Whether or not you decide to draw, and regardless of whether you're using it in tablet or notebook mode, the Surface Book's screen is lovely. That's partly a matter of pixels -- its 3,000 x 2,000 resolution translates to a pixel density of 267 ppi, which is slightly crisper than the 13-inch MacBook Pro's Retina display. Beyond that, though, it's just pretty to look at, with good contrast, pleasant white balance and a color gamut that covers the full sRGB spectrum. Just as important, that color and white balance holds up even when you adjust the screen angle (read: no washout here).
I'm a bit less impressed with the speakers: Though they're loud, the sound quality is fairly forgettable. Passable for Spotify streaming, but not the best laptop audio I've enjoyed either.
To end this hardware section on a positive note, the keyboard and trackpad are the same as on last year's model, and that is A-OK with me. At a time when Apple is going out of its way to make all of its keyboards shallower, the Surface Book's cushy buttons feel refreshing. Not only did I type most of this review on it, but I also carried on with my normal workload, editing reviews, pounding out emails and so on. As before, though, my one complaint is that when I "pound" out said emails, I wish the keys would make less noise.
As for the trackpad, I happened to be testing the Surface Book at the same time as the newly updated HP Spectre x360, and the difference was stark. While HP's touchpad is jumpy and occasionally unreliable, the Surface Book's trackpad (made by Microsoft itself!) pretty much always does what I want it to, whether it's drag the cursor across the screen, highlight text, scroll with two fingers or pinch to zoom.
Performance and battery lifeSome content has been removed for formatting reasons, please view the original article for the best reading experience.
Make that "battery life and performance." That's right: I can't wait to tell you guys about the long runtime here. Microsoft rates the new Surface Book's battery for up to 16 hours of video playback. Though some other companies are sometimes guilty of embellishing, I have to say, Microsoft's estimate here is on the nose. In my own test, in which I looped a video with the screen brightness fixed at 65 percent, the machine lasted a stunning 16 hours and 15 minutes. Just how long is that? Long enough for me to start the battery life test before going to bed on a Friday night and finding it still kicking when I woke up -- and awake still when I returned from brunch later that afternoon.
To be clear, there's barely anything else like this on the market. (I can remember a few machines that were advertised as having something like 20-hour battery life, but these all required a bolt-on slice battery and were aimed at corporate customers anyway.) If you're shopping around, you'll see Apple's newest MacBook Pros have a rated battery life of 10 hours, not 16, and even then, I'm seeing around eight hours on the entry-level model I've been testing these past couple of weeks (full review coming soon). Even last year's Surface Book had much "shorter" battery life, achieving 11 and a half hours with discrete graphics under the same testing conditions.
Just keep in mind that most of the Surface Book's battery power is located in its keyboard base, which means you won't get nearly the same mileage in tablet-only mode. With the keyboard detached, the machine lasted precisely four hours in the same video playback test. That's an improvement over the first-gen Surface Book, which lasted between three and three and a half hours in tablet mode, depending on the processor. Obviously, you still shouldn't expect to make it through a full workday without the keyboard base, but you should be able to watch a movie and still have some power left to spare.Some content has been removed for formatting reasons, please view the original article for the best reading experience.
As I said, I tested the best configuration of the Surface Book that Microsoft has to offer: a $3,299 beast of a machine with a 2.6GHz dual-core i7-6600U processor, 16GB of RAM, a 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M GPU and 1TB solid-state drive. As you'd expect, the benchmark scores are very, very good. I've listed them above.
In particular, the Samsung-made disk drive was quick to copy files off a USB drive, but hard numbers might be more helpful to you there. In the ATTO test, I logged average max read speeds of 1.71 gigabytes per second, with writes topping out an average of 1.26 GB/s. That is hard, though not impossible, to find on a notebook these days -- especially those write rates.
The Surface Book proved itself to be a fairly capable gaming machine too, thanks to its dedicated NVIDIA GeForce 965M graphics card. In Overwatch, senior editor and avid gamer Devindra saw speeds between 60 and 75 frames per second with medium-quality settings. Bumping up the resolution to 1,280 x 1,024, which suits the Surface Book's screen size a bit better, dropped things down to around 45 frames per second. That's playable, but not as silky smooth as 720p.