Microsoft Surface Book 2 Review

Microsoft Surface Book 2 13.5″

Our Review
Microsoft Surface Book 2
9.3/10 Our Rating

The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is as elegant as it is efficient. It is delivered in 13.3-inch or 15-inch display versions, but with a similar guarantee of a thrilling user experience. The 15″ model just about edges its 13-inch predecessor in terms of its superior processor performance and battery life and is the main thrust of this review.

Its makers describe it as the ultimate device, and rightly so. It possesses versatility and performance that is largely unrivaled in the world of 2-in-1 devices. Equipped with a powerful processor, it delivers amazing returns in graphics and overall performance at a price though, it must be said.


Our Complete Review of the Surface Book 2 (13.3 & 15 inch versions)

Appearance

The device comes decked in a full-body magnesium alloy casing, with a silver finish for the interior. It also thankfully comes fitted with a flexible and stronger hinge that permits a variety of handling options. You can easily transform it from a laptop to a large tablet In no time by detaching from the hinges. Alternatively, its users can opt to flip the 15-inch display backward into an inverted “v”, turning the keyboard base into a stand.

 The improved hinge provides extra weight but brings with it needed sturdiness, while ultimately easing the struggles previously associated with screen reattachment. The weight also goes from 3.38 pounds to 3.68 pounds if you choose the NVIDIA GPU over the Integrated graphics display. This added weight doesn’t necessarily present the user with a handling challenge unless you factor that the MacBook Pro which its makers claim to steal a march on weighs just 3 pounds.

Display

With a display resolution of 3,240 by 2,160 pixels, the screen produces sharp images and crisp text that are easy on the eyes. So when you flip it to a tablet and have to bring it closer to your face, you are not assaulted by a stream of grainy and pixelated displays. The LCD might not be ” OLED” or exactly 4k, but it still catches the eye with a 3:2 aspect ratio, great color reproduction, even better viewing angles, and a brightness that permits outdoor usage.

Its camera collection includes a rear 8-megapixel camera, a front 5-megapixel camera as well as another frontal camera, replete with infrared sensing to enable facial recognition for login using the Windows Hello authentication platform.

Keyboard And Touchscreen

With a 1.5mm travel distance, generous spacing of individual keypads, key backlighting, and an absence of flex under the keys, the Keyboard makes for comfortable handling. The touchpad is smooth, sensitive, and has been given enough navigable space to go with the larger display. The touchscreen responds rapidly to touch and is sharp as ever, while the Surface pen comes in handy when the device is transformed into a tablet.

Two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader and a novel USB-C port are all fitted to the sides as well. Microsoft may have missed out on another opportunity to deliver the much-sought thunderbolt, but we’ll manage. The device’s native pen can now boast of adequate tilt support, a significant reduction in input latency, and the capacity to successfully capture up to 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity

Graphics

Users of this device can now afford to play newer AAA games at 1080p as a result of the addition of Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics and its 6GB of GDDR5 RAM. The powerful GPU is nestled somewhere around the keyboard area and is supported by an effective cooling system. Now users like gamers and creative professionals alike do not have to worry about the heat generated from GPU intensive usage.

Audio

With its dual microphones and stereo speakers tucked away at the front and supported by Dolby audio, this device just about delivers on the audio front. The headphones are also supported by Windows Sonic and make for listening pleasure. It could do with a little more volume, but that doesn’t make it any less of a good fit.

Battery

There is enough power in this device to last for a whopping 17 hours of local video playback. That is even better than the MacBook Pro and makes it an easy pick for high-intensity usage. There are however some challenges associated with this device that some users have found disturbing. Setting it to “Best Performance” in the Windows 10 operating system power settings, when running some CPU and GPU intensive programs come built-in. The power draw is massive and may inevitably result in a depletion of your battery power.

That is not entirely good news for users like creative professionals, programmers, and gamers who work or play for longer hours on end. Microsoft claims to have overcome this challenge but some users think otherwise.

Cooling

The Split design offered by the Surface Book 2 means the CPU and GPU are housed in different parts of the device. This inadvertently results in the provision of two new cooling systems that work independently and help keep the device continually cool. The fans mostly come alive during gaming or when the power settings are set to maximum, depending on what programs are running. They respond swiftly to CPU and GPU-intensive tasks but operate quietly and to good use.

Storage

It comes with 8GB or 16GB of RAM and internal storage configurations ranging from 256GB to 1TB SSDs. This might not be ideal if you require extensive storage for your files and applications. Its removable storage options allow for a full-size SD card slot with support for SDXC UHS-1 cards.

Gaming

For avid gamers, the 15-inch Surface Book 2 is the real deal. Its support for Xbox controllers means gamers can enjoy the thrilling experience of an Xbox One. While it doesn’t officially support Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, Microsoft’s latest Windows Mixed Reality headsets can just about do the trick. Lovers of VR and non-VR gaming will appreciate the Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics which is an upgrade on the Integrated graphics and GTX 1050 support provided by the 13.3-inch version.

