More beneath the Surface of Studio 2

January 08, 2019

Two years after Microsoft first released its own all-in-one desktop computer, the tech giant has revealed an update to the Surface Studio.

And while it may look and feel much the same as its predecessor, reviewers note it’s what on the inside of this creative workhorse that really counts.

Here’s an insight into the Microsoft Surface Studio 2 and the improvements it offers.

The Surface Studio

Targeted at the “creative types” who need some serious horsepower under the bonnet and big-screen real estate for tasks like graphic design, the Surface Studio was Microsoft’s first attempt at manufacturing their own desktop computer.

Released as an all-in-one, it incorporated a huge 28-inch 4.8K, PixelSense screen that operated on a hinge and could be laid flat, and it came with the option of an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor.

When first unveiled in December 2016, Surface Studio was well received, with a reviewer from The Verge then labelling it “truly one of the best desktop monitors I’ve ever used".

Now, two years later Microsoft has released an upgrade in the form of the Surface Studio 2, and generally they’ve made the right improvements in the right places.

The Surface Studio 2

Available as of December 15, the Surface Studio 2 is described by Microsoft as “the ultimate creative studio” with “brilliant color, blazing graphics, faster processors, intuitive tools, and a stunning, adjustable 28” display”.

By and large it looks almost the same as the first version and retains popular features like the massive screen, functional hinge and RGB color support.

In terms of graphics, storage and the processor, however, there are some improvements.

The screen

Surface Studio

Microsoft has stuck with the 28-inch touchscreen but have upgraded the display to be 38 per cent brighter and have 22 per cent more contrast.

It features 13.5 million pixels in true-to-life colour, comes in a 3:2 aspect ratio and retains that user-friendly hinge which allows the screen to lie fact and act as a drawing pad.

The Verge notes:” The Surface Studio display was always stunning, and this is very much the same”.

Processor, storage and RAM

The Surface Studio 2 comes with a Core i7 processor in three configurations. The base model has a 1TB Solid State Drive and 16GB RAM, the mid-range features a 1TB SSD and 32GB RAM, and the top of the line model includes 2TB SSD storage, 32GB RAM.

The Verge notes this is an improvement on the original model which shipped with “old PC components and a hybrid drive that just didn’t keep up”, but they still feel it’s a missed an opportunity.

“Unfortunately, Microsoft is using 7th generation Intel Core i7 processors in the Surface Studio 2, which aren’t the latest available. That’s a disappointing choice for this expensive hardware,” they note.

Graphics cards

In a computer of this calibre (and price bracket) decent graphics are a must. Microsoft obliges with a NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1060 or GTX 1070.

Microsoft claims either will offer “more graphics memory to handle your workflow and support better gaming, mixed reality, and VR”.
But, again some reviewers feel they could have done more.

Tech Radar reflects: “For owners of the current Surface Studio, there's clearly a lot to like about this update, with performance improvements in almost all categories. However, it’s important to note how far behind this product is in general processing out of the gate, and it'll likely soon be behind again in terms of graphics, once Nvidia’s mobile Turing class chips release”.

Surface Stand

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A suite of connections and ports are also a necessity and the Surface Studio 2 includes four USB 3.0 ports (including one high-power port), a full-size SD™ card reader (SDXC) compatible, USB-C, 3.5 mm headphone jack, and 1 Gigabit Ethernet port.

What is doesn’t have is Thunderbolt 3, and Tech Radar notes that would have been a welcome addition, along with a full array of USB-C 3.1 ports.

What’s included and price

As the Studio 2 is the top of the Microsoft’s Surface line, it comes with all the accessories included, with the Surface Pen, Surface Keyboard and Surface Mouse all in the box.

But it would want to…The Surface Studio starts at US$3499 or AU$5499 for the entry level option and then increases to US$4799 or AU$7499 when you hit the top of the range.

Microsoft is currently taking pre-orders and will start shipping before the end of the month.

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