If you want the best Windows experience you can get, the Surface family of portable devices is an excellent choice. The problem is that there are many Surface devices to choose from, each offering a different blend of productivity and performance. For this comparison, we’ve selected two Surface devices that should satisfy the needs of most users: the more traditional Surface Laptop and the convertible Surface Book 2.
Design and Build
The Surface Laptop and Surface Book 2 feature two different form-factors that largely influence the type of user for which each device is suitable. The Surface Laptop is, for the most part, a traditional laptop with a non-detachable keyboard, while the Surface Book 2 is a 2-in-1 convertible that works just as great as a tablet as it does as a laptop.
Because the Surface Laptop is a single-purpose device, it’s lighter and thinner than the multipurpose Surface Book 2. The weight of the Surface Laptop is 1.25 kg while the 13.5-inch Surface Book 2 weighs 1.53 kg and the 15-inch model weighs 1.9 kg.
What makes the Surface Book 2 so much thicker than the Surface Laptop (1.44 to 2.29 cm versus 1.44 cm) is the special hinge that enables the PixelSense display to detach from the base, as well as the fact that most hardware components are hidden behind the display. When the Surface Book 2 is closed, the hinge leaves a small gap between the screen and keyboard, which takes something away from the otherwise impeccable design.
Both the Surface Laptop and Surface Book 2 come with two completely different keyboards. The surface Laptop has an Alcantara-covered keyboard treated with a high-performance polyurethane coating to resist spills, while the Surface Book 2 has a more traditional metal keyboard with backlit keys. The good news is that both keyboards are very comfortable to type on even for an extended period of time.
The Surface Laptop has a full-size USB 3.0 port and a Mini DisplayPort. The Surface Book 2 has two full-size USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, and a USB Type-C port. The integrated SD card reader on the Surface Book 2 is a huge selling point for all avid photographers and videographers who don’t want to carry a USB card reader everywhere they go just to transfer pictures.
The Surface Laptop has a 13.5-inch screen and a resolution of 2256 × 1504 resolution pixels. The Surface Book 2 offers a considerably higher resolution of either 3000 × 2000 or 3240 × 2160 pixels, depending on whether you choose the 13.5-inch or the 15-inch model.
All Surface displays are bright enough even for use under direct sunlight, and their color reproduction is excellent. The main advantage of the higher resolution models is the ability to see more details without zooming.
While not particularly useful when browsing the web, editing documents, or watching Full HD content on YouTube or Netflix, being able to see more pixels at the same time makes editing images and videos much easier.
You might expect the Surface Laptop to be more powerful than the Surface Book 2—after all, it’s a traditional laptop and not a convertible—but the opposite is actually true. The Surface Book 2 is available with 8 GB or 16 GB of memory in 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB configurations. It’s also available with a dedicated graphics card from Nvidia, making it suitable even for gaming and other graphics-intensive tasks.
The Surface Laptop is available with either 4 GB, 8 GB, or 16 GB of memory in 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB configurations. Unfortunately, you can’t purchase the Surface Laptop with a dedicated graphics card. The best option when it comes to graphics is the i7 model, which has the Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 integrated graphics card.
Both the Surface Laptop and the Surface Book 2 are available with several different 7th and 8th Generation Intel Core processors, so you can choose the right amount of power for your needs. We recommend you stay away from the Surface Laptop with the Intel Core m3, which is a passively cooled dual-core processor intended primarily for casual use cases.
The lowest-end Surface Laptop sells for only $999, while the lowest-end Surface Book 2 costs $1,499. The price difference shrinks considerably when you compare models with equal specifications, however.
You may also want to purchase the Microsoft Complete extended warranty, which costs $149 and gives you additional warranty coverage and accidental damage protection. And you certainly don’t want to miss out on the Surface Pen and not be able to draw and write naturally with 4,096 pressure points that respond to the lightest touch.
If you don’t need the extra features and power that the Surface Book 2 provides and are looking only for a basic, well-made laptop that you can carry with you anywhere and use for document editing, web browsing, or multimedia, the Surface Laptop is a great choice. But if you see yourself often drawing in tablet mode or watching a movie in the bed, the more versatile Surface Book 2 is likely a better choice.