December 4, 2016
Share

The Microsoft Surface Book review

The general consensus for the part tablet, part laptop Microsoft Surface Book is satisfaction. For Microsoft, it’s just the beginning.

Microsoft’s Surface Book has been so well-received that instead of introducing a new product so soon after the Surface Book, Microsoft is doing a mid-generation update in the Surface Book with Performance Base.

Packed with high-end components, new Intel processors, and more features, the Surface Book is dubbed as Microsoft’s “ultimate laptop.” It’s a laptop and a tablet combined, raising the bar among other notebooks with its speed, performance, innovative design, and superior battery life.

Not Your Ordinary Notebook

microsoft-surface-hinge

Even at first glance, you’ll know it’s no ordinary notebook just by the Dynamic Fulcrum Hinge alone. Microsoft once promised that a Surface tablet could replace your laptop and somehow they managed to give us two things in one package: a tablet that you can attach to a keyboard deck or a laptop where you can detach the screen from its keyboard to turn it into a tablet.

The detachable 13.5-inch PixelSense Display is called the Clipboard and runs on a notebook-grade Intel processor so the nice thing about having both laptop and tablet is having a powerful device in both modes. It’s a very thin sort of laptop/tablet while packing in as much great hardware as it could in such a device. Aside from being optimized for Pen and touch, Microsoft indicates in their website that the Microsoft Surface Book has a higher resolution than the MacBook Pro 13.

If you don’t want the detached parts to take up too much space, you can simply flip the Clipboard over and reattach it to the keyboard deck. This way, you can work on the Clipboard as a tablet while staying attached to the keyboard. It also works great when you want to present what’s on the screen as a laptop without the keyboard getting in the way of your viewing.

Though the Surface Book isn’t the first to introduce the laptop/tablet hybrid, it’s the first one to streamline it. You can detach and attach both parts at the touch of the button, unlike other brands where detaching and reattaching takes a while (sometimes even needing to turn off).

Performance Takes a New Level

microsoft-surface-as-laptop

Another thing that sets this device apart from the others is its’s the first to integrate a GPU into a hybrid system, the keyboard dock isn’t just a keyboard, it’s the better half of a laptop system that has the bulk of the laptop’s hardware. This means apart from the Clipboard’s own internal GPU, the keyboard dock contains a customized Nvidia GeForce GPU, doubling the Surface Book’s processing power when they’re attached to each other.

The Surface Book is designed and built to run professional-grade software, whether it’s for engineering, design, publishing, and video editing. This kind of processing performance is enough to consider it capable of XBox and PC gaming. (Although the MacBook Pro still beats the Surface Book as a production laptop with double the RAM and SSD, and an AMD Radeon R9 M370X GPU.)

microsoft-surface-as-table

You can explore more of the Surface Book’s neat little features like their stylus which has a hidden button down its stem that’s used for right-clicking. They also upped the ante in security by having facial recognition as a cool alternative to fingerprint scanning. The hybrid laptop’s speakers leave much to be desire though. It sounds good enough for the casual listener but the sound barely has depth and the bass seems to be missing. Better have a pair of earphones/headphones ready instead.

The Surface Book’s battery life looks promising. The hybrid’s battery is essentially split into two, with 75% of the battery located in the keyboard deck while 25% of it is in the Clipboard. According to some reviewers, earlier models of the Surface Book have a short battery life while their younger, updated cousins are in keeping with Microsoft’s promised 12-hour battery life with the keyboard dock on. On the other hand, detaching the Clipboard will automatically have it switch to its own internal battery, lasting 4 hours.

Thoughts?

Among laptop-tablet hybrids, Microsoft’s amazing new Surface Book blows the competition out of the water. The hybrid device is chock full of cool features for a convertible unit like it, and performs well in both modes, although its tablet mode seems to be just a novel convenience if its battery is going to be judged. Though it may not perform as well as the new MacBook Pro in terms of keeping it together under extreme processing pressure (Apple products rarely crash after all), the Surface Book doesn’t fail in satisfying the user with its overall performance, improvements, and innovations in relation to its price, which the new MacBook Pro proportionally fails at.

Specifications list

  • Processor: 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 3GHz with Turbo Boost)

  • Graphics: Intel HD graphics 520; Nvidia GeForce graphics (1GB GDDR5 high-speed memory)

  • RAM: 8GB

  • Screen: 13.5-inch, 3,000 x 2,000 (267 ppi) PixelSense Display

  • Storage: 256GB PCIe3.0 SSD

  • Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, mini DisplayPort, SD card reader, mini headphone/mic combo jack

  • Connectivity: 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE

  • Camera: Windows 8MP rear-facing auto-focus camera (1080p HD), 5MP front-facing Hello face-authentication camera (1080p HD)

  • Weight: 3.48 pounds (1.58kg)

  • Size: 12.3 x 9.14 x 0.51-0.90 (W x D x H) (312 x 232 x 13-22.8 mm)

Design
5 out of 5
Essentials
4 out of 5
Performance
4.5 out of 5
Features
4.5 out of 5
Overall

The Surface Book delivers in terms of performance and essential features. While it may not match the MacBook Pro in terms of multitasking, the Surface Book is still a very capable laptop/tablet for the creative professional. The Surface Book ultimately wins in terms innovative design and cool new features, although if you're looking for a wider gamut of features, its desktop version has more. But in a portable package like this one, it's more than enough.

4.5

Good
4.5 out of 5