Surface Book 2 15-inch review: The ultimate Windows laptop

The Surface Book 2 15-inch is the bigger, more powerful version
of the 13-inch model. Microsoft claims it’s
the most powerful surface they’ve ever made, is it true? Today, I’ll tell you my
full review, stay tuned. (upbeat music) Okay before we get started, if you haven’t seen the review of the
Surface Book 2 13-inch model make sure you click the link
to check that out first. Now the 15-inch, of course,
is just the bigger version of the Surface Book 2 13-inch but there’s actually a lot more going on, including a lot of nuanced detail which we will dive into next. Jumping to specifications
in the 15-inch model comes with a Core i7-8650U processor. That’s an Intel 8th
generation quad-core chip and it’s a really nice one, too. As it turbo boosts up to 4.2 gigahertz. What makes it really interesting, it has 20 watts of power for it. That, versus the 15 watt
found in the 13-inch version. That means this chip is
going to run at a higher clock speed for longer durations than the 13-inch Surface Book 2. And that actually does
show off in our benchmarks. Additionally, you get 16 gigs of RAM, 256, five, 12, or one terabyte of storage and at least in the one terabyte
version we’re running here it has a Samsung SSD, and
we’re getting over a 1,000 read and write speeds
for that disk as well, which is a really welcome change from the previous Surface Book. Turning to the GPU, Microsoft
put in an in-video GTX 1060 with a full six gigabytes
full of video memory. It’s an awesome card and you’ll see later in our benchmarks just
how well it performs. But, it’ll outlast almost
any laptop out there today. Turning to the display, you get a full 15-inch 3240
x 2160 pixelsense display. That ranks in at 260 pixels per inch. That’s slightly below the 267 PPI of the Surface Book 2 13-inch but really, it’s not noticeable at all. It is, of course, the same
three by two aspect ratio. As we all know for from
all surface devices. Sitting above the display is Windows Hello with a five megapixel camera, IR sensor, and two microphones. It’s actually a very good camera for web. It does about 30 frames per second. At 1080p video you can even do HDR photos and on the rear of the display, of course, is that eight megapixel camera, which I think is actually
under appreciated by a lot of people but
students who needs to take a photo of a whiteboard will
definitely appreciate it. Another trademark of Surface devices are the two front-facing speakers. So they’re right here in the
display cutout in the glass. They’re excellent speakers, as always. They are always powered by Dolby, and I really appreciate the sound. They get loud, they’re crisp,
and since they fire right at your ears, you always hear them. Tune to the keyboard, it looks a lot like all Surface Book keyboards, including the one on the original 13-inch. But they have tuned
this a bit differently. They learned new lessons
from Surface laptops. So, it’s actually slightly shallower. It’s 1.55mm versus 1.6,
does that make a difference? No, actually, I feel like this keyboard is much better than the
original Surface Book. It’s even slightly
quieter and doesn’t have as much a mushy feeling, I
really enjoy typing on it. There’s also a three stage backlight, so you can type whether
it’s dark or light. Looking at the track pad, it’s the same model found
on all Surface Books. But it has been updated for 2017. It is hands down the best
track pad I have ever used. There’s not much else to say about it. It has full precision, obviously. It’s smooth glass, the
clicking is excellent. It’s just a blast to
use, turning to ports. You get two USB 3.1 ports along with a full SD card slot. Microsoft has not
removed that, thankfully. Photographers will
definitely appreciate that. Turn to the right hand side,
you get a Surface connect port which is proprietary and magnetic. It could also be used to
power a Surface display dock. New to this year is USB type C3.1 replacing the display
port from the last model. And while that’s welcome,
it is missing Thunderbolt 3. However, that just means you cannot use an external GPU with it, or
power multiple 4K displays. It does have enough juice, however, to power a 4K display at 60 hertz. Or you can use it with
USB type C accessories including hubs, or you can
use it with powered delivery to charge the Surface Book
2 or power external devices. Turning to the tablet portion
