Microsoft Surface Book 2 is the most powerful mobile surface device to date. It easily evacuates Surface Pro, Laptop Surface and, of course, the old Surface Book. It's also one of the strangest devices in the range. This is not just a Surface Pro with a rigid keyboard. It's a relatively heavy base with a powerful processor and a graphics card and a big battery – and it has a surprisingly lightweight removable display that turns it into a tablet and that has a processor and a hard disk. a less powerful graphics chip.
Microsoft has shipped my 15-inch Surface Book 2 surface review unit with the latest 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-8650U processor, a discrete Nvidia 1060 graphics processor with 6GB of RAM, 16 GB of memory and a terabyte SSD. That's $ 3,299 from Surface Book, but at the low end you can also get a 13-inch machine for $ 1,499 with an i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and an integrated Intel GPU. In between, there are a number of other 15-inch models with Nvidia 1050 GPUs and variable numbers for RAM and disk space.
Surely there is a world of difference between the performance of these low end and high end machines, so you get what you pay for. But Microsoft's message here is pretty clear: the Surface Book 2 is essentially a mobile workstation for those who want to edit videos and photos, play on the go or just need a powerful mobile machine to compile. a Linux kernel. . It's Microsoft's challenger for the MacBook Pro and it does not stray from the comparison.
I only had the Surface Book 2 on my desk for a little over 24 hours, so this is not a definitive review (I've just been able to turn off the battery once in this time, after all). We will do this in a week or two, after I have had a more concrete experience.
Even after a short period with the new Surface Book, I left feeling impressed (anything else at this price would be a disappointment, of course).
One can discuss its design – this rounded hinge that leaves space even when the laptop is closed was not everyone's cup of tea when the first version was launched and during that Microsoft has twisted the hinge, the gap is still as important as always. You can even call it ugly. But it is certain that it stands out in this crowded market of laptops.
What you can not discuss, though, is the overall quality of the construction. The base is a piece of solid metal. The tablet / screen is securely attached (and the keyboard has a key that frees it from its base). The large chiclet keyboard has enough running and gives you a good indication that you pressed a button, making it very comfortable to type.
The touch screen is bright and at a resolution of 3240 × 2160, you get a higher pixel density than on the MacBook Pro. Fortunately, Microsoft and the software developers of its ecosystem have solved most of the problems of Windows 10 with high density displays, so you can now enjoy the experience. The screen may be a bit too bright for some (too many laptop screens nowadays), but it's winter in Oregon and we will not see the sun before next year, so I could not test that.
Let's talk for a moment about the key functionality of Surface Book 2: the detachable screen. It's surprisingly lightweight, especially when you consider it's a 15-inch tablet with a promised five-hour lifespan. But is it more than just a novelty? Microsoft contends that you can detach it and use it as a tablet, fold it to go into "studio mode" for a comfortable drawing, or detach the screen, flip it, reattach it for a mobile presentation.
Some of them look like niche use cases and I can not really see myself doing this on a regular basis, but it's probably a personal thing. I would be very happy with the Surface Book 2 if the screen did not come off (but at a lower price).
The power of the dedicated GPU should allow a very good gaming experience (but not in full resolution and with the highest settings – after all, this is not a 1080. We will do benchmarks in the next days. ]
Oh, and if you're worried about having to use dongles for this notebook, do not worry. It comes with a USB-C port, two standard USB-A ports, an SD card slot and the usual Surface connector to charge and attach the Surface Dock if you have one. And there is also a headphone jack. There is no Mini DisplayPort as in the first generation model, but you can connect up to two 4K monitors at 30Hz or a single 4k monitor at 60Hz via USB-C port – or via a Surface Dock, of course. You can not control four displays using both USB-C and Surface Dock ports at the same time.
And the negatives? The fan, especially on the screen, tends to run a little too often. It's quiet but visible, even when the CPU load is not very high. The screen can also be a little warmer than I would like. It's also heavy. At 4.2 lbs, you will not have to check that it is in your backpack. And there is the design with its strange hinge – but I have already mentioned it.
Unlike the first generation Surface Book, this one does not seem to suffer from the regular blue screens of death and other problems that the buyers of its predecessor had to face. I hope this stays true while I continue to use it.
Microsoft Plays Clearly for Unhappy Macbook Users by Launching a Three-Month Subscription to Adobe's Creative Cloud Photography Plan for the Next Two Months, Explaining How Autodesk Maya and Other Apps Work on Surface Book 2, – the most important – by simply doing this a high performance machine.
So, will Surface Book 2 allow Macbook Pro users to switch? It probably depends on how much you like / hate Windows 10, but this seems to me to be a good – and much more powerful – alternative to Apple's current mobile offerings. And it's its amount of power that sets it apart from the others (plus its detachable screen, but I do not know what will be the point of sale for potential users).
The new surface books are available for pre-order and will start shipping tomorrow.