Surface Studio 3: what we want to see

Surface Studio 3 (Image credit: TechRadar)
Surface Studio 3

The Surface Studio 3 seems long overdue, and we think it’s high time that Microsoft releases it.

After all, even though the Surface Studio 2 hit the streets at the very end of 2018 and may boast high-end Nvidia Pascal graphics, it still runs on 7th-generation Intel Kaby Lake laptop chips. Those 7th-generation laptop chips are pretty outdated these days, so the Surface Studio 2 is arguably already looking a little long in the tooth.

A Surface device running on an Ice Lake processor that has… well, surfaced… recently on Geekbench, but it’s unlikely the Surface Studio 3 we’ve been waiting for. We also haven’t come across any credible rumors regarding the computer. So, we’re still left speculating: what exactly will the Surface Studio 3 look like?

We’re not sure when exactly we’ll come across any concrete information regarding the new Surface Studio 3, especially so soon after the release of its predecessor.  We were hoping it would make an appearance at the Microsoft October 2 event, but it didn't so we'll have to wait until next year. Though if you are interested in other Surface devices that did show up, tune it to our live blog of the event for updates.

For now, we’ll have to settle for a wish list of sorts. Be sure to keep this page bookmarked, however, as we’ll keep it up to date with all the latest news and rumors as they come.

Cut to the chase 

  • What is it? The next Surface Studio PC 
  • When is it out? TBD
  • What will it cost? At least $3,499 (about £2,720, AU$4,850) 

Surface Studio 3

We don’t anticipate seeing the Surface Studio 3 at the October 2 even or any time soon after. (Image credit: TechRadar)

Surface Studio 3 release date

We’re not sure what Microsoft has in store for us at the October 2nd event, but we don’t anticipate seeing the Surface Studio 3 there or any time soon after. Again, especially so soon after the release of Surface Studio 2.

After all, the original Surface Studio was released in December 2016, and it wasn’t followed up until two years later with the Surface Studio 2 hitting the streets in November 2018. Considering these two releases, we wouldn’t expect the Surface Studio 3 until later in 2020.

On the other hand, there have been considerable advances in mobile processor and graphics technology in that short span of time since the late 2018 release. This means that Surface Studio 2’s aging processor is nowhere good enough anymore. This alone could push Microsoft to update its desktop sooner rather than later.

Surface Studio 3

Surface Studio 3 will hopefully be filled with some more cutting-edge hardware. (Image credit: TechRadar)

Surface Studio 3 price

Both the Surface Studio and its sequel are expensive devices, and both represent a massive expense for artists. So, it would be safe to think that the Surface Studio 3 will be at least as expensive.

The Surface Studio 2 already increased the price by $500 (AU$800, about £390) over the $2,999 (AU$4,699, about £2,390) original, setting users back $3,499 (AU$5,499, about £2,720).

If Microsoft does choose to raise the price even more, we just hope it means that the Surface Studio 3 is filled with some more cutting-edge hardware that’s worthy of robbing a bank for.

Surface Studio 3

Thunderbolt 3 is now becoming the norm, and we'd love to see it on the Surface Studio 3. (Image credit: TechRadar)

What we want to see 

The Surface Studio is already an extremely niche device, so it’s kind of hard to make comparisons to existing products to try and build a wish list for the Surface Studio 3. However, there are a few things that we think Microsoft could improve on the Surface Studio 1 and 2. Those, coupled with features that we think have already become standard in computing, are what we hope to see in the Surface Studio 3 if and when it is released.

Come on, Thunderbolt 3
We get it, Microsoft: you don’t want to pay Intel’s license for the Thunderbolt 3 standard. It’s understandable, but there’s only one problem with that: everyone else in the computing world is doing so. And, Thunderbolt 3 is now becoming the norm.

There are so many storage drives, monitors and other peripherals that rely on Thunderbolt 3 to do the job, and this is particularly true for professional products. By 2020, when we start seeing Thunderbolt 3 on flash drives, it will be all but essential. Even for the Surface Studio 3.

The Surface Studio 2 already has the USB-C port – it just needs to take a step further. For a machine that wants to take center stage in the professional artist’s setup, the lack of Thunderbolt 3 – particularly for this price – is inexcusable.

Hardware that’s actually up to date
To put things into perspective real quick, the Surface Studio 2 was released in November 2018 with Nvidia 10-series graphics and Intel Kaby Lake processors. The Pascal graphics are logical – Nvidia didn’t share mobile-class RTX graphics until CES 2019.

But, Intel launched Coffee Lake H-series mobile processors all the way back in April 2018 – more than six months before the Surface Studio 2 hit the streets. We’re not saying that the Kaby Lake chips aren’t going to get the job done, they will. However, Coffee Lake processors would have gotten the job done faster.

Is it too much to expect an up-to-date processor? We don’t know which “Lake” Intel will be on in late 2020, but Microsoft: please include the newest processor in the Surface Studio 3? If we’re dropping over thousands on a computer, we definitely deserve up-to-date hardware.

Up the screen resolution
To be fair, the Surface Studio 2’s display is high-resolution enough. Still, why stop at 4,500 x 3,000 pixels when monitors such as the Dell UltraSharp UP3218K are becoming all the more common – especially among creatives.

We’d like to see the Surface Studio 3 take screen resolution to the next level. We’re not saying skip right to 8K, but perhaps we could see something in between, perhaps something that might outclass that iMac Pro display to make it more compelling choice to would-be Apple converts.

At the end of the day, no one really knows what the Surface Studio 3 is going to look like. But, stay glued to this page, and if we see anything new, we’ll update this article.

Bill Thomas

Bill Thomas (Twitter) is TechRadar's computing editor. They are fat, queer and extremely online. Computers are the devil, but they just happen to be a satanist. If you need to know anything about computing components, PC gaming or the best laptop on the market, don't be afraid to drop them a line on Twitter or through email.