of the Surface Book 2. You do get a three and a half millimeter headset jack which is welcomed. You also do have your power
and volume controls on top. That has not changed either. The total package comes in
a 4.2 pounds or 1,905 grams. Which sounds heavier than it really is, but it feels great in the hand. And don’t forget that tablet
portion of the display pops off at a 1.8 pounds or 817 grams. It’s exceptionally light. You’re talking about a full Quad-Core 7pc and a tablet that weighs 1.8 pounds. Speaking of things
Microsoft has not changed, we still have this full-chrome hinge here, which is a trademark of Surface Book. Now, some people don’t like
the gap when it’s closed but we have to remember
that the design here is essential for balancing this
device when it’s fully opened. Speaking of, they did reinforce the hinge so it’s a little bit more stiff this year. Sure, if you tap the
screen it will bounce. But I can say when using this in your lap and you’re riding on a train, it does significantly bounce
less than last year’s model. Microsoft has also reworked
the muscle wire mechanism for detaching the display. It’s a bit more quiet this
year, another welcome change. Turning to the Surface Pen,
you can still use it with the Surface Book 2 and in fact, it supports 4,096 levels of pressure. As well as tilt, which
is really fantastic. That also matches the Surface
Pro 2017 specifications including it’s near-zero latency effect. Now, the big caveat here
is, the pen is not included. And that’s the same case with Surface Pro. So you’re going to have
to charge an extra $99 to your credit card if
you want to use that pen. The benefit here is you get
to pick the color you want and Microsoft says they
re-sunk that cost into making the Surface Book a better device. Another unique feature of
the Surface Book 15-inch that’s not found in the 13-inch model is support for X-Box wireless. It means you can use your
favorite elite controller or X-Box controller
connected directly to it without using blue tooth. That also means you get haptic feedback and it tells you something
about how Microsoft is positioning this device. Alright, so I know what
you’re thinking here. The Surface Book 2 15-inch just seems like a larger Surface Book. So what’s the big deal? Well, this thing is an
absolute juggernaut. Both when it comes to
power and performance as well as battery life. Turning to benchmarks, Geekbench
4.0 Surface Book 2 15-inch gets an amazing 5,036 on its single core and 14,237 on its multi core. That of course beats the
Surface Book 2 13-inch and actually every laptop
I’ve pretty much ever tested, except maybe the Razer Blade Pro, which is a whole ‘nother
level of laptop anyway. For graphics on OpenCL,
Geekbench 4.0 gets 123,602. Again, it bests every single
laptop that we have tested. Okay, so synthetic
benchmarks are one thing. And they’re all super impressive. But what about real life? What does this thing actually do if you wanted to game on it? So playing Gears of War set
to 1620 x 1080 resolution in Medium graphics yield
a 96 frames per second. Compare that to the 65 frames per second in the 13-inch model and
just 47 frames per second for the Surface Book
with Performance Base. In fact, I was able to game
at 30 frames per second in DOOM, and set to High graphics. It’s at the full native
resolution of the Surface Book. All this segues nicely
into fan, temperature, noise and battery life. So, when it comes to fans,
there are two on this device. You have one in the tablet
section for the processor, and one for the GPU. And on the load, yeah, it
does get a little bit loud. We’re talking about 52
decibels, which is not crazy. It is lower than most gaming laptops. But, if you were going to game
and use this thing at 100%, you’re going to hear what I would describe as a whooshing noise. Luckily, it’s not an
annoying high-pitch fan, so you can definitely get used to it. If you’re using gaming
headphones, there’s no issue. If you’re just using
the Surface Book 15-inch as a normal laptop,
you’re browsing the web, you’re watching videos, you’re
doing sort of app stuff, you’ll never hear the
fans, they’re super quiet. The only time you’re
ever going to hear it, if you’re rendering video
and really pushing that GPU. When it comes to temperatures, the device gets a little bit warm. 106 degrees Fahrenheit on the bottom, that’s about 41 degrees Celsius. But that is well-within comfortable range. That just means you’re
