Surface Book 2 13-inch Review


It’s finally here, the Microsoft
Surface Book 2 13-inch. And although it looks
like its predecessor, today I’ll tell you my
review, why it’s better. Stay tuned. (offbeat music) Alright before we get
started, if you’re interested in the 15-inch version
of the Surface Book 2, make sure you hit the
link in the description below for that review. We did a real deep dive in that showing all the benchmarks and what
makes that one special. Now let’s turn to the 13-inch. It’s very easy to mistake
the Surface Book 2 for the original Surface Book. Microsoft kept the design language exactly the same, including that that hinge. Although some people didn’t
like it, it absolutely worked. The fulcrum henge is needed for balancing this device when it’s open. Now I’m actually kind of
glad Microsoft kept it. Going beyond the outside, Microsoft has redesigned the Surface Book 2 from the inside out. That includes all-new specifications. For instance, there’s a
dual-core Intel Core i5 version, it’s 3.2 gigahertz. That’s the same processor
though from last generation. It’s an Intel seventh-gen chip. And it’s only dual-core,
so that’s not too exciting, but it does start at 1499
and it’s completely fan-less. Where things get really interesting though is the eighth-generation
Intel Core i7 chip that Turbo Boosts up to 4.2 gigahertz. While that’s still a 15-watt chip, it is the first quad-core processor that’s available in the Surface. It’s also available in the
Surface Book 2 15-inch, But that one has a higher
wattage at 20 watts. For RAM, you’re still getting 8 gigabytes or a 16 gigabyte options. For SSD, you get 256, 512,
or one-terabyte options, including a Samsung
PCIe NVMe SSD on-board, which is pretty fast. Turn to graphics, and
you get an Intel HD 620 for the Core i5, or an Intel
UHD 620 for the Core i7. But what we all want to know about is that discreet GPU. Microsoft has squeezed
in an NVIDIA GTX 1050 with two gigabytes of video RAM. That’s an exciting GPU
and it just gets your foot in the door for gaming. It’s also gonna be significantly faster than last year’s 965M that was found in the performance base. Turning to weight, and the Core i5 version weighs 3.38 pounds, or 1,533 grams. The i7 version’s a bit heavier at 3.62 pounds, or 1,642 grams. The tablet section though comes in at 719 grams, or just
over one and a half pounds. Let’s turn to fans here real quickly, ’cause this is an important distinction. The Core i5 version is
completely fan-less. Now we’re talking about
two different fans here. There’s usually a fan
in the tablet section, and a fan in the GPU area in the base. The Core i5 doesn’t have anything. It’s passively-cooled,
it’s completely silent. The Core i7 model though keeps a fan in the base for that GTX 1050. But the Core i7 chip in
the actual tablet section is completely fan-less and
is passively cooled as well. That differs from the 15-inch model, which has fans in both sections. Turning to ports on the left-hand side, you get two USB 3.1 A ports. You also get a full SD card slot. Again, glad Microsoft kept that for photographers and media. Turn to the right-hand side, you get a Surface Connect port for power as well as a display
doc, we like to use that. And new to this year is
the USB Type-C 3.1 port. That’s a little bit complicated
and let’s jump into it. It does not have Thunderbolt 3. That just means you cannot
use an external GPU with it or power multiple 4K displays at 60 hertz. You can power though a single
display at 4K 60 hertz, use multiple USB hubs, and
plug in multiple devices to it. You can charge the Surface Book 2 with it, if your charger is powerful enough, you can also, of course,
charge other devices from it. On the top side of the tablet, you have a three-and-a-half
millimeter headset jack. You could still see the radio
vent here for passive cooling. You can also see where the antenna lines are for the WiFi and Bluetooth. Over on the left-hand side,
you do have your volume rocker and power button. Again, no change from last year. Turn to the front of the device, you get a five-megapixel
front-facing camera. You also get Windows Hello, as expected. The display bezels have
not changed at all. The display itself is still three-by-two, 3,000-by-2,000 resolution, but the contrast ratio has improved. And overall, it’s a very nice display. It has excellent viewing angles. We did get 99% sRGB rating for it, as well as 80% Adobe RGB. While that’s not perfect, that’s pretty darn close to it. Now for those concerned with light bleed, I can say I still see a little bit of edge bleed here and there, but it’s only when a device is booting. I don’t notice it while I’m
using the device at all. I know people are very sensitive to that. I think it’s an overreaction, but if you’re going to be concerned about light bleed, there
is still a little bit. I don’t think they can
do much to solve that. Turning to the fulcrum hinge, not much has changed from the
original Surface Book. The design still looks the same, but the internals have been updated. The muscle wire mechanism
is now much more quiet, so when you release the display from the main base, you
won’t hear it as much. Looking at the keyboard, it still has the same design and layout. They do have dedicated buttons though for display brightness,
which is a welcome change. The travel is 1.5 millimeters, that’s a slight decrease from
the original 1.6 millimeters, but I would not call it a
degradation in experience. In fact, this keyboard is excellent. It is based off of the Surface Laptop as far as response. It is definitely one of
my favorite keyboards. Speaking of, the trackpad,
you’re still going to get a glass-covered trackpad. It’s exceptionally smooth. It too has been updated,
along with the Surface Laptop. It is easily the best trackpad I’ve used on any Windows PC to date. Turning to battery
