In this comparison we’ll look at how these laptops stack up and discuss which one is best for your use case. This is the Surface Laptop Studio vs Surface Book 3.
We originally thought the Surface Laptop Studio would be called the Surface Book 4. Thankfully, it’s a lot more than that. It’s the refresh we’ve wanted to see for quite awhile, including an all-new sleeker design. But if you’re looking for a bargain, there’s certain to be some sales on the slightly older Surface Book 3 in the near future. The Surface Book 3 is also a very capable laptop in 2020, so it’s worth considering if you don’t need the absolute top of the line machine.
Microsoft basically took the average of the old Surface Book 3 screen sizes to get the single 14.4″ option on the new Surface Laptop Studio. The good news is the display has been significantly upgraded from the Surface Book line. You get the all new 14.4″ display at 2400 x 1600 resolution. That’s a 3:2 aspect ratio for those keeping track.
The biggest upgrade though is that the screen goes up to 120Hz refresh rate. The spec sheet actually says “up to 120Hz” though, and that’s because it actually ships at 60Hz. You’ll have to turn on the 120Hz refresh rate. Dynamic refresh rate, like you’ve seen on many smartphones, should be coming later on. Microsoft didn’t really give a firm timeline, but we should hear more about that in the near future. Overall, the high refresh rate alone is enough to make me consider the Surface Laptop Studio over the older Surface Book 3.
If you’re needing a laptop for productivity purpose, I’d argue that 3:2 is the best aspect ratio to go with, especially for writing or working with spreadsheets, making both laptops a great choice in that department.
Surface Laptop Studio vs Surface Book 3: Performance
Honestly, the Surface Book 3 isn’t the best performing ultra-portable laptop out there, especially in 2021. The Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio comes with Intel’s Tiger Lake H35 processors, which are a far cry from the 10th-generation 15W processors inside the Surface Book 3. It launched with 10th-generation Intel processors, and the RTX 30-series GPUs were also not available when the Surface Book 3 was released. The lower power processors on the Surface make it unavoidable that the performance isn’t quite as good.
On the other hand the Surface Laptop Studio also has significantly upgraded graphics, with up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, or an RTX A2000 in the business model. H35 processors are new to Intel’s 11th-generation lineup. The H35 processor enables a powerful laptop that’s still thin and light. Having the H-series chip with dedicated graphics should be a big deal for an ultra-portable and adaptable machine like the Surface Laptop Studio.
You can configure the RAM up to 32GB on the Surface Laptop Studio. That should be plenty of RAM for most daily tasks, even with an intense workload. The Surface Laptop Studio also technically has removable SSD storage. While the storage is removable by Microsoft or another service technician, there isn’t an easy way to remove it yourself for a quick swap. The SSD can be configured up to 2TB, which should be enough to satisfy most users.
The Surface Book 3 claims 15.5 hours of battery life on average, but in actual use you can get closer to 10-12 hours depending on your workload. Microsoft claims the Surface Laptop Studio will get between 18 and 19 hours of usage depending on which processor you choose. That estimate sounds pretty high based on previous results, so we’ll have to see how it plays out in our review. Surface Laptop Studio vs Surface Book 3: Cameras and audio
The Surface Book 3 has a solid speaker setup with dual stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos. These are user-facing speakers so they get loud enough when watching media or gaming. Microsoft really stepped it up with the Surface Laptop Studio though. You get Quad Omnisonic speakers with Dolby Atmos, which should be excellent for watching Netflix, YouTube or other streaming content. Sometimes speakers can be a weak spot for portable laptops, but you shouldn’t have any concerns with either of these options.
Surface devices have some of the best webcams on Windows laptops, and the Surface Book 3 comes with two 1080p cameras. For pictures, the front-facing camera has a 5MP resolution, and the rear-facing camera is 8MP, plus it supports autofocus. The Surface Laptop Studio has a solid 1080p resolution on the Windows Hello webcam on the front. That should be just quite nice for video calls with family and friends, as well as any work calls you need on Zoom, Teams, etc. Webcam quality has definitely become a much bigger deal in the last year due to the pandemic, so it’s good to see manufacturers step things up on that front.
The Surface Book 3 was a great option when it first released, but even then it had a weird design and some slightly outdated internals. Microsoft has improved nearly every aspect of the lineup with the new Surface Laptop Studio, particularly in the ergonomics department. In addition, you can use the revolutionary new Slim Pen 2, which feels just like writing on actual paper. Unless you absolutely need to save a few bucks, we’d recommend going with the best configuration of the Surface Laptop Studio you can afford. Microsoft really outdid themselves with their most powerful laptop yet.