Microsoft Surface Book 2 – improves on perfection (first look)

Microsoft got the Surface Book formula right last year with many acerbic tech journos eating crow and swapping from their beloved MacBook Pro.

Version 2 subtly tweaks the formula without compromising function by adding up to 70% longer battery life, much requested USB-C, up to two times faster Intel processors, and even faster NVIDIA 1050/1060 GeForce graphics capable of rendering 4K video, vector graphics, and Xbox Play games.

Initially, it comes with the acclaimed 13.5 PixelSense 3K/2K display, but there is a 15” version with NVIDIA GTX 1060/6GB GPU coming in 2018 that will appeal to graphic artists and CAD users – it runs all the Adobe and Autodesk software with ease.

Despite the subtly, there are more than 1000 new parts including a new over-engineered ceramic hinge.

Improving on perfection

I use the original Surface Book, and it is superb. Firmware updates quickly made it very stable and reliable, and the optional Microsoft Dock made it my “production” PC driving two 27” monitors and more.

My only criticism at that time was the eye-watering price but to be fair, it was cheaper than a comparable MacBook Pro and offers so much more – mainly the higher resolution touch screen, stylus and detachable tablet. To that end it is unique.

Brief specifications

  • Screen: PixelSense 13.5”, 3000 x 2000, 3:2 ratio, touch and drawing enabled
  • Processor: Intel Core 7th generation i5-7300U, 3.5GHz dual-core or 8th generation i7-8650U, 4.2GHz quad-core – fanless
  • Intel HD Graphics 620 (tablet section) and optional dedicated NVIDIA GeForce 1050 GPU and 2GB GDDR5 RAM in keyboard
  • RAM: 8 or 16GB
  • Storage: 256GB to 1TB PCIe SSD plus UHS-II SDXC card reader
  • Keyboard: Full sized, 1.55mm travel, one of the best typing experiences available. Precision oversized trackpad
  • Comms: Wi-Fi AC MU-MIMO, Wi-Di, Bluetooth 4.1
  • Ports: 2 x Surface Connect data/charge (one tablet and one keyboard), 2 x USB-A 3.1 Gen 1, 1 x USB-C (replaces Mini DisplayPort port), 3.5mm audio
  • Cameras: Windows Hello face authentication camera (front-facing), 5.0 MP front-facing camera with 1080p HD video, 0 MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p Full HD video
  • Audio: Dolby Audio Premium stereo front facing speakers, dual microphones
  • Charger: 39W Surface Connect with USB-A 5V/1A=5W charging port for i5 and 95W charger for i7 version
  • Dimensions/Weight: 312 mm x 232 mm x 15 mm-23 mm and 1.534 to 1.642kg
  • Windows: Pro 10
  • Security: TPM chip, Windows Hello
  • Options: Surface Pen V2 $139.95, Surface Dial $149.95, Surface Dock $299.95, various USB-C adaptors
  • URL:
  • Price, 13.5”:
    • i5/8/256GB $2,999
    • i7/16/512GB/NVIDIA $3,799
    • i7/16GB/1TB/NVIDIA $4,499

There is a little confusion over the USB-C port. Technically it is version 3.1 Gen 1 (5GB/s) with USB Power Delivery revision 3.0 (assumed up to 5V/3A=15W).

Some reports have speculated that it can be used to charge the Surface Book 2. I suspect it would be very slow, and it is mainly for charging/powering connected devices. It supports DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI (not 4K).

Nor is it Thunderbolt 3 that provides 40GB/s data transfer rates and 4K DisplayPort as well as HDMI.

Gadget Guy’s take

Perfection is an unachievable concept, and every computing device is a compromise. The Surface Book 2 chases perfection – roll on Surface Book 3 …

It is not a sufficient improvement to the original to make you want to trade up, but it severely outclasses the MacBook Pro!