Microsoft’s 2021 Surface Event Breakdown — Hardware Updates Galore!
Microsoft’s long-awaited 2021 Surface event has officially concluded and, needless to say, we have a lot of exciting stuff to go over! To keep things as short and sweet as possible, here’s a quick TLDR: we’re getting a brand-new Surface Pro 8, a slightly updated Surface Go 3, a much improved Surface Duo 2, and a brand new type of product called Surface Laptop Studio — think of it as a hybrid between the Surface Laptop and Surface Book. It might look weird on paper, but it’s actually the best of both worlds. How well it’ll perform in real world tests still remains to be seen, but we applaud Microsoft for their willingness to “”think outside the box” and create new product categories. Sometimes they fail (as was the case with the Surface Neo), but this readiness to experiment is absolutely necessary for the whole tech world to evolve and grow.
We’ve already covered the Surface Pro 8 in a separate piece, so definitely make sure to give that article a read if you’re interested in Microsoft’s latest and greatest 2-in-1 hybrid! Everything else that was announced at the 2021 Surface event (and could be of even the slightest interest) will be covered down below!
Surface Go 3 — Marginally Better
We’ll start off with the biggest disappointment: Microsoft’s Surface Go 3 has only received a marginal spec bump in the form of Intel’s Core i3-10100Y. It is a more powerful CPU than the one found in the priciest SKU of its predecessor, but its performance still leaves a lot to be desired. Heck, we’re putting it mildly here!
In a world where Apple’s iPads are more powerful than most thin and light ultrabooks, the Surface Go 3 sticks out like a sore thumb. Its design is outdated and so are its specs. Now sure, a full-fledged version of Windows is always preferable to Apple’s tablet-friendly iOS, but if it cannot run well enough and if it cannot sustain moderate workloads long enough then it’s all in vain.
Still, if you need a small tablet that just so happens to be running Windows and has pen support alongside a detachable keyboard — two accessories that are sold separately — then the Surface Go 3 will no doubt suffice. Just don’t push it too hard as it’ll slow down to a crawl before you know it.
Surface Duo 2 — A Noticeable Improvement
The original Surface Duo was always a striking device, one whose potential for productivity had no equal. Still, its initial MSRP ($1399) deterred even the most dedicated Microsoft loyals from purchasing it. It was also packed with software bugs and the whole experience felt half-baked — something that is downright unacceptable given its price tag.
The Surface Duo 2, however, improves on the formula in the most important of ways, and is undeniably better in every way, shape, and form. It has 5G support, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 SoC, a better camera array, and a bunch of other improvements (some visual, some internal) that will no doubt result in a much more enjoyable user experience. Oh, and its screens will now refresh at 90Hz — a crucial update that’ll make even the most mundane tasks feel so much smoother.
Its price tag, however, is still a bit too steep at $1499. Is it really worth an additional Benjamin Franklin when compared to its predecessor? Absolutely, but only if observed inside a vacuum — there are other, more polished and well-rounded Android devices on the market, so definitely make sure to snoop around before pulling out your wallet!
Surface Laptop Studio — The Best of Both Worlds
This is where things get a whole lot more interesting: the Surface Laptop Studio is a wholly unique device aimed at creatives, engineers, architects, and, well, perhaps even those who’d like to game a bit on the side — its RTX 3050 Ti graphics will definitely come in clutch during those late night Warzone sessions (with or without DLSS)!
The whole detachable nature of the Surface Book was always kind of gimmicky, but Microsoft, to their credit, made the best of it. Still, it was neither a truly portable tablet, nor a regular old laptop, but rather a hybrid that simply wasn’t a good fit for most people.
The Surface Laptop Studio, however, definitely stole the show at this year’s event — it’s the kind of device you’d expect to see in 2021. Bold in design, fairly powerful hardware-wise, and a bunch of nifty “bells and whistles” we’ve come to expect. That includes Thunderbolt 4 support and a high refresh rate display (120Hz) that’ll make any sort of writing or creative work noticeably more fluid and enjoyable. As for its internals, it’ll pack up to an Intel 11th Gen Core i7 (35W) with either integrated Xe graphics or the aforementioned NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti with 4GB of GDDR6 memory. As for RAM, you’ll be able to go up to 32GB of LPDDR4X RAM which should suffice for nearly any kind of workload.
This peculiar device is obviously geared towards creatives, but its versatile nature should allow it to adapt to any kind of use-case. Although, to be fair, if you’re not going to harness its beautiful 3:2 touch sensitive display you might as well go for a more traditional laptop like one of Apple’s M1-powered MacBooks.
It’s also not that expensive at $1,599. Well, it’s “not that expensive” for such a premium, well-built device. Whether it’ll perform as well as it looks still remains to be seen, but there’s definitely a reason to be optimistic!