M2 MacBook Pro 14-inch vs Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 -- Specs, price, and features,...
Microsoft's latest Surface Laptop Studio 2 is the first Windows computer to use an Intel Neural Processing Unit. This is how it compares on paper against the similarly-sized and priced 14-inch MacBook Pro with M2.
MacBook Pro 14-inch vs Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2
Microsoft brought out a range of new hardware on September 21 in its Surface lineup, including a new Surface Laptop Go 3 and the Surface Laptop Studio 2. Of the two, the Studio 2 seemed to be a very interesting option, since it is billed as a massive upgrade over the original Surface Laptop Studio.
Packing twice the power of the original according to Microsoft, the new model sports a choice of integrated or discrete graphics options, and some AI smarts for the first time.
These additions should make it an attractive proposition and could tempt potential buyers of the 14-inch MacBook Pro away to the world of Windows. The problem is, to accomplish that, it has to beat Apple's notebook in a number of different ways.
MacBook Pro 14-inch vs Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 - Specifications
|Specifications||Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2||14-inch MacBook Pro M2|
|Display size (inches)||14.4||14.2|
|Dimensions (inches)||12.72 x 9.06 x 0.86||12.31 x 8.71 x 0.61|
|Weight (pounds)||4.18 (Intel Iris Xe),|
|3.5 (M2 Pro), |
3.6 (M2 Max)
|Max Resolution||2400 x 1600||3024 x 1964|
|Display Backlighting||LED||Mini LED|
|Display Technology||sRGB and Vivid, |
Dolby Vision IQ support,
Up to 120Hz,
|Wide Color P3, |
|Processors||13th-gen Intel Core i7-13700H, |
with Intel Gen 3 Movidius 3700VC VPU AI Accelerator
|M2 Pro 10-core,|
M2 Pro 12-core,
M2 Max 12-core
|Graphics||Intel Iris Xe Graphics, |
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 6GB,
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 8GB,
Nvidia RTX 2000 Ada Generation Laptop GPU 8GB
|16-core (M2 Pro 10-core)|
19-core (M2 Pro 12-core)
30-core (M2 Max)
38-core (M2 Max)
64GB (M2 Max),
96GB (M2 Max)
|Biometrics||Windows Hello 2.0||Touch ID|
|Trackpad||Precision Haptic||Force Touch|
|Keyboard||Backlit||Backlit with ambient light sensor|
|Ports||Two USB-C with USB 4/Thunderbolt 4,|
MicroSDXC card slot,
3.5mm headphone jack,
Surface Connect port
|Three Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C),|
Advanced HDMI port,
SDXC card slot,
3.5mm headphone jack,
|Webcam||1080p with Windows Studio Effects||1080p FaceTime HD camera|
|Audio||Quad Omnisonic speakers,|
Dual Studio mics with Voice Clarity
|High-fidelity six-speaker sound with force-canceling woofers,|
Three mic array
|Connectivity||802.11ax Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3||802.11ax Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3|
|Charger||Starts at 120W||Starts at 67W USB-C|
|Color||Anodized aluminum in Platinum||Silver, Space Gray|
MacBook Pro 14-inch vs Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 - Design, Weight, Size
Apple's 14-inch MacBook Pro is an easily identifiable slab of aluminum, recognizable from a long distance away thanks to its distinct aesthetic.
Microsoft's Surface Laptop Studio 2 goes down a different route in a number of ways, At first, it does look like a regular notebook, complete with an aluminum enclosure, but then the Dynamic Woven Hinge comes into play.
Attached to the display and somewhat reminiscent of the iconic kickstand the main Surface uses, the hinge acts similar to the Magic Keyboard accessory for the iPad Pro, in letting the screen flip out and forward over the keys.
This opens up a few possibilities, such as using it as a kickstand and turning the notebook into a triangular stand for the display/tablet. You can also go full tablet mode by flipping the screen and covering the keyboard entirely.
Microsoft made the Surface Laptop Studio 2 a bit thicker and heavier than the 14-inch MacBook Pro.
When it comes to size, the Studio 2 is quite a bit larger than Apple's model, at 12.72 inches long and 9.06 inches wide, while also 0.86 inches thick. The 14-inch MacBook Pro is 12.31 inches long by 8.71 inches, and 0.61 inches thick.
On the weight side, Apple also wins, since the 14-inch MacBook Pro weighs 3.5 pounds for the M2 Pro model, or 3.6 pounds for the M2 Max version.
Microsoft similarly has two variant sizes, with the 4.18-pound Intel Iris Xe model accompanied by the 4.37-pound Nvidia versions.
As a smaller and much lighter option, the MacBook Pro is probably the easiest of the pair to carry around.
MacBook Pro 14-inch vs Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 - Display
Aside from the hinge, the display on the Studio 2 goes a very different route than that of the MacBook Pro. For a start, Microsoft goes for a slightly squarer 14.4-inch display while Apple gets to 14.2 inches.
While bigger, it's not as high-resolution as the MacBook Pro, offering a round-numbered 2,400 by 1,600 pixels. Apple's 3,024 by 1,964 resolution is considerably bigger and with a pixel density of 254 pixels per inch versus 200ppi.
