Everything we've learned about the Surface Book so far

Best Laptop Between $1500 and $2000

Best Laptop Between $1500 and $2000

Go large with the Surface Book, recently unveiled at Microsoft's #Windows10Devices event in NYC. The Surface Book puts a 13.5" 2-in-1 laptop into the expanding Surface line-up, and we now have the full rundown on its specs, design and availability.

Rumors of larger-screened Surface devices, well, surfaced a few weeks ago. The final product turned out to be a little more jaw-dropping than expected, though, due to its bold design and monstrous specs.

Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CategorySpecification
Operating SystemWindows 10 Pro
DimensionsLaptop: 9.14 x 12.3 x 0.51-0.90 inches (232.1 x 312.3 x 13.0-22.8 mm)
Tablet only: 8.67 x 12.3 x 0.30 inches (220.2 x 312.3 x 7.7 mm)
WeightLaptop: Non-GPU: 3.34 lbs. (1515 g)
GPU: 3.48 lbs. (1579 g)
Tablet only: 1.6 lbs. (726 g)
Mechanical featuresMagnesium body
Dynamic Fulcrum Hinge
One-button Muscle Wire detach mechanism
Physical clipboard buttons: power, volume
ColorSilver
StorageSolid-state drive (SSD) PCIe 3.0: 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB or 1 TB
Display Screen13.5-inch PixelSense™ Display Resolution: 3000x2000 (267 ppi)
Contrast ratio: 1800:1
Aspect ratio: 3:2 100 percent sRGB color, individually calibrated
Touch: 10-point multitouch
CPU6th Generation Intel® Core™ i5 or Core™ i7
GraphicsIntel® HD graphics 520 and optional NVIDIA® GeForce® Graphics Processor with dedicated 1GB GDDR5 high-speed memory
Memory8 GB or 16 GB RAM
Keyboard & TrackpadFull-size, integrated backlit keyboard with 1.6mm key travel
Precision trackpad with glass laminated trackpad (7,350 sq. mm)
Five-finger contact recognition with full Windows 10 support Subpixel resolution
SecurityTPM 2.0 chip for enterprise security
PenSurface Pen: 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity Magnetic storage
Network802.11ac 2x2 MIMO Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible
Bluetooth 4.0 LE wireless technology
BatteryUp to 12 hours battery life for video playback (detached screen has around 3 hours)
CamerasWindows Hello face-authentication camera (front-facing) 8.0MP rear-facing auto-focus camera, with 1080p HD camera
5.0MP front-facing 1080p HD camera
AudioDual microphones, front- and rear-facing
Front-facing stereo speakers with Dolby® audio
PortsTwo full-size USB 3.0
Full-size SD™ card reader (UHS-II performance)
Surface Connect for power and docking (base and clipboard)
Stereo headphones/microphone jack Mini DisplayPort
SensorsAmbient light sensor
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Magnetometer
Power supply36W power supply with USB charging port
65W power supply with USB charging port (discrete GPU SKU)
In the boxSurface Book
Surface Pen
Power supply
Quick Start Guide
Safety and warranty documents
WarrantyOne-year limited hardware warranty

The Surface Book sports a 13.5" screen and comes with several configuration tiers. Like the Surface Pro 4, it's rocking Intel's fresh Skylake processor, and all the benefits that go along with it. Due to its form factor, the Surface Book can pack more capable hardware, beating the Surface Pro 4 in terms of raw power. Indeed, Microsoft is calling the Surface Book the "ultimate laptop", claiming it to be the fastest 13.5" laptop ever made.

The backlit keyboard base is removable, and the higher spec configurations contain a discrete Nvidia GeForce GPU within it. When detached, the screen portion acts as a large Surface tablet, complete with touch capabilities and compatibility with the new Surface Pen. When detached from the GeForce GPU, the screen portion utilizes capable integrated Intel HD graphics instead. Microsoft isn't pushing the detached screen as a tablet, though. Panos Panay described the separated Surface Book as a 'digital clipboard' on stage, based on an A4 sized piece of paper. When split, the tablet portion sports around 3 hours of battery life, but the rotational fulcrum hinge will allow you to use the Surface Book in multiple positions without separating it from the primary battery.

