I was excited about the battery life on the Surface Laptop Studio 2… then I read the small print

One of the most important factors when looking for a new laptop is battery life. Given power and performance is getting better with every generation, it might even be the most important.  At the premium end of the market, high-end devices can be extremely versatile and powerful, but this usually comes at the cost of battery life, which can be a real inhibitor in the hybrid working age. 

Enter the Surface Laptop Studio 2, announced at the recent Microsoft Surface Event 2023, which marks a watershed moment for Windows machines. From every angle, it looks the real deal. A 13th-Gen Intel Core CPU is paired with an 80W Nvidia GeForce RTX4060 GPU, with the machine also boasting up to 64GB RAM and 2TB SSD.

Starting from $1,999.99, this device isn’t just comparable to the best laptops out there, but it can even give Apple’s MacBook Pro a run for its money – based on the manufacturer’s claims.

Do claims around the Surface Laptop Studio 2 really stack up?

Few Windows devices can outpace the MacBook Pro on performance, let alone meet or exceed its battery life, thanks to the in-house M-series CPUs, like the M2 Ultra, Apple fits into them. 

But not only does the Surface Laptop Studio 2 claim to outpace the latest MacBook Pro, it also has a staggering 18 hours maximum battery life, which Microsoft attained in controlled demos. 

The MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) lasts more than 19 hours on a single charge, by way of comparison.

This is a game changer: at last, a powerful high-end, possibly MacBook Pro killer, that can deliver high-end performance for close to a full day of usage. Or, at least, that’s what I thought until I read the find print.

Digging deeper, it seems thes “controlled demos” are more akin to a light jog than anywhere near the strenuous typical day-to-day activity any user would naturally put the Surface Laptop Studio 2 under.

Microsoft achieved this battery lifespan by employing a few tricks, including running the device at low brightness and “a portion of time with the device in use with idle applications”.

We cannot, with confidence, claim the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 has an 18-hour battery life, or anywhere close it, without putting the machine to the test ourselves. 

Microsoft’s “controlled” conditions aren’t reflective of typical day-to-day usage, but we’ll be sure to verify this as soon as we can. Because, on paper at least, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 could well be a major entry into the premium market. Whether this works out in practice remains to be seen.

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