There is some parity when it comes to HDR with Dolby Vision support, with Microsoft going for Dolby Vision IQ, as well as refresh rates going up to 120Hz. But then it goes sideways once again.
Microsoft uses a hinged display that allows for more flexible usage of its new Surface Laptop Studio 2.
The 1,500:1 contrast ratio on the Studio 2 is a lot lower than the claimed 1 million to one of the MacBook Pro. Apple offers Wide Color (P3) support and True Tone, whereas Microsoft goes for sRGB and Vivid color profiles.
Then there's the ten-point multitouch support for the Studio 2, which you simply don't get on a MacBook Pro. This is territory that the iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard resides in, not the MacBook.
There is also support for styluses, with the Surface Slim Pen 2 available separately.
Oddly, Microsoft doesn't provide any brightness figures for its notebook display. Apple does, with SDR brightness at 500 nits, XDR brightness at 1,000 nits for sustained full-screen content, and 1,600 nits at peak for HDR content.
MacBook Pro 14-inch vs Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 - Performance
The MacBook Pro is equipped with the M2 Pro or M2 Max chip, depending on the configuration.
The M2 Pro starts with a 10-core CPU with 6 performance and 4 efficiency cores, a 16-core GPU, a 16-core Neural Engine, 200GB/s of memory bandwidth, and a Media Engine for hardware-accelerated video encodes and decodes in certain formats. A second version of the M2 Pro has a 12-core GPU adding two more performance cores, and a 19-core GPU.
The M2 Max has the 12-core CPU configuration, a 30-core GPU with a 38-core upgrade possible, the 16-core Neural Engine, 400GB/s memory bandwidth, and a Media Engine with more decoding and encoding elements.
The Surface Laptop Studio 2 is equipped with an Intel Core i7-13700H processor, a 13th-gen chip that is built on Intel's Evo platform. It has 14 cores, consisting of six performance and eight efficiency cores, with the former running at 5GHz under Turbo and the latter at 3.7GHz.
Intel also includes 20 threads in total, as well as Intel Iris Xe Graphics, which has 96 execution units.
While you could use the Intel integrated graphics, Microsoft also offers other configurations using Nvidia GPUs. The lowest option is the GeForce RTX 4050 with 6GB of GDDR6 vRAM.
Also available is the GeForce RTX 4060 with 8GB of GDDR6, and an RTX 2000 Ada Generation laptop GPU with 8GB of GDDR6.
The notebook also includes the Intel Gen3 Movidius 3700VC VPU AI Accelerator, which is effectively Intel's analog to Apple's Neural Engine. The chip is designed to help the CPU by handling a variety of processing tasks that the CPU would otherwise take a long time to accomplish, which generally involves machine learning in some way.
While it is very early days on Windows for chips like this to be employed, it is still able to handle some tasks, such as enabling webcam features like Eye Contact correction and Automatic Framing. It will also help power Copilot, Microsoft's next stab at AI assistance following Cortana.
On memory, Microsoft includes 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB configurations of LPDDR5x memory. Meanwhile, Apple has 16GB and 32GB configurations available for the M2 Pro, with 64GB available for the M2 Max chips, and 96GB for the top-specification M2 Max.
Geekbench 6 browser figures for single-core testing.
In terms of benchmarks, we know that the same Intel Core i7-13700H in other notebooks can reach up to 2,500 for single-core Geekbench 6 CPU tests, and about 11,600 for multi-core testing.
By comparison, the 10-core M2 Pro can score 2,637 and 12,084 for the same tests, the 12-core M2 Pro goes up to 2,641 and 14,196 respectively, and the M2 Max can hit 2,734 and 14,472.
Geekbench 6 browser figures for multi-core testing.
Under OpenCL benchmarks, the RTX 2000 ADA Generation laptop GPU can get to 78,624, the RTX 4060 Laptop GPU goes to 88,932, and the 4050 manages 70,302. Geekbench 6 puts Intel Iris Xe Graphics at 12,019.
Geekbench 6 OpenCL GPU scores for a MacBook Pro with an M2 Pro is reported in the browser at 44,108 for the 16-core GPU model and 50,045 for the 19-core GPU version. The top-end M2 Max with 38 GPU cores can get 84,795 in a MacBook Pro.
The benchmark figures indicate that the Intel chip in all models of the Surface Laptop Studio 2 will perform single-core tasks at about the same level as the MacBook Pro, though Apple does take the lead for multi-core tests.
For the GPU side, the integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics is no match for Apple's lowest-performing GPU configuration. The Nvidia discrete GPU options certainly do well, but are pipped by the top-tier M2 Max's GPU.
MacBook Pro 14-inch vs Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 - Camera and Audio
Nestled into the top of the display on the MacBook Pro is a notch, which contains a 1080p FaceTime HD camera. That imaging device is backed up with Apple's image signal processor that can boost the picture quality, and do some small graphical tweaks to boost video too.
The Studio 2 uses a 1080p camera with a wide field of view, which matches Apple's one. Microsoft also includes Windows Studio Effects, with the camera benefiting from Auto Framing, Eye Contact, and Background Blur.
