Surface Book 2 long term review

Published at 2021/02/09


DISCLAIMER: This review is a summary of a 2 year long journey with this device. I'm not related to Microsoft by any means and it reflects my personal feelings about this device

Beauty & the beast

Since the premiere of the very first Surface Book iteration I was in love of the overall ascetics of this device. The timeless silver magnesium finish looks astonishing in any environment. Add minimalist finish with subtle air vents hidden from user sight on top of that and there you have it - an almost sci-fi alike piece of art.

This. 100% THIS.

Besides terrific design, this 15" slim beauty contains raw power. Quad-core, 8-th gen i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, dedicated GeForce GTX 1060 graphic card and real-world 8 hour battery life was an unbeatable offer during its premiere in 2017 (and I'm not even mentioning here the one-of-its-kind 2in1 form factor! 🔥).

The good, the bad, the hinge

Is this mechanism any good? Of course. Do I think that Microsoft should change it? Definitely.

While it does its job perfectly, it often gets in your way - especially if you're planning to be mobile with it.

No matter if you choose 13" or 15", the hinge has its gap when closed, which makes you feel really uncomfortable to put it into backpack or anywhere else besides your table/laps.

A love-hate relationship

I've read other users scary stories on reddit about how they've wanted to pick up their devices but grabbed it (with closed lid) too hard and tension just broke it into pieces (similarly to hearts & wallets of their owners).

Let's make it clear - while internals makes this device a true beast, the design makes it fragile like an egg - and I'm thinking about an uncooked one.

I was really hoping that in 3rd Surface Book iteration Microsoft redesign its mechanism so it will close flat - unfortunately we still need to wait, maybe 4th gen will introduce some changes in