Surface Book 2: we tested Microsoft’s new hybrid laptop

Surface Book 2: we tested Microsoft's new hybrid laptop

WE love

  • innovative design
  • USB Type C
  • the bright screen
  • the very practical stylus
  • battery life.

We don’t like

  • the high price
  • no Thunderbolt 3
  • transfer rates below average.


Equipped with a powerful dedicated graphics card, Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 is one of the best 2-in-1 hybrids on the market today. Provided you can put the price there.


Windows 10 is an operating system suitable for both PCs and tablets. Proof if necessary with the Surface Book 2. This new model of 13 inch keeps the same formula with a machine cut for productivity, and whose detachable screen becomes a full-fledged tablet.

This new version retains the same innovative and modern design, while incorporating a 8th generation Intel processor and a graphics card Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050. Enough to have a machine powerful enough to edit videos in laptop mode, but also versatile to draw or take notes in tablet mode. So of course the Surface Book 2 is expensive, especially compared to other high-end ultraportables, but there is no device today that offers such performance and good autonomy in a detachable format.

>> read also: [Test] Surface Laptop: a laptop too good, but too expensive

Five reasons to crack (or not) for the Surface Book 2

Yes, for the design

It’s not really obvious, but the Surface Book 2 is a real novelty. Its design has not changed much when compared to the previous version. As such, it retains the same design with its detachable screen which allows it to be used like a real tablet. The computer is still clad in gray magnesium with its reflective Windows logo on top. And in the pure tradition of Surface Book, it is not possible to close it completely, the fault of the pivoting hinge. The latter is supposed to be more solid than that of the previous model, but in practice, it always sags a little under the weight of the screen when the Surface Book 2 is placed on the knee.Image 3: Surface Book 2: we tested the new hybrid laptop from Microsoft

With a weight of 1.63 kg and dimensions of 31.2 x 23.1 x 2.3 cm, the Surface Book 2 is the largest of the 13 inches that are currently available. The HP Specter x360 HP weighs 1.31 kg and has dimensions of 30.5 x 21.8 x 1.3 cm, compared to 30.5 x 20 x 1.5 cm and 1.27 kg for the Dell XPS 13. The Lenovo Miix 720 is even lighter with 1.17 kg and 29.2 x 21.6 x 1.5 cm. However, none of these competitors is equipped with a detachable screen.

The Surface Book 2 is also a bit more expensive in terms of its connectivity. Two USB 3.1 ports and an SD card reader are integrated on the left side, while a USB Type-C port and a proprietary Surface Connect port are located on the right. Another Surface Connect port is integrated into the base of the tablet to charge it independently. The headphone jack is integrated into the right side of the tablet, which can be annoying with the cable hanging down. Nevertheless, it is a necessary evil to be able to use a headset in nomadic mode.

The USB Type-C is a big plus, but for the price, we would have liked that the Surface Book 2 also offers the Thunderbolt 3 which ensures faster data transfer speeds.Image 4: Surface Book 2: we tested the new hybrid laptop from Microsoft

Yes, for the screen

The Surface Book 2 display is still one of the best in its class. The 13.5-inch diagonal panel in 3: 2 format displays 3000 x 2000 pixels with clarity, brilliance and first-class color rendering. You just have to watch an open source 4K film such as Tears of Steel to be amazed with a festival of blue, orange, green and purple holograms, with perfectly rendered details.

The screen also impresses with 130% coverage of the sRGB color space, like the Miix. The average of ultraportables is lower with 103% while the XPS 13 reproduces 112% of sRGB space against 109% for the Specter.

