Dec 28, 2017

The High-performance Machine has Improved Even More! A complete review of the Surface Book 2.

It seems the Surface Book 2 with the 8th generation core processor and GeForce GTX 1050 won't disappoint us.

The Surface Book 2 is an ultra high-performance 2 in 1 PC which has been improved from the Surface Book that debuted as an ultimate machine last January. This certainly is not for everyone with its price coming from high performance, but for those who seek performance, this definitely is a valuable model. Let's take a look at its abilities.

The Surface Book 2 with 13.5-inch LCD. The display and the keyboard can be disconnected, so you can use this as a tablet or as a laptop. This has the highest performance as a 2 in 1 PC.

This has absolutely everything; it has more of everything than any other Surface.

It's been 5 years since Microsoft released the Surface series. The current models of Surface are the Surface Pro (2 in 1, keyboard sold separately), the Surface Book 2, which we are looking at here, the Surface Laptop with clam-shell style and the Surface Studio, which is a desktop PC. The Surface Pro is an all-rounder, and the Surface Laptop is for students and light users. The Surface Book 2 and the Surface Studio would be for advanced users.

The Surface Book 2 can be said that it has more of everything than the other three Surface devices. It can be used as a tablet and a laptop, and you can use the "Surface pen" for input. The higher model has GeForce GTX 1050 on the keyboard side.
The mechanism of taking the keyboard on and off is not changed from the previous model. The body looks luxurious with magnesium alloy. Unlike the Surface Pro, the keyboard feels sturdier; I can use it stably on my lap. Because the keyboard is sturdy, it goes over 1.5kg even with the lightest model. The battery life is maximum 17 hours, which is more than enough, but you would get stiff shoulders if you carry this around every day. This would be perfect for those who uses this as a clam-shell style laptop most of the time, and uses as a tablet only occasionally. If you seek portability, the Surface Pro which only weighs about 1kg including the keyboard sold separately would be a better choice.

The tablet and the keyboard are mechanically fixed. Take the tablet off while pressing the button. Unlike the Surface Pro, which is fixed with magnets, it is fixed more properly, which makes it easier to use as a laptop.

Mechanical looking hinge with several axes and parts. Just like its previous model, it works smoothly, but you need to force it a little to change the angle.

The highest model (Core i7 model) weighs 1654g including the keyboard, and the tablet itself weighs 717g. It is lighter as a tablet than the Surface Pro.

Let's look at its improved specification.

The Surface Book 2's biggest selling point and the most improved point are its high specification as a 2 in 1 style PC. There are 4 models, and basic specifications are as follows.
- HMW-00012:Core i5-7300U/8GB/256GB/ N/A
- HN4-00012:Core i7-8650U/8GB/256GB/GeForce GTX 1050
- HNL-00012:Core i7-8650U/16GB/256GB/GeForce GTX 1050
- HNN-00012:Core i7-8650U/16GB/1TB/GeForce GTX 1050
(mode: CPU/RAM/SSD/discrete GPU)

The first-generation Surface Book had the 6th generation Core Processor for CPU, but with the Surface Book 2, though the entry model with Core i5 model has the 7th generation Core i5-7300U (2.60GHz, maximum 3.50GHz) with 2 cores and 4 threads, the Core i7 model has the 8th generation Core i7-8650U with 4 core and 8 threads. Discrete GPU on the keyboard side is improved from GeForce GTX 965M to GeForce GTC 1050. This is used not only for creative work but also for playing PC games. Note that GeForce GTX 1050 cannot be used without the keyboard. Also, if you are using an app that uses GeForce GTX 1050, you cannot disconnect the keyboard from the tablet.

I tried the highest model, HNN-000012. It showed its great ability with the benchmark test, too. But I was not happy with the sound coming from the fan on the keyboard side. It might not be suited for usage like burdening the discrete GPU like playing games.

With PCMark8(Home accelerated) from Futuremark that measures overall performance of PC, it scored 3545. The score of the highest model with the previous model was 2931, so this has been improved a lot.

The result of 3DMark 8 of Futuremark. With Time Spy, a test for high performance computers, it scored 1796.

The result of Crystal DiskMark 6.0.0 x 64. Because its SSD supports NVMe, it scored nearly 30000MB/s for reading. Because it has high speed SSD, it doesn't take too long for starting the OS, software and copying files.

During the benchmark test, the fan on the side of the keyboard with GeForce GTX worked really fast and made a big sound.

Also, the Core i7 model has passed the Windows Mixed Reality Ultra, which is recommended by Microsoft to enjoy Windows Mixed Reality pleasantly.

It has followed the usability of its previous model.

Lastly, let's look at the usability. The display is 13.5-inch LCD, and the ratio is 3:2. It is easy to use both vertically and horizontally, and it is easy to see as a laptop with this aspect. This is also easy for drawing or taking notes with the Surface pen. The resolution is 3000 x 2000 (267ppi.) It has a highly defined display, but it is very bright. Even the brightness at 25% is bright enough to use indoors. The contrast ratio is 1600:1. The detailed specification has not been announced, but the image quality is very high. This can be used no problem for creative use like retouching photos or editing movies.

Keys are located with leeway. Key pitch is 19mm. The touch pad is big and is easy to use with several fingers.

As a minor improvement, the stability when connected with the keyboard has been improved. The Surface Book 2 has a mechanism called "muscle wire," which fixes the keyboard and the tablet. The claws to fix them are now bigger, so even when I type in strongly, the display (tablet) doesn't wobble. Also, the interface on the right side has been changed from a Mini Display Port to USB Type-C (3.1 Gen1.) It doesn't support Gen2 or Thunderbolt 3, but it does support Display Port, which enables it to output movies. Also, it supports USB Power Delivery (USB PD), so you can charge it with an AC adaptor that is compatible with PD. The AC adapter that comes with it is big and heavy, but there are compact USB PD at shops, so it is a good idea to purchase one if your budget allows.

As for the interface, the Mini Display Port on the right was changed to a Type-C port. Other than that, it is the same as the Surface Book.

The AC adapter used connected with the Surface Connect is big and heavy, but it has a USB port, so you can charge a smartphone and that at the same time. It will be handy for a business trip etc.

It's compatible with USB PD, so you can charge it using the AC adapter. I charged it using ENERGEAR 46W USB Type-C WALL CHARGER from GOPPA (IODATA is the distribter.) It was charged properly.

Overall: Ordinary users wouldn't need this, but this improvement is good for creators who seek power.

The Surface Book 2 is very expensive, but this can be one of the best choices for creators who are using Wacom LCD tablet and a laptop.
The Surface Book 2 is too powerful and it is unnecessary for general users, but this definitely is a great model for creators who seek easiness in operation. I want this to keep improving to be more powerful with more features.

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Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5)

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