Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 review

A refined and powerful Windows machine

Surface Laptop 2

Our Verdict

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 doesn’t dramatically switch things up design-wise from its predecessor and that’s perfectly fine. It retains the same sleek design, touch display, impressive speakers and comfy keyboard but substantially boosts performance. Port selection leaves a lot to be desired and there are no noticeable improvements in battery life. Aside from that, this is a worthy upgrade and one of the best Windows notebooks you can buy right now.

For

  • Speedy performance
  • Vibrant display
  • Sleek design and sturdy build
  • Comfortable and silent keyboard

Against

  • Limited ports
  • Lower battery life than its predecessor

The first Microsoft Surface Laptop was an all round stunner with elegant looks, great PixelSense touch display and impressive speakers. It was also reasonably priced and remarkably proficient, making it a top pick for Windows notebooks and stiff competition for MacBook Air. So it’s easy to understand why Microsoft didn’t want to shake things up too much for the follow-up.

In fact, the only noticeable upgrade to the Surface Laptop 2 is an improved power profile. Everything else remains largely the same and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The latest Surface 2 might be short on innovation but the Surface was so far ahead of the game maybe the sequel didn’t really need any new tricks except for some much needed internal upgrades.

The new Surface Laptop 2 brings 8th-gen quad-core Intel processors and a few color options subject to market availability. The lack of ports especially Type-C is still disappointing but other than that, the Surface Laptop 2 is shaping up to be an excellent option for casual PC users who need a thin, light and portable machine with ample power under the hood. 

Spec Sheet

Here is the Surface Laptop 2 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-8250U (quad-core, 6MB cache, up to 3.4GHz boost)
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: 8GB LPDDR3
Screen: 13.5-inch, 2,256 x 1,504 resolution PixelSense display (10-point multi-touch, 3:2 aspect ratio)
Storage: 256GB SSD
Ports: 1x USB 3.0, mini DisplayPort, Surface Connect port, headphone/mic jack
Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2 x 2 MIMO), Bluetooth 4.1 (Low Energy)
Camera: 720p HD webcam with infrared for Windows Hello
Weight: 2.76 pounds (1.25kg)
Size: 12.13 x 8.79 x 0.57 inches (308.1 x 223.27 x 14.48mm; W x D x H)

Price and availability

The Surface Laptop 2 is available at local retailers across the UAE and online through souq.com and SharafDG. It’s priced similar to the launch price tag of the first Surface Laptop and comes in a variety of specifications starting with a base config of Intel core i5-8250U processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB SSD storage priced at AED 4,150. If you’re looking for more storage, prepare to dole out an additional AED 1,200 for a 256GB SSD. 

It’s not the most competitively priced ultrabook on the market but it gives Apple’s MacBook Air a run for it’s money and stacks up well against the Dell XPS 13 and Huawei’s MateBooks.

For most casual PC users who rely on multi-tasking and run light programs, the review unit config we’ve received, with an i5 processor, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD (priced at AED 5,399), should be more than enough. 

There are more powerful albeit pricey configurations are available too for heavy users which bump the processor to an Intel core i7-8650U with 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD.

Various color options are available this time around - subject to market availability - for higher configuration models such as red, black and blue. And while silver seems to be the most widely available option in the UAE, we’ve spotted a wild red on souq.com

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Design and display

Not much has changed here design wise since the previous Surface Laptop. It is still very portable with a slim profile of 14.48mm and light weight of 2.76 pounds. The laptop’s matte finish aluminum is exquisite as ever and feels smooth, sturdy while also super resistant to fingerprint smudges. 

You still get the same premium and robust sense handling the Surface laptop 2 as its predecessor. Opening the clamshell is a simple one handed operation aided by firm but relaxed hinges. Over to the front, the Alcantara laced keyboard and palm rest provides ample grip and comfortable support. 

The speakers lie underneath the keyboard eliminating the need for speaker grilles and emit clear loud sound with decent bass. We love the speaker quality so far and it comes close to the excellent speakers found on Huawei MateBook X Pro.

Port selection is quite sparse on the Surface Laptop 2 which is slightly disappointing. There’s still no USB-C type port or Thunderbolt 3 which is disappointing and seems an odd choice for a forward thinking premium ultrabook. 

What you do get is a USB 3 port, a mini display port and headphone jack on the left. And a lone magnetic Surface connect port on the right that handles like the old MagSafe connectors Apple used to offer. The primary use for the Surface connect is to plug in the excellent lightweight charger but you can also use it to extend functionality by adding all kinds of adapters such as for display, data and USB-C.

The display on the Surface Laptop 2 is a 13.5-inch LCD touch-enabled panel with 2256x1504 resolution and a 3:2 aspect ratio that allows you to see more on the taller screen and be more productive. This is definitely one of the better displays you’ll find currently on an ultrabook with a very responsive touchscreen and a sturdy panel that doesn’t wobble about too much.

Despite the modest 201 pixels per inch, the screen is crisp and clear. Viewing angles and color reproduction are excellent as well. The bezels on the display are slightly thicker than what you’ll find on other ultrabooks but not so much that they impact the overall experience in anyway. 

Keyboard and trackpad

The keyboard itself is great and comfy to type on. The Alcantara fabric feels pleasant under the palms and provides comfortable support for longer typing sessions. There’s a slight flex to the board when you firmly press on it, but it doesn’t get in the way. The switches are soft, clicky and silent with ample travel distance. They also have four stage back lighting for added convenience. 

The glass track pad below is not too large and just the perfect size in our opinion. It’s grippy enough with great scrolling and touch input. It’s able to register gestures perfectly as well, however, clicks are considerably audible.