Microsoft flagship battle: Surface Pro 8 vs. Surface Laptop Studio

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If you’re looking for a new Surface, both the Surface Pro 8 and the Surface Laptop Studio, as well as the Surface Go 3, are likely to be on the shelves. Although these two Windows 11 flagship devices share the Microsoft Surface brand, they are vastly different.

The Surface Pro 8 is designed to be a tablet/desktop hybrid, whilst the Laptop Studio is designed to be a full-fledged desktop replacement. We tested both devices, which is why we put up this guide comparing pricing, mobility, design, and other factors to assist you in making your purchase.

Availability and pricing

The Core i5 Surface Pro 8 with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive starts at $1,100. A Type Cover Keyboard or a Surface Slim Pen 2 are not included. The Surface Pro Signature Keyboard with Slim Pen 2 costs $280 more.

You can pay an extra $100 for 256GB of storage or $200 for 16GB of RAM if you want more. A speedier top-end Core i7 model with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage costs $1,600.

The Laptop Studio, on the other hand, is more sophisticated. The Pro 8 costs $1,600, which is $500 more than the Pro 8. This is, however, the entry-level Intel Core i5 variant, with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage and no dedicated graphics card. You’ll have to pay $500 more for an Intel Core i7 model with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage if you want one with a graphics card.

As a result, the Laptop Studio is significantly more expensive than the Pro 8. However, keep in mind that the Laptop Studio’s pricing includes a keyboard as well as a GPU. As we’ll see later, there’s a lot of raw power for the money.

Design

The Surface Pro 8 and the Surface Laptop Studio have very different designs. We thought the Laptop Studio was fantastic after reviewing it. Meanwhile, the Surface Pro 8 was the closest thing we’d yet seen to an iPad competition.

When it comes to design, the Surface Pro 8 resembles a typical tablet. Microsoft reduced the device’s bezels and increased the screen size to 13 inches, compared to prior iterations. It is 0.04 inches thicker and 0.22 pounds heavier than the Surface Pro 7, weighing 1.96 pounds and measuring 0.37 inches in thickness. It also comes with the trademark kickstand, which allows you to set it up in your lap.

The Pro 8 is available in both Graphite and Platinum finishes. You’ll get a device constructed of recycled aluminum rather than magnesium, regardless of whatever color you choose. It’s one of the reasons it’s so much heavier. The Type Cover is also taken into account when calculating the weight. The Slim Pen 2 can now be wirelessly recharged thanks to a new slot in the Type Cover.

On the Pro 8 and Laptop Studio, Microsoft also indicates that the SSD can be replaced. The SSD in the Pro 8 is hidden beneath the kickstand, whereas the one in the Laptop Studio is hidden beneath the base and requires a lot of tools to remove.

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The Surface Laptop studio is more of a standard laptop, so it’s a little heavier at 4 pounds, but it’s still quite thin at 0.7 inches. With the screen up, it can be used as a regular laptop. It can also be employed in Stage Mode, which pulls the screen closer to your face. This is ideal for watching movies or listening to music.

You may also use Studio Mode to pull the screen all the way down to the keyboard deck. The Studio resembles a Surface Pro 8 tablet in this mode, although it’s thicker and heavier. This mode, according to Microsoft, is ideal for artists who frequently use the Surface Pen.

A special fabric hinge underneath the screen supports those transitions between modes, and it’s both fluid and simple to operate. Magnets hold the hinge in place and help guide it around.

The Laptop Studio’s bottom hump is another distinguishing design characteristic. This provides both air ventilation and a location for the GPU.

Finally, if you’re looking for a unique device, the Laptop Studio is for you. With a novel hinge design and many modes (like a 2-in-1), this laptop is unlike any other, but it still performs admirably as a standalone laptop. The Pro 8 looks and feels more like a regular tablet, yet it’s smaller and more portable.

Performance

When it comes to performance, the Surface Pro 8 and Surface Laptop Studio are very close. Intel quad-core CPUs from the 11th generation power both devices.

The Laptop Studio, on the other hand, has a speed improvement thanks to its faster base model CPU. This includes the Intel Core i5-11300H as well as a $2,100 mid-range model with the Intel Core i7-11370H.

