Is the MacBook Pro 14 still better than the Surface Laptop S…

Is the MacBook Pro 14 still better than the Surface Laptop S…
14-inch MacBook Pro on the window.
digital trends

Microsoft introduced the Surface Laptop Studio 2, an upgrade to the original pull-forward 2-in-1 laptop with more powerful components. It’s a very nice laptop with some standout features, but it’s competing against a very unattractive crowd of 14-inch laptops.

One of the best is the Apple MacBook Pro 14, which is incredibly well built, has an excellent mini-LED display, and delivers spacey power and battery life. Can the most powerful Surface ever win this shootout?

Specifications and configuration

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2apple macbook pro 14
DIMENSIONS12.72 inches x 9.06 inches x 0.86 inches12.31 inches x 8.71 inches x 0.60 inches
weight4.37 pounds3.5 pounds
processorIntel Core i7-13700H
Intel Gen3 Movidius 3700VC VPU AI Accelerator
Apple M2 Pro (10-core, 12-core)
Apple M2 Max (12-core)
GRAPHICSIntel Iris Xe
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060
nvidia rtx 2000 available
16-core GPU
19-core GPU
30-core GPU
38-core GPU
to hit16GB LPDDR5x
32GB LPDDR5x
64GB LPDDR5x
16 GB
32 GB
64GB
96 GB
Display14.4-inch 3:2 PixelSense 2,400 x 1,600 IPS, 120Hz14.2-inch 16:10 Liquid Retina XDR 3024 x 1964
storage512GB PCIE SSD
1TB PCIE SSD
2TB PCIE SSD
512gb ssd
1TB SSD
2TB SSD
4TB SSD
8TB SSD
touchYesNo
ports2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 x USB-A 3.1
1 x Surface Connect
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x microSD card reader
3 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 x HDMI 2.0
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
sd card reader
wirelessWi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3
webcam1080p with infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello1080p
Operating Systemwindows 11macos monterey
Battery58 watt-hour70 watt-hour
price$2,000+$1,999+
rating3.5 out of 5 stars4.5 out of 5 stars

Pricing for the Surface Laptop Studio 2 starts at $2,000 for a Core i7-13700H CPU, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, and a 14.4-inch IPS display. Fully configured, it costs $3,700 for the same processor, 64GB RAM, 2TB SSD, and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060.

The MacBook Pro 14 entry-level model is priced at $1,999, configured with an Apple M2 Pro 10-core CPU/16-core GPU processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, and a 14.2-inch mini-LED display. When fully configured, the MacBook costs $6,299 for an M2 Max 12-core CPU/38-core GPU chip, 96GB of RAM, and an 8TB SSD.

If we match the MacBook Pro 14 to the maximum configuration of the Surface Laptop Studio 2, it is $4,099 with the high-end M2 Max. So, the MacBook is about $400 more expensive. We’ll see if that extra cost is worth it.

design

Portal RTX running on Surface Laptop Studio 2.
Jacob Roach/

The Surface Laptop Studio 2 is a flexible machine, with a pull-forward 2-in-1 design, where the display flips up on its centerline and can be pulled into place at an angle to the keyboard. Microsoft calls that Studio Mode, and if you pull the display all the way forward it turns into Tablet Mode. Of course, clamshell mode is also an option in which the display flips back to its vertical orientation. It couldn’t be more different than the MacBook Pro 14, which is a traditional clamshell. Whether the Surface Laptop Studio 2 offers a distinct advantage depends on whether you want to write on the display using the Surface Slim Pen 2.

Both laptops are incredibly well built, crafted from aluminium, with no bends, twists or curves in their lids, keyboard decks or chassis. The Surface Laptop Studio 2 is a more futuristic device in its aesthetic with the usual Surface flair. This contrasts the apparent simplicity of the MacBook Pro 14 with its blocky unibody design that still manages to look incredibly elegant in space gray or silver.

In terms of their size, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 is wider, deeper and thicker at 0.86 inches versus the much thinner 0.60 inches on the MacBook Pro. Microsoft’s laptop is also heavier at 4.37 pounds compared to 3.5 pounds. Much of that extra thickness and weight is due to the Surface’s more complex design, which is the price you pay for the added flexibility.

The MacBook Pro 14″ has one of the best keyboards you can buy, Apple’s Magic Keyboard, with large keycaps, excellent key spacing, and switches that aren’t too deep but still provide the fastest and most accurate experience. The keyboard of the Surface Laptop Studio 2 is also good, with its large keycaps and great spacing and switches that are deep and also quite fast and precise. You’ll love the Surface keyboard and you’ll love the MacBook. Both laptops have excellent haptic touchpads that can be clicked anywhere on the surface, but Apple’s Force Touch version is larger. The Surface has a touch display, which the MacBook lacks.

Connectivity is good in both laptops. The MacBook Air 14 has an additional Thunderbolt 4 port and HDMI while the Surface Laptop Studio 2 has a USB-A port for legacy support. We prefer the full-size SD card reader in the MacBook Pro 14. Both the laptops are also updated with their wireless connectivity.