going to feel a little bit temperature but it never
gets hot or uncomfortable. In fact, the whole device was like that. I would describe the thermals
as excellent for this device. And finally, drumroll
please, battery life. So Microsoft claimed 17 hours. Now, in fairness to Microsoft, they are talking about a video loop test. The reason they do that, a lot
of these companies do that, is because these new
processors are so dynamic that it is completely dependent
on what you’re doing and how much battery
life you’re going to get. That makes any battery life estimate very difficult and task-dependent. Putting that in perspective,
though, I would easily say if you’re just using this as a laptop, eight hours minimum, you
will probably get out of the Surface Book 2 15-inch. I often found myself pushing 10 hours. In fact, I would definitely be
able to leave my charger home and take this out with me for the day and not have a worry in the world. It really sips battery life. Now, if you’re going to push that GPU and you want to game, there’s
a different story there. And this is true with all gaming laptops. I was playing Destiny 2 for about an hour and 15 minutes and the
battery went from 99% to 57%. So, that gives you about two and a half hours of straight gaming. That sounds bad, but, anyone
who’s a gamer and uses a laptop knows, actually, that’s
a pretty good number. And I’m actually very happy with it. Then again, most gamers are
going to plug in their PC to use it and that’s the case here too. So far, so good, the Surface
Book 2 is looking excellent. But I do have one issue here.
It is Windows Mixed Reality. And that’s a bit of a surprise. But I really feel like the Surface team really did not talk to the
Windows Mixed Reality guys when making this device. For instance, in order to use a headset, you’re going to use an
HDMI to Type C converter. Okay, that’s fine, you can use that. But the USB A plug is on the
other side of the device, and you have to use a split cable to get around that, it’s clumsy. There’s also this other
issue I experienced. Which is the USB type C converter to HDMI gives a weird pulsing
effect for the display. I’m not sure if it’s a bug. I’m confident it could probably
be fixed through software. But it feels different
when I compare it to, say, another laptop like a Razer Blade Pro. Alright let’s bring it all in. What do I think of the
Surface Book 2 15-inch? I’m going to call it, folks. This is the best laptop out
there on the market today. Sure, you’re going to pay for it, but it is an outstanding experience. You’re getting excellent battery life, excellent typing, excellent
trackpad, a touch screen, a tablet, you can ink on this, you can fully game on this thing. If you’re a video producer
you can output video on it. If you’re a scientist or an architect doing a lot of rendering,
you’ll have no issues with this. Now, sure, Windows Mixed
Reality is not my favorite thing on there but I think we can
all give that a little bit of a pass since it’s kind of niche. Although, it doesn’t speak too fairly to Microsoft’s strategy here. Let’s get back to that
price, it starts at $2,499. And that’s for 266 gigabytes of storage. I’m not really a fan of that model. In fact, I would go for
the one terabyte version. But that comes in at a whopping $3,299. To put that in a little
bit of perspective, that is $100 cheaper than a MacBook Pro at 15 inches with one terabyte as well. And here, at least, you’re
getting a touchscreen, and well, a usable port. So that’s a big favor for Microsoft. Plus, it’s a tablet and
inks, that’s also awesome. The question is, can you afford it, and do you actually
need all that it can do? Sure, it’s nice to have this much power, but will you make use of it? And does that justify
you spending that money? I could personally get behind
a Surface laptop everyday, but heck, it’s nice to
have this thing as well. In conclusion, Microsoft calls
this the ultimate laptop. I think it’s true. So that’s my review. The Microsoft Surface Book 2 15-inch. Now remember, we also
reviewed the 13-inch model, so check out that video in the link below. And if you liked this
video, give us a thumbs up and don’t forget to subscribe,
thanks for watching. Take care, everybody. Aspect ratio, as we all know
from all Surface devices. (chattering) Really? That’s like when I was
on the couch and I burped Jamie’s like, “ah, I smelled that.” I’m like, “really, oh, that’s gross.”

