Surface Laptop Studio 2 vs MacBook Pro M2: Which one should you buy?

Microsoft surface laptop studio 2 vs MacBook Pro 14-inch
(Image credit: Future)

Microsoft just announced the Surface Laptop Studio 2, and the company made it clear there is one competitor in its sights: the 14-inch MacBook Pro.

With its choice of 13th Gen Intel Core i7 CPUs (paired with a VPU for AI acceleration), and a choice of integrated or dedicated graphics, this versatile touchscreen machine has more versatility for creators than Apple’s powerhouse.

But is that enough in the face of the fearsome Apple Silicon, its tight macOS integration, a suite of creative apps, and impressive stamina? Let’s find out.

Surface Laptop Studio 2 vs 14-inch MacBook Pro: Specs

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SpecSurface Laptop Studio 2MacBook Pro (14-inch)
Screen size14.4-inch, 2400x1600-pixel resolution14.2-inch, 3024x1964-pixel resolution
Refresh rate120Hz120Hz
CPUIntel Core i7-13700H, i7-13800HM2 Pro (10 or 12-core CPU), M2 Max (12-core CPU)
GPUIntel Xe Graphics, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 (6GB), RTX 4060 (8GB), RTX 2000 Ada Generation (8GB)M2 Pro (16 or 19-core GPU), M2 Max (38-core GPU)
RAMUp to 64GBUp to 96GB
StorageUp to 2TBUp to 8TB
Ports1x Type-A USB, 2x Type-C Thunderbolt 4/USB4, 1x MicroSD, 1x 3.5mm audio jack, 1x Surface Connect port1x SDXC card slot, 1x HDMI 2.1 port, 1x 3.5mm audio jack, 3x Type-C Thunderbolt 4, 1x MagSafe charging port

Surface Laptop Studio 2 vs 14-inch MacBook Pro: Price

The 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,999 and can go all the way up to a whopping $6,299. 

  • Surface Laptop Studio 2 (base model): $1,999
  • 14-inch MacBook Pro (M2 Pro base model): $1,999
  • 14-inch MacBook Pro (M2 Max base model): $3,099

Given the starting price disparity with that M2 Max model, we’ll focus on that $2,000 machine in our comparison.

Surface Laptop Studio 2 vs 14-inch MacBook Pro: Design

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio

(Image credit: Laptop Mag/Phillip Tracy)
  • Both laptop designs remain identical to their previous generations
  • MacBook Pro sports a flat, utilitarian aesthetic with no touch screen/hinge-based construction
  • Surface Laptop Studio 2 brings more versatility with its display that can be laid practically flat like a portable easel

As much as we want Apple to push the boat out and be a little more ambitious with redesigns (or at least a new color), Apple’s streamlined minimalism is drop-dead gorgeous. It is a flat, utilitarian design that is built to give you confidence in its aluminum unibody.

Meanwhile, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 also doesn’t change a thing about the design compared to the previous model, and that’s a good thing. The Dynamic Woven Hinge lets you pull the bottom of that display towards you, which unlocks three modes: Laptop, Stage, and Studio.

It’s a premium construction with far more versatility in use cases than you find on the MacBook Pro, but I was hoping that the awkward slab stuck under the bottom for cooling would be gone.

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LaptopDimensionsWeight
Surface Laptop Studio 212.3 x 8.1 x 0.6 inches3.5 pounds
14-inch MacBook Pro12.7 x 9.1 x 0.9 inches4.2 pounds

In fact, it’s not even the additional mechanism of the Surface Laptop Studio 2’s display that adds the extra heft, though. Instead, it’s that vented underside. We weren’t expecting dramatic changes across both these machines in terms of the design or the display (more on that in a second), but the choice here comes down to what’s important for you.

If your workload is dependent on versatility of working styles, then you already know the answer is Surface Laptop Studio 2. However, the MacBook Pro is a true workhorse in its hardware look and feel too.