performance and thermals, Microsoft did an excellent job here with the Surface Book 2. Looking at our Geekbench
scores, you can see that single core is very
good for the Core i7 model, but it’s the multi-core one
that’s super-impressive. That nearly doubles over
the original Surface Book. Not too surprising being
a quad-core machine versus the original dual-core,
but those numbers are real. This is a very powerful chip. The same can be said for the GPU, where we see the new
Surface Book 2 with a 1050, significantly outperforming the Surface Book with performance base. Turning to heat and thermals, this is a very cool device. Now as I mentioned earlier, there’s only a fan in the base that’s for the GPU, so you will only hear that section if you’re going to be pushing that GPU, and that’s where you may get some warmth on the bottom, but we never saw it peak over 106 Fahrenheit
or 41 degrees Celsius. So it’s a very cool and quiet machine, although as I mentioned earlier, it does have a little bit of coil whine. For battery life, Microsoft
was promising 17 hours. Now that is a video loop test. The reason they do that is
it’s repeatable and consistent. Modern processors scale so dynamically, that it’s really task-dependent on what your battery life is going to be. That makes any estimate very difficult to give you, but I can honestly say that using this device for eight hours minimum is very likely. You can definitely push
it towards 10 hours and maybe even more depending
on your display brightness. I did not feel I ever needed to bring a charger with me all
day, and that’s really what we’re looking for here. This is a significant improvement over the original Surface Book,
and I’m really glad to see it. You won’t get 17 hours,
and if you’re going to game and use that GPU,
it’ll be significantly less. GPUs are very power-hungry, but overall, this is a very good machine for battery. Now the Surface Book 2 13-inch is Windows Mixed Reality-capable, but I’m not in love with the experience. First of all, you’re going to have to use a USB Type-C dongle in order to connect a display adapter up to it. That’s because there’s no
dedicated HDMI display port. And that’s not so bad,
but then you also have to plug in a USB Type-A, and since it’s on the other side, you’re going to want to use a hub for that. Now, the experience has been okay. It works, but there’s something with the refresh rate in that USB Type-C port I’m not really in love with. I think it’s a software issue, it could probably be fixed,
but I definitely feel like the Surface team didn’t build this device with Windows
Mixed Reality in mind. Now we should talk about the pen. There’s none included in the box, so that’s an extra $99. Microsoft is following a similar model with the Surface Pro and passing the cost off to customers. A lot of people don’t use the pen and Microsoft says they synched the cost back into the device, used more quality components. We’ll just have to take their word for it. So, for $99 you get a new pen. Though luckily, it supports
all those new features found in the Surface Pro, including
4,096 levels of pressure, tilt support, and advanced features in inking, including that low latency, which is very much welcomed. I’ve been using the pen extensively here, and I really enjoy it. It feels very much like the Surface Pro. So if you’re big on inking, you’ll want to pick up one of those pens. And at least you can pick your color now. Okay let’s bring it
all in, what do I think of the Surface Book 2? It’s a significant
improvement over the original. In fact, let me speak
to the early adopters. You know who you are, you bought a Surface Book on day one
and you probably got burned by a lot of issues. Microsoft had a ton of problems with the Intel Skylake chipset on there. Heck, Windows Hello barely
worked on it as well. Now that was fixed later on with a lot of firmware updates, but
there were ongoing problems that were really frustrating. I can say, I did not
exhibit any issues here going into Surface Book 2. Everything just worked. Windows Hello was reliable,
it didn’t overheat, the battery life was phenomenal. Now there are still some small problems. For instance, there is coil whine, at least when plugged in
in High Performance mode. When it’s on battery, I
didn’t notice anything. That may bother some
people, and I hope Microsoft can fix that during production. That may be related to that new Intel Core i7 processor as well. But overall, the experience
has been really excellent. It’s all the small changes here. It’s the new keyboard, it’s the trackpad, the display looks better, even the audio speakers are better. Pen and inking is better. You can use Windows Mixed Reality on this. You get all-day battery life. You get significant performance, especially with that
i7 and GTX 1050 model. So besides those looking to upgrade, who else should buy this device? Now obviously, it’s very expensive. I don’t want to belabor the point, Surfaces are never cheap. They’re not about value, they’re about performance and quality. There are a lot of good alternatives on the market, including ones from Dell, HP, and even Razer. So, if you’re looking to save some money and still get value, I would
check out those devices. However, if you’re a student, an architect, or you’re in science or engineering, that’s where Microsoft is really aiming this device for, and I think it succeeds. It’s a great choice if you can afford it. So in conclusion, Microsoft calls the Surface Book 2 the ultimate laptop. And you know what, I think they succeeded. There’s no other device on the market that does as much as this thing. The only thing that’s better is the Surface Book 2 15-inch, so make sure you check out that video. Before we get started,
if you’re interested in the Surface Book 2 15-inch, make sure you click the link for the video for that, no. Should I point? I kinda don’t think I should. – [Man] You don’t, no…