100 thoughts on “Surface Book 2 15-inch review: The ultimate Windows laptop

  1. I would consider this if it is not for the 3:2 aspect ratio. For gaming, 3:2 is just no. And besides better gaming performance, this laptop is not as good as my dell

  2. This is the first time I saw your review and I am very impressed. You covered all the aspects. You got a new subscriber :p

  3. I currently have the Surface Book with a Performance Base at max Specs.. I LOVE this device. Aside from a few pesky bugs (mainly with detachment) – I can't think of a better machine. All that said, I'm gearing up to sell this one or gift it in order to upgrade to a new 1TB Surface Book 2. I spend a lot of time working on 3D Designs and then presenting designs to partners and clients, so I expect this to be the perfect companion for me. Thanks for the great review, and props to Microsoft for coming out with a strong second iteration of an already best in class laptop.

  4. What do you mean when you say it "inks"? I assume you are NOT talking about inking comic book art (though it could do that, too).

  5. i got the performance based, im going to wait and see how Surface brand goes and snap up a Surface book 2, 3 or 4 in the future save a bit of money 🙂 Laptop of the future.

  6. What is the Network card on this thing? Given that it lacks an ethernet port, does it have a good wifi card? I play Dota 2 competitively, and high refresh rates and peripherals aside, I want to know whether its good enough to game comfortably at low latency.

  7. I have a question? Doesn't running CAD or video editing/graphic design stress the GPU just as much as gaming? I heard people say this is not a gaming machine but I fail to see how working all day in CAD or Graphic design is ok but gaming is not?

  8. Any chance we could get a Surface Book 2 15" review focusing primarily on using it in tablet mode, comparing it to actual dedicated tablets like the Surface Pro and iPad Pro? I appreciate half the point of it is to get that GTX 1060 in the keyboard chasis, but I surely can't be the only person wondering how practical it could actually be as a 15" tablet while out and about and then dock it back when I need more grunt (kind of like using a Razer Blade Stealth with a Razer Core I guess)

  9. Bought it last week. However, i have been a Mac user so finding it a bit hard to digest. Seems like i gonna pass this to a friend and get Macbook Pro 17 instead .

  10. The new pen has major issues

  11. Thanks! Good review! I am disappointed that for that price it has no thunderbolt! Will you review the HP ZBOOK x2? Now it has come out with a quad core 8th gen intel processor and I am interested about your judgment on it. It seems very expensive as well and it has only 2 GB NVIDIA Quadro M620 Graphics but is a Quadro: how is it for 4k video editing and CAD? It is only 14" but could be helpful to carry around…The good thing is that it has RAM up to 32 GB and 2 TB Z Turbo Drive MLC and a whole lot of wonderful features including the use of the keyboard also when in tablet mode… How is the keyboard? What about the speakers? Will you review it any time soon? Thanks!

  12. Hello, I have had my surface book 2 for less that a month. I am in marketing and truly think it is one of the best 2 in 1 laptop for creatives. Though, I edit a lot of videos and so far I have had no luck. With the surface charger connected: just trying to export a 30 min 1080p video, my battery is draining so much that the export fails every time. Anybody getting this issue? Do I have a bad unit? Looking for some advice. Thank you.

  13. Hi, thanks for the video. I want to buy a Surface Book 2 but I doubt the screen size. I like the graphics of the 15 "but not if it is uncomfortable by the size.
    Please, you recommend.
    I use the PC to work, for multimedia and a little bit of play.
    Thank you

  14. Nice review. But you should have noticed and tell that even if the display can be detached, there is NO WAY to charge it without the dock wich is a shame. Otherwise we could use it completely independent and as a real tablet.

  15. I want one so bad.
    Is the 13 inch more recommended for students or 15 inch? I want portability but is the power difference that important?

  16. Is this laptop reasonably portable for taking out and about each day or is it more a laptop for using around the house / office and occasional travel? Trying to work out whether I should go for the 13.5 which is lighter and smaller (but less powerful) or whether going for the 15 and its extra screen real estate will be practical.