The Surface Book screen packs PixelSense technology found in the new Surface Pro 4, delivering 6 million pixels at 267 PPI on a ten-point multi-touch display.

The Surface Book has clearly been developed using feedback received on the Surface Pro 3, boasting similar improvements found in the Surface Pro 4. The Surface Pen has gotten refreshed, and can be connected to the side of the screen magnetically. The Book's keyboard is spaced out similarly to the revised Pro 4 Type Cover and enjoys the inclusion of an auto-focus camera.

By adding an Nvidia GeForce GPU, the Surface Book joins industry standard creative tools for design and 3D work. The Xbox team were involved with the development of this custom chip, and as of writing it's not known which Nvidia GeForce the Surface Book chip is based on. Panos Panay noted that the Surface Book wasn't designed with gamers in mind, but that didn't stop him from demonstrating Gears of War on it, which certainly appeared to run flawlessly.

Best Laptop Between $1500 and $2000

Best Laptop Between $1500 and $2000

Overall the Surface Book, right down to the name, seems to be directly targeting the MacBook Pro user group. The ad campaigns for the Surface Book tout creativity as its number one use case, but for Microsoft, the Surface Book is also about changing people's perceptions. The Surface Book and Microsoft's other recent innovations paint the company in an entirely different light when compared to the era of Windows Vista and the Red Ring of Death.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella rounded off the Surface Book presentation saying he wanted to bring people 'home' to Windows. If they keep delivering such exciting products, it certainly seems like a realistic goal.

..."We're moving people from needing to choosing to loving Windows, and these devices promise to fuel even more enthusiasm and opportunity for the entire Windows ecosystem."...

Pricing and availability

As of writing, the Surface Book is only available to pre-order in the US, Canada and Australia, starting at $1,499 USD, $2,299.00 AUD and $1,949.00 CAD. A user on reddit claimed that a Belgian Microsoft rep expected the Surface Book to appear in Europe in early 2016 but stay tuned for more information on that.

For an idea of the price tiers, here are the current US listings (retail prices may vary):

  • 128 GB 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i5 with 8 GB of RAM $1,499 USD ERP
  • 256 GB 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i5 with 8 GB of RAM $1,699 USD ERP
  • 256 GB 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i5 with 8 GB of RAM and NVIDIA® GeForce® Graphics Processor $1,899 USD ERP
  • 256 GB 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 with 8 GB of RAM and NVIDIA® GeForce® Graphics Processor $2,099 USD ERP
  • 512 GB 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 with 16 GB of RAM and NVIDIA® GeForce® Graphics Processor $2,699 USD ERP

Dan and Mark attended the event in NYC and have gone hands-on with this impressive new addition to the Surface family. Keep your eyes on Windows Central for more coverage and a full device review in the near future.

For the rest of our NYC #Windows10Devices coverage head here:

  • Lumia 950
  • Lumia 950 XL
  • Surface Pro 4
  • Surface XL
  • Microsoft Band 2
Jez Corden
Managing Editor

Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

165 Comments
  • They definitely woke up a giant. Everything across the board MS devices are solid. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Thing is, this extreme level of r&d and manufacture is expensive. Only affordable to the big three.
    Apple spend a fraction on r&d in comparison. They'll keep trying to copy Microsoft in PC, but their days of short changing consumers to make a buck are coming to an end. With the Surfaces you really are getting something premium for your money.
    Also, whilst I loved 8.1, the market perception wasn't good. Windows 10 makes Windows desirable again.
    To leverage the most from these investments I would love to see Microsoft patent the Surface and Lumia designs and components (eg. camera) but license to Windows OEM's who don't have the r&d budgets. Microsoft wins when the ecosystem ignites.
  • This is ridiculous. I want one so badly. I can't wait to see what Panos will do with the Lumia line.
  • I know, right?
  • I'm wondering what magnificent Surface phone would he deliver, if they are working on it like the rumours said.
  • That are indeed. Surface phones coming in January/February... Watch this space...
  • Where exactly are you getting this timeline? Dan has said himself that he hears "perhaps May" but no where have I seen January/February timeframe.
  • doubtful as well. Around January you will still see the 950 and XL being released around the world. May seems way more feasible and the Surface team and Lumia team need more time to really re-invent the Lumia line, Panos always mentions how long and detailed they are about their machine designs. Surprised they got the liquid cooling system inside the 950.
  • Liquid cooling....for continuum.
  • It will be interesting to see him reveal the first Lumia (or Surface Phone) desgined under his leadership. The 950s were already far along when he took over and he didn't seem as pumped up about them as he was about the new Surface devices
  • If anything I think he's going to kill the Lumia line. He seemed completely disinterested in the 950 & 950XL and he just glazed over a few of the features. It was a Surface show! I think the Lumias need to be repositioned as vibrant, fashionable,colourful, high end phones with stunning cameras & high definition audio. A phone for all the Artists, Audiophiles, YouTubers, Viners, Photographers and other content creators on the web. People who want to perform stunning photo & video content creation on the go. Not the bland enterprise devices they're trying to make them. I'm almost certain part of the reason Panos paid the Lumias DUST is he's more bothered about the Surface Phone's success.
  • They don't want a vibrant, fashionable,colourful, high end phone. They want others OEM building vibrant, fashionable, colourful, high-end phones. As we already read here, MS can't be the major OEM of Windows phone devices, Google isn't. They need to give space so others partners come back in again, let's just hope they succeed. They looks like on the right track.
  • Panos is THE SHIT!
  • so nothing about new markets for the Surface line... yep, that's Microsoft
  • I want to trade my soul for a Lumia 950/950xl, Xbox one, Surface book and a hololens :s 
  • Are you really serious about that? I know an old town lady who does witch craft and can do strange things like yeah, trade your soul to the devil. Would you really trade your soul for this? Your kidneys are cheaper than the soul. I suggest you think about that carefully.
  • Id trade my soul, because there is absolutely zero reason to believe a soul even exists. So sign me up for soul selling!
  • can't trade what you don't have sir next!
  • One up. That was class.
  • So what you gonna have left to trade when they release SB2,SP5 and successors to the 950,950xl.??? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • All I really need to know is two things -It's expensive as hell
    -I can't afford it.
  • Yep :/ I am just hoping to be able to scrape enough together to buy a new phone!
  • I usually don't have trouble paying for phones, because a bit of the cost goes on my phone bill with T-Mo, but a $1500 laptop? No way I could afford it.
  • Actually it's like $2000 by the time you get decent model w dGPU + tax
  • It just gets worse! If they prices this thing $1000 or less it would be much better.
  • Sure, but it only costs about $100 more than a similar Dell XPS 13, which doesn't come with a pen and doesn't have an option for a dedicated GPU. So it seems to me that the price is exactly where it should be. (Though I wish there was an option for 16GB of RAM without the 512GB of SSD.)
  • Not really. The base model is 128 gig SSD, i5, 8 gig ram, and Intel integrated graphics for $1500. HP just announced a laptop (envy 13) that is about the same specs, base model for $850. The only reason it's this price is because they don't want to take away sales from OEMs.
  • Of course that probably comes with a different edition of Windows that costs less, and with the low resolution screen, and no pen, etc... So I wouldn't say it is "about the same specs".  At least not until HP lets you see how much it actually costs once you put the QHD display on, etc... Something closer would be the HP Spectre x360 - 13-4102dx which is $1,400... But it still doesn't have as good of a display, etc...
  • HP build quality is crap, can't really compare anything they do with a Surface or a Mac
  • you don't have to go for the most expensive product you can find you know... your talking like ferrari should cost le