Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio vs Apple MacBook Pro M1: The ultimate Pro battle

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio vs Apple MacBook Pro M1: The ultimate Pro battle

Today, a lot of us have started working remotely, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But even after the pandemic eventually ends, many companies will stick to remote work. As a result, we’re depending more on our computers. Microsoft and Apple both offer high-end devices, and the competition is only getting intenser. This is the Surface Laptop Studio vs the MacBook Pro M1, two portable yet exceptionally powerful devices, head-to-head.

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Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio vs. Apple MacBook Pro M1: Specifications

Microsoft Surface Laptop StudioApple MacBook Pro M1
CPU
  • Quad-core 11th Gen Intel Core H35 i5-11300H
  • Quad-core 11th Gen Intel Core H35 i7-11370H
  • Apple M1 chip
Graphics
  • Intel Core i5 models: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
  • Intel Core i7 models: NVIDIA GeForce RTX3050 Ti  laptop GPU with 4GB GDDR6 GPU memory
  • 8-core GPU
Body
  • 323.28×228.32×18.94 mm
  • 304.1×212.4×15.6 mm
Display
  • Screen: 14.4″ PixelSense Flow Display
  • Refresh rate: up to 120Hz
  • Resolution: 2400 x 1600 (201 PPI)
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Contrast ratio: 1500:1
  • Touch: 10-point multi-touch
  • Dolby Vision support
  • 13.3″ LED-backlit display with IPS technology
  • Resolution: 2560 x 1600 (227 PPI) with support for millions of colors
  • 500 nits brightness
  • Wide color (P3)
  • True Tone technology
Ports
  • 2 x USB 4.0 with Thunderbolt 4 technologies support
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 1 x Surface Connect port
  • 2 x USB 4.0 with Thunderbolt 4 technologies support
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
Storage
  • 256GB
  • 512GB
  • 1TB
  • 2TB
  • 256GB
  • 512GB
  • 1TB
  • 2TB
RAM
  • 16GB
  • 32GB
  • 8GB
  • 16GB
Battery
  • Intel Core i5: Up to 19 hours of typical device usage
  • Intel Core i7: Up to 18 hours of typical device usage
  • Built‐in rechargeable lithium‑polymer battery
  • Up to 17 hours wireless web
  • Up to 20 hours Apple TV app movie playback
Audio
  • Dual far-field Studio Mics
  • Quad Omnisonic speakers with Dolby Atmos
  • Stereo speakers with high dynamic range
  • Wide stereo sound
  • Support for Dolby Atmos playback
  • Studio-quality three-mic array with high signal-to-noise ratio and directional beamforming
Camera
  • Windows Hello face authentication camera (front-facing)
  • 1080p resolution front facing camera.
  • 720p FaceTime HD camera
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Bluetooth 5.0
Color
  • Platinum
  • Silver
  • Space Gray
Price
  • Starting at $1,599
  • Starting at $1,299

Design: The Laptop Studio stars this show!

Body

The MacBook Pro M1 has had the same design for a few years now. It’s one of the slimmest and lightest Pro laptops out there, and it never fails to impress. When it comes to comparing the bodies of the Surface and the MacBook, the former has an obvious advantage — a body that folds in so many different ways.

While the MacBook Pro M1 is cheaper than the Surface Laptop Studio, it isn’t a versatile device that can switch modes accordingly. The Surface can be used as a tablet, a laptop, or a Studio. So whatever you’re working on, it can adapt to your workflow.

From an almost objective point of view, the Surface doesn’t look anywhere as good as the MacBook Pro. The former simply doesn’t look as minimalistic and is 3 mm thicker. But the Surface surely offers more functionality and packs a bigger punch.

Ports

Apple has become infamous for ditching ports on iDevices. This sacrifice comes in the name of minimalism. We agree, portless devices do look sleek, but they break functionality. Dongles don’t look good attached to any device, but average users are slowly shifting to alternative solutions. Depending on the cloud and going wireless is one way to do it, even though most power users would probably disagree.

The Surface offers two USB C ports, in addition to the fans’ favorite — a 3.5 mm headphone jack — and a Surface Connect port. The MacBook Pro also offers the same two USB C ports and a 3.5 mm headphone jack — surprisingly.

