Frankly, when Microsoft launched its Surface line in 2013, no one had a clue that this was coming. Slowly when Surface Pro and its successors showed up, it all made sense. After four years, when Lenovo, Dell and Apple have already ruled the market of PCs Microsoft Surface Studio swiftly made its turn.
Honestly, we are not complaining. PCs had become boring to the end that they were slowly becoming obsolete. Who would want a large piece of black and white workstation when you can carry your laptop with you? Tablets would further benefit one would say.
But it is in these times when PCs needed renovation the most when Microsoft taught the pros how to make PCs better. Are they any good? That’s the question we’d answer today!
Best display of our times
The display is what grabs your eye here. The large display is supported by Microsoft’s ‘zero gravity’ hinges and is quite futuristic in appeal. The 3:2 form factor in the monitor means that it is just the right amount of square to be worked with for the average person. The display is also very slim and sleek which we think is not very beneficial for all purposes.
Rest aside the display boasts of 28 PixelSense touch screen which can be used at a variety of angles. It’s where the term ‘Studio’ comes in. It can, not just be used upright like a regular PC but it can also be tilted to the point it becomes a drafting table for the artist. Some would argue that its features are suited mostly for the artists’. Nevertheless, this non-descript base of the screen comes with a 10-inch length, 9-inch breadth and just about an inch depth.
The 28 PixelSense comes with 4500×3000 pixels – that’s the best we have seen so far. It means about 13.5 million pixels on the 10inch screen. Our testing recorded that Microsoft has used excellent color contrasts which go to a maximum of 1010:1. This ratio is considered high-end for a monitor. Such contrast, without an OLED display, is highly appreciable.
Specs and performance
At present, Microsoft Surface Studio is available in 3 variants. These are –
• 2TB / Intel Core i7 – 32GB RAM / 4GB GPU $4,199
• 1 TB / Intel Core i7 – 16GB RAM / 2GB GPU $3,499
• 1TB / Intel Core i5 – 8GB RAM / 2GB GPU $2,999
So as you can see all three works on Intel 6th Generation Quad-core processor that work with NVIDIA GeForce graphics. These are 45w chipsets that are mostly found in higher end laptops and not on robust PCs that usually require a 65w chipset to operate. This gap points towards a significant drop in performance point for the working of this desktop.
While it is using NVIDIA GTX 965M and 980M, none of these are suitable for a top tier desktop in 2017. However, Microsoft claims that the timing factor was a hugely crucial issue. Also, they had to keep the size of the PC, thermal considerations, etc. in mind while choosing the GPU.
But we’ve concluded that regarding noise cancellation Microsoft has done a commendable job. The noise never went beyond 70db. This suggests that if it is in an office environment, you probably won’t even notice that it is there.
Apps on Microsoft Surface Studio
Had Microsoft used the latest chips from NVIDIA, Surface Studio would have been ready for VR gaming (even with a GTX 1060), which it is already supporting in Windows 10. But the timing didn’t help it; hence at present, it is useful but with limitations. If you are working with files stored on your HDD, then apps like Photoshop will still be super responsive for you.
If you are working on files that demand large memory, the 32GB will be ample to equip. With 4 USB 3.0 ports, you can easily use it for connecting your Xbox controller for playing games. Although it is not mainly a gaming PC, some games like Forza Horizon 3 and Gears of War 4, work well with this system.
Stylus, mouse, and dial
For the Stylus loving artists, this would be a paradise of sorts. You have to buy the Dial with $99 as an add-on. But it seems like the most natural add-on for the large display of Microsoft Surface Studio. Although the Surface dial is useful for app-specific support and works only with a handful of programs right now, it can give more creative freedom to the users with its color wheel scrolling and brush size selecting features.
The pen or the stylus comes with a 1.024 level of pressure sensitivity and an eraser. We wouldn’t say it is the best stylus when it comes to it. (Wacom’s pen has twice the pressure sensitivity). But it is good and does the job.
While the stylus and the dial both are add-ons, it is a heavy sigh of relief for the user. The dial with its Bluetooth operation works well with the rest of the device. The re-dial menu appears on the screen with certain programs that help you access the custom functions. With the audio or video editor, the dial runs smoothly to warp back and front with the usage.
The keyboard and mouse do the most basic desktop-oriented tasks. Most people would find the keyboard usage pretty comfortable because the noise is inaudible. But put together the entire workstation, the Microsoft Surface Studio isn’t really about the mouse, and we think that bundled with other features such as the Stylus and the Dial it would appeal to the larger audience.
Pricing, Warranty, and Upgrades
It is no surprise that the price of $4200 is a tad bit higher for a PC. Most of the important parts as the chipsets resemble medium-end laptop materials. So the over-the-top price range seems a bit odd.
Not just this, you also cannot upgrade most of the features of Microsoft Surface Studio by yourself. This is what makes it quite a poor long term investment. To top it all, it comes with a one-year limited warranty. Although standard for desktops, it can feel a little inadequate for a PC at this price.
So what should you make of it? It depends on what you are going to do with it. As per our analysis, Microsoft Surface Studio would work best for work related to picture editing, digital art drawing, document related word. But on the other hand, those working with video editing might find this type of workstation to be a little lackluster.
Hence even though this “all-in-one” desktop is built for work, it is not the best for all kinds of work. So that makes it a niche product, not a top tier desktop.