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Microsoft announces Surface Pro 9, Surface Laptop 5 and Surface Studio 2 Plus

At today’s Microsoft Surface event, Microsoft announced three new Surface products and many new accessories.

Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Intel vs Arm

The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 combines the Surface Pro X and Surface Pro lines and provides customers with choices for the device’s processor and colors. Users can pick between an SQ3 Arm-powered processor and Intel’s 12th Gen Core processors. Compared to the Surface Pro 8’s Intel chip, Microsoft says the Surface Pro 9 with Intel offers about 50% better performance. On the other hand, Microsoft’s in-house SQ3 chip includes a new Neural Processing Unit and offers up to 19 hours of battery life. The processor choice is further complicated by the Intel machine, including Thunderbolt 4 ports, while the Arm-powered 2-in-1 supports 5G connectivity. You can’t have both.

Regardless of the processor selection, both devices have the same dimensions and include a 13″ PixelSense Flow Display with 2880 x 1920 resolution and 120Hz refresh rate support. The 3:2 displays have a 1200:1 contrast ratio. Only the Intel model supports Dolby Vision IQ, adding another wrinkle to the mix.

Microsoft Surface Pro 9

The SQ3’s new Neural Processing Unit has benefits on the software side. The NPU allows for enhanced camera and audio features, including automatic framing, portrait background blur and a Voice Focus feature that removes background noise when speaking.

Both models start with 8GB of RAM, but the Intel version tops out at 32GB, and the SQ3 variant tops out at 16GB. Both models start with 128GB of storage. The Intel Surface Pro 9 can have up to 1TB of storage, whereas the SQ3 model is capped at 512GB. The Intel-powered Surface Pro 9 starts at $1,000 with an Intel Core i5 chip, 8GB memory, and 128GB storage. The highest-end Intel Surface Pro 9 is $2,600. The SQ3 edition starts at $1,300 (8GB RAM/128GB storage) and ranges to $1,900. By the way, for the first time, customers can pick the Surface Pro 9’s exterior color. Options include

Microsoft Surface Laptop 5

The Surface Laptop 5 maintains the same thin design as the Surface Laptop 4 while promising improved performance across the board. The Surface Laptop 5 comes in 13.5″ and 15″ sizes. The latest models promise up to 50% better performance than their predecessors. The Surface Laptop 5 can be outfitted with Intel’s 12th Gen Intel processors and Thunderbolt 4 connectivity. However, there’s no longer an AMD option.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 5

The Surface Laptop 5 offers all-day battery life, Dolby Vision IQ support, Dolby Atmos 3D spatial audio, and new anodized aluminum finishes. The laptop offers 8GB, 16GB and 32GB LPDDR5x RAM options and storage choices of 256GB, 512GB and 1TB. The 13.5″ display has 2256 x 1504 resolution (201 PPI) and the 15″ display is 2496 x 1664 (also 201 PPI). The displays are 10-point multi-touch. The webcam remains a somewhat disappointing 720p.

The 13.5″ Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 starts at $1,000 and can cost up to $1,700. The 15″ version ranges from $1,300 to $2,400.

Microsoft Surface Studio 2 Plus

Instead of calling it the Microsoft Surface Surface Studio 3, the latest Surface Studio gets just a ‘Plus’ added to its name. It’s indicative that the update is perhaps not the major one that some users might have hoped for. Nonetheless, the Surface Studio 2 Plus, which looks like the Surface Studio 2, gets a processor bump from a 7th Gen Intel Core i7 to an 11th Gen Intel Core H-35, which should deliver quite a performance improvement. It’s been four years since Microsoft updated the Surface Studio, so at this point, anything helps.

The Surface Studio 2 Plus starts at $4,299, so it’s aimed at heavy users. The Surface Studio 2 Plus includes an NVIDIA RTX 3060 laptop GPU with 6GB of VRAM. The Surface Studio 2 Plus has a redesigned motherboard, allowing the GPU and all other components to be hidden away in a laptop-like enclosure behind the device’s 28″ display. The PixelSense touchscreen display has a 4500 x 3000 resolution and supports Dolby Vision. On the back of the device, there are now three USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, allowing for more connectivity, and you could even hook up three 4K monitors.

Microsoft Surface Studio 2 Plus

As for why the Surface Studio 2 Plus doesn’t include Intel’s latest-generation processors, Microsoft preferred to get to market sooner. In an interview with The Verge, Microsoft’s Pete Kyriacou, vice president of program management, said that the goal was to ship the product quickly, requiring Microsoft to focus on stability and supply. Even so, the device should be about five times as powerful as the original Surface Studio.

The Microsoft Surface Studio 2 Plus has only one configuration with the 11th Gen Intel Core i7, 32GB of DDR4 RAM and a 1TB SSD. As mentioned, it’s $4,299. If you want a stylus, keyboard and mouse included, it’s $4,499.

Additional announcements

Microsoft also announced that its Adaptive Accessories will go on sale on October 25, which is fantastic news for accessibility.

The company also announced the Presenter Plus, a remote control made for video conferencing applications, like Microsoft Teams. The remote is $80. There’s also a new Audio Dock, a $250 speakerphone with Omnisonic speakers and dual noise-reducing mics. The dock includes HDMI, USB-C and USB-A ports.

Catch a recap of the Microsoft Surface 2022 event below, courtesy of The Verge

Alongside new hardware and accessories, Microsoft announced Microsoft Designer, a graphic design app that’s being added to Microsoft 365. The AI-powered app is made for users needing to make graphics quickly. The AI tools included in Designer will be added to Bing and Edge as Image Creator. There aren’t many details yet, but it may involve AI-based image generation using semantics.