Conclusion

In this round, Apples loses to Microsoft. Both offer the same main, versatile ports, but the MacBook Pro has a body that loses to the Surface Laptop Studio. It’s worth mentioning that the MacBook Pro includes a Touch Bar, but that’s not nearly as powerful or useful as the Surface’s folding build.

Display: The Surface touches our hearts, in 10 different places!

The MacBook Air M1 offers a 13.3″ LED-backlit display with a 2560 x 1600 at 227 pixels per inch (ppi). On the other hand, the Surface has a 14.4″ PixelSense Flow display with a 2400 x 1600 resolution at 201 ppi. The difference in display sizes is very noticeable, and the Surface has a 10-point multi-touch screen, not only the bigger display. Its display not only supports touch input, but also the Slim Pen 2.

Apple’s MacBook Pro, on the other hand, doesn’t support Apple Pencil. These are major advantages to Microsoft, however the MacBook Pro M1 has the higher resolution.

Accessories: The Pen is mightier than the sword Apple Pencil!

Pen being used on Surface Laptop Studio

When it comes to accessories, the MacBook Pro doesn’t support the Apple Pencil. On the contrary, the Surface Laptop Studio supports the Slim Pen 2. Both devices have a keyboard and a trackpad built-in, so keyboard accessories aren’t required for proper use. This round clearly goes to Microsoft because the MacBook Pro has no stylus support.

Capability: Apple blows away Microsoft on a macro level!

m1 chip overview

Performance

The entry model of the Surface offers 16GB of RAM, while the MacBook Pro M1 offers 8GB. But when it comes to the processors, the Apple M1 chip outperforms the Intel chips. The MacBook is more capable and energy-efficient than the Surface. However, the MacBook Pro can be upgraded to a maximum of 16GB of RAM, while the Laptop Studio is configurable to 32GB. Though, to lay out all of the details, the MacBook Pro and the Laptop Studio both can have up to 2TB of storage.

Software

Comparing two desktop operating systems can be very subjective, especially when Windows and macOS have both matured. At this point it’s mostly a matter of taste of what you go for. If you’re in the Apple ecosystem, buying a MacBook would definitely make more sense, for example.

Personally, I prefer macOS, not only because I use other Apple devices, but because I love how quickly developers adopt new APIs. Apple pressures developers into keeping their apps functional and up to date. And whenever a new major feature is made available on macOS, such as dark mode, most teams behind popular apps implement it into their app as soon as possible.

With the redesign Big Sur brought, I feel like macOS is complete and almost perfect for me. The new “childish” UI that’s inspired by iOS only makes the system look more familiar and less (unnecessarily) complicated. Not to mention the ability to run iOS/iPadOS apps without using any third-party software.

Conclusion

The MacBook Pro objectively outperforms the Surface. As for the operating system, it really depends on your taste and what you’re looking for. As a result, Apple wins this round!

Finishes: Apple colors its way into victory!

This round is short, particularly because the Surface offers one color option, while the MacBook Pro goes for two.

MacBook Pro M1:

  • Silver
  • Space Gray

Surface Laptop Studio:

  • Platinum

Both companies offer relatively similar colors, so the finish shouldn’t be a major factor when you’re making your purchase decision. And you could always put on a case, cover, or skin if you’re into more “fun” and lively colors. However, Apple gets this round merely because it offers more color options.

Bottom Line

The Surface Laptop Studio and MacBook Pro M1 are two very different devices made for different kinds of people. Despite their relatively similar software (both run a desktop OS), they each offer different features, capabilities, and builds. Which one is right for you is up to you personally. The Surface clearly takes what a laptop could be to the next level, while Apple sticks to the traditional form. We have only made it easier for you to weigh the pros and cons before you go ahead and buy your shiny new powerhouse!

    Apple MacBook Pro M1
    This MacBook Pro is powered by the Apple M1 chip and includes a Touch Bar.
    Surface Laptop Studio
    The Surface Laptop Studio comes with an all-new design, more powerful internals, and more.

About author

Mahmoud Itani
Mahmoud Itani

Mahmoud is an Istanbul-based Beiruti who has always sought freedom through writing. His hobbies include keeping up with tech news, writing articles about Apple devices & services, crocheting, meditating, and composing poetry. You’ll likely find him jogging at a park, swimming in open water, brainstorming at a coffeehouse, or merely lost in nature. His personal pieces are available on his website, MahmoudItani.com, and he can be reached via [email protected] or the provided social links.