Apple forgot to update iMacs this year, so Microsoft did it instead: enter the Surface Studio. If we’re honest, the Studio is actually closer to a giant Surface Pro mounted on top of a Mac Mini, but with an iMac’s sense of style and some sweet hinges. And we found a few more iMac hallmarks, such as rubber bumpers for the speaker screws and a similarly-mounted display panel. In the base, the Surface Studio sports non-upgradeable RAM and CPU soldered to the motherboard, which kinda rains on the otherwise super modular part parade. If you want more gigs, you’ll have to snag them with the more expensive configuration or forever hold your peace.
The display itself is harder to replace than an iMac’s, but it’s far from impossible. Plus, with all the major components in the base instead of behind the glass, you’ll have fewer occasions to remove that panel in the first place.
- The Studio’s hybrid drive is made up of two upgradeable components—a standard SATA laptop hard drive and an M.2 SATA SSD. Both are located in the base (not behind the display like in an iMac), and can be accessed and replaced without wading through any adhesive.
- The Surface Studio is just full of hot air. Literally. And Microsoft had to pipe that air out somewhere. The Studio features acres of air vents, a beefy heat sink, and two fans—one each for the CPU and GPU. Plus, the power supply has its own internal fan. It looks like Microsoft is getting quite a bit cooler than its late 2000s “I’m a PC” reputation.
- The hinge allows the monitor to transition from vertical to nearly-horizontal with just a light touch—and is clearly Microsoft’s crowning mechanical engineering achievement. We found springs aplenty, and even a couple of antennas inside the plastic casing covering the attachment point behind the display.
- Thanks to a mostly modular design, the Microsoft Surface Studio scored itself a 5/10 on our repairability scale.
Be sure to check the full Surface Studio teardown here.