Microsoft Surface Studio 2 is now officially available in Spain. Although on the outside it is essentially identical to the original model , this review of the “all in one” of the Redmond incorporates juicy novelties inside with a clear purpose: to increase our productivity and offer us a more satisfactory experience when we use it to create content, which is the clearest vocation that this machine has.
The two strengths that this team has to differentiate from other advanced “all in one” that we can find in the market are its folding base and its excellent multitouch screen. This last component uses an IPS LCD panel that, according to Microsoft, is capable of delivering 38% more brightness than the previous model, and also has a native contrast ratio 22% higher . This team gives to talk at length, so, after the contact we had with him at CES , here you have our first impressions after having tried it with some calm during his official long-term.
Microsoft Surface Studio 2: technical specifications
Before we inquire into its specifications, it seems important to dedicate a few lines to a section that the photographs illustrating this article hardly do justice to: the finishing of this equipment. Its chassis is entirely made of aluminum and is impeccably machined. The choice of this material does not only respond to aesthetic reasons; It also stands out for its high coefficient of thermal conductivity , which reflects its capacity to transport the energy dissipated in the form of heat by the hottest components, such as the IPS LCD panel, the CPU or the GPU.
In the cover photo you can see that this “all in one” has two clearly differentiated modules: the screen and the base. The printed circuit board and the main components, such as the CPU, the GPU, the main memory or the SSD, reside inside the base and not behind the LCD panel, unlike the strategy usually chosen by others. All-in-one equipment manufacturers. This allows the chassis of the screen to be finer, and, in addition, facilitates the evacuation of the heat that dissipates, on the one hand, the LEDs that backlight the LCD panel and the panel itself, and, on the other hand, the CPU and the GPU.
One of the most striking hallmarks of this desktop computer is its screen with multitouch IPS panel. It has a size of 28 inches and its resolution, if we are strict, is not 4K: it is 4.5K. And it uses a matrix of 4,500 x 3,000 points instead of the usual 3,840 x 2,160 points in 4K UHD devices. This data, in addition, allows us to glimpse something interesting: the aspect ratio of the screen of this equipment is not 16: 9, it is 3: 2.
The LCD of this “all-in-one” features a multi-touch IPS panel with a resolution of 4.5K, a density of 192 dots per inch and a 3: 2 aspect ratio.
Microsoft engineers have opted for this format because they believe it facilitates user interaction when we use the stylus or the touch capabilities of the screen. It is possible that they are right, but I am afraid that during the Microsoft demonstration I could not use this equipment long enough to form a solid opinion in this field. In any case, when it comes to ergonomics and its impact on productivity, the last word is always us, the users.
The sixth generation Intel Core i7 microprocessors that we could find in the first version of Surface Studio have given way in this review to the seventh generation Core i7-7820HQ chips manufactured with 14 nm lithography, and that have 4 cores and 8 threads of execution ( threads ). Undoubtedly, it is an interesting CPU, but it strikes me that Microsoft has not opted for an equivalent, but eighth generation Intel processor.
The main memory subsystem has been solved in the basic configuration by integrating 16 GB DDR4 , but the most ambitious ones have 32 GB DDR4. With secondary storage the same thing happens: the basic version of this equipment incorporates a 1 TB SSD unit with NVMe M.2 interface, and the most expensive one replaces it with a 2 TB unit with the same interface.
The CPU and GPU of this equipment have been upgraded to seventh generation Intel Core i7 and GeForce GTX 10 processors to offer a higher performance than the original Surface Studio
Another critical component that has also evolved significantly if we compare the new Surface Studio with the original version is the graphics processor, which leaves the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 9 family and bets on the most powerful GPU of the GeForce GTX 10 series. The most accessible edition of Surface Studio 2 has a GeForce GTX 1060 graphics processor with 6 GB of GDDR5 memory, and the most advanced have a GeForce GTX 1070 GPU equipped with 8 GB GDDR5.
To resolve the physical connectivity of this team Microsoft has been forced to take advantage of the space available in the rear profile of the base, a decision on the other hand consistent if we keep in mind that the logic lies within. Although the available space is not abundant, the provision of connections of this “all in one” is not bad. It has 4 USB 3.0 A-type ports, a second-generation USB Type C port, a slot for reading full-size SD cards, the still-convenient RJ-45 port and the 3.5 mm headphone output.
