Microsoft Just Announced Great Upgrades to a Whole Bunch of Its Computers

Microsoft announced refreshes to three different computers today and its proof the company is committed to manufacturing computers, and not just to periodically releasing glitzy overpriced products to showcase Windows. We’re getting the Surface Pro 6, Surface Laptop 2, and Surface Studio 2, all with nice upgrades inside.

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But what’s sure to catch your eye is the new color. While Microsoft will continue to produce and sell products in its now signature platinum color, it’s also added black to the mix, and both the Pro 6 and Laptop 2 can be purchased in the nice looking matte black.

The finish feels just a little different than the platinum. It’s got a tackiness to it. Not unpleasantly so though. And unlike other black laptops (Razer) the black finish doesn’t seem quite so eager to display my fingerprints. But that could change after more than a few minutes of use.

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Illustration for article titled Microsoft Just Announced Great Upgrades to a Whole Bunch of Its Computers
Image: Microsoft

Besides the new color offerings. Microsoft has also, mercifully, axed the worthless 4GB RAM option that’s persisted in both the Surface Laptop and Surface Pro lines. When we last looked for the best $1,000 laptop we actually had to exclude the $1,000 Surface Laptop because of its paltry 4GB starting point. That is simply not enough RAM these days, and Microsoft was one of the few companies still asking customers to spend $1,000 on computers with only 4GB inside.

Now the Laptop and Pro will come with 8GB standard and can be upgraded to 16GB should the buyer choose. The Pro 6 and Laptop 2 will come with 8th-Gen processors. They’ll start with the i5-8250U, but can be upgraded to the i7-8650U.

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Otherwise, these devices are virtually identical to last years’ models. Same 3:2 ratio displays, same touch technology, and in the case of the Surface Pro, same excellent hinge. This isn’t especially shocking as there are rumors the Pro line is getting a significant design change next year.

Illustration for article titled Microsoft Just Announced Great Upgrades to a Whole Bunch of Its Computers
Image: Microsoft
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But the Pro and Laptop weren’t the only devices that got an upgrade today. The Surface Studio, which launched back in 2016, now has a successor: the Surface Studio 2.

On the outside, the Studio 2 looks virtually identical to the original: A huge touchscreen computer targeted at creative power users. The big changes occur inside, and they’re not as big as many would like. The original Studio came with a 6th-Gen Intel CPU and a wimpy Nvidia 965M or 980M GPU—mobile processors that, as far as Microsoft is concerned, married power well with the Studio’s need to have a small base. The Studio 2 has a faster 7th-gen CPU from the mobile HQ series intended for CPU-intensive workloads—so that love of mobile processors hasn’t gone anywhere. And admittedly the 7th-gen HQ series are beefy processors! Yet the 8th-gen HQ processors are even beefier. It sort of feels like Microsoft shot itself in the foot with its decision to go with last year’s processor.

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Illustration for article titled Microsoft Just Announced Great Upgrades to a Whole Bunch of Its Computers

Things are a little less galling on the GPU side. The 965M and 980M were notably outdated when the original Studio launched, so it would have been downright stupid on Microsoft’s part to keep them for the Studio 2. Instead. it went with the 1060 or 1070. Those are currently some of the fastest GPUs made for mobile devices today, so at least one part of the Studio won’t feel outdated.

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Microsoft also claims the LED display technology is different, which means the screen should be up to 40-percent brighter and should have much deeper and richer blacks.

The prices of some of the new devices are, thankfully, the same as for the previous generation. The Laptop 2 will start at $1,000, and the Surface Pro 6 will start at $900. What were once laptops that were a little too expensive for their price, are now potentially some of the nicest looking devices to be had for under $1,000.

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We are still waiting for actual pricing information on the Studio 2, but it’s reasonable to assume that it’ll be priced similar to it’s predecessors. Which means the Studio 2 will start at $4,200.

Senior Consumer Tech Editor. Trained her dog to do fist bumps. Once wrote for Lifetime. Tips encouraged via Secure Drop, Proton Mail, or DM for Signal.

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DISCUSSION

sing-electric
sing.electric

Microsoft REALLY doesn’t want people who need horsepower to buy the Studio. It’s almost **crazy. **

The GPU they’re including on the Studio 2 was ALREADY AVAILABLE by the time the first Gen Studio shipped. They waited two full years to update to the GPU that users were asking for at launch - and its coming just as Nvidia is beginning to release next-gen GPUs. Yes, it’s just desktop parts so far, but if it takes Microsoft another 2 years to update the Studio, it’ll spend most of its life on sale with last-gen tech.

That says nothing about their inability - as far as I can tell - to articulate a clear market for the Studio. It’s not the setup you’d choose for video editing, not the set up you’d choose for 3D work, the GPU is of the wrong type for CAD or scientific work, so maybe 2D illustrators? But how big of a market is that?

The Studio is beautiful, but also deeply flawed...