Microsoft Surface Book Review 2016 With Performance Base.
As Microsoft unveil their new version of Surface Book in 2016, Apple announce their MacBook Pro shortly there-after. I’ve seldom been as irritated with a product announcement as I was with Apples new MacBook which they continue to call “Pro” despite removing features professionals use all the time. An SD card slot, full size USB ports and a magnetic charging cable that saves the device from certain destruction when you trip over the cord.
So when I went to buy the new MacBook Pro my fingers faltered at the “buy now” button. I then started wondering if any other computers or laptops also offered the same features, and then I remembered there is! In fact I was at the launch event for it. It’s Microsofts new Surface Book with Performance Base, and this is part 1 of the Genius Tech Tips Microsoft Surface Book review 2016.
It’s just part one of this Review because I’ve only used the new Microsoft Surface Book for about 48 hours. I still need a few more days to get a better sense of battery life and to give time for those inevitable post honeymoon bugs to appear, but even after 2 days there’s plenty to cover.
Surface Book 2016 Specs and Performance Base.
This years Surface Book uses the same 2 in 1 design as the launch model did in 2015. This means all of the devices “vital guts” are in the top half which Microsoft calls the “clipboard” and is unchanged from earlier in the year.
The processor driving the Surface Book is the older Sky Lake Core i7 rather than one of Intels newer Kaby Lake chips. However given the performance I’ve seen thus far, I’m not too worried about lack of power from this device.
Similarly the 16 Gigabyte of ram and 1 Terabyte hard drive offer plenty of space to spread out your data in.
Microsoft Surface Book 2016 Display
The Surface Book display has a 3000 x 2000 aspect ratio. This makes it look bigger than its 13.5 inch diagonal, which also features excellent color saturation and contrast.
The Surface Book is also overloaded with a digitiser, that makes the “included” Surface Pen work. I don’t often find room for a pen in my workflow, but I love how this one gives you an eraser, to undo your doodles or type, and a magnetic strip to latch onto when you’re done. Like I say, this however is all old news.
The New Microsoft Surface Book Performance Base.
The 2016 features don’t show up until you drop the Surface Books tablet portion onto the new performance dock. Magnets help you out with the last inch or so, and an electrical charge causes something called “muscle wire” inside the mechanism to contract. This bonds the two halves of the Surface Book so tightly that you’d never know they were separate.
The new performance dock bucks the trend of slimmer, lighter hardware. It’s actually thicker and heavier than last years dock, but for good reason, there are bigger batteries in this version.
Microsoft tells me the batteries between tablet and base dock now total out to 81.4 Watt-Hours. That’s about 18% more capacity than the launch model, and there’s also a new cooling assembly with double the fans, for more efficient thermal control.
Most important for the “Pros” an updated graphics processor in the dock, with double the graphics ram than last year.
The Surface Book automatically uses this GPU when docked. This means the Surface Book won’t let you separate the tablet if you’re running a program utilizing its GPU.
Surface Book 2016 Weight
All this adds up to a machine that exudes power in ways both respected, and not.
On the “not” side, I was unprepared for the 3.5 pounds of this device coming out of the box. The Surface Book looks so futuristic, with the White-Silver paint job on the magnesium, and “dynamic fulcrum hinge”. I guess I had expected space-age weightlessness as well.
Still the Surface Book is a full pound lighter than the MacBook Pro 15. Which is a device I’ve been dragging all over for a year, so there’s that.
The Surface Book 2016 Battery Life.
On the less surprising side of things, Windows 10 sings on this device. I made a conscious decision not to baby this Surface Book review, and to use my preferred programs right from the start. That means Chrome instead of Edge, Spotify instead of Groove, and lots of skipping back and forth between many open programs.
Now this absolutely destroys the battery life of course. Microsoft claims 16 hours of use on a charge. However on a typical day of this I guess “reckless” usage, I only got 5 hours out of the Surface Book battery. I’ll test it more conservatively in the days ahead and get back to you in part 2 with a final battery verdict.
Microsoft Surface Book Speed.
On the “plus” side? The only slow downs I’ve seen from the Surface Book so far have been the occasional slips and stutters in Adobe Premier, a resource heavy video editing program.
The simple act of using the Surface Book is actually very comfortable. “Windows Hello” which reads your eyeballs to log you in, really is a more convenient security measure than a password or fingerprint.
The track-pad is large and responsive. With smooth scrolling and gesture response, and the keys have great travel, with nice, chunky feedback.
Should you buy the Surface Book 2016?
After 2 days, I could absolutely see myself using the new Surface Book as my daily laptop and tablet. The real test will come once the honeymoon phase is up.
Finally in the next and final instalment of this Surface Book Review, I will average out a few full to empty software runs. This way I will be able to see how the new Surface Book holds up in both reckless and power sipping modes. We’ll also find out how older Surface Book owners like their devices after a year of use. I’ll compare the Surface Books sizable price-tag to some other laptops and hopefully let you know if this device makes sense for someone like you to buy.
Thank you for visiting my Microsoft Surface Book 2016 with Performance Base Review.