Apple also manages to provide similar tricks, thanks to Center Stage controls in macOS Sonoma.
Microsoft does include Windows Hello 2.0 support for the camera, with infrared used to provide facial recognition. While the MacBook Pro doesn't include Face ID, it does still offer biometrics via a Touch ID button on the keyboard.
To capture audio, Microsoft uses Dual Studio Mics with Voice Clarity, for "super-wideband and natural full-duplex conversations." Apple opts for a studio-quality three-mic array with a high signal-to-noise ratio and directional beamforming.
Audio playback starts with the six-speaker sound system on the MacBook Pro, complete with force-cancelling woofers and wide stereo sound. High-impedance headphones are supported by the 3.5mm headphone jack, and there's Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos for the speakers and supported earphones.
Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking too, if you pair up third-gen AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max.
The Surface offers Quad Omnisonic speakers with Dolby Atmos. There's also a 3.5mm headphone jack as well.
MacBook Pro 14-inch vs Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 - Storage, Connectivity, Power
Apple includes 512GB of SSD Storage for a start with its MacBook Pro, with options for 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, and 8TB. Microsoft uses removable Gen 4 SSDs at 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB capacities.
For connectivity, Microsoft includes a pair of USB-C ports with USB 4 and Thunderbolt 4 support, along with DisplayPort and Power Delivery. There's also a USB-A 3.1 port, a MicroSDXC card reader, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a Surface Connect port.
You can turn the Surface Laptop Studio 2 into a tablet, depending on the task at hand. .
Apple offers three Thunderbolt 4 ports that also handle DisplayPort and Power Delivery, an SDXC slot, HDMI, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There's also a MagSafe 3 connection for recharging.
Wireless connectivity for both devices extends to Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro has a 70-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery that can last for up to 18 hours of Apple TV app movie playback. Microsoft simply states that there is a nominal battery capacity of 58 watt hours.
MacBook Pro 14-inch vs Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 - Pricing
Microsoft starts its Surface Laptop Studio 2 at $1,999.99, which includes 16GB of memory, 512GB of storage, and Intel Iris Xe graphics. Upgrading to the RTX 4050 raises the cost to $2,399.99, while a third configuration adds a 1TB SSD and 32GB of memory at $2,799.99.
A fourth configuration with 64GB of memory, 1TB SSD, and an RTX 4060 costs $3,299.99, or $3,699.99 if you go for the 2TB SSD version. A seventh option with 32GB of memory, a 1TB SSD, and the RTX 2000 Ada is $3,599.99.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,999, with the 10-core M2 Pro CPU, 16-core GPU, 16GB of Unified Memory, and 512GB of storage.
Upgrading the chip to the 12-core M2 Pro with the 19-core GPU costs $300, the M2 Max with a 30-core GPU is a further $200. The top-end M2 Max with the 38-core GPU is another $200 again.
Going from 16GB to 32GB of memory costs an extra $400, with the 64GB option another $400 again, and the 96GB an extra $400 once more.
The SSD storage increase from 512GB to 1TB is $200, with 2TB another $400 on top. Paying another $600 gets 4TB of SSD storage, and 8TB can be had for an extra $1,200 again.
The most expensive 14-inch MacBook Pro configuration is $6,299. However, going for the fastest chip, 64GB of memory, and a 2TB SSD to be in the same configuration ballpark as the highest-specification Studio 2 brings the 14-inch MacBook Pro to $4,099.
That's $399 more expensive than the most powerful Studio 2.
MacBook Pro 14-inch vs Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 - Which to Buy?
The Surface lineup has always been aspirational for Windows notebook users, and the Surface Laptop Studio 2 offers the same thing.
It's an unusual design of notebook that seems to offer a lot, including the touchscreen capabilities that Apple continues to leave off its MacBook lineup.
This Surface Laptop Studio 2 packs machine learning smarts.
It's too early to tell whether the addition of Intel's AI chip will be of benefit to Windows users, but if Apple has already soundly demonstrated, it can be an extremely useful addition down the road.
While the promise and the processing capabilities of the Surface Laptop Studio 2 are great and comparable to what Apple offers in its 14-inch MacBook Pro, that's really where Microsoft's advantage ends.
Apple still produces a thinner, lighter notebook in the form of the 14-inch MacBook Pro than Microsoft's latest notebook offering. One that has a considerably higher-resolution display, one that can be configured to higher specifications, and has already put the Neural Engine to work on real-world tasks.
Microsoft's Surface Laptop Studio 2 is certainly a great notebook among other Windows hardware. It's a powerful machine with a lot to offer, and for those who need Windows, it's a great choice.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro, on paper at least, still seems like the better buy for the moment.
MacBook Pro 14-inch vs Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 - Where to Buy
The Surface Laptop Studio 2 is available to preorder through Microsoft's website and Amazon.com, with availability from October 3.
Apple's MacBook Pro 14-inch, meanwhile, is heavily discounted in the AppleInsider M2 MacBook Pro 14-inch Price Guide, with every model up to $400 off. You can also find a roundup of the best MacBook Pro deals, which is updated regularly.
Read on AppleInsider