Microsoft Surface Book 2 (Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB) – 13.5″ (Review)

Microsoft Surface Book 2 review

Description

Style:13.5″  |  Capacity:Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB

Get powerhouse performance and amazing graphics with the new Microsoft Surface Book 2, a robust laptop, tablet, and portable studio in one with up to 17 hours of battery life and 2 times more power than before. Now available with a stunning 13.5″ or 15″ PixelSense display, designed for pen and touch.
Price: See on Amazon


 

Technical Details

Surface design

The Surface Book 2 looks almost identical to the original Book, with the distinctive curving hinge that allows its screen to be adjusted to any angle, and its entire display removed to be used as a tablet.

There are now a fair number of two-in-one convertible laptops, where the screen can be flipped or detached, but the Surface Book 2 tries to make the most of this design.

This makes it a real 2-in-1 in comparison to the Surface Laptop Microsoft released earlier this year. The Surface Book 2 now sits at the top of its range as its most advanced model, while the company also has its smaller Surface Pro range of tablets.

It comes in two sizes, with a 13.5-inch screen and a new 15-inch design, and the brushed aluminium body on both feels excellent. Open it up and you are met with with facial recognition from Windows Hello and a bright 3000 x 2000 touchscreen.

In terms of connectivity the Surface Book 2 is an enviable step up on Apple’s current range. Microsoft’s emphasis on designers and professionals keeps the useful SD card reader, while it has two USB ports, a headphone jack and a USB-C port. You can also charge the laptop and tablet separately.

Microsoft Surface Book 2 review

Laptop mode

Surface Book 2 is a sleek, portable powerhouse. Use demanding apps and tackle complex tasks on the go with up to 17 hours of battery life. Get productive with a full keyboard and large trackpad, or use the interactive touchscreen.

Tablet mode

The Surface’s major design quirk is that the hinge means the screen doesn’t totally close, and it is significantly wider at the base of the hinge. It can take a few moments to detach properly after you press the release button, and even testing the smaller 13.5-inch model it takes quite a lot of effort to open up the laptop – more than just pulling it up with one finger.

Detached, the tablet weighs 770g, enough to be held one-handed. It actually makes a handy device on its own, with a notebook-like feel. When in full laptop mode it weighs 1.53kg, on the heavy side for a laptop of this size.

You can also use Microsoft’s Surface Pen, its touchscreen stylus, which to my disappointment still does not come bundled in the laptop’s price. We’ve tested out the Surface Pen before and it’s extremely responsive and can be used to highlighting the screen or making notes, but the fact it is still not included with such a pricey laptop suggests even Microsoft doesn’t expect everyone to be using it.

Microsoft Surface Book 2 review

Performance and battery life

 While the original Surface Book was no slouch, this second-gen model steps things up with the latest Intel CPUs and Nvidia graphics chips.

The fully loaded review model seen here has an eighth-gen Intel Core i7 quad-core CPU, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage. 4.2GHz from a tablet? That’s enough to put a lot of desktop PCs to shame.

So yeah, this thing is fast. It happily chews up complex CAD programs, renders videos and runs Photoshop batch processing without batting an eye. Microsoft Word or Google Chrome? They’ll barely make this thing sweat.

We’re just talking about the tablet here, too. Connect it to the base and Intel’s integrated graphics are disabled, in favour of a much more powerful Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics card with 2GB of dedicated memory.

It’s a competent mid-range card, that will handle a lot of games at medium or high detail settings, as long as you’re realistic with resolutions. Overwatch wasn’t a problem, but Destiny 2 at 3000×2000 was asking a little too much.

Away from the mains, Microsoft reckons you’ll get up to 17 hours of battery life from a single charge, which is seven more than you’ll squeeze out of a MacBook Pro, although in our testing we usually came in a few hours under that amount.

For day-to-day working that doesn’t tax the GPU, though, you shouldn’t need to stay tethered to a plug socket.


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