It happened during the announcement of the Surface Laptop Studio 2, a new device aimed at creative professionals – a market that usually favors MacBooks.
As Microsoft's reps were extolling the virtues of the Surface Laptop Studio 2, a MacBook Pro was brought on stage. According to Microsoft, it was a model that's fitted with the high-end M2 Max chip, and by the looks of it we think it was the MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023), which Apple launched earlier this year.
We were then shown both laptops rendering the same digital image in Blender, a popular 3D animation application. The Surface Laptop Studio 2 completed it in 37.4 seconds, while the MacBook Pro took 1 minute, 12 seconds to complete the same task. This led to a Microsoft spokesperson on stage to remark "what shall we do while we wait for the Mac?" Ouch.
Don't get cocky, kid
I always like a bit of sass between companies, and the Microsoft vs Apple rivalry has certainly provided plenty of that over the years – I'm sure most people remember Apple's rather merciless Mac vs PC adverts.
Even so, I think Microsoft should be a bit careful with these kind of callouts. When it comes to winning over digital creatives, it has its work cut out. Apple's MacBooks remain the clear favorites in this sphere, and top our lists of the best laptops for video editing, and best laptops for photographers.
We'll know if the Surface Laptop Studio 2 can indeed challenge Apple's MacBooks when we review the new laptop soon.
Also, while the on-stage demonstration was impressive, it was also heavily controlled – of course Microsoft would choose a benchmark test that favored its product – and there may be other areas where the Studio 2 fares less well against the MacBook Pro.
Microsoft was also light on information during this showcase. While we were told that the featured MacBook Pro was running on the M2 Max chip, it didn't provide other specs, such as how much memory it had.
We also got no information about what model the Surface Laptop Studio 2 was. While the base model starts at $1,999 (UK and AU pricing for the new Surface devices is TBC), it can be configured with various CPUs and RAM configurations, and can also be fitted with an Nvidia GPU such as the RTX 4060.
I doubt that the laptop on stage was the base model, and suspect it was rather a more powerful (and more expensive) edition.
That makes it difficult to really know how much of a power advantage the Surface Laptop Studio 2 has over the MacBook Pro. We'll make sure to test it fully, alongside the MacBook Pro, when we get our hands on the new laptop from Microsoft.
Until then, we'll have to take Microsoft at its word. If it has indeed made a laptop that blows the MacBook Pro out of the water when it comes to creative workloads, then things could be about to get very interesting.
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Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.