Surface Laptop Studio 2 vs 14-inch MacBook Pro: Display

Surface Laptop studio 2

(Image credit: Microsoft)
  • Surface Laptop Studio 2: 14.4-inch, 2400x1600-pixel resolution HDR Touchscreen PixelSense Flow Display with 120Hz refresh rate
  • 14-inch MacBook Pro: 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display, 3024x1964-pixel resolution with 120Hz refresh rate

Apple is cocky about its MacBook Pro display, but the company absolutely earns it with its gorgeous miniLED display — super sharp with a buttery smooth refresh rate, and stellar color reproduction. Plus, it gets real bright too with a 1,000 nits sustained brightness with XDR content. For SDR, you're looking at 500 nits.

The Surface Laptop Studio 2 matches this brightness with its 14.4-inch PixelSense Flow panel, which also supports Dolby Vision IQ visuals and DisplayHDR 400. It also sports 10-point capacitive touch and Surface Pen support for a far wider array of use cases beyond anything you could possibly do with the MacBook Pro.

Surface Laptop Studio 2 vs 14-inch MacBook Pro: Ports

MacBook Pro 14 2021 ports

(Image credit: Future)
  • The Surface Laptop Studio 2 may benefit from the versatility of a USB-A port…
  • …but it seems weird to say the MacBook Pro has a wider array for your creative needs!

Why is it weird? Well, it comes down to the typical assumption that Apple limits the amount of connectivity to its laptops. But the MacBook Pro is the exception to the rule with HDMI 2.1, an SD card slot, and three Thunderbolt 4 sockets.

As for the Surface Laptop Studio 2, there is no HDMI port, and in its place, you get USB-A. Elsewhere on the machine, there are two Thunderbolt 4 connectors, a microSD card reader, and that proprietary Surface Connector.

Surface Laptop Studio 2 vs 14-inch MacBook Pro: CPU and GPU

Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro

(Image credit: Future)
  • The base model Surface Laptop Studio 2 gets a 13th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU with integrated Iris Xe graphics
  • Pay more and you can get a dedicated Nvidia GPU
  • As for the MacBook Pro, you get a choice of M2 Pro or M2 max

Apple’s custom silicon is capable of some great things in the M2 Pro and M2 Max – providing impressive performance under intense pressure, and power efficiency unlike any laptop in its class.

In fact, these laptops continue to rank highly in terms of Geekbench scores and video transcoding, which guarantees peak power when it comes to video rendering and complicated edits of high-capacity files.

On the other side of the ring, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 comes packed with either an Intel Core i7-13700H or 13800H CPU, alongside Intel’s new Gen 3 Movidius 3700VC VPU AI Accelerator to turbo boost Windows’ new Copilot-oriented OS. However, one downside is that the base model Studio 2 comes simply with Iris Xe integrated graphics.

There was a specific test on stage at the Surface event, where the Laptop Studio 2 rendered a large file faster than the MacBook Pro. But at the base model price, I’d be skeptical of seeing this as a possibility on Iris Xe integrated graphics. But that remains to be seen in our own testing of course.

Outlook

It was odd to see the Surface Laptop Studio 2 treated almost like an afterthought to Microsoft’s AI efforts because this is shaping up to be a pretty good laptop! But is it enough to compete with the MacBook Pro? That’s for us to find out when we get one in for review.

If Microsoft is coming for the king of prosumer laptops, it best not miss. It has the improved versatility of that gorgeous touchscreen on a hinge to enable far more forms of artistic expression.

But will its combination of 13th Gen Intel, RTX 40-series power, and an AI VPU match up to the pure horsepower of Apple’s pro laptop? I’m not so sure, but we’ll see.

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Jason England
Content Editor

Jason brought a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a writer at Laptop Mag, and he is now the Managing Editor of Computing at Tom's Guide. He takes a particular interest in writing articles and creating videos about laptops, headphones and games. He has previously written for Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.