Just over two years ago Microsoft introduced the Surface Book. A unique Windows 10 convertible laptop which also functioned as a tablet. The detachable tablet section contained all of the major components such as the CPU, storage, and the RAM. The keyboard section – referred to as the ‘base’ – contained an optional discrete GPU and a sizeable battery which substantially increased the overall longevity of the Surface Book.
Microsoft has just announced the sequel, the aptly named Microsoft Surface Book 2. It features the same hybrid design and can be used in all of the same modes: Laptop, Tablet, Studio, and View. Looking at the just the exterior, it’s difficult to tell the newer model from the old. Don’t let the design fool you, however, as there’s plenty of changes that make the Surface 2 an enticing upgrade.
What’s new with the Surface Book 2?
Let’s start off by talking about the most obvious change. The Surface Book 2 now comes in 2 sizes; as well as the 13-inch model, there’s now also a 15-inch variant to choose from. I personally like the decision to add a 15-inch version to the lineup. In fact, this is Microsoft’s first ever 15-inch Surface product. If you wanted a larger display before, Microsoft was automatically ruled out as an option, meaning that many people turned to Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro or alternative Windows laptops.
The addition of a USB type-C port is another welcome addition to the Surface Book 2. It replaces the mini-display port from the previous model, something I can’t see many people complaining about. USB type-C is simply more versatile and relevant in this day and age.
Besides from some small tweaks, not much else has changed from a visual perspective. The clamshell design still doesn’t close like a typical laptop, but this due to the hinge design. The hinge is designed in such a way the tablet section is balanced and has little to no wobble when typing or using the touchscreen. It’s also still super lightweight considering the power inside, so despite the 15-inch version being pretty large, it won’t be a hassle to carry around.
This is something that has also seen more than a modest upgrade. New 8th Generation Intel Core i7 Quad-Core processors are present in both sizes of the Surface Book 2. There is also a cheaper fanless Core i5 Dual Core chip available for the 13-inch model if you’re not in need of the extra power that the i7 brings.
The discrete GPU has been upgraded as well. The 13-inch model gets a 2GB Nvidia GTX 1050 and the 15-inch model gets the 6GB GTX 1060. The fanless i5 model instead uses much less powerful Intel integrated Graphics. The GTX 1050 and 1060 are both very respectable GPUs, the GTX 1060 can even competently run Virtual Reality applications without a problem. The inclusion of these high powered GPUs and Quad-Core CPUs blows away most of the competition, including the Apple MacBook Pro.
Video, Image and 3D graphics editing won’t be a problem on the Surface Book 2, meaning that it will appeal to creative types who need to be able to work whilst on the go.
Other specifications remain pretty standard; the Surface Book 2 starts with 8GB of RAM coupled with a 256GB SSD and is configurable up to 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD.
The Surface Book 2 still features the same 3 by 2 aspect ratio display. This adds additional vertical real estate which is ideal for document editing and web browsing. The 13-inch has the same resolution as the first Surface Book; 3000 by 2000 pixels giving it 267 pixels per inch. The 15-inch version has a slightly higher resolution at 3240 by 2160 but has a similar pixel per inch ratio at 260 owing to it’s larger display. And being a Microsoft Surface product, both displays are compatible with the Surface Pen.
Having a battery in both the tablet and the base means that you can expect some impressive battery life. Microsoft is claiming that the Surface Book 2 can achieve up to 17 hours of battery life. That is a serious claim which (if true) beats out almost all of its competition. Comparably, Apple states that their MacBook Pro can last up to 10 hours on a single charge. Whether the Surface Book 2 will actually last that long is yet to be seen, it’s always worth taking battery life claims with a pinch of salt. That being said, even if it’s shy of 17 by a couple of hours, it’s still impressive.
Microsoft’s best laptop yet
The Surface Book 2 is a stellar upgrade; it has a new display size, new CPU, new GPU, the addition of USB-type C and improved battery life. Besides from the similar exterior design, everything has changed for the better. I’m very much looking forward to when it’s released in November of this year. I no doubt think that this will win over a lot of people who were on the fence between purchasing a Microsoft Surface Book or MacBook Pro.
Provided there are no unexpected hardware issues at launch, the Surface Book 2 will be a big hit. Pricing starts at $1499 for the core i5 13-inch model and goes all the way up to $3299 for the highest spec 15-inch variant.