Microsoft revealed its latest range of Surface products earlier this month, and there were no real surprises from the US tech giant.
There’s nothing to get excited about the Surface Pro 9, Laptop 5 and Studio 2+ unless you’re seriously considering an ARM-based device. However, it could’ve been a very different story if an earlier rumour turned out to be true.
Back in September, two fairly well-known tech sites (NotebookCheck and WCCFtech) posted a “leaked” spec sheet of what appeared to be a brand-new Surface-branded gaming laptop. With up to a 165Hz display, Intel 12th-gen H-Series chipset and RTX 3070 Ti GPU, it’d instantly become the most powerful Surface laptop to date.
However, neither site appears to have properly checked their source, which turned out to be a website called The Prime Gaming whose sole page was the list of specs. Take a look at the site and you’ll quickly arrive at the conclusion I did: it’s a fake.
This means you shouldn’t expect a Surface gaming laptop anytime soon, and here are four reasons why I’m certain Microsoft isn’t secretly working on a gaming device.
1. Surface is all about productivity
It’s important to consider what the Surface brand represents for Microsoft, and the computing market more generally.
Ever since that original device launched a decade ago, Surface has always been about productivity. It’s helped popularise the 2-in-1 form factor for work, but that philosophy has been extended to include regular clamshell laptops and other hybrid PCs. Even the Surface Duo is pitched as a mobile productivity device.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
Something specifically designed for gaming would feel at odds with what has come before it. Especially as there’s an obvious alternative for Microsoft…
2. Any gaming laptop should be Xbox-branded
The Surface line is over a decade old, but its longevity pales in comparison to Xbox. It began life back in 2001 as a single games console, and has gone on to become one of the major players in the booming video games market.
Considering its huge popularity and strong reputation, making any gaming laptop Xbox-branded feels like a no-brainer. There have been plenty of calls for it in the past – with cloud gaming beginning to take off, now could be the perfect time.
3. The sleek Surface design would (probably) be compromised
However, it’d almost certainly have a very different look and feel to any Surface device that currently exists. Surface is known for its thin and light designs, with good looks just as important as great performance.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
Avid gamers will happily put up with an ugly, bulky device if it delivers a top-tier gaming experience. Prospective Surface owners, not so much.
There are examples of great gaming laptops which remain relatively thin and light. But these are few and far between, and typically cost more than thicker and heavier devices.
4. Most Surface products are already too expensive
If Microsoft did make a Surface gaming laptop, it’d almost certainly be a high-end device. It’s possible to get a great cheap gaming laptop, but affordable versions typically arrive after we’ve already seen premium hardware. That’s something we’ve seen Microsoft do with its Go-branded devices.
What’s more, it’d be almost impossible to achieve with the rumoured specs. They would likely put it above the Surface Laptop Studio as Microsoft’s most expensive laptop.
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
Gaming enthusiasts are willing to pay in excess of $1,500/£1,500 for a great experience, but not for a first-gen device from a company that has never made gaming laptops before.
Microsoft should make a more powerful Surface laptop
Given the current economic climate and people’s spending patterns, I firmly believe Microsoft should focus on making its products as affordable as possible. But there’s still scope for the company to introduce a genuinely high-end Surface laptop.
The Surface Laptop Studio is great for specific situations, but maxing out with an RTX 3050 Ti GPU means it lacks the pure power of some rivals. Gaming certainly isn’t the only activity where you need this extra performance – 4K video editing, graphic design and 3D modelling are demanding tasks that all put a strain on the internals.
Right now, Microsoft doesn’t have a great solution for people with these workloads, especially if you want a traditional clamshell laptop. There is scope for the company to introduce a ‘Surface Laptop Pro’ or something similar – it simply shouldn’t be pitched as a gaming device.
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