged desktop counterpart.

Memory capacity is still limited to 32GB DDR4. Interestingly, the Surface Studio 2+ no longer supports the 2TB storage option, leaving only the single 1TB option available. IT World Canada has contacted Microsoft to understand this decision.

The port selection has received an upgrade as well. There are now three USB-C ports on the Studio 2+. The port is also faster, supporting USB 4.0 and Thunderbolt 4. The port allows the Surface Studio 2+ to support up to three external 4K monitors at 60Hz. There are still two UBS-A ports available, as well as a Gigabit Ethernet port and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The marquee selling point of the Surface Studio has always been its looks. Unfortunately, there are no updates in this department. It still sports the same 4,500 x 3,000 PixelSense display, 29 inches protected by Corning's Gorilla Glass 3. Its refresh rate is still stuck at 60Hz, which is disappointing considering other generation Surface devices all have a 120Hz refresh rate. . That way, the shimmering colors on screens will still last in 2022. Each display is even color calibrated for color-sensitive work.

As good as the internal upgrades are, they already feel a little out of date compared to what's available in the market. The most striking is the processor. Intel's 12th-generation mobile processors are already here, which makes Microsoft's decision to go with an older 11th-generation processor a bit confusing, especially for such a premium device. And while a replacement is yet to come, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3000 GPU will soon be replaced by the new RTX 4000 series.

At CA$5,960, the Studio 2+ seems very expensive, considering the computing hardware it offers. For that price, an artist or designer can easily afford a high-end professional pen computer and a mid-range laptop. The setup won't be as space efficient or sleek as an all-in-one unit, but it also brings the advantage of upgrading the devices separately. It's not clear how many units Microsoft will sell or who the customers are. The Microsoft Surface Studio 2+ is available for pre-order now and will ship on October 25.

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