Finally, both laptops also have 1080p webcams, which will deliver equally excellent image quality. The Surface has an infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello facial recognition, while the MacBook Pro 14 has a Touch ID fingerprint reader embedded in the power button. Which one is better depends on user preference.

Display

MacBook Pro on wooden table.
digital trends

The Surface Laptop Studio 2 has only one CPU available, a 45-watt Intel Core i7-13700H with 14 cores (six performance and eight efficient) and 20 threads. It is a workhorse CPU that delivers excellent productivity and creative performance. Microsoft offers a choice of integrated graphics or Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 4050 or 4060 GPU. We reviewed the machine with the latter.

The MacBook Pro 14 has a choice of processors, including the M2 Pro and M2 Max. You can choose from a variety of CPU and GPU core counts to optimize performance, and we reviewed a MacBook with the high-end M2 Max with 12 CPU cores and 38 GPU cores.

Performance was similar in our CPU-intensive Handbrake test and Cinebench R23, as long as you cranked the Surface into performance mode. The MacBook Pro 14 took the lead in PugetBench for the Premiere Pro benchmark, which runs in a live version of Adobe’s Premiere Pro and can use discrete graphics to speed up various processes. The MacBook benefits from GPU optimization in this benchmark.

Both laptops are quite fast, but the MacBook Pro 14 can be configured to be faster for creators.

handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R23
(single/multi)
pugetbench
premiere pro
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2
(Core i7-13700H/RTX 4060)
hair: 104
Complete: 77
Hair: 1,075 / 10,482
Complete: 1,852/13,777
Child: 1,047
Perfect: 912
apple macbook pro 14
(M2 Max)
Hair: 85
Complete: N/A
Child: 1,608 / 14,789
Complete: N/A
Child: 1,222
Complete: N/A

Display and Audio

A MacBook Pro 14
Mark Coppock/

The Surface Laptop Studio 2 has a bright display with excellent contrast thanks to an IPS panel, which goes along with average color gamut coverage and excellent color accuracy. It’s fast and runs at a whopping 120Hz for smooth Windows 11 animations and inking. This is a very nice display.

However, the MacBook Pro 14 has an improved Mini-LED display that’s just as bright at normal settings, but can burn up to 1,600 nits when displaying high dynamic range (HDR) content. It offers wider colors that are almost as accurate and an incredibly high contrast ratio that makes for inky blacks. It’s much better suited for creators and media consumers, and in fact, is probably the best laptop for streaming HDR video (matching the 16-inch model).

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2
(IPS)
apple macbook pro 14
(mini-LED)
Glow
(nits)
532511
AdobeRGB gamut100%100%
srgb gamut76%89%
accuracy
(Delta, lower is better)
0.981.13
Contrast Ratio1,650:135,450:1

The audio is also much like the MacBook Pro 14, with six speakers and a force-canceling woofer that deliver the best audio on a 14-inch laptop. You’ll love the incredibly crisp and clear mids and highs, as well as the surprisingly present deep bass. The audio gets quite loud, requiring built-in audio for your listening needs.

The Surface Laptop Studio 2 uses omnisonic speakers that project above the keyboard. They sound good with good mids and highs and a touch of bass, and they get loud enough for a small room. They’re not as good as the MacBook’s audio, but still good enough that you’ll only want the headphones for music and action TV shows and movies. The biggest problem is that the speakers are covered in studio and tablet modes, with the two most likely being in studio and tablet modes for watching videos.

portability

Port on Surface Laptop Studio 2.
Jacob Roach/

The MacBook Pro 14 is smaller, thinner, and lighter than the Surface Laptop Studio 2, and it’s more comfortable to carry around. You will definitely notice surface weight in particular.

The next measure of portability is battery life, and simply put, the MacBook Pro 14 is much better in this metric. It’ll last at least twice as long as the Surface Laptop Studio 2, and is one of the few machines that will take you from one day’s work to the next. Battery life will be reduced if you throttle the CPU and GPU (as will be the case with the Surface), but doing typical productivity tasks will give you the longest battery life you’ll find in a 14-inch laptop.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2
(Core i9-13900H)
apple macbook pro 14
(M2 Max)
Web browsing7 hours 29 minutes19 hours 20 minutes

MacBook Pro 14 gets more refinement

The Surface Laptop Studio 2 is a great laptop with strong performance, a great build, good input options, and a lot of flexibility. But the MacBook Pro 14 is a great laptop, with better overall performance, a great keyboard and touchpad, a better display, and vastly improved battery life.

Yes, you’ll spend a little more for the MacBook Pro 14″ when similarly configured, but at these prices, most people won’t mind the extra cost. Apple’s machine is the best 14-inch laptop you can buy, and for most users, it’s the better choice.






Arumugam

Ganesan Arumugam is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering stories that resonate with readers worldwide. With a keen eye for detail and a commitment to journalistic integrity, Ganesan has contributed to the media landscape for over a decade, covering a diverse range of topics including politics, technology, culture, and human interest stories.

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