Surface Book 2 Builds on the Original’s Success
Microsoft caught a lot of people off guard when it released the Surface Book 2-in-1 laptop in 2015. The capabilities of the device, its innovative Dynamic Fulcrum hinge and the PixelSense display wowed. The fact that Microsoft was building an actual laptop was a surprise.
The success of the Surface Book led to the ultra-thin, ultra-stylish Surface Laptop earlier this year in an ongoing expansion of the premium Surface hardware lineup (check out my post of the recent SurfaceStyle event to see the full story). And now, a new generation of the Surface Book itself is here: the Surface Book 2.
Microsoft took everything that made the original so popular, and absolutely amped up the power to deliver the most powerful Surface laptop ever. In fact, the company says the Surface Book 2 offers five times the graphic performance of the original, and is twice as powerful as the latest pro laptop from a certain non-Windows PC maker … I had the opportunity to review one, and it was a truly impressive device.
Making things even better, you now have a choice in size. In addition to the 13.5-inch size introduced with the original Surface Book, Microsoft is offering the Surface Book 2 in a big, 15-inch version. The 15-inch Surface Book 2 will be a Best Buy exclusive in Canada when it launches son February 16 (in the meantime, you can pre-order one).
A New Option, Without Messing With the Winning 2-in-1 Formula
Microsoft kept the things that made the original Surface Book so compelling. The Dynamic Fulcrum Hinge and detachable, multi-touch PixelSense display tablet are still there. However, this time around Microsoft is offering two different size options: 13.5-inches (like the original) and a new 15-inch option.
And the Surface Book 2 takes performance to an entirely new level. 8th generation quad-core Core i7 CPUs provide the muscle (the base model is equipped with a 7th generation Core i5). Graphics firepower starts with Intel Graphics HD 620 on the base model, but Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 and GTX 1060 graphics cards with up to 6GB of GDDR5 RAM are offered throughout the rest of the lineup. Speaking of graphics, visuals will pop on the 13.5-inch PixelSense display with its 3,000 x 2,000 pixel resolution.
Storage is lighting fast SSD, starting at 256GB capacity. There is a full range of ports, covering new and existing standards, including a pair of Surface Connect ports, dual full-sized USB 3.1, USB-C and an SD card reader. It’s also compatible with the Surface Pen and Surface Dial. Battery life for the laptop is rated at up to 17 hours of video playback.
Both sizes remain ultraportable, with the 13.5-inch Surface Book 2 tipping the scales at just 1.53kg, while the 15-inch version is a svelte 1.9 kg.
The Ultimate Portable Windows Experience
With its combination of power and flexibility, the new Microsoft Surface Book 2 may just be the ultimate laptop for next-generation computing including Windows Mixed Reality. Connect a compatible controller and headset and enjoy the best VR has to offer. I recently tried out Acer’s WMR headset and controllers, and with a suitably equipped Surface Book 2, you could immerse yourself in virtual reality, too. With an available discrete Nvidia graphics card, the latest Intel Core CPUs and its PixelSense Display, the new Surface Book 2 is set to play the latest PC games as well—including the ability to drive games like Gears of War 4 in 1080p at 60 FPS. Or, pair an Xbox One controller and play your Xbox games wirelessly.
For the more practically minded, add a Surface Pen stylus to take full advantage of the latest Office 365 features, including Windows Inking. Add a Surface dial and this 2-in-1 becomes a productivity and creativity powerhouse that rivals a desktop PC for capabilities.
When Can I Get My Hands on One?
Whether you’re after a 13.5-inch or 15-inch Surface Book 2, both versions are being offered at Best Buy (remember the 15-inch models are Best Buy exclusives in Canada). You can purchase the 13.5-inch versions immediately. The 15-inch models officially launch on February 16, but you can pre-order them now. You can check out the full selection of 2-in-1 laptops at Best Buy, including the original Surface Book.
[Editor note: this article was originally published in October 2017, and has been updated with information on new models that are now available.]