Even though it didn't get all of the upgrades we wanted, the Surface Studio 2 is still noticeably faster than before. It scored more than 1,000 points higher in the PC Mark 8 benchmark, and it was twice as fast in the 3D Mark Sky Diver test.
Microsoft also wisely moved beyond a slow hybrid hard drive, now you can choose from either a 1TB or 2TB SSD. While the last machine had read and write speeds of around 300 MB/s, the Studio 2's SSD writes data more than three times faster, and its read speeds are 10 times better. That makes it much better at tasks that involve writing a lot of large files.
Gamers aren't the only ones benefiting from all this new hardware. The Studio 2 is now better-suited to resource-intensive tasks like video editing and encoding, things that can take advantage of the extra GPU power and more robust storage.
Because the Surface Studio 2 is a completely self-contained machine with no potential for upgrade, it's particularly important that you get the fastest hardware you can from the beginning.
Pricing and the competition
The Surface Studio 2 starts at $3,499, $500 more than before. If you want to upgrade to 32GB of RAM, you'll have to add another $700 (!). And if you're going all-out with a 2TB hard drive, be prepared to spend $4,799. Basically, Microsoft is trying to fill the gap between the affordable iMac and the pricey iMac Pro, which starts at $5,000. That machine includes a more powerful 8-core Xeon processor, but it has weaker graphics.
If you're intrigued by the idea of a powerful all-in-one but can't shell out that much cash, there's also Dell's XPS 27, which goes for $1,400 to start and $1,700 with a touchscreen. It'll still be a very capable machine for any creative professional.
So is the Surface Studio 2 worth it? For a certain type of creative consumer, one who demands a flexible display and powerful hardware, it could be. But at the very least, it's an easier sell than before.