Surface Laptop 2 vs. MacBook Air: Which should you buy?
We live and breathe laptops and we're well placed to help you make the best purchase choice for you when considering a Surface Laptop 2.
The Surface Laptop 2 looks identical to the first one save for a new black paintjob, but the important updates are underneath. It's now more powerful while delivering better battery life, and it still has that stunning touch display.
- Latest generation quad-core processor
- Gorgeous design
- Stunning touch-enabled display
- Superb build quality
- Excellent battery life
- Alcantara keyboard will get dirty easily.
- No USB-C
- Not all colors available in all configurations.
The MacBook Air's latest refresh finally makes it worth considering again, but unless you're tied to having a Mac, the Surface Laptop 2 still represents better overall value.
- Apple's trademark design and build quality
- Gorgeous Retina display
- Decent battery life
- Thunderbolt 3 USB-C
- eGPU support
- Dual-core processor
- Less powerful graphics
- Higher entry price
- No legacy ports
The Surface Laptop and the MacBook Air both appeal to a similar type of user — in particular students — especially since they're priced about the same. But there are still plenty of differences to consider.
Surface Laptop 2 vs MacBook Air tech specs
Until the recent refresh, it was impossible to suggest anyone buy a MacBook Air over the Surface Laptop 2, whether you were a Mac fan or not. However, Apple has finally brought its popular laptop back into the present. It now packs a gorgeous display, current hardware, and still comes in an eyecatching design — just like the Surface Laptop 2.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Surface Laptop 2||MacBook Air|
|Processor||8th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 (quad-core)||8th Gen Intel Core i5 (dual-core)|
|Graphics||Intel UHD 620||Intel UHD 617|
2256 x 1504
2560 x 1600
|RAM||8GB or 16GB||8GB or 16GB|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB||128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1.5TB|
MacBook Air has better outputs
Even though there are no longer any legacy ports on the MacBook Air, it does have a fairly big advantage over the Surface Laptop 2. Not only does it have the new USB-C, but it has Thunderbolt 3 as well. Not only is that future proofing, ensuring the MacBook Air is compatible with the next generation of accessories, but the Thunderbolt 3 opens up a world of possibilities.
You can attach high resolution displays to it, connect fast external storage, and perhaps most interesting of all, hook up an eGPU, putting a full desktop graphics card into your MacBook Air.
The Surface Laptop 2 has no USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 and to get the most from it, you'll be getting the first-party Surface Dock.
That's a pretty big deal for the MacBook Air to have.
Surface Laptop 2 is a nice upgrade on its predecessor
The Surface Laptop 2 itself is only a mild upgrade to the original model, but it has some important improvements. In our review we determined you can expect at least an extra hour from its battery, despite the processor having been bumped to a quad-core over the dual-core from the first one.
It isn't perfect — there's no USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 for example, and the alcantara keyboard can certainly get quite dirty —but compared to the MacBook Air, it's leagues ahead. You're getting cutting edge hardware, with a gorgeous high-resolution, pen enabled screen thrown in for good measure.
Compared to the MacBook Air on its own, the Surface Laptop is simply more powerful. It has a quad-core processor, better onboard graphics and the option for a Core i7 for those who need it.
Best overall value
Microsoft made small, but important upgrades in the Surface Laptop 2, and it's one of the most complete packages you'll find in this price bracket. It's powerful, has great battery life, a high-resolution touch display, digital pen support, and a design that arguably outdoes Apple.
Slim, sexy, powerful and easily better than a MacBook Air
The Surface Laptop 2 is more powerful and has a less expensive entry model, representing the better overall value.
MacBook buyers can do better
The MacBook Air is finally a laptop Mac fans can consider, but if you're open to Windows then the Surface Laptop 2 is still a better bet. Nevertheless, Apple has delivered the MacBook Air the world has always wanted, and finally brought its iconic model into the present.
The MacBook Air everyone always wanted
With its Retina screen and 2018 spec internals, the MacBook Air is finally worth buying again.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine