In addition to the release of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update today, and a new Surface Precision Mouse, Microsoft has just announced the Surface Book 2, a successor to the “ultimate laptop” released in Fall 2015. Unlike the 2016 Surface Book with Performance Base which was pretty much a minor revision, the new Surface Book 2 brings major performance and battery life improvements as well as some nice hardware refinements. And for the first time ever, it’s available in 13.5-inch and new 15-inch models.
“Surface Book 2 has fives times more graphics performance than the original and is twice as powerful as the MacBook Pro,” according to Microsoft. Both models feature dual-core or quad-core Intel 8th Gen “Kaby Lake” processors, and the new Surface Book 2 15" features NVIDIA GeForce GPUs and up to 17 hours of battery life (up to 5 hours in Tablet Mode). The PixelSense Display is still there, rocking a 3000 x 2000 resolution (267 PPI) on the 13.5” model and a 3240 x 2160 resolution (260 PPI) on the new 15” model.
The overall design may not look that different compared to the first generation products, but there are some very important details to be aware of. “Every detail of the iconic Surface Book design has been refined, from the Dynamic Fulcrum Hinge for a more stable touch experience, to the improved, backlit keyboard and flexibility of both USB Type-A and USB Type-C ports," explained Microsoft. Yes, you read that right, the Surface Book 2 is the first Surface device that features a USB-C port on the base, supporting USB 3.1 Gen 1 speeds as well as power-in/out, but not Thunderbolt 3. If you’re wondering, the Surface Connect port is still there and there are two of them, one on the keyboard base and one on the tablet itself.
The Surface Book 2 is still as versatile as ever with four different modes (Laptop Mode, Tablet Mode, View Mode or Studio Mode) for both creation and consumption. “Surface Book 2 is a robust laptop, powerful tablet, and portable studio that adapts to the ways you work and create best.” The new models also support Surface Dial on-screen interaction, the new generation Surface Pens as well as Microsoft's Surface Dock.
The Surface Book 2 will start at $1.499 for the 13-inch model with a 7th gen Intel Dual Core processor, Intel’s HD Graphics 620 GPU, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage. More expensive SKUs come with an 8th gen quad core i7 processor, an NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1050 discrete GPU with 2GB of memory, up to 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage. As for the 15” inch model, it’s available in three different configurations with the same 8th gen quad-core i7 processor, an NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1060 discrete GPU with 6GB of RAM, 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage.
All Surface Book 2 models feature the same number of ports, sensors and cameras (5MP on the front, 8MP on the back with auto-focus), a backlit keyboard, stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium. However, 15” SKUs also feature integrated Xbox Wireless technology, letting you pair your Xbox One controller or compatible headset without Microsoft’s Xbox Wireless USB adapter. And with more powerful NVIDIA GPUs, the Surface Book 2 could well be much better gaming laptop compared to the previous model (both models are also ready for Windows Mixed Reality).
If you can't wait to put your hands on the Surface Book 2, the new devices won't be available until November 16. It’s also worth nothing that all models will ship with the Windows 10 Creators Update, which is a bit surprising considering that the Fall Creators Update is out today. Overall, both devices are very nice improvements over the previous models, and the addition of quad-core processors and powerful NVIDIA discrete GPUs (more powerful than those found on the Surface Studio) will likely please professionals looking for the perfect mobile workstation.
More importantly, these new Surface devices show that Microsoft is really serious about its hardware business. With the Surface Laptop and the new Surface Pro, Microsoft already launched four new Surface devices this year, and we also know that the Surface Pro with LTE is coming later this year. It's a bit surprising that Microsoft didn't wait for Panos Panay's Future Decoded keynote on October 31 to unveil these new devices, so now we're left wondering what Microsoft's Corporate VP of Devices will talk about during the event.