Surface Book 2 vs. Surface Pro 6: Which one should you buy?

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Surface Book 2
(Image credit: Future)
  • This article originally appeared on Windows Central and has been inducted into our Back to School guide
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(Image credit: Microsoft)

Surface Pro

The latest Surface Pro is a stunning Windows 10 device. It's one of the best tablets you can buy right now running Microsoft's OS. It's portable, capable (depending on spec) and can even be used as a notebook.

Pros:
Portable performance
Versatile with Type Cover
Solid build quality
More affordable

Cons:
Lack of USB Type-C
Worse battery life

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Microsoft Surface Book 2

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Surface Book 2

Surface Book 2 is pretty much the ultimate Windows 10 PC. It's an excellent notebook and tablet, depending on your needs. There's even the option for a dedicated GPU, and yes you can even game on it. It can get very expensive though.

Pros:
Excellent build quality
Can play games
All-day battery life
Detachable keyboard

Cons:
Very expensive
No Thunderbolt 3 or eGPU support
Windows Mixed Reality support

(Image credit: Future)

We're big fans of Microsoft's Surface family of products and have used every entry since the very first Surface tablet. Spending thousands of hours with Surface, we've accumulated bags of experience to recommend the right Surface for you.

The Surface Pro 6 and Surface Book 2 are two very different devices, targeting two very different groups of consumers. If you prefer a tablet experience, don't need to do inking, won't use the device with a physical keyboard much and would like to save some cash, Surface Pro 6 is the better option.

Should you want to go all out and enjoy the signature Windows 10 on Surface experience, nothing beats the Surface Book 2 — so long as your pockets are deep for the more expensive configurations.

Similar numbers on Surface

Surface Pro 6Surface Book 2
Display12.3-inch PixelSense Display 13.5-inch PixelSense display / 15-inch PixelSense display
Display resolution2736 x 1824 267ppi 13-inch: 3000 x 2000 at 267 PPI / 15-inch: 3240 x 2160 at 260 PPI
ProcessorIntel Core i5-8250U / Intel Core i7-8650U Intel Core i5-7300U / Intel Core i7-8650U
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB SSD 256GB, 512GB, 1TB SSD
Memory8GB or 16GB RAM 8GB or 16GB RAM
Native graphicsIntel UHD Graphics 620 13-inch: Intel HD Graphics 620, NVIDIA GTX 1050 / 15-inch: NVIDIA GTX 1060
Rear camera8MP8MP
Front camera 5MP Windows Hello5MP Windows Hello
AudioStereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium Stereo Speakers w/ Dolby Audio Premium, Windows Sonic for Headphones, Dolby Atmos for Headphones compatible
Xbox WirelessNo13-inch: No / 15-inch: Yes
Ports1x full-size USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, Headset jack, Surface Connect, microSDXC card reader2x USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen1), Full-size SDXC card reader (UHS-II), Headphone jack (3.5mm), 2x Surface Connect
Wi-FiWi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1
Battery lifeUp to 13.5 hoursUp to 17 hours
PenSurface Pen Surface Pen
Dimensions292 x 201 x 8.5 mm (11.50 x 7.9 x 0.33 inch) 13-inch: 312 x 232 x 23 mm (12.3 x 9.14 x 0.90 inch) / 15-inch: 343 x 251 x 23 mm (13.5 x 9.87 x 0.90 in)
Weight1.73 lbs (784 g)13-inch: 1,642 g (3.62 lbs) Tablet: 719 g (1.59 lbs) / 15-inch: 1,905 g (4.20 lbs) Tablet: 817 g (1.80 lbs)

Surface performance

Surface Book 2 is the more powerful device, without question. Both devices can be configured with the same Intel Core i7 processor, but the Surface Book 2 has the advantage of a dedicated GPU and better overall computing. It's designed for extended power use, while the Surface Pro is more of a tablet you can use for intensive tasks irregularly.

Because there's no dedicated GPU inside the Surface Pro 6, you'll need to rely on the Intel iGPU, and the Surface Pro 6 doesn't have Intel Iris graphics. This isn't a decision made by Microsoft, but Intel with its 8th-gen line-up of processors. If you need to rely on graphics processing, the only choice here is Surface Book 2.

Portable computing

Surface Pro 6 is more versatile and incredibly powerful tablet — you try running the full desktop Adobe Photoshop suite on an iPad — and while it does offer a battery life of around 13 hours, the Surface Book 2 edges out in front with upwards of 17 hours. It's not a huge difference, but worth considering if you're often found without power outlets.

Something to bear in mind is pricing, which is where the Surface Pro 6 wins big time. The tablet starts from just $900, while you can expect to pay $1,150 for the Surface Book 2. Surface Pro 6 is almost as good as the Surface Book 2 and can even be kitted out with better internals than the base model Surface Book 2, but Microsoft's 2-in-1 notebook is simply better overall.

Surface Pro 6 for tighter budgets

Microsoft's Surface Pro 6 isn't a slouch, but a powerful tablet with massive potential in the right hands. It's also the cheaper of the two devices, when not including the optional Type Cover and Surface Pen. If you're all about a lighter, tablet-like Windows 10 experience, the Surface Pro 6 is likely the better choice.

The ultimate Windows 10 experience

Microsoft did so well with the Surface Book 2, we gave it a full five-star rating and raved about all of its features. Sure, it's the more expensive device in this comparison, but you get so much more in terms of configurations with the addition of discrete GPUs, making it a killer notebook.