During the Microsoft event where I was able to test this equipment, I did not have the opportunity to analyze the quality of its IPS panel using my usual test tools. Even so, my feelings are very positive because the screen of this Surface Studio 2 looks really good. The density of 192 dots per inch of this panel is high enough so that the level of detail is fantastic if we use the equipment, for example, to retouch photographs or edit video. In addition, the combination of the 28-inch panel and the 4.5K resolution gives us a truly immense desk.
As far as color reproduction is concerned, it is as good as expected from a good quality IPS panel: great. The photographs and videos that I could see “in action” during this testing session convinced me that the screen of this team is up to what a user who will use it for infographics, video editing or processing can demand. photographs, for example. In this context we must not forget that the panel is also multitouch (it supports up to 10 simultaneous points of contact), and its sensitivity is comparable to that offered by professional digitizing tablets.
The mechanism that unites the screen of this team to the base is undoubtedly one of its differential strengths. The folding base is identical to the original version of Surface Studio, but it continues to surprise me with the efficiency and simplicity with which it allows us to modify the height and inclination of the screen to adapt it to our needs at any given time.
The folding base allows us to adapt the position of the screen to our needs at a given moment with flexibility
If, for example, we are writing a document with a word processor we can place the screen in a vertical position, as it would be placed in a conventional “all in one”. And when we need to use the stylus on the panel to, for example, draw freehand or take notes, the ideal is that we fold the equipment , so that the screen is placed in its lowest position and almost parallel to the surface of the table. As if it were a notebook.
The folding base also allows us to adopt any position of the intermediate panel between the two that I have just described, so we can transform the equipment into an interactive lectern on which we can lean to draw on the panel with the stylus, which, by the way , is included in the team, or to interact with it using our own fingers, as if it were a conventional tablet .
A feature of the mechanism of the base that is easy to ignore but that is very important, and that surely Microsoft engineers have paid much attention, is the resistance offered by their axes to rotation . The force that we have to do to modify the height and the inclination of the screen is light enough so that we can adjust it without effort, but, at the same time, the axes offer the appropriate resistance so that we do not move the screen unintentionally when we are using the stylus or our fingers to interact with it.
The specifications of this equipment are sufficiently ambitious so that it can be used practically for any task. Even to play. During the tests that allowed me to write this article I could only play a few minutes, but the GeForce GTX 1060 GPU of the basic model should be enough to play at 1080p with enough solvency . Even so, this “all in one” has a very clear vocation of computer for content creation. In fact, Microsoft proposes it especially for digital artists, engineers, architects or any other professional who can take advantage of the features I have described in the previous section.
An accessory that acquires a very special role in this last use scenario is Surface Dial , a kind of magnetic potentiometer that we can place both on our table and on the computer screen itself to act on the software in a very intuitive way. All we have to do is turn it as if it were a volume potentiometer to, for example, modify the zoom on the object with which we are working or choose a specific tool among a palette, among many other possible options. Surface Dial is adapted to the software we are using, so its function will change from one application to another.
This accessory is a chulada. I think that, effectively, it can have a beneficial impact on our productivity because it allows us to access tools in a fast and intuitive way. But there is bad news: Surface Dial is not included with Surface Studio 2. And, in addition, it is an expensive accessory (it costs 109.99 euros ). Whether or not it is interesting to buy it will depend on the needs of each user, but adding 110 euros more to the 4,150 euros that costs, at least, the basic version of this equipment, hurts. At least a little.
It is difficult to use this equipment and not end up seduced by it. It is beautiful, it is well built, it performs well, and, best of all, it adapts like a glove to our interaction needs with its multitouch screen thanks to the flexibility of its folding base . If in the future the opportunity to try it in our own facilities is put to use, we can tell you many more things about it and evaluate with much more precision and objectively both its performance and the quality of its IPS panel.
Do you hit? Few. It would have been a good idea to incorporate an eighth-generation Intel processor, which has been on the market for a long time , not a seventh. In addition, it would also be appreciated if it had at least one additional second generation USB 3.1 port. And, to order, also an HDMI 2.0 output. In any case, in my opinion, his biggest handicap is his price . And is that the 4,150 euros that costs the most affordable version will represent a difficult barrier to draw for many users. Even for many companies. So whoever wants to get one will have no choice but to save.