The difference between a Core i5 and a Core i7 processor is $500. Both of these processors are extremely powerful, so be cautious. However, the Surface Laptop Studio’s Core i7 variant is the only one that comes with a dedicated GPU, the Nvidia Geforce RX 3050Ti. So, for the higher price of $2,100, the Core i7 option is a better bet if you need a lot of raw CPU and GPU power.

On the Pro 8, you can choose between the Intel Core i5-1135G7 and the Intel Core i7-1185G7 processors. When it comes to the Pro 8, the difference between Core i5 and Core i7 is minor because there is no GPU. A Core i5 processor costs $1,100, while a Core i7 processor costs $1,600.

The Core i5 is fine for normal web browsing and light tasks, but for more demanding jobs like light gaming or video editing, you might wish to upgrade to the Core i7. Because the Surface Pro 8 lacks a dedicated GPU, this is the case. You’ll need a CPU that isn’t prone to throttling. However, if you need more power, you can use the Pro 8’s Thunderbolt 4 connector to connect an external GPU.

The Surface Pro 8 performed admirably in our in-house lab tests for a tablet in its class. The Pro 8 outperformed rival 2-in-1s including the ThinkPad X12 and Latitude 7320 detachable in Cinebench, Handbrake, and PC Mark 10 tests on a top-end model with the Core i7-1185G7 processor.

Laptop Studio, on the other hand, is unique in that it can balance CPU and GPU power. The Laptop Studio outperformed other computers in its class in demanding and real-world workloads like the PugetBench Premiere Pro benchmark. The CPU, on the other hand, is constrained by the fact that it is quad-core. For the same price, you may find 8-core CPUs in other devices.

However, the GPU in the Laptop Studio performed admirably. When playing Civilization VI on medium settings, the game operated at 105 frames per second on the smartphone. The Laptop Studio shines in games that rely heavily on the GPU, but falters in games that rely heavily on the CPU.

The Laptop Studio has the advantage in terms of performance because it offers a GPU option. It’s pricier, but it can also serve as a light gaming laptop and a capable video editing computer. The Pro 8 is a more cost-effective alternative for anything else and lighter jobs.

Display

When it comes to the display on the Surface Pro 8 vs. the Laptop Studio, the results are nearly identical. Both screens will be vivid, and both will enable touch as well as the Slim Pen 2’s new haptics. On both devices, the 120Hz refresh rate is also supported. This is done so that inking and writing on these screens seem realistic and similar to really write on paper. It also helps Windows 11, which features a lot of cool animations.

The only difference between these devices’ displays is a matter of numbers and raw resolutions. The Laptop Studio has a 14.4-inch display, while the Pro 8 has a smaller 13-inch panel. The Pro 8 has a resolution of 2880 x 1920 pixels, whereas the Laptop Studio has a resolution of 2400 x 1600 pixels. The Laptop Studio isn’t as sharp as the Pro 8, and it lacks the same number of pixels, but the difference shouldn’t be too noticeable. Both displays are suitable for creatives and artists, in our opinion.

Portability

Webcams, battery life, and connectors all contribute to portability. It’s another even match in these areas. There are two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 connectors, a headphone jack, and a Surface Connect port on the Surface Pro 8. This year, Thunderbolt 4 is available on all top-end Surface devices, allowing for greater data transfer speeds as well as compatibility for external GPUs and twin 4K monitors.

The Surface Laptop Studio has the same ports as the Surface Laptop. It’s a tie, and regardless of which gadget you choose, you’ll need a dongle.

In terms of battery life, the Laptop Studio gets around 9 to 10 hours in everyday use. The Pro 8 was also able to achieve that level of battery life. These are far short of Microsoft’s claims of 19 and 16 hours, however, you can get a few more hours if you lower the screen brightness and limit yourself to light work.

Invest in the Laptop Studio

If you had to choose between the Laptop Studio and the Pro 8, we recommend the Laptop Studio. It’s a little more pricey, but it offers more features, more power, an optional GPU, and a superior price-to-performance ratio. Because not everyone can afford such a costly device, the Pro 8 is a better option if you’re on a tight budget. However, given the small difference of $400, a little additional cash can go a long way.

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