Elegant power

Surface Laptop 2

Finally competing

MacBook Air

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.

$999 from Microsoft

Pros

  • Latest generation quad-core processor
  • Gorgeous design
  • Stunning touch-enabled display
  • Superb build quality
  • Excellent battery life

Cons

  • 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.

$1,199 from Apple

Pros

  • Apple's trademark design and build quality
  • Gorgeous Retina display
  • Decent battery life
  • Thunderbolt 3 USB-C
  • eGPU support

Cons

  • 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.

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
Display 13.5-inch PixelSense
2256 x 1504
13.3-inch Retina
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.

Our Pick

Surface Laptop 2

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.

Finally good

MacBook Air

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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