At a glance, the Microsoft Surface Book 2 might look identical to its predecessor that was launched back in 2015. In a way, that is indeed the case though as the Redmond giant has brought plenty of characteristics from the original Surface Book to the second-generation model which will be released in Malaysia on 15 March.
This is not limited to its detachable 2-in-1 form factor but as well as the idea of it being a performance-oriented powerhouse. In fact, it seems that Microsoft has put a lot of focus into increasing the performance standard of its Surface Book family through the new Surface Book 2.
Just like the original model, the Surface Book 2 can be obtained with discrete NVIDIA GPU built into it. Instead of a custom chip though, the second-generation model comes with two options of gaming-grade NVIDIA GeForce GTX GPU in the form of GTX 1050 and GTX 1060 although this depends on the choice of display size that customers prefer.
Speaking of display, this is also new to the Surface Book family as Surface Book 2 can be obtained with either 13.5 or 15-inch touch display. Even though these PixelSense displays have the same aspect ratio of 3:2, their resolution is slightly different from each other at 3000 x 2000 and 3240 x 2160 respectively. Regardless of that, both of them provide rather crisp and pleasing output.
Not to forget, Microsoft has also equipped Surface Book 2 with 8th Gen Intel Core processors as opposed to Surface Laptop that comes with 7th Gen Intel Core processors. That being said, the base model of 13.5-inch Surface Book 2 still features a 7th Gen chip and integrated graphics which seems like an odd decision especially given the price tag.
There are indeed some subtle changes to the device which is quite hard to see unless you actually need them. For example, Microsoft no longer provide Mini DisplayPort with Surface Book 2 and has replaced it with USB Type-C port which just like the 8th Gen Intel Core processors made the device feel up to date. The Core i7 version also comes standard with built-in Xbox Wireless Controller receiver which made sense since Surface Book 2 has gaming-grade hardware after all.
Based on my brief experience with Surface Book 2 at CES 2018 earlier this year, the new gaming-grade hardware upgrade has definitely made the device more alluring than its predecessor. The game that I briefly played with it – Gears of War 4 – might be an aging game but nevertheless, the Surface Book 2 demo unit that I tried which was a 15-inch model with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 has no problem handling the game at full HD resolution with high graphics settings.
Since I’m not an artist, it is rather hard for me to tell whether the Surface Pen performance on Surface Book 2 has been improved further although I certainly didn’t feel any noticeable lag and its accuracy as well as palm rejection is rather exceptional. The PixelSense display on Surface Book 2 definitely has a potential to be great canvas given its aspect ratio and capability, so it is rather unfortunate that Microsoft doesn’t include the Surface Pen with Surface Book 2.
Even though Surface Book 2 keyboard is quite comfortable to use with good travel distance and firm feedback, I feel that it is slightly softer and less tactile than the keyboard on Surface Laptop as well as Surface Pro which are rather excellent and the best in the Surface family in my opinion. Just like the original Surface Book, the second-generation model also features a rather sizeable and accurate touchpad.
Given its premium nature and unique design, it is not surprising the Surface Book 2 also carries a rather hefty price tag. In Malaysia, the base model with integrated already carries a price tag of RM 6,899 while models with dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphics starts from RM 8,899 and can go up to RM 14,199.