Surface Studio up and running


FedEx dropped it off mid-day and I have been going through the update and transfer motions for the last five hours. First impressions — A+. This feels like the best computer I have ever had, which is what I previously said about the Surface Book much earlier this year.

I still haven’t had a chance to play seriously with the “creative” side of things, but some quick experiments with inking and screen annotation are fast, fluid and a pleasure to experience.

I toyed with the idea of recording the unboxing experience, but decided I didn’t have the patience. Somebody with experience in that kind of presentation will be along eventually to show what the package looks like and how everything is packed away. The packaging design and execution are extremely nice — nicer than they need to be, in fact, and I have to believe that a greater-than-tiny chunk of the purchase price goes to defray the cost of the boxes in which they send it to you. Even the outer shipping  carton is a cleverly folded huge piece of corrugated cardboard that with a couple of tape cuts falls open like a blooming lotus to let you easily remove the somewhat smaller and much more elegant container for the machine itself.

The Studio came with 14393.187 installed, and after initial setup I quickly updated and ended up with 14393.447 — that’s right, 447, not 448. I’m pretty sure I will go Fast Ring on this thing in the near future, but I will try to be patient and not rush immediately into an available version of the Creators Update. System updates installed today also included a WD driver and some security updates. Defender shipped with definitions from last May, but today’s update brought it current pretty quickly.

The screen is great — sharp, bright, and with roughly four times the area of a Surface Book screen. After a few months of working on an ultrawide extension monitor the proportions feel a little retro, but there is no denying that there is a lot of real estate to fill up with whatever kind of work anyone would want to do.

The mouse feels a little better engineered and more precise than other MS mice I have owned. The rectilinear keyboard is compact and a pleasure to use, but I splurged on the ergonomic keyboard as well and expect to be doing most of my keyboard work on that one as time goes by. There has proved to be a bit of a learning curve for the forefingers, what with the few oversize keys in the middle of the divided keyfield.

I haven’t tried out the Dial yet, but in the process of pairing it to the Studio I saw that it is called the “Wheel” in Settings section that lets you control it. I am shocked, shocked to learn that Microsoft appears to be not firmly in control of all aspects of its naming processes.

Moving into this machine is like moving into a new and larger apartment or house, so there is still a lot of organizing and preparation to get through before I really start using it for the stuff it is designed to do best. But that may start to happen over the weekend, and I will report back as the experience unfolds.

Any disappointments or unwelcome surprises? Maybe a small one. The swinging screen is completely gear driven, so you can’t put it at a custom height and custom angle at the same time; the higher you position it, the more vertical it gets; the lower you position it, the more it leans back. I suppose you could get a piece of one-by oak to go under the front or back of the base to adjust the screen position a little, but I’m not sure I’m upset enough by the limited flexibility of the geometry to want to bother.

Liking it a lot so far.


EDITED A DAY LATER TO ADD: Still moving in and getting organized, but taking moments to mess around with photograph editors, bit and vector drawing programs, musical performance and manipulation apps (I have a ROLI Seaboard Rise that I am trying to come to terms with) and so forth.

Just for grins i ran some overall benchmarks that might interest others. I compared the Studio (i7/980 GPU) to my older Surface book (slower i7 with the optional GPU); this is NOT the new Book with the augmented base.

Antutu v 6: Book, 254376; Studio 493588 (these are the results of second runs; first runs were each about 10% lower)

Passmark v 9: Book, 2336.8, 61st percentile; Studio, 4925.0, 94th percentile (these were also second runs with first runs also about 10% lower)

After further mouse use, I think I prefer an old Logitech M510 to the Surface Mouse. The Logitech mouse has an exaggerated Coke bottle shape that my fingers like on either hand; that mouse also has some additional buttons that are useful for paging forward and back in a browser. The Surface mouse isn’t bad; it just feels a little basic and blob-like in the hand. As a thing, though, its design minimalism makes it nice to look at as a tool in the Surface universe. A nice feature of the Surface Mouse and Dial is the magnetic battery cover on the bottom of the device. Simple to operate and you can’t bust off or damage any little plastic ears.

Speaking of magnets, I found out that the vertical edges of the screen have multiple magnets that let one stash the pen on either side in one of several different positions. That is a thoughtful design touch that should pay off in reduced irritation for a lot of graphics professionals.

There are other Thurrott devotees who ordered a Studio early on and should have it by now; please chime in with your thoughts about this machine.

Comments (6)

6 responses to “Surface Studio up and running”

  1. 1321

    [quote]The Studio came with 14393.187 installed, and after initial setup I quickly updated and ended up with 14393.447 — that’s right, 447, not 448.[/quote]

    It should have .447 as that is the latest CU release, .448 is the latest CU level for Windows 10 mobile.

    How is the hybrid drive cache handled? Do they use Intel RST or an MS implementation?

    • 250

      In reply to nightmare99:

      I pulled the reference to the .448 build from the site; I'm running FR builds on my phones and tablets, so I didn't realize there was a distinction at the AU release level. Thanks for pointing it out.

      Can't find explicit specs on the hybrid drive question, but there may be circumstantial evidence in the dates of relevant drivers. The Intel Chipset SATA RAID Controller uses driver v. dated 7/29/2016; the Microsoft Storage Spaces Controller uses driver version 10.0.14393.351 dated -- cough -- 6/21/2006. That version number certainly hints at a more recent revision than the associated date. New wine in old bottles? Or vice versa?

      A couple of comments I found on Seagate-focused forums seemed to state that Seagate hybrid drives don't use RST, but I'm in no position to evaluate assertions like that. I'd appreciate it if you could help me understand the question a little better and tell me which answer would be preferable. Always trying to learn.


      • 1321

        In reply to MacLiam:

        The internal and exploded component diagrams showed an M.2 SSD so it was assumed this would be used like a cache drive for the slower hard drive, you can make this kind of configuration on a desktop using Intel's rapid storage technology driver or various other third party software's.  Going by the hard drive model number you posted it has a bog standard 2.5" 2TB hard drive which would support the theory that there is an M.2 SSD cache drive (rather than the HDD being a hybrid drive with its own inbuilt SSD cache), I'm quite interested to know if MS are using a third party software solution in this instance or if they have their own SSD caching solution.

  2. 8729

    My first thought: you should try and put the Surface Studio on a "rotating swivel" like this:


    I am also curious about the Rapid Hybrid Drive.

    Does the PC identify it as a single drive (similar to Apple's Fusion Drive) or two separate drives?

    Is the SSD, an M.2 PCIe SSD?

    Is the hard drive a standard 2.5" hard drive?

    • 250

      In reply to illegaloperation:

      The drive is identified by a single reference: ST2000LM 003 HN-M201RAD, so yes -- 2.5 inches. I tried to parse the description on Seagate's website but couldn't convince myself I completely understood what was (and wasn't) stated. My sense is that the hybrid drive is an integrated unit, but I would welcome correction if the reality is different.

      Thanks for the Lazy Susan reference. My "desk" is actually a 42" high cabaret table with a 30" diameter top, so I don't have as much of a side-to-side problem as i do up and down. I've already thought of a couple of wooden stand designs I could build that would incorporate a height-adjustable ramp as well as a retaining lip to keep the Studio base from sliding off an inclined surface. Maybe I'll build one, and maybe I won't. With every passing moment I am getting more used to the way this set-up feels.

  3. 5501

    Congratulations.  I know for some time to come I'm going to be living vicariously through other people's unboxing and experience with this machine.  I don't mind, as I feel the Studio is overkill for me.  Regardless, this is great stuff.