Surface Studio 3: Release date, everything we know, and what we’re hoping for
Microsoft’s Surface Studio 3 is coming, and in fact, the Surface Studio 2 is the Microsoft PC that hasn’t been refreshed in the longest period of time. It was announced on October 2, 2018 at the same event as the Surface Laptop 2 and Surface Pro 6, two devices that have been revved twice since then.
Moreover, the Surface Studio 2 has last-gen specs at launch. While the new Surface Laptop 2 and Surface Pro 6 were using newer eighth-gen chips, the Studio 2 had seventh-gen processors. This was a problem when Windows 11 was announced. At first, it required an eighth-gen Intel processor, so a brand-new Surface Studio 2, which you can buy today, wouldn’t be supported. The company ended up backtracking on the supported CPUs.
Surface Studio 3 release date: When is it coming out?
Microsoft hasn’t announced the Surface Studio 3 yet, and frankly, there aren’t any credible rumors or leaks either. The original model was released in late 2016 and the second one came out in late 2018, so we’re well overdue for a refresh.
When Windows 11 released in October, Microsoft released new hero hardware. It ended up being the Surface Pro 8 and the Surface Laptop Studio as the hero devices, and then we got the Surface Go 3 and a Wi-Fi only variant of the Surface Pro X. I wouldn’t expect to see the Surface Laptop 5 until next year.
The Surface Studio 3 would fit right in as a new hero product, especially given the similar form factor to the Surface Laptop Studio. But again, there still haven’t been any solid rumors or leaks. The best we can hope for at this point is some time in 2022, and even a spring release seems unlikely.
There are two other alternatives. One is that Microsoft will do it in 2022, and with a four-year gap between products, that means it should be redesigned in a big way. The other one is that Microsoft simply isn’t going to make a Surface Studio 3. Given the radio silence around it, that’s entirely possible.
Surface Studio 3: What we’re expecting
When the Surface Studio 2 came out, it came with a spec bump, USB Type-C, and a better display. Here’s what we’re expecting from the Surface Studio 3.
A spec bump
The Surface Studio had sixth-gen processors, while the Surface Studio 2 had seventh-gen chips. Obviously, the Surface Studio 3 should have something substantially newer. It’s unclear if it would have current 11th-gen CPUs, or if Microsoft would stay a generation behind with 10th-gen, but that’s still a big leap. The current Surface Studio has a CPU so old that Microsoft had to change the Windows 11 requirements for it.
It’s also worth noting that previous generations of the product have used mobile processors. They’re 45W H-series processors, which are typically found in gaming laptops and mobile workstations. I’d love to see an actual desktop processor in the Surface Studio 3, and it’s certainly a possibility. Microsoft redesigned the Surface Book (with the Surface Laptop Studio) in a way that would give it room to move from a 15W U-series CPU to a beefier H35-series chip, so perhaps it will do something similar for the Surface Studio.
The GPU should get a solid bump as well. The original Surface Studio maxed out with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M with 4GB GDDR5, and the Surface Studio 2 boosted that to a GTX 1070. Perhaps the Surface Studio 3 could be the first to include RTX graphics.
A new design
This product has to have some substantial visual changes over the previous two generations. If it was as simple as a spec bump, then the product would have been refreshed by now. Spec bumps don’t happen overnight, but they’re relatively easy ways for companies to keep their products fresh.
I don’t really know what that design might look like, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was more similar to something that’s already on the market. We’re seeing that with the Surface Book 4 design. The original Surface Book design didn’t work, putting so many components in the display, so we’re going to see a design that’s closer to HP’s Folio products.
Surface Studio 3: The wish list
A bigger screen
The number one thing on my wish list for a Surface Studio 3 is a bigger screen. Right now, it comes in at 28 inches 3:2, which is pretty sweet. But what if we had options? I’d love to see a big 32 inch option.
It would also be nice to see a smaller option, something around 24 inches. Microsoft loves to pretend that the Surface Studio competes with Apple’s iMac, but let’s face it. The new 24 inch iMac with Apple’s M1 processor starts at $1,299. The Surface Studio 2, if you bought one today, still starts at its original price of $3,499.
A lower price
This is similar to what I just said about screen options, because the reason I want to see that smaller option is so Microsoft could make something more affordable. But also, I want the main, 28 inch option to be more affordable, making the new 24 inch option even more affordable.
Let’s face it; the Surface Studio is the least successful line of Surface PCs. After all, even if the hardware was brand-new, $3,500 is an absurd amount of money to pay for a desktop, and that’s the starting point. In order for that to make sense, you really have to want that “convertible desktop” form factor.
Say what you want about Apple’s pricing, but the least expensive iMac is $1,099. That puts an iMac in any home that wants one. Microsoft has pushed to that market with tablets and laptops, but it hasn’t even attempted to do that with desktop PCs. It’s time.
I almost put this in the ‘what to expect’ section, because I truly believe this is something Microsoft will be putting in all of its Surface products. It’s already in the Surface Pro X, Surface Laptop 3 and 4, and the Surface Pro 7+.
Microsoft is renowned for charging ridiculous premiums for storage tiers. For example, the Surface Studio 2 comes in 16GB / 1TB, 32GB / 1TB, and 32GB / 2TB configurations, priced at $3,499.99, $4,199.99, and $4,799.99, respectively. Of course, Microsoft doesn’t want you upgrading your own storage for far less than it would charge you, but that’s one of the benefits of removable storage.
The real benefit however, is for businesses and governmental institutions. If you’ve got sensitive information on your device and it needs to be serviced, that’s a real problem. With removable storage, you can remove the SSD before sending the device out. It also makes it easier to destroy the storage when recycling the PC. Considering that Microsoft is increasingly focused on the business segment of the market, I’d expect this across the whole portfolio.
That’s all that we know about the Microsoft Surface Studio 3. As we learn more, we’ll update this page with new information.