Microsoft set the bar for the 2-in-1 market with the Surface Pro line and began pushing the market further in 2015 with the even more portable Surface Book. After a year with an iterative upgrade, the full suite came to the appropriate name of Surface Book 2 (the 15-inch model discussed here starts at $ 2,499, $ 3,299 as tested). This beautifully designed machine can do it all, while maintaining its distinctive ability to detach the screen from the keyboard, while it now functions as a legitimate gaming laptop and offers performance levels close to the workstation. It’s very expensive if it’s set up, but a lot of configuration options mean you’re not secure at the highest price.
With a new 15-inch screen size and a capable Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics card, the Surface Book 2 is a compelling case for itself as the high-end notebook. It offers more versatility and features, faster performance and longer battery life than its main competitor, the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro, and is a more complete professional PC than the Surface Pro. He easily follows in the footsteps of his predecessor and deserves our Editors’ Choice badge.
The best of both worlds
The Surface Book line looks practical and behaves like a laptop, with the added power of separating the screen from the base and turning it into a tablet at the touch of a button. This is the reverse of the groundbreaking Surface Pro proposal, which looks more like a tablet that closely matches the shape and functionality of a laptop. It’s a nice reward, but I think exactly what you expect from everyone. The Surface Pro weighs heavier portability and pocket use than power, while the Surface Book fights the opposite. This makes the Surface Book 2 easier to compare with standard laptops because it represents the most important experience. Also note: the original Surface Book was replaced last year by a Core i7 that contains a “base performance” with more powerful components, and this loaded version of the Surface Book 2 fits this vision better.
It is immediately clear that the basic design of Surface Book 2 has not changed compared to the previous model. This is not a bad thing, because the construction with a magnesium alloy of top quality was one of our favorite aspects. It is still thin, relatively light and so expensive that it reassures you that you get what you pay for. The distinctive dynamic hinge is back and leaves a space between the screen and the keyboard when the system is closed. This may bother some who are worried about debris in between, but this risk is fairly minimal, and leaves the versatility when tablet detachment (more on that later). What is different is the size: you now have the choice of 13.5 inches (the same size as the previous surface book) or the new 15-inch model. Our evaluation unit is the largest version, while the smallest model now starts at $ 1,499.
The 15-inch Surface Book 2 measures 0.9 by 13.5 by 987 inches (HWD) and weighs 4.2 pounds. The clamshell tilts so that it shrinks to 0.5 inches in front, the same thickness at both ends than the original surface book, despite the increase in current. It should be noted that the tablet is only 1.8 pounds when detached, thereby increasing the wearability factor. The book Area 2 is quite similar to the MacBook Pro 15-inch to 0.61 of 13.75 by 9.48 inches and 4.02 pounds-luxury and light enough to be portable, but with an emphasis on high performance. The Dell XPS 15 Dell Touch $ 999.99 at Dell (0.66 at 14.06 at 9.27 inches, 4.44 pounds) matches both design and power, but is much cheaper despite high-quality construction.
Whether you’re docking or working in tablet mode, the whole experience is focused on the PixelSense display. Fortunately, it is a beautiful screen with a resolution of 3.240 by 2.160 in an aspect ratio of 3: 2 with a contrast ratio of 1600: 1 and a multitouch of 10 points. This number of pixels would be considered 4K if it was a 16: 9 screen, but technically this is not this cropped size (3: 2 is more useful for some artists). The quality of the image is very clear and the screen becomes clear at maximum settings. The resolution is slightly higher than before, from 3,000 to 2,000, and is much higher than 2,880 by 1,800 on the MacBook Pro.
With regard to this tablet tablet mode, there are some things that you should keep in mind. If you want to switch off the keyboard screen, press a special key on the top right of the keyboard, just like the last model. After a few seconds, a prompt indicates that you can disconnect it freely and you can hear and unlock it. Some guts – namely the largest of the two batteries and discrete graphics – are built into the keyboard. So when you log out, there are performance-related concessions that go with it, but there is still no way to get those components into such a thin tablet. To note: sometimes I had some problems to get the tablet – by testing a message appeared to me that I had to solve some applications first. This disturbed the transparent nature of the switch to tablet mode, especially because relatively benign programs such as Edge or Microsoft Store caused the problems, but they were intermittent.