While I was playing the Rise of the Tomb Raider, the device ran at 94fps at Full HD resolution, when set at Ultimate quality. That is quite impressive if you ask me, for a laptop that isn’t even a dedicated gaming device. An immersive and thoroughly enjoyable gaming experience is guaranteed with this device.

Performance

The introduction of the cutting-edge quad-core processors and Nvidia’s GTX 1060 to the 15-inch version of the surface book 2 is timely. Microsoft makes bold claims of creating a device that is twice as powerful and twice as fast as the newest MacBook Pro from Apple, and that is no mean feat. This device is equipped with the latest 8th-gen Intel Core-series CPUs and a 16GB RAM that is just enough to keep the device running in full swing.

The powerful processor affords users the capacity to heavily multitask without leaving a strain on the devices’ normal working operation. This CPU will not break a sweat despite tons of CPU-intensive apps and tabs running simultaneously in the foreground.

Final Verdict

The Microsoft Surface Book 2,15″ version is a device that ticks a lot of boxes if your pockets have the right depth. An upgrade on its previous 13.3″ release, it is not exactly flawless, but when compared pound for pound with other convertible devices, or with the latest MacBook offerings(minus the extra pounds in weight), it does seem to come out tops.

That being said, we’ll love to see a stronger battery and maybe the thunder port…if that’s not too much to ask.

Device Specifications

Display

13.5” or 15” PixelSense Display with up to 3240 x 2160 resolution, 3:2 aspect ratio, and 10 point multi-touch.

Contrast ratio: 1600:1

Storage

256GB, 512GB, or 1TB PCle solid-state drive (SSD)

Dimensions

Surface Book 2 13.5″:

i5: 12.3” x 9.14” x 0.51”-0.90”

i7: 12.3” x 9.14” x 0.59”-0.90”

Surface Book 2 15″:

13.5” x 9.87” x 0.568-0.90”

Connections

2 x full-size USB 3.1 Gen 1, 1 x USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack, 2 x Surface Connect ports (1 in tablet, 1 in base), full-size SDXC card reader.

Battery life

Up to 17 hours of local video playback

Memory

Surface Book 2 13.5”

8GB or 16GB RAM 1866Mhz LPDDR3

Surface Book 2 15”

16GB RAM 1866Mhz LPDDR3

Graphics

Surface Book 2 13.5” PixelSense Display

Intel HD Graphics 620 integrated GPU (on Intel i5-7300U model)

Intel HD Graphics 620 integrated GPU (on Intel i5-8350U model)

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 discrete GPU w/2GB GDDR5 graphics memory (on Intel i7-8650U models)

Surface Book 2 15” PixelSense Display

Intel HD Graphics 620 integrated GPU (on Intel i5-8350U model)

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 discrete GPU w/6GB GDDR5 graphics memory

Processor

Surface Book 2 13.5”

7th Gen Intel Core i5-7300U dual-core processor, 3.5GHz Max Turbo

8th Gen Intel Core i5-8350U quad-core processor, 3.6GHz Max Turbo

8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U quad-core processor, 4.2GHz Max Turbo

Surface Book 2 15”

8th Gen Intel Core i5-8350U quad-core processor, 3.6GHz Max Turbo

8th Gen Intel  Core  i7-8650U quad-core processor, 4.2GHz Max Turbo

Connections

2 x USB type-A (version 3.1 Gen 1)

1 x USB type-C (version 3.1 Gen 1 with USB Power Delivery revision 3.0)

3.5mm headphone jack

2 x Surface Connect ports

Full-size SDXC card reader

Compatible with Surface Dial on- and off-screen interaction

Security

HW TPM 2.0 chip for enterprise security

Enterprise-grade protection with Windows Hello face sign-in

Cameras, video, and audio

Windows Hello face authentication camera (front-facing)

5.0MP front-facing camera with 1080p HD video

8.0MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p HD video

Dual microphones

Front-facing stereo speakers with Dolby Audio

Support for Windows Sonic for Headphones

Software

Windows 10 Pro Creators Update 64-bit

Microsoft 365 30-day trial

Wireless

Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac compatible

Bluetooth Wireless 4.1 technology

Xbox Wireless built-in (15” only)

Sensors  

Ambient light sensor

Proximity sensor

Accelerometer

Gyroscope

Magnetometer

Exterior

Casing: Magnesium

Color: Silver

Weight

Surface Book 2 13.5” PixelSense Display

Intel Core i5: 3.38 lbs (1,534 g) including keyboard

Intel  Core i7: 3.62 lbs (1,642 g) including keyboard

Surface Book 2 15” PixelSense Display

Intel Core i7: 4.20 lbs (1,905 g) including keyboard.