  17. Should be noted that for the price you could just get something like a 12" sleek looking ultrabook AND a stationary gaming laptop. It's cool but too expensive.

  18. This laptop is nearly flawless. Don't understand why they didn't include TB3. Where do you get that theme/background?

  19. I bought this only because I need it for editing gopro vids. My surface pro3 4g ram intel i5 lags a lot sometimes freezes and crashes, I hope this will help a lot. I purchase the 256gb 16g ram intel i7 15inch

  20. Hi ! I have a surface book 15 inch. I have an issue about this device. When I´m watching a movie or a video, sometimes the brightness gets more dark and vice versa. Has anyone saw this issue? thanks

  21. The surface book 2 1060 have problems with usb c connection on any external kill instantly any gpu DON'T BUY IT !!

  22. I’ve been pretty disappointed with this device. Just doesn’t feel fast, most apps have lag when drawing on the screen. Mine is currently on eBay. If you’re used to using Windows 10 on a powerful desktop I’d stay clear. Windows doesn’t scale well in my view on devices like this. Even the mouse cursor lags when quitting certain apps, not what you’d expect from a £2350 machine. I was right to be skeptical of Microsoft being able to pull off something decent. In tablet mode it just feel cumbersome and the OS controlled with a finger is pretty grim. Trackpad is ok but not a patch on a Mac book pro.

  23. Eeh… wonder if it is more worth to buy the 13.5" just to skip over the draining while plugged in battery issues, ahem I mean "deliberate feature" the 15" has.

  24. Hey Windows Central, you should check this out:
    And that goes for anyone about to go out and buy one of these machines as well!

  25. Allways this port discussion. The ports on the SB2 aren't more usable then Apples. You have old USB and SD Card options. But no TB3 and each TB3 good give you plenty USB 3 AND SD Card options.

  26. My wish list for the surface book 3
    I7 6core 8750H or similar for 4k video editing
    Gtx 1060 (maybe ti)
    16-32gb ram
    256-512 ssd
    1 thunderbolt, 1 usbc, 2-3 USB 3.0, hdmi
    SD card reader
    Headphone jack
    Power&integrated fingerprint reader
    10+ battery life normal use

    Is this just wishful thinking or is it actually possible now with current technology?

  27. I am very much considering buying one of these but dont know which one, either a full loaded 15 in or 13 in. I love the form factor of the 13 inch for school but like the extra power of the 15 in and since I game too. I dont have another laptop or desktop that i use for gaming this will be my main device.

  28. Finally found it. Went insane for a professionally usable laptop capable of gaming. I almsot spent two weeks looking for it.

  29. 1 year later and the surface book 2 is still the best of the best. I just bought one today for xmas gift for wife, for 4k video editing and hopefully light gaming (the 15" with GTX 1060). I have yet to find a youtube review of the SB2 that wasn't positive. Was really hoping for an SB3 release in late 2018, but not yet, so went ahead and bought the SB2 15".

    Thanks for the video!

  30. My wish for the surface book 3:
    Intel core i9 (overclockable)
    thunderbolt 3
    Another USB-C with thunderbolt 3 on the tablet portion
    32gb RAM (intel optane)
    4TB SSD samsung 960 pro SSD
    Nvidia quadro p6000 or RTX 1080 TI
    Make the 17hr battery a 24hr one.
    Include all the dongles (like USB-C to HDMI, USB-C to VGA, etc.)
    include the surface pen
    Include the same Colors as the surface Laptop 2 (cobalt, burgundy and black, and white, obviously)
    I know it sounds a little unreal, so if i had to choose 3 things: LTE, Intel i9 (overclockable) and thunderbolt 3

  31. If you are looking for a high end laptop and dont need mac os get this. It is the best windows laptop out there, amazing build quality, battery, it can be used in different handy modes. It is pricey but you get what you pay for.

  32. This is perhaps the best laptop review I've ever watched. It's informative (covering both technical specifications and real-world use cases) yet flows from beginning to end. The force is strong with Daniel Rubino. In all seriousness, it was an excellent review, Daniel.

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