100 thoughts on “Surface Book 2 13-inch Review

  1. The i5 is NOT the same chip as in the old Surface Book. The old Surface Book had 6th generation chips and none were fanless except the M3. The move to fanless is awesome.

    Great review. I really prefer a smaller device so it's Surface Pro for me.

  2. it looks like you were using an XBox controller with the 13.5" during the video review… I thought only the 15" version could do that? or does it just connect via Bluetooth on the 13.5"?

  3. Why keep saying contrast ratio has improved? The previous version of Surface Book had a 1700:1 CR panel, while this is 1600:1.

  4. i bought surface book one with performance base 8 months ago and i had to return 2 units one overheating and one the paint on the top litterally started chipping off. Im staying away from the surface line after my experience. and from what iv seen alot of people have issues that they should not be having with that price point. my 2 cents are avoid even tho it looks cool and seems worth it god know i still want one

  5. the reason they do video loop test is because its very easy and not power intensive , these 7/8 generation intel chips can do this very efficiently

  6. is 106 degrees okay? I don’t know much about temperatures in devices, but will the device last years? I am looking for a laptop to use at university and this sounds perfect.

  7. If you're a student, or an architect, or in science, or in engineering…..wow. This laptop and I were designed for each other. 🙂

  8. Oh no. Why does the surface book 2 13 inch still shows the white line on the right side of the screen when playing video at 4:21? I thought Microsoft redesigned the whole? Great review but disappointed with SB again.

  9. Imma just wait for 2018 cause if I buy this I'll be so excited then 2018 will come and I'll be disappointed with it because there will be much better laptops coming out

  10. Hi, loved both your reviews,best ones out there,also you later follow up reviews about battery drain and coil wine,very helpful,can you please tell me how do I use the Xbox wireless controller,on this does it need an adapter or something,I saw on the 15" it's built into it I think,don't want to buy the wrong controller for it,can you let me know what I need please

  11. This laptop looks unique, feels substantial, has amazing trackpad, screen, design, materials, keyboard, good ports, and its a two in one, with amazing specs that can do 1080p game and handle anything else.

    Fucking baller.

  12. I bought this laptop and love it, but I lose a good amount of battery overnight on sleep (7-15%), and more than expected through daily use. I was wondering if anyone has discovered the same problem.

