Microsoft Surface Book 2 in 1 Laptop Review

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Microsoft Surface Book 2 in 1 Laptop


Value for Money Score


Reliability Score


Performance Score


Specifications and Features Score


Design Score



  • Slim and compact frame
  • Great display quality
  • Satisfying performance, with minimum throttling
  • Sufficient battery backup
  • Many configurations to choose from


  • Screen wobbling occurs quite often
  • Does not have Thunderbolt 3 support
  • Can be expensive
  • Older gen processors
  • Not the latest WIFI or Bluetooth connectivity


The Microsoft Surface Book 2-in-1 laptop may have been a mighty convertible at some point, but it has been replaced by newer iterations that bring in improvements. Unless you can get it at a discounted price, we would suggest getting the Surface Book 2 which provides much better value considering its price.

Microsoft Surface Book 2 in 1 Laptop & Variants Price

Microsoft Surface Book 2 in 1 Laptop Overview

If we are to mention one name that made a massive impact on the 2-in-1 laptop world, it would be Microsoft Surface Book.

Sure there were stumbles initially and along the way, but these devices have been able to hold their own against competition against other major brands.

While the 3rd generation Surface Books have already hit the market, today we would be talking about the 1st gen Surface Books.

Or more specifically, one of the Performance Base models, that has got a Core i7 processor, entry-level dedicated graphics, and other such specs.

Now you may wonder, does it make sense to get an older version of the device? Well, usually it doesn’t, but there’s a catch.

See the first-generation Surface Book has older gen hardware in comparison to the 2nd or 3rd gen ones.

However, there aren’t many differences looks-wise, and the newer ones are further expensive (still without Thunderbolt support).

Which makes you wonder whether you should forego the convertible advantage in this, and invest in two separate devices.

If you look at it from that perspective, the Surface Book 1 offers a good value if you’re sated with mid-range performance.

We’ll talk more about it in this review, and you’ll know all that is necessary to make a decision, soon enough.

Microsoft Surface Book 2 in 1 Laptop

Buy for: Sleek design │ Decent specs | 2-in-1 gaming laptop

Beware of: Runs on older-gen hardware │ Lacks a USB Type-C or HDMI port

Best uses for: Gaming, students and other purposes.

The alternatives:

Design and Build

The design factor of the Surface Book was one of the very attractive things about it.

And seeing the reactions about the latest Surface Book 3 that follows a similar design, it can be said that it hasn’t been exhausted yet.

Now even though this is a Performance Base model, the dimensions and looks are almost the same as the standard variant.

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This has a 12.30” x 9.14” x 0.9” magnesium chassis that weighs 3.68 lbs (1.6 Kgs), meaning it is one of the lightest convertible laptops ever made.

The 13.5-inch screen comes with a resolution of 3000x2000p, Microsoft’s native PixelDense type.

Microsoft Surface Book 2 in 1 Laptop Display

This is a touch-supported panel that you can either operate by your fingers or use a stylus, like the Microsoft Surface Pen.

With a 1700:1 contrast ratio, it is certainly a laptop with excellent display quality.

It has a much better 3:2 aspect ratio and the bezels aren’t that thick either, which is great for any user.

So even though it has been launched quite a while ago, the Surface Book can still compete against any major contender in the market today on grounds of display quality.

Now the buttons are on the top part of the display, which includes the power and volume keys.

Microsoft Surface Book 2 in 1 Laptop Buttons

And here comes the most utilitarian part about the Surface Book, the screen can be detached from the keyboard.

Microsoft Surface Book 2 in 1 Laptop

But before that is done physically, you first have to detach it through software.

And while you’ll receive the device in the default laptop-like arrangement, it only takes a moment to remove the lower section.

On the top of the lid is the  Microsoft logo, the only major form of branding visible on the device whatsoever.

This is not only light, slim, and compact in the laptop mode, the same goes for when you fold the display back and use it as a tablet.

And the uniform grey color scheme on both the display and keyboard sections makes the overall laptop look good.


The Microsoft Surface Book that we are reviewing is the Performance Base variant, and so the specs in it are better than the standard variant.

The most difference is due to the entry-level dedicated GPU in this, against the average onboard graphics on the other variants.

The 6th gen Core i7 processor in this is a dual-core one, with a max frequency of 3.4 GHz.

So it is clear that it is not as quick as some of the modern iterations of the Core i7 processors that Intel has launched.

But even then, the device has satisfying performance in daily usage.

As we said, there are dedicated graphics in this, though that too is quite an old one.

The 1 GB GTX 965M video card provides slightly better graphics performance but is not as good as any modern entry-level GPU.

To use it though, you must keep the keyboard part connected, as solely the display section does not have access to dedicated graphics.

If you look at the benchmark scores of the device and some of the others of its time, like the HP Spectre x360 and Lenovo Yoga 710, then you’d find it in the bottom half mostly.

The stress test results are not very battery friendly, though actual usage may prove otherwise.

A good thing however is that there is not much thermal throttling and so it can maintain its peak frequency for a long duration.

Real-life usage, however, is quite smooth and comfortable, and the touchscreen display already adds an advantage.

Use it to take notes, draw, etc. with the help of the Surface Pen, and the size of the device makes you feel as if you’re writing on paper.

And other than basic applications and office productivity, the Surface Book also allows a little bit of gaming.

This is by no means a dedicated gaming laptop, and any game you play may have to be tuned to the medium or low settings.

But this doesn’t change the fact that this was one of the best 2-in-1 gaming laptops of its time.

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As for the display, you already know the specs, and it surely does not disappoint in real-time either.

The visuals are bright and colorful, thanks to the excellent contrast ratio, high resolution, and good sRGB and Adobe spectrum coverage.

