We couldn’t believe it when Microsoft introduced its first ever laptop last year. The Surface Book, in all its anticipated and ultimate 2-in-1 notebook-ness (forgive the grammar, kids say the darndest things these days), was literally a hit. It featured a gorgeous display, fast performance, and detachable body to work as a standalone tablet with its accompanying pen. Yet it looks as if things could have gotten better because just a year passes and Microsoft already decided on an updated model, the Surface Book with Performance Base.
You will definitely notice the new model is a lot of the same physicality, so if you loved what you saw last year, you’re in luck. It has the same hinge, with the same Microsoft pen and ports. The internals is what has changed the most about the Surface Book laptop. The 2-in-1 device is quite a bit heavier and thicker than before, and all because of the amped up performance inside of that base; with Microsoft claiming “twice the graphics performance, a second fan, and a larger battery”. I don’t know the last time I have heard of a laptop lasting up to 16 hours, but that’s the kind of performance we are talking about with Microsoft’s new notebook.
The thicker model now ranges from 13mm thick at the front to 22.8mm thick in the back, weighing around 3.62 pounds (last year’s Surface Book was 3.5 pounds at its max using Nvidia graphics cards). It still has the robotic magnesium hinge it had before, but if you didn’t like the fact it doesn’t unfold all the way unto itself, I am sorry to say it still doesn't do that. You must detach the top and flip it around and re-dock the base to utilize this position. This isn’t a big deal, all you need is a few seconds (first world problems). The 13.5-inch screen, with a 3:2 aspect ratio (great for standalone tablet use) sports a crisp 3,000 x 2,000 resolution (267 ppi), well-complimented by its full sRGB spectrum color gamut, good contrast, and white balance.
As mentioned, the Surface Book is “all about that base” because inside the Performance Base lie the biggest changes, This new model features an Intel Core i7 processor, and Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M for graphics, which is pretty much the best you can get. There are two USB 3.0 ports, one SD card slot, a Mini DisplayPort connector, and a slot-shaped power connection. There are no Ethernet or HDMI ports, so adapters are an optional purchase (also an expensive and kind of inconvenient bummer). Storage capacities include SSD options of 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB. Per usual, there’s Microsoft’s special pen included in the box, with 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity and an eraser on the top. Yep, just like a No. 2 pencil.
If what the blooming friendship you experienced last year hadn’t yet turned into true love, you are going to fall this time around. This thing isn’t a completely different machine overall, but is a better laptop, especially if what you desire is better performance via more power. It has already earned high scores across the board during its performance tests (PC Mag reports a score of 2,735 points on the PCMark 8 Work Conventional test, a nice upgrade from the previous model’s 2,583 points). What will mean the most to users is how well performance has been enhanced, and that it is still ranked as one of the best laptops available.
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