  13. Hi guys
    I'm struggling with my sb2 (I7, 512gb). When I'm editing 4k footage, premiere pro is lagging really badly and I'm not able to work properly on this machine. I often have to restart premiere or the whole laptop which is a no go for productivity. Scrubbing through the timeline is a pain and replaying videos within premiere pro works for the first 10 minutes but lags afterwards pretty badly.
    Does anyone of you guys know what the problem might be? I'm not 100% sure if the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 grafics card is used instead of the Intel HD card. Until now that's my only explanation which I don't know if it's true and if it is, how to fix it.
    Would be great to hear from you guys.
    Best regards, Patrick

  14. Lol high quality components? With coil whine? BS! Coil whine points to low quality components…

    This also brings the problem with "on board" reviewers. They dont question obvious Bull shittery…

  15. Is the i5 4gb ram version of this good enough for audio recording for music ? Looking to buy a surface book 2 but don’t know which one I should look for I literally only want to record and edit music with it . Anyone can help me?

  16. the i5 sounds awesome with a cheaper price than the surface pro with the same spec. should I choose the book over the pro? please gimme some suggestions

  17. Can you make a VS video comparing the 13.5 SB2 and the xbox one s.
    Im trying to decide if to get PUBG for PC or Xbox but don't know which one can handle the game better

  18. I have no complaints to this computer except the price. Or, perhaps the real complaint is that I need to earn more money.

  19. Does anyone know if there's a laptop out there with a 3:2 ratio, that has a long battery life (long enough to last a day) and that is not too heavy? I really wanna get the Surface Book 2 but it seems overkill and too expensive for my use.

  20. Hi Guys, ….Good review. Actually I am looking to buy 13.5 inch, i5 with 8gb ram…….I am a programmer with SAP ERP and cloud sytems. is this configuration more suitable for me…..Can you me your suggestions?

  21. I’m buying a new laptop for college and love the surface books. I’m trying to keep the price as low as possible and wonder if buying a Surface Book 2 with intel i5 and 128gb of ssd or if it would be smarted to go with an older surface book with intel i7 and 256gb of ssd and nvidia geforce. I’m not planning on doing any serious gaming or anything currently, but want to buy a laptop that will still fit my future needs as time goes on. Any advice as to what I should do?

  22. Could you please say does the camera modules are exactly same in Surface Book 2 and in Surface Pro 4? Are they vary in diaphragm and light speed values? Which model has the maximal quality of images? Thank you!

  23. I'll only buy it once they manage to put at least 10h battery life for the tablet only. But it's a beautiful machine.

  24. Almost a year has passed and this thing is still expensive as hell.
    I would love to upgrade my surface pro to the 15" SB2 for the screen estate for multi-tasking, but with its current price, it's still really hard to justify especially when I don't really need the extra performance, simply the large screen.

    If only Microsoft releases a 15" SB with an 8th gen core i5, iGPU at a significantly cheaper price and much longer battery, that would be my dream device.

  25. Would this be able to play Football Manager in 3D in tablet mode? Also, if you switch the screen round and fold the keyboard around to form a tablet like setup, are you still connected to the GPU and battery in the keyboard? Cheers!

  26. If you have access to both surfacebook 1 and 2, can I ask if the surface book 13" tablet will attach and work with the 13" surfacebook 2 keyboard?

  27. Thanks! It is good that you brought up the light bleed…don't know if you still have this surface book 2 laying around. Would be good if you could make a video to show how bad or not that bad light bleed is. I do have a brand new SB2 in the box, but don't want to open it because of light bleed issue which my gen 1 SB experienced.

  28. Your website advises the thule gauntlet 3.0 sleeve for the sb2 13 inch, BUT IT DOES NOT FIT, I couldn't comment on "old content" on the website.

  29. Sadly the base model is equipped with a dual core processor rather than the Quad cores found in the Surface Pro 6 and Laptop 2…

  30. With the recent refresh to the SB2, adding Intel 8th gen quad core to the i5, will I be able to notice the difference when using i5 8th gen vs 7th gen (not for programming or Photoshop but just daily tasks)

  31. "Does have a little bit of coil whine" crap…I will have to wait for the next gen then…Do all of them have this?

  32. Would it be worth buying the i5 version since it still uses 7th generation dual core processor or do you reckon it's worth it to just get the i7 8th gen quad core version?
    Environmental Engineering student (soon to be) here.

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