And the peak brightness is also ample for indoor and outdoor usage.

As this is a Microsoft product, it is obvious that Windows would be the OS running it.

And as Windows 10 is already installed, you may only have to install a few updates.

Storage and RAM

The Surface Book here has got a 256 GB SSD in it, and there’s a bigger 512 GB variant as well.

Microsoft Surface Book 2 in 1 Laptop SSD

The storage speed is decent and better than some of the 13-inch convertibles of that time like those from Asus or Lenovo, but not MacBook-like, so keep that in mind.

There is 8 GB of RAM in this too, and the top variant is with 16 GB.

That is the most the device supports anyway, but getting the higher variant would be suggested if you need more memory.

This is because upgrades on the Surface Book can be tricky.

Ports and Connectivity

One of the things that are similar on the 1st gen Surface Book and the newer iterations is the connectivity department.

Now surely the newer ones come with the latest forms of Bluetooth and WIFI and have a much-needed USB Type-C port, but there still isn’t a Thunderbolt port.

And this was one of the reasons why the latest Surface Book 3 could not be as popular as was aimed.

Coming back to our unit though, you get two USB Type-A ports on the left side, along with a full-sized card reader.

Microsoft Surface Book 2 in 1 Laptop Left Ports

On the right side, there’s a 3.5 mm audio jack, a mini DisplayPort, and a power input slot.

Microsoft Surface Book 2 in 1 Laptop

So the port distribution is simple, and some may even consider it lacking.

But Bluetooth and WIFI are present on this, so wireless connections shouldn’t be a problem.

Battery Life

The Surface Book has two separate battery units, one to power up the display part when it has been detached from the keyboard, and the other to power the entire unit.

Microsoft Surface Book 2 in 1 Laptop Battery

There are two power inputs as well, one for the display unit, and the other when the screen is docked.

While the detached screen working as a tablet has a screen-on time of roughly about 4 hours, the overall battery life ranges anywhere between 7-8 hours, depending on how intensively you use this convertible laptop.

The figure is not bad, although it doesn’t top the charts either.

For everyday use, it happens to be sufficient for most students or working professionals.

The power adapter is also an efficient one charging up the laptop fully from nil in under 2.5 hours.

Additional Features

The Surface Book has a magnetic section on the side, for you to attach the Surface Pen which also has a magnetic strip for the same purpose.

Microsoft Surface Book 2 in 1 Laptop Surface Pen

The speakers on the device are front-facing and are sufficiently loud for personal usage.

Microsoft Surface Book 2 in 1 Laptop Speaker

The 8 MP primary camera and the secondary 5 MP sensor at the front take decent pictures and video calling in proper lighting should be no issue.

Microsoft Surface Book 2 in 1 Laptop

The outputs become grainy though, once the outside lighting reduces.

The 1st gen Surface Book, unlike the 3rd gen, comes with the Surface pen included in the box, which also includes the regular documentation, power adapter, etc. A 1-year warranty is also provided on it.


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What Do Users Think About Microsoft Surface Book 2 in 1 Laptop?

The Surface Book is no doubt one of the very successful and popular products from Microsoft.

And this is only possible because the buyers have quite liked it.

There have been many convertible laptops since then, but none of them could make an impact as much as one of these devices.

There is no reason why one would dislike the device’s looks as it looks very premium and stylish, and is overly light and slim too.

The magnesium build adds further durability into the mix, which also benefited the users.

The 13.5-inch convertible thus made a very utilitarian companion for any traveling student or working executive.

Then there’s the feature of removing the screen completely from the keyboard, thus making it even more convenient to use it.

The performance base variant of the 1st gen Surface Book due to the better hardware, also impressed the users when they used it for everyday applications.

And while it could not provide a beastly productivity or gaming performance, there was enough to run most software.

Not just that, the display quality was also like no other, so mild creative usage was also very enjoyable. And so were video or movie watching sessions.

However, no matter how useful the device may be, the price tag has been a concern for many buyers.

The higher variants being further expensive, most have chosen the mid-range variants of the Surface Book.

The users have also had to face a bit of screen wobbling when in laptop mode and using the touchscreen.

And since it is the oldest Surface Book, it is only natural that the modern buyers miss the latest connectivity and some of those features that are available in other convertible laptops at this price segment.

Our Testing & Analysis Report

We had the Microsoft Surface Book 2 tested by some power users who found that it combines all the elements of the laptops, two-in-ones, and gaming laptops together.

When we tested the keyboard and the screen, we found that they are pretty robust and the magnesium material prevented them from flexing. However, it is smooth to the touch and pretty light in weight.

We also asked the ones who are into creating and rendering to use this specific piece. They found that the inclusion of the full-size micro-SD card is a plus. They also opined that the keys have good travel and tactile feel, and are not shallow or mushy.

People who used this laptop outdoors however said that it is not that good at handling direct sunlight but it’s excellent to work indoors.

Our in-house graphics designers found that this battery-calibrated display is great with a stunning look and pixel density.

When we used this product on our desks, we found that the strips underneath do not secure the base on smooth surfaces. However, this is not a major issue but still is something to look out for.

The battery life of this two-in-one laptop is quite impressive, with the average users at home working with simple files stating that it lasts ‘forever.’

As for the gamers, when they used this product, they found that they could hit 60 frames per second very easily for most of the casual gaming titles

About Dominic Cooper

Dominic CooperDominic Cooper, a TTU graduate is a computer hardware expert. His only passion is to find out the nitty gritty of all computers since childhood. He has over 12 years of experience in writing, computer testing, and research. He is not very fond of social media. Follow Him at Linkedin

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