My previous article just published a few hours ago is essentially obsolete because now Surface Book reviews are popping up across the internet including actual benchmark scores of the dGPU.
What are people saying?
Microsoft can clearly make a laptop that competes with the MacBook Pro with all the best ingredients, but it just needs to find a better recipe to combine all its innovative hardware. The Surface Book is seriously impressive, and as a hybrid it’s probably the best out there.
- Great keyboard and trackpad
- Amazing battery life
- 3:2 display is ideal for webpages
- That weird gap
- Display wobbles and feels top heavy
- A little bulky as a laptop
The Surface Book is a very interesting take on the Ultrabook by Microsoft. I’ll need some more time with it to get a full review completed, but initial impressions are that it’s a solid device with a great display, a good keyboard, and a generous trackpad. The overall device is not as thin or light as some other Ultrabooks, but generally those don’t pack in 70 Wh of battery and a real GPU.
3.5lb laptops with discrete graphics are not in abundance, so even at $1,699 the Surface Book is interesting. The $1,899 Surface Book with both the discrete GPU and the 256GB SSD, is, I think, the most compelling combination—256GB is much more comfortable to live with than 128GB. Even if it were just a plain touchscreen laptop, this would be a desirable machine. The detachable screen takes it to another level. This would be good if it were just a laptop; as a hybrid it’s even better.
- Great screen
- Great keyboard
- Great trackpad
- Clean, elegant design
- Detachable clipboard
- Base system has no discrete GPU
- No Windows Hello software support yet
- It gets terribly expensive
They have benchmark scores even against Macbook pro but their GPU test results are strange as dGPU scores are sometimes even lower than the iGPU, presumed to be driver related.
The catch is that most of that battery capacity lives inside the keyboard dock, meaning you won’t be able to use the Surface Book for more than a few hours in tablet mode before needing a trip back to the charger. With a Core i5 processor, the tablet lasted a brief three hours and 20 minutes; with a more power-hungry i7 chip, that number dropped to three hours.
- Distinctive, well-constructed design
- Impressively light as a tablet
- Gorgeous screen
- Pen input works well
- Comfortable keyboard
- Fast performance
- Best-in-class battery life in laptop mode
- Lots of configurations to choose from
- Short battery life for just the tablet
- High cost of entry
- “Fulcrum” hinge makes the laptop appear fatter when shut
- Feels heavy compared to some other flagship laptops
- Screen wobbles a bit it in laptop mode
The Good The Microsoft Surface Book packs high-end components, including new Intel processors and optional Nvidia graphics, into a smart, slim body. Some components and most of the battery are hidden in the base, so the tablet half is lighter. The high-res screen looks great, and the included stylus pen is excellent.
The Bad Configurations with the optional Nvidia GPU and more storage get very expensive. There are some first-generation quirks, including an awkward gap between the screen and base when closed.
The Bottom Line While it’s not nearly as refined as the new fourth-gen Surface Pro, Microsoft’s Surface Book is a powerful, feature-filled premium hybrid that doesn’t forget it’s a laptop first.
|Surface Book with iGPU||Surface Book with dGPU||Macbook Pro 13 with iGPU 6100|
Although anandtech listed a few other benchmark scores of the Surface Book compared to other Windows ultrabooks, I could not find similar benchmark scores fro Intel Iris Graphics 6100 other than 3DMark 2013 on quick search. But it looks like they are coming close to 1.8x performance boost at least on this scale.
Tablet/Clipboard battery life
It does sound like the battery life is around 3 hours when detached from the keyboard. As a true tablet, this is essentially unacceptably short battery life for most users. This is why Microsoft never called it’s a tablet but just call it Clipboard. So if one truly hopes this device to completely replace tablet and laptop, I believe it’s not quite there yet.
Overall, it sounds like the reviews are very positive. The major downside of the device is price, and lack of battery life on tablet/clipboard mode as all expected from the get go.