In addition, we measured a brightness of 374 nits, which is much more than the average of 289 nits, or the scores displayed by the XPS 13 (368 nits), the Miix (361 nits) and the Specter (313 nits).Image 5: Surface Book 2: we tested the new hybrid laptop from Microsoft

Yes for performance

The Surface Book 2 is equipped with an Intel Core i7-8650U processor, 8 GB of RAM, a 256 GB SSD and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU with 2 GB of VRAM. It therefore has sufficient power for multitasking. We did not regret any slowdown despite 25 open tabs in Chrome, including a Full HD video streaming from the Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and while drawing with Sketchpad in Windows Ink Workspace.

With Geekbench 4, which measures overall performance, the Surface Book 2 obtained a score of 12,221, exceeding the average of ultraportables (7,658) and the score of Miix 720 (8,434 with a Core i7-7550U). On the other hand it tilts against the Specter (13,568 with a Core i7-8550U) and the XPS 13 (14,158 with its Core i7-8550U).Image 6: Surface Book 2: we tested the new hybrid laptop from Microsoft

In addition, we transferred 4.97 GB of data in 2 seconds with the Surface Book 2, a speed of 203.6 MBit / s. It is therefore on an equal footing with the Miix 720 while remaining below the average which stands at 230.66 MBit / s. The XPS 13 (508 MBit / s) and the Specter x360 (565.5 MBit / s) are both much faster.

In addition, it took 3 minutes and 8 seconds for MBit / s to link 20,000 names and addresses with a macro in the OpenOffice spreadsheet. It’s faster than average (5 minutes 40), but also faster than the Miix (3:34), the Specter x360 (3:23) and the XPS 13 (3:09).

Thanks to its GTX 1050 GPU with 2 GB of VRAM, the Surface book 2 allows you to play certain games, provided you do not opt ​​for the highest settings. We launched Rise of the Tomb Raider with different settings, more or less, and activating the SMAA anti-aliasing. The computer then displayed 33 frames per second. This card will also allow you to take advantage of greedy applications such as Photoshop or other graphic rendering programs.

Image 7: Surface Book 2: we tested the new hybrid laptop from MicrosoftOn 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, the Microsoft hybrid obtained a score of 135.2777, far surpassing the average of ultraportables (59.950), as well as the scores of XPS 13 (81.837), Specter x360 (79.528) and Miix 720 ( 49.088). All of these competitors are equipped with an integrated HD 620 chip from Intel.

Yes for keyboard and stylus

The Surface Book 2 keyboard is relatively thin which results in a stroke of only 1.2 millimeters and a pressure of 70g. That said, the keys are comfortable and pleasant for typing. Concretely, we reached 119 words per minute on the typing test, more than our usual average which is around 107 to 116 words per minute. Added to this is an error rate of only 1%, which is half of our usual error rate.Image 8: Surface Book 2: we tested the new hybrid laptop from Microsoft

The touchpad is smooth and takes advantage of the precision drivers that Microsoft has designed for Windows. It is therefore not surprising that he instantly recognizes gestures. Scrolling the web browser or invoking Cortana with a single tap works the first time.

The Surface Pen is sold separately. It is still the best model on the market today. There is practically no latency and sensitivity is there with 4,096 pressure levels. The stylus is supposed to be fixed only on the left side of the tablet thanks to a magnetic system, but it is possible to hang it on the sides of the 15 inch version of the Surface book 2. During our test, the magnet s is also hung on the base from time to time. Image 9: Surface Book 2: we tested the new hybrid laptop from Microsoft

Yes for battery life

With its detachable keyboard, the Surface Book 2 has sufficient autonomy to last all day. It worked for 13 hours and seven minutes during our home autonomy test which consists of continuously surfing a web page using the Wi-Fi connection, with a fixed brightness. Only the XPS 13, does better with 16 hours and 5 minutes, but the latter does not have a touch screen. The average of ultraportables is 8h24, while the Specter displays a autonomy of 8h26, and only 5h37 for the Miix.

On the other hand, you will have to stay near a power outlet using the tablet alone. This mode indeed displays an autonomy of 3h04 only at the same test.Image 10: Surface Book 2: we tested the new hybrid laptop from Microsoft