Hands-on with the Surface Book 2

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Microsoft unveiled the new Surface Book 2 today. The company’s next-gen Surface Book ships next month, and we got an early look at the device at a press briefing last week in New York City. Here are some of our early thoughts.

The Surface Book 2 may look similar to the first iteration but it’s definitely faster and more refined. In many ways, it feels like a completely new product because of the way it handles takes from video editing to gaming. Even day-to-day operations are a pleasure to experience because of how responsive the trackpad and touchscreen are. Microsoft used the product’s gaming prowess to demonstrate just how powerful this machine was. We tested Gears of War 4 running at 1080p 60 FPS on the 15” Surface Book 2 which boasts 4.3 TFLOPS of power. The gameplay was smooth and even at ultra-settings we didn’t notice any issues. If the device can game to this degree, just imagine how other tasks would perform. Video editing is also going to be fast due to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Mobile. Watching videos and streaming content has never been easier or looked better on the gorgeous PixelSense display of the 15-inch Surface Book.

The 13” Surface Book 2 isn’t a slouch at 2.2 TFLOPS but it doesn’t quite compare to the 15” model. Even if you aren’t a gamer, you’ll notice the power because even viewing complex 3D models receives a definitive boost. Think of the 13” model as one for those who travel a lot and are comfortable with sacrificing performance. However, if you want the proper experience, a truly powerful device which can accomplish all of your professional tasks, then the 15” Surface Book 2 is the way to go. It might be a little bigger but it’s well worth it.

When the original Surface Book launched, it looked like a premium product but felt a little raw due Windows 10. Maybe it was a combination of drivers and new hardware that didn’t make it feel as responsive and smooth as it should’ve. Now that Microsoft has had many months to work out the problems and optimize the experience, the Surface Book 2 feels like the ultimate laptop for pros. A product worthy of the expertise Microsoft has accumulated over the years developing hardware and tuning Windows.

At the event we also got to try the new Surface Pen which includes support for tilt detection on the Surface Book 2. The new Surface Pen that launched with the Surface Pro earlier this year also comes with 4096 pressure points and almost no latency. However, these enhancements will only be noticeable to the artist or individual who uses the Surface Pen to draw and make diagrams. The average user probably won’t be able to tell the difference. Enhancements like these are important to perfect technology in the long run but don’t necessarily stand out on their own. It’s still great that Microsoft is continuing the tradition of optimizing all facets of the Surface experience, even if it’s the pen which not many owners use for an extended period of time.

The keyboard on the Surface Book 2 deserves a lot of praise. While you can always detach the device and use it as a standalone tablet, typing on the keyboard is not only more efficient, but it also feels great. Just like the keyboards on the old MacBook Pros—before Apple adopted the finicky new ones—it features raised keys and the travel distance is perfect. It’s a joy to type on and getting writing does has never felt better. We weren’t able to test this but prolonged use probably won’t be tiring. It’s the same as the first Surface Book so we’re judging this based on that.

There are gaming laptops out there which are more powerful and cost less. There are other devices out there meant for media professionals and others who require a powerful GPU which also don’t break the bank. Just like when you purchase an Apple MacBook Pro, you’re buying the Surface Book 2 because it’s a seamless combination of power and portability. Plus, it boasts one of the best trackpads we’ve ever had the pleasure to use. If you were to ask us a few months ago if we would recommend the Surface Book, we would probably say no. But after trying out the Surface Book 2 for about an hour, and witnessing how great software comes together with perfectly-tuned hardware, we have to say we love the product so far. Of course, we will have to put it through its paces to see how the device would hold up in the long-term, so make sure to look out for our full review.

More about the topics: microsoft, microsoft surface, Surface, Surface Book 2, Surface Book 2017, windows 10