Display Analysis

If the Surface Laptop Studio is the successor to the Surface Book, it has a lot to live up to in the display department. Microsoft is dubbing their new display the PixelSense Flow display, and that is because it now offers a 120 Hz refresh rate. Advantage Laptop Studio. The 120 Hz option can be disabled to save power, but even if left in the default 120 Hz mode, the laptop will automatically lower the refresh rate when it can to limit the power usage. I have been fortunate enough to use a lot of high refresh rate displays over the years, and the additional smoothness in all tasks is very welcome.

One area where the 14.4-inch Laptop Studio falls a bit short compared to the Surface Book is pixel density. The 2400x1600 3:2 aspect ratio display comes in at 201 pixels per inch, compared to 260 pixels per inch on the Surface Book 3. Though slightly less sharp, it is still a high-PPI display, and the lower resolution should help out on battery life significantly.

Microsoft continues to offer only sRGB gamut coverage, where some of their competition offer the wider Adobe RGB or P3 color gamuts. That may seem like a disadvantage for the Surface Laptop Studio, but with the state of Windows, even with the latest Windows 11 operating system, it really works best with sRGB. To facilitate those that prefer a bit more punch to the colors, Microsoft continues to offer choices between sRGB and Vivid modes, the latter offering more saturated colors. For our testing, we stuck it in the most accurate sRGB mode.

To test the display characteristics, we leverage Portrait Displays’ Calman software suite with a custom workflow. For brightness and contrast measurements the X-Rite i1Display Pro colorimeter is used, and for color accuracy testing the X-Rite i1 Pro 2 spectrophotometer gets the call.

Brightness and Contrast

Display - Max Brightness

Display - Black Levels

Display - Contrast Ratio

At 486 nits, the Surface Laptop Studio is not quite out brightest device tested, but it isn’t far off. The dynamic range of the display is also very impressive, with it achieving under 2 nits of brightness at its minimum setting. Contrast is also very good, although not quite as strong as some of the original Surface Book results which would be over 1800:1.


Portrait Displays Calman

Display - Grayscale Accuracy

Microsoft is probably the only PC manufacturer to individually calibrate every display on every PC they sell, and the results are always impressive. Although the reds are slightly elevated, at no point in the grayscale test does the error level go above 3.0. Gamma takes a bit of a jump near 100% brightness, but the overall gamma is right on the 2.2 expected.


Portrait Displays Calman

Display - Gamut Accuracy

As already stated, Microsoft continues to target the sRGB gamut, but thanks to their individually calibrated panels, they target it nearly perfectly.


Portrait Displays Calman

Display - Saturation Accuracy

Where the gamut test focuses on the primary and secondary colors at 100% brightness, the saturation sweep tests the primary and secondary colors at 4-bit steps from 0% to 100%. The results are once again, nearly perfect.

Gretag Macbeth

Portrait Displays Calman

Display - GMB Accuracy

Where the previous tests focus on just the primary and secondary color axis, the Gretag Macbeth colorchecker extends the testing to colors all over the gamut, including the important skin tones. Again, like most Surface devices, the color accuracy is fantastic.


Portrait Displays Calman

To give a graphical interpretation of the previous charts, the colorchecker test shows the targeted color on the bottom and what the display output on the top half of the swatch. Although there is some very slight deviations, the results are nearly perfect and would be undetectable to the human eye.

Display Conclusion

Although the Surface Laptop Studio does lose out on some display sharpness over the outgoing Surface Book, it more than makes up for that by offering a 120 Hz display which makes the entire experience more fluid. Like all Surface devices, the display is incredibly accurate for the sRGB gamut, and even if you use it in the vivid mode, which oversaturates the colors slightly, the accuracy in that mode is likely more accurate than almost any other PC on the market. Microsoft has nailed the calibration ever since they made a focus on display accuracy back in 2015, and it shows here again.

Graphics Performance Battery Life and Charge Time


View All Comments

  • cknobman - Tuesday, October 5, 2021 - link

    I feel like Microsoft made a bad decision to go with the 3050ti.
    Nvidia hamstrung the 3050ti really bad with its memory capacity and bandwidth.

    One of the few times I'd say save your money and stick with integrated graphics.
  • Manch - Tuesday, October 5, 2021 - link

    Maybe a mid year refresh will have their in house discrete GPU's.

    I like the Surface book. This like all other foldables is a compromise. The book, disconnects and I have a nice thin tablet, connect, I have an excellent laptop with great battery, KB/TP and a DGPU. both of these are noticeably heavier than the previous kitted out Surface Book. Wish they'd keep selling the Book.
  • tipoo - Tuesday, October 5, 2021 - link

    This isn't really a gaming system and the RTX stuff can help with some pro apps (such as OptiX), there's not really a comparable IGP yet. Reply
  • gescom - Tuesday, October 5, 2021 - link

    I feel like Microsoft also made a bad decision to go with a 4 core Intel cpu. Reply
  • timecop1818 - Wednesday, October 6, 2021 - link

    As opposed to what, 8 core piece of shit from AMD that doesn't have USB 4.0 or working IGPU? Reply
  • Prestissimo - Wednesday, October 6, 2021 - link

    You know what's funny? "Acer ConceptD 3 Ezel 14" laptop is basically identical to this (because MS copied it), but the original Acer wisely used a 8-Core Intel + GTX 1650 and saved a few bucks on their low-end model.

    The Ezel 3 costs $1200 on eBay right now, VS the SLS that costs $2500 with a 2 year warranty, for almost identical specs.

    Acer will refresh their whole Ezel lineup (5 laptops, goes up to i9/Xeon and 3080/Quadro A5000) in a few weeks, and for $2500 that Microsoft charges, you can buy the Acer Ezel 7 that will have an i7-11800H + 3060, and a much better Wacom EMR stylus.
  • cknobman - Wednesday, October 6, 2021 - link

    Oh wow good catch!!
    Looking at the Acer it appears like Microsoft did copy their design.
  • edzieba - Friday, October 15, 2021 - link

    That 'flip screen' form factor dates at least back to the 2013 Vaio Flip, and I'm pretty sure there was at least one Netbook (remember those?) that used that layout even earlier. Reply
  • Tams80 - Thursday, October 7, 2021 - link

    It's a shame that the ConceptD 3 Ezel uses AES. The 7 is a bit too big, but Wacom EMR... Reply
  • Prestissimo - Saturday, October 9, 2021 - link

    The device comes included with AES 1.0 but third party AES 2.0 pens do work on it, which is on par with the Surface Slim Pen 2's performance in terms of diagonal jitter and input lag. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now