After a 2-in-1, a traditional laptop, or a dual-screen smartphone? Microsoft has what you need
Decisions, decisions. Microsoft’s Surface line-up of laptops, both traditional and convertible, as never been larger. If you’re already sold on a Windows machine, the hard part is deciding which one.
The range starts with the compact and affordable Surface Go 3 2-in-1, rising all the way up to the cleverly hinged Surface Laptop Studio flagship, and with plenty in between – but there’s not just price to think about. There’s also whether you’re after a work machine, plan on getting creative, or just want something perfectly portable.
Don’t panic if all that choice is giving your wallet cold feet: we’ve done all the hard work for you. Here’s our recommendation on which Microsoft Surface model is worth parting with your hard-earned cash for.
Why doesn’t the most affordable Surface model get our recommendation for taking to school? Because by the time you’ve added a Type Cover detachable keyboard (essential for tapping up lesson notes), the Surface Go 3 is no longer quite so affordable. And that’s if you’re sticking with the entry-level, Pentium-powered version.
Instead, students should pick up the Surface Laptop Go. It’s a traditional laptop, so takes up a little more space in a backpack, but has a more powerful Intel Core i5 CPU, so should feel more responsive when editing documents or web browsing. It does only have 4GB of RAM, and on-board storage is a small and slow 64GB of eMMC memory, so if there’s room in the budget it’s worth stepping up a grade. The mid-tier model has a faster and more spacious 128GB SSD, plus 8GB of RAM for smoother multitasking. It also comes in a tasty Ice Blue colour.
When integrated graphics just won’t cut the mustard, there’s only one Surface model worth thinking about. The Surface Laptop Studio is a hybrid powerhouse, with a very clever hinged screen. You can either use it like a regular laptop, fold it down for a closer, more touch-friendly angle, or flatten it completely and use like a digital sketchpad.
It’s got the best display panel you’ll find on any Surface, too. The 14.4in unit has a 120Hz refresh rate, 2400×1600 resolution, and even Dolby Vision support. Of course there’s a 3:2 aspect ratio, which is perfect for side-by-side documents.
Most importantly, the i7-powered Surface Laptop Studio can be outfitted with Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU. This’ll speed up image and video editing, 3D design work and rendering – and should manage some modern gaming, too. Even a fully-loaded model should be good for up to 18 hours of battery life, too. If you’re a creative pro, accept no substitute.
The range might have expanded in recent years, but whenever we think Microsoft Surface, we still think “2-in-1”. And right now, there’s none better than the Surface Pro 8. It’s an evolution, not a revolution, but the superior display and Intel internals earn it our recommendation over the similarly-sized Surface Pro X.
You’re getting a 13in screen with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate, a choice of i5 and i7 silicon, up to 32GB of RAM and as much as 1TB of storage, for those with deep enough pockets. The Surface Pro Signature Keyboard is an optional extra, but well worth picking up, as it plays so nicely with the Surface Slim Pen 2. There’s a docking space for the stylus, and wireless charging support too.
The built-in kickstand has almost 180 degrees of adjustment, so it’s good for watching as well as working, and Intel’s Iris Xe graphics are good enough for a spot of casual gaming too.
We get it, not everyone wants a 2-in-1. If you’re never going to detach that keyboard, why pay extra for it? The Surface Laptop 4 still has a touchscreen, so you can happily doodle away with a Surface Pen, and weighs as little as 1.25kg, so is still perfectly portable. The display has a work-friendly 3:2 aspect ratio, and the speakers are Dolby Atmos-certified for when office hours are over.
The Surface Laptop 4 is also one of the more configurable Surface models. There’s your choice of AMD and Intel processors, 13in and 15in screen sizes, and a handful of colours to pick from too. Microsoft’s trademark Alcantara keyboard tray is also an option.
Depending on spec you can expect up to 19 hours of battery life, and even the beefiest spec should last an entire work day away from the mains. If you’ll largely be sat at a desk, or type so much that ditching the keyboard would be like losing a limb, there’s no better Surface than this.
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