Microsoft Surface Book 2 13.5″ Review
The Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch), like its larger sibling, is a fantastic gadget and one of the most powerful Microsoft surface Book 2-in-1 laptops we’ve examined. It boasts a premium look, fantastic features, and is an excellent showcase for Windows 10 – but at a cost.
Microsoft’s Surface tablets have already demonstrated that the software giant has perfected the creation of premium and desired products that can compete with Apple, Lenovo, and other big name brands. And it appears that Microsoft has done it again with the Surface Book 2 13.5-inch, an extraordinarily powerful and flexible 2-in-1 laptop.
These devices, along with the bigger Surface Book 2 15-inch, which we’ve tested separately, represent the peak of 2-in-1 laptop design, providing power – and battery life – that we haven’t seen in a convertible form factor before.
Microsoft has dubbed the Surface Book 2 the most powerful Surface Book ever, which may not seem like much given that there have only been two prior Surface Books, but make no mistake, this is a strong gadget with high-quality components.
Price and Availability
Unlike the Surface Book 2 15-inch, the 13.5-inch Surface Book 2 is now exclusively available in the UK and Australia, rather than the US. If you live outside of the United States, you’ll have to wait until next year to purchase the Surface Book 2 15-inch device, so the 13.5-inch model will be your only option for the time being.
The good news is that Microsoft is selling the Surface Book 2 13.5-inch in a range of configurations, but they all cost a lot more than the 15-inch variant. Nonetheless, the 13.5-inch devices are less expensive than the larger 15-inch variants
So, for $1,499, the base specifications of the Surface Book 2 13.5-inch model include a 7th Generation Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage, and an integrated GPU. Meanwhile, the base model offered in the UK costs £1,499 USD.
Finally, the highest option, which we obtained for evaluation, costs $2,999 or £2,999 (about AU$5,200) and includes an 8th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, and GTX 1050.
So, even with the simplest features, this is a pricey prospect, but it’s not nearly as eye-watering as the price of the highest spec of the 15-inch model, which comes in at $3,299 (approximately £2,503, AU$4,341).
Meanwhile, Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar costs $2,399 (£2,349, AU$3,499) and includes a 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, AMD Radeon Pro 555 graphics with 2GB of VRAM, 16GB of memory, and a 256GB SSD, as well as a 2,880 x 1,800-pixel 15.4-inch display at 220 pixels per inch and an OLED Touch Bar.
- Excellent battery life
- It’s a pleasure to use as a tablet.
- Fanless construction
- Extremely costly
- Not as strong as the 15-inch model
- There is no Surface Pen included.
In our evaluation of the 15-inch Surface Book 2, we noted that the design had little altered from the original Surface Book, save that the device was larger to accommodate the larger screen.
Because the 13.5-inch Surface Book 2 has the same screen size as the original, the design differences are even less noticeable. It measures 312mm x 232mm x 13mm (12.3-inch x 9.14-inch x 0.51-inch) less than its predecessor, which measured 14.13 x 9.73 x 0.71 inches or 359 x 247 x 18mm, and weighs 164.2kg (3.62 pounds) less than the original (4.49 pounds).
As a result, Microsoft has created a more powerful version that is also thinner and lighter, which is always a good thing. Another significant distinction between the 13.5-inch Surface Book 2 and the 15-inch version is that the 13.5-inch is fanless.
This is a good side effect of the 13.5-inch model’s less powerful (and thus less power-hungry) components. The more power used by a component, the hotter it becomes. The lack of fans allows the 13.5-inch Surface Book 2 to be thinner and lighter while also running virtually silently.
The screen of the Surface Book 2 detaches with a pleasing snap, like with the prior models, and Microsoft tells us that the process of switching from laptop mode to tablet mode has been improved, making it a quick and straightforward process.
In tablet form, the Surface Book 2 feels excellent in the hand and is one of the lightest and thinnest Windows 10 tablets we’ve tried. The Surface Book 2 loses its additional graphics power and battery life when in this mode. Detaching the screen is a simple operation; simply press the detach button on the keyboard and remove the screen.
Windows 10 replies by entering ‘Tablet’ mode, which restores the Start Screen from Windows 8, with huge, easy-to-tap icons. While the Start Screen was disliked in Windows 8, it works well in the tablet form factor, making Windows 10 easy to use – and it stays snappy and responsive.
Another good feature is that if you’re running a demanding application or software that demands dedicated graphics, you’ll be prompted to save your work before disconnecting the screen.
Microsoft Surface Book 2 13.5-inch is an excellent showcase for Windows 10 – but at a cost. Exclusively available in the UK and Australia, rather than the US, it’s one of the most powerful 2-in-1 laptops we’ve seen.
Microsoft is selling the Surface Book 2 13.5-inch in a range of configurations, but they all cost a lot more than the 15-inch variant. For $1,499, the base spec includes an Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage, and an integrated GPU. Review.
The Microsoft Surface Book 2 13.5 is powerful, but not as strong as the 15-inch model, and it costs more than you might expect for a 13-inch tablet at $1,499 (£1,199) with 128GB of storage.
The 13.5-inch Surface Book 2 is one of the lightest and thinnest Windows 10 tablets we’ve tried. Detaching the screen is a simple operation; simply press the detach button on the keyboard and remove the screen. Windows 10’s Start Screen works well in tablet form factor, making Windows 10 easy to use.