Anchoring the tablet is simple: align the connectors and push them gently downwards. It’s a breeze if you’ve done it a few times (the first two attempts can cause something to fall and get up, but you never have to push hard), and Windows will tell you when it’s connected. Unlike the standard portable mode, you can link the screen back to reach the display mode, such as convertible notebooks, where the screen is facing you with the keyboard behind it (useful for the board board tables). You can also attach it to the back and fold it for Studio mode, where the Surface book has the shape of a tablet, but retains the keyboard components in the game.
Most important features
The keyboard is comfortable, with illuminated keys that are satisfying to tally, quiet with a good amount of travel without feeling slow. The touch pad also responds, but the full click pressure is reasonably audible (this can be prevented by just typing). The loudspeakers are located on the upper two corners of the tablet; there is nothing in the keyboard dock. They do an admirable job for tablet speakers; strong enough to hear at a reasonable distance, if not exactly in full swing.
The volume button is located in the upper left corner of the tablet, right next to the power button. With the exception of the headphone jack on the right side of the screen, all ports are on the keyboard. This includes two USB 3.1 ports and an SD card slot on the left, while the right edge features the Surface Connect port (used for the power adapter and docking with the $ 200 Dock Surface) and a USB-C port. The Surface Book 2 is also compatible with the brand new surface pin (which can be magnetically attached to the side of the screen) and the surface button, both available separately for $ 100 each. Both devices are hardly needed, but can complement your workflow if you are an artist or designer. The 15-inch Surface Book 2 also has an integrated Xbox wireless controller receiver, which is handy for gamers (for example, I had to buy the USB flash drive to connect the controller to my PC).
Internal storage comes in the form of a solid-state drive whose capacity can be configured when ordering: different drive options are available on every screen size. This maxed-out model uses a 1TB SSD, a very expensive addition, while the lowest available is 256GB (this model is $ 2,499). As a comparison, the $ 2,799 MacBook Pro that we tested contains 512 GB, while the 512 GB Surface Book 2 costs $ 2,899. Although this is an expensive inclusion, 1 TB of fast SSD storage is a tempting proposition for creatives and gamers, with faster load times and plenty of room to store your files and game installations. need help, Microsoft covers the Surface Book 2 with a one-year warranty.
Under the surface
As mentioned, this model is fully loaded and includes an Intel Core i7-8650U processor (an eighth generation, Kaby Lake R chip), 16 GB memory and the Nvidia GTX 1060. These components are even more similar to last year “Surface Book “performance basis (including a GTX 965M and a Core i7 Skylake CPU) compared to the original, but the Surface Book 2 is one step up and shows the overall productivity gains on the test PCMark 8 Work conventionally, deliver a high score despite accelerated resolution – pushing more pixels shifts the results of this test – for example the very portable Lenovo Yoga 920 $ 1,329.99 at Lenovo, our first choice for high-end convertible hybrid computers, registered a few hundred more points with a comparable processor because it worked in 1080p.
Surface Book 2 was generally faster with multimedia testing, but an objectively fast system for tasks such as video coding and application of Photoshop filters. A downside note is that the 16 GB RAM cap may be a stop for some professionals, such as video editors, who are looking for higher memory limits for crunching images. 16 GB is suitable for most applications, including games, but memory hungry tasks for enthusiasts can make you want more. He exchanged hits with the 15-inch MacBook Pro (perhaps his closest competitor), with Microsoft’s system faster on Photoshop, lower on CineBench and just behind Handbrake. Only something like the HP ZBook Studio G4 – a performance-oriented mobile workstation – delivered a significant separation for these tests, and even then the two were very close to PCMark and Photoshop.
The difference in performance as mentioned above between the Surface Book and the Surface Pro (certainly less expensive than tested) is also clearly emphasized in these tests – not a big difference, but an existing gap. All this, and my anecdotal experience, is that Surface Book 2 is skilled in various tasks, from multitasking with a few different programs (such as a browser, a spreadsheet and Spotify) to creating content.
