Back in 2015, Microsoft launched the original Surface Book, a good-looking spin on the detachable 2 in 1 form factor. It was well received too, with Engadget praising features like “fast performance, premium design, long battery life, a great screen, a comfortable keyboard, a relatively decent selection of ports and even a smooth trackpad.”
Two years on and the Surface Book 2 brings the spec bang up to date with new processors, new graphics, a new (bigger) size and a refreshed design.
An 8th Generation upgrade
For a start, the new machines come powered by 8th Generation Intel® Core™ processors. These quad-core chips can offer up to a 40 percent improvement over comparable 7th Gen chips. That means 2x better productivity performance, 1.9x better web browsing performance, and 2.3x faster multitasking compared to a five year-old system*.
The new 13.5-inch model, equipped with a 3,000 x 2,000 pixel (267 PPI) touch display, can be fitted with either a 7th Gen Intel Core i5-7300U dual-core processor or a new 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U CPU. The 15 incher, a first for the Surface Book line, comes with an i7-8650U inside and a glorious 3,240 x 2,160 pixel (260 PPI) screen.
This machine is no slouch. You should be able to edit videos on it, play around with Windows Mixed Reality or VR headsets, as well as play some high-end games like Forza 7 or Middle Earth: Shadow of War.
Because Microsoft has upgraded the graphics hardware too. The i5-powered Surface Book 2 features Intel® HD Graphics 620, while the 13.5-inch i7-8650U system leverages an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 GPU (with 2GB of GDDR memory). The 15-inch model boosts the graphical oomph with a more powerful GeForce GTX 1060 chipset (with 6GB of GDDR5).
Pen-friendly Windows tablet
Like its forebear, the Surface Book 2 is a good-looking portable — a laptop when you need one, a pen-friendly tablet when you don’t. The eye-catching fulcrum hinge lets you work (or play) in four different modes, while the magnesium casing hosts a comfortable backlit keyboard and all-glass precision trackpad.
In terms of connectivity, there are two full-size USB 3.1 ports, an all-purpose USB-C, twin Surface Connect slots, an SD card reader and a headphone jack. The 5MP front camera is Windows Hello-friendly (enabling you to log into Windows 10 with facial recognition) and there’s an 8MP camera on the back.
What impresses most, however, is Microsoft’s claims for the Surface Book 2’s battery life — up to 17 hours of video playback. It’s a hefty improvement over the laptops we’ve looked at recently, like the ASUS Zenbook Flip 14 (13 hours) and the Lenovo Yoga 920 (11 hours). And, as Microsoft is keen to point out, it’s better than the rival MacBook Pro too.
A portable powerhouse
“Surface Book 2 removes the barrier between the desktop and the laptop by giving mobile professionals the power of a desktop, the versatility of a tablet, and the freedom of a light and thin laptop in one beautifully designed device,” says Panos Panay, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Devices.
“Whether you’re a developer, a digital artist, a designer, or an accountant, you can bring your ideas to life anywhere, because Surface Book 2 is a portable powerhouse.”
According to Panay, the Surface Book 2 will be available for pre-order beginning November 9th and for delivery from November 16th. UK prices TBC.