Microsoft Surface Book 2 (15-inch) review

The best 2-in-1 laptop yet is just a bigger Surface Book – but that’s no bad thing

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To say that the Surface Book 2 is powerful would be selling Microsoft’s latest laptop short. Simply put, this is the strongest 2-in-1 laptop we’ve ever tested, ready to go toe-to-toe with not only every hybrid laptop on the market but a wide range of gaming laptops, too.

Benchmarks

 

Here is how the Microsoft Surface Book 2 (15-inch) fared in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark Sky Diver: 19,363; Fire Strike: 9,238; Time Spy: 3,565
Cinebench CPU: 647 cb; Graphics: 94 fps
Geekbench 4 Single Core: 5,024; Multi-Core: 13,896
PCMark 8 Home: 3,072
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 7 hours and 39 minutes
Total War: Warhammer 2 (1080p, Ultra): 36 fps; (1080p, Low): 74 fps
Middle-earth: Shadow of War (1080p, Ultra): 32 fps; (1080p, Low): 70 fps

As you can see through the benchmarks, the Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics inside the laptop’s base are more than enough to handle the very latest games at 1080p resolution. (We saw more than playable frame rates in both of these benchmarked games at native resolution, too.) Those aren’t words we generally put to paper regarding Surface devices, much less any 2-in-1 laptops.

Nor should gaming be the reason you purchase a Surface Book 2. Frankly, you could get the same experience for far cheaper and spend that extra cash on games or even an external GPU box plus a graphics card. Though, few laptops will keep as cool as this one under pressure, thanks mostly to its split design keeping the CPU and GPU apart.

That said, Microsoft included the Xbox Wireless radio – which allows it to communicate with Xbox One controllers natively – for a reason. That is, for a cross section of designers or media pros and gamers that would be served well by a device that can do it all.

At this point, it should go without saying that the Surface Book 2 (15-inch) handles our normal, workload with aplomb, barely seeing its quad-core CPU and 16GB of RAM break a sweat. You’d have to try hard to cripple this laptop, is what we’re saying.

Battery life

Considering that point, the fact that this laptop lasted longer in PCMark 8’s battery test than just about any 2-in-1 laptop we’ve tested to date is just downright impressive. A score of 7 hours and 39 minutes in this historically punishing test is unheard of in the TechRadar offices, especially considering the previous model lasted for less than half that long.

This figure is testament to the sheer amount of battery afforded to the Surface Book 2 (15-inch) by its larger size and the nature of its design. Microsoft promises up to 17 hours of battery life from the 15-inch Surface Book 2 over local video playback.

We’ll be putting this to the test as soon as possible, as we weren’t able to test the Surface Book 2 battery in this capacity in the time allotted for this review. Stay tuned for an update in the coming days regarding just this.

In the meantime, know that the Surface Book 2 is already shaping up to be one of the longest-lasting laptops we’ve ever tested.

We liked

From its immense power to its impressively long battery life, we’re very impressed by the Surface Book 2. The display is a delight to look at much less handle in tablet mode, not to mention touch and stylus response is just stellar. Being able to game on this device is just a cherry on the top.

We disliked

For all of its major wins, we wish Microsoft did more with the 15 inches of space in regards to the Surface Book 2 design. We would have liked to have seen larger speakers in the base of the laptop and a larger trackpad given the increased frame. Also, we’ll never stop being miffed by the fact that Microsoft doesn’t include the Surface Pen in the price of the device.

Final verdict

All in all, the 15-inch Surface Book 2 is the most powerful and versatile 2-in-1 laptop we’ve ever tested, but it’s not a perfect device. There are a few missed opportunities in Microsoft simply taking the original Surface Book and making it bigger, at least chassis design-wise.

That said, we recognize the hard work and engineering that went into crafting this device. The proof is in its nigh-unparalleled performance and longevity, not to mention its good looks and tactile feel when held in the hand as either a laptop or a tablet.

Of course, you’ll pay dearly for all of the aforementioned accolades, which we’d say is well worth it for the creative pros (or anyone who’s rich enough) out there that can swing it. The price is steep for the best 2-in-1 laptop to date, but remember you’re getting the cream of the crop in 2-in-1 laptop design by the folks that defined the category.