Unlike most thin and light systems, the Surface Book 2 can handle work and graphics games. Its GTX 1060, a card typically found in modern mid-range gaming notebooks, is perfectly suited for 1080p gaming. The smallest comparable notebook to support a GTX 1060 is the 14-inch Razer Blade $ 1,899.99 at Amazon, which does not come with the many advanced features of Surface Book 2 and costs $ 1,899. Like other GTX 1060 notebooks, Surface Book 2 was able to shoot at 60 frames per second (fps) on Heaven and Valley game tests at high 1080p settings.
It’s a solid gaming machine (for HD playback at native resolution resulted in frame rates closer to 20fps), even if you have to reduce some settings on the casual title. In addition, when I changed the system’s battery mode to “Better Performance” instead of the default, it was able to average 65fps and 72fps on the same tests, squeezing more power on the components . (Keep in mind that this mode will drain the battery faster, though.) Apart from the synthetic tests, I managed to make Destiny 2 run smoothly on the Microsoft system between 40 and 60 frames per second in 1080p , but the format 3: 2 I look crushed (it varies depending on the game support, but I was able to repair it by passing windowed full screen). Setting a few graphical parameters from the maximum has clearly boosted the frame rate up to 60 frames per second. The GTX 1060 is also suitable for VR games, but as it is the floor, you may not be able to maximize the settings.
The MacBook Pro, as expensive as it is and with a dedicated AMD Radeon card, just did not stack on the Surface Book 2 on these tests, failing to reach an average of 30fps in 1080p. General 3D performance (which is involved in professional graphics and video work) and playability represent the biggest chasm between the two machines. I’m not talking about reference numbers, but purpose and functionality – the Surface Book 2 can serve as a legitimate system for creating visual and visual content, even if it’s not the best in every sphere. A slim and powerful gaming laptop like the Asus ROG Zephyrus $ 2,696.98 at Amazon and its GTX 1080 offers superior power (and it’s not often I can recommend it as the least expensive option), but Surface Book 2 brings a lot more versatility to the table. The Dell XPS 15, quite beautifully, is the only real alternative that removes some of its Surface Book 2 brilliance. Its GTX 1050, although less efficient, is a competent card in a frame as fine and pleasant for less ‘money .
Great battery life, with a Quirk
All this is backed by a high quality battery, managing 17 hours and 12 minutes on our video-rundown test. That’s with both the keyboard battery and the tablet’s battery – this one alone worked at 4:45. The combined total is one of the longest we’ve tested and very impressive considering the very high resolution screen. It’s worth the 15-inch MacBook Pro (15:09), the Surface Pro (13:54), the Razer Blade (10:36), the XPS 15 (6:05) and the HP ZBook Studio G4 (6:56) ). Some of the most durable systems are the Surface Book 2016 (19:16 because of its dual battery configuration but with less demanding components) and the Lenovo Yoga 920 (22:38).
A problem reported with the “Best Performance” mode on the Surface Book 2 is that it is discharged from the battery even when plugged in. I tested this, running The Witcher 3 for four hours at 1080p and high settings. plugged into the wall. It stopped reducing to about 90 percent, (the second battery remained at 100 percent) by charging intermittently to stay around that level. As such, it seems that the power of the charger has something insufficient, but it was not enough to turn off the battery and discrete graphics have never been extinguished. This is an inconvenience, and a bit of a flaw in the design, but realistically should only be a problem for very long sessions (and in “Best Performance” mode) you need to enter your Surface Book 2.
Other laptops and hybrids independently reach the heights of Surface Book 2, but its successful integration of multiple computer archetypes into one is a design feat. This is not radically different from the original surface book or last year’s incremental update, but the 15-inch size and the legitimate powerful components elevate the concept. This is the most expensive version of Surface Book 2, so it may not be so clear in a more modest configuration, but you can move up to $ 100 of the MacBook Pro simply by reducing storage capacity.
Because unless you’re an Apple Loyalist or just need macOS software, it’s hard to argue against a system that’s ready to be played with great drums that can also become a tablet at the touch of a button. a button. It is also a better deal than the Surface Book 2016, which had the same price as tested, and as a real luxury system, more fully realized and faster than the Surface Pro. The Dell XPS 15 is the most powerful Windows alternative to a desktop replacement that costs nearly as much, but lacks the convertible design, the many battery life and the 3D performance. Yes, you will have to pay for the Surface Book 2, but if you are looking for a high-end laptop, this is a unique option that works perfectly on many fronts, which gives us the choice of our editors.