It's been four years since we got the Surface Studio 2, the much-improved followup to Microsoft's ever-so-flexible all-in-one desktop. Surely, the company has something special in store for the next version, right? Well, yes and no. The Surface Studio 2+ is indeed significantly faster than before, thanks to Intel's H35 11th-gen CPU and NVIDIA's RTX 3060 graphics.
But we've also spent most of this year being impressed by Intel's terrific 12th-gen hybrid chips, which deliver vastly better performance than 11th-gen CPUs. (Just imagine how much more intriguing the Studio 2+ would be with a 16-core 12th-gen HX CPU.) You'd think a computer starting at $4,300 would have the fastest hardware available? No wonder it's not called the Surface Studio 3.
If you've been following our coverage of the Studio line, the Studio 2+ will sound pretty familiar. It has the same 28-inch PixelSense screen, a flexible hinge that can be effortlessly pushed down to an easel-like angle, and it packs in all of its hardware in a desktop-friendly base. Following the trend we've seen with all of Microsoft's Surface hardware this year, there aren't any exterior design changes at all. But hey, at least we've finally got Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports and Dolby Vision HDR.
Microsoft claims the Core i7-11370H CPU in the Surface Studio 2+ is 50 percent faster than the Studio 2, as well as five times faster than the original 2017 modeled. Coupled with the RTX 3060, which is twice as fast as the GTX 1060 in the Studio 2, this new desktop will definitely be a fast performer. But the hardware geek in me can't help but wonder why Microsoft couldn't make Intel's 12th-gen chips work. They're technically more efficient, and it's not as if there wasn't enough time to prepare for new hardware.
I'm sure the Studio 2+ will satisfy general buyers who are willing to pony up big bucks for a uniquely flexible desktop. But I can't think of recommending Intel's 11th-gen chips in any other computer today, unless you're snagging it with a serious discount. For such a premium, they're practically a dealbreaker.
At least the Studio 2+ is well equipped otherwise, shipping with 32GB of DDR4 RAM and a 1TB SSD. (It sure would be nice to see some SSD expansion slots, though). But take note, if you want it to ship with Microsoft's Surface Pen, Keyboard and Mouse, you'll have to spend an extra $300. (That makes it a $4,500 computer with last year's Intel chip! The horror!)
You can pre-order the Surface Studio 2+ today, and it'll be available in select markets on October 25th.
Follow along with the rest of our news from Microsoft's 2022 Surface event.