Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 is the next in Microsoft’s line of laptops designed to be an answer to Apple’s MacBook offerings. Officially releasing November 9th, it comes in two flavours. The 13.5-inch version weighs in at $1499 and up, and the 15-inch version comes in at $2,499 and up. While certainly in the higher end of the cost spectrum, you get a lot of bang for your buck.
The primary gimmick that sets the Surface line apart is its ability to separate from the keyboard dock and become a tablet, kind of like a Transformer. And while that’s cool, some have worried that in previous Surface devices that power was being sacrificed for this functionality. Rest assured, this is not the case with the Surface Book 2. The Surface Book 2 features the 8th generation Core i7 processor, though there is an option for a fairly high-end Core i5 in the 13.5-inch version. They can feature anywhere from a 250 GB to 1TB solid state drive. The 13.5-inch display shines at a whopping 3000×2000 resolution, while the 15-inch comes in at 3250×2100, and while not standard resolutions, they are nearly 4K which amazing for what amounts to a large fully functional tablet with a functional dock. Finally, all but the cheapest iteration comes stacked with the latest NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 or even the 1060 in the highest end models for the monster 15-inch version.
What this means is that this is a machine that’s decent at gaming and 3D rendering. Therein lies the rub, who is this laptop designed for? Gamers generally don’t have the need for a detachable tablet because of the kind of mobile gaming. Mobile gaming simply doesn’t require that much horsepower and is better found on mobile platforms and not Windows 10. Their money is better spent getting even more under the hood, and there are even some other sleek gaming specific options out there like the EVO15-S that are in a similar price range with more power.
No, the Surface Book 2 is directly stacked against the working MacBook Pro market. And who primarily works on MacBook Pros? Graphics designers and video editors. There may not be a perfect machine to do 3D modeling or any kind of graphic design work if you are willing to finally pull away from the Apple ecosystem. The ability to draw and manipulate via touch is essential to some designers, and while you do lose some horsepower undocking the monitor and going full tablet, you still get enough to drive some serious polygons to work with.
Review of Microsoft Surface Book 2
All of the rest of the Microsoft Surface Book 2’s features are meant to meet the needs of professionals who have some grievances with the direction Apple has taken in recent years. Especially when it comes to taking away useful ports and forcing USB-C down everyone throats. Port-wise, the Surface Book 2 features USB 3.1 ports, a good old 3.5mm headphone jack, a standard SD card reader, and 1 lone USB-C port. It has just enough juicy legacy port support that you probably won’t need too much in the way of nasty hubs and dongles that many MacBook Pro users need to connect pretty much anything they need to work with.
There is some noticeable quality of life upgrades from the previous Surface Book line as well. The hinge has been strengthened so the screen doesn’t feel as wobbly when you use the touch features in the dock, and to of course handle the massive 15-inch screen. It is a little heftier than the previous offerings, but it weighs as much as a full-sized MacBook Pro. The 15-inch display undocked is a bit unwieldy by itself though, but it’s not designed to replace your e-reader with that much power. The keyboard is flush, and the entire package together is very sleek and trim.
The final verdict? It’s a buy if you are a designer and looking to break away from the MacBook Pro. Those who are hooked on Final Cut Pro to do video editing might find it difficult to ever truly cut ties with Apple, but for those who the Surface Book 2 will seriously tempt away serious Apple devotees. If you work in 3D modeling, this might be the laptop of your dreams if you find yourself working away from a desk often, and artists can find a lot of uses for the very accurate stylus pen and lush high-resolution display. Gamers and casual users should look elsewhere, because while the ability to detach the screen and use it as a fully functional tablet is cool, for the price point there are better machines out there that do what you will really use a laptop or a tablet for.