Microsoft Surface Pro 4 vs Surface Book: which is better?

Microsoft's perfected tablet goes up against its first laptop

Surface Book vs Surface Pro 4

Microsoft has just announced a slew of new Windows 10 devices, including new phones, a new Surface Pro 4 tablet, and perhaps most surprisingly, a new laptop called the Surface Book.

It might seem as though the two devices are being targeted at the same market, since both are essentially tablets that connect to keyboards. However the machines are, of course, quite different in many ways as one is designed as a traditional laptop replacement while the latter is labeled as the best Windows 10 notebook ever made.

Because they're both targeted at many of the same types of users, it can be hard to decide between the two. That's why we've pitted the two devices against each other in Surface Pro 4 vs Surface Book showdown to determine which is better - or at least, which one is right for you.

Design

One of the biggest differences between the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book lies in design. The Surface Pro 4 looks nearly identical to its predecessor, the Surface Pro 3, however it is a smidge lighter. This is true against the Surface Book.

Surface Pro 4

The Surface Pro 4 is slightly wider than the Surface Book, sitting at 11.50-inches wide (292.10mm) against the Surface Book's 9.14-inches (232.10mm). It's also not as deep and is thinner, coming in at 7.93-inches deep and 0.33-inches thick (201.42mm x 8.4mm) compared to the Surface Book's 12.3-inches (312.3mm) of depth. It sits between 0.51- and 0.90-inches thick (13mm - 22.8mm), depending on whether the keyboard is in use.

The Surface Pro 4 is quite a bit lighter than the Surface Book, coming in at between 766 grams and 786 grams (1.69 pounds - 1.73 pounds), depending on the processor you choose. The Surface Book sits at around double that at 1,579 grams (3.48 pounds) with the keyboard or 726 grams (1.6 pounds) without.

Surface Book

The number of ports offered by a device is pretty important for a user's workflow. Both the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book have a miniDisplay port and a headphone jack. While the Surface Pro 4 offers one USB 3.0 port, the Surface Book offers two. Additionally, the Surface Pro 4 comes with a microSD card slot and the Surface Book offers a full-sized SD card slot.

Dimensions and ports are only part of a machine's overall design, however. The Surface Book, simply put, looks more like a professional device. It comes features a sleek, metallic look, with a keyboard that matches. What's more, when the keyboard is attached, there's no clear separation between the hybrid's two halves. This is a good thing, as it means the keyboard and display look as if they are one device.

The Surface Pro 4 doesn't look unprofessional, but by nature of being a tablet, it looks more like a "consumer" device. This is perhaps furthered by the fact that there is a kickstand at the back and users can clip a colorful keyboard to its base.

While some might seem as though the Surface Pro 4 is unprofessional vs a professional Surface Book, it's important to remember that the Surface Pro series is targeted towards artists and creatives, while the Surface Book might be more of a 2-in-1 for the business person. But either way both devices can swap roles easily.

Display

As both the tablet and laptop lend themselves to stylus usage and other creative and productive pursuits, a high-quality display is very important. This is also true considering these two devices will often be used for things like watching movies.

Surface Pro 4

The display on the Surface Pro 4 is slightly smaller than that of the Surface Book, coming in at 12.3-inches versus the 13.5-inches that the Surface Book offers. As such it also has less pixels and has a resolution of 2736 x 1824. The Surface Book has a resolution of 3000 x 2000. Despite these differences, both devices have a pixel density of 267 pixels-per-inch and an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Processing, RAM and storage

As far as processors go, both offer Intel Core i5 and i7 options, however the Surface Pro 4 can also be outfitted with an Intel Core m3 processor. While users might not necessarily want the low-powered Core m3 option, it does knock quite a bit off the overall price and could possibly increase battery life.

Surface Pro 4

The Surface Book also has a leg up on the Surface Pro 4 in the graphics department as users can configure their machine with an extra dedicated graphics chip. Unfortunately, the specifics of the exact Nvidia GPU it comes with is still shrouded in mystery, but it should handle games better than integrated Intel graphics.

Next up is RAM, with both devices offering either 8GB or 16GB options, and the Surface Pro 4 once again offering a budget option at 4GB - though 8GB or 16GB is preferable. Choosing 4GB will again knock off a portion of the price tag, but it's better left to users who don't need to use the device for heavy multitasking or high-powered editing.

Surface Book

As far as storage goes, both devices offer the same options. The options range from 128GB to 1TB, all of which come in the form of solid-state drive. This is great because it's a faster and safer storage medium that traditional hard drives.