Behind the Design: An Engineer's Tour of Surface Studio
Published Jan 31 2019 03:08 PM 1,105 Views
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First published on TECHNET on Jun 15, 2017
In the latest of our Microsoft Mechanics Surface series, Cindy Louis Wallace, general manager for Surface hardware takes us inside Surface Studio to reveal the engineering and craftsmanship behind its elegant, minimalistic design.


The team's goal for Surface Studio was to enable new modes of productivity and creativity. Central to this goal is the Surface Studio's ultra-thin, 28-inch PixelSense display, providing a large work surface with a resolution comprising of 13-and-a-half million pixels – 60% more than you will find on a 4K monitor.

With each display individually calibrated, what you see on the screen is what you will see when you print. With simple switching between color modes—sRGB, DCI-P3 or VIVID (P3 D65)—the color gamut of Surface Studio can be changed to suit your project, and with the True Scale feature, a page shown full-size on the screen will have exactly the dimensions it will have when printed.

Like its siblings, Surface Book and Surface Pro, the PixelSense display on Surface Studio supports full ten-point multitouch and Surface Pen. The team also developed the Surface Dial as a companion accessory for the free hand when using Surface Pen.

Using capacitive touch and a custom digitizer the screen is able to recognize Surface Dial's unique signature, bringing application-specific controls to wherever you place the dial on the screen. With such a large work area, Surface Dial gives you access to the menus and options you need without having to break your flow.


The three independent spring systems and linkages in the hinge assembly counterbalance the weight of the screen.

The screen actually weighs 13lbs, but thanks to its' zero-gravity hinge it appears almost weightless when it moves.

Within the machined metal-alloy casing additional a butterfly-array of plates help translate the force of someone attempting to move the screen directly to the hinge.

This design makes it possible to move the screen between vertical- and canvas-mode with just a light touch. The plates also provide stiffening. Despite its thin profile the screen feels solid, barely flexing even when leaning on the screen to work.


The low-profile base is the powerhouse of the system.

The Surface Studio comes in three core configurations, each with NVIDIA discrete graphics with 2GB to 4GB of dedicated GPU memory. Surface Studio configurations range from an Intel Core i5 up to a top of the line, Intel Core i7 with 32GB RAM, and a 2TB/128SSD hybrid drive with high speed read/write access.

To add to their challenge, the team wanted to pack power into a low volume base without compromising the thermal design. The heat pipes, and a custom fan algorithm controlling three internal fans independently keep the unit cool and quiet, while maintaining the CPU, GPU and power supply at stable operating temperatures.

Although small, the power supply is integrated within it and it provides a full complement of ports to connect existing peripherals. Its thoughtful design even extends to the detachable power cable, which includes a locking mechanism so that it won't detach accidentally.

These are just a few of the highlights of Surface Studio. You can learn more by watching Cindy's six-minute overview .

Further, you can watch the entire Microsoft Mechanics series on the design and management of Surface devices here , and keep up to date by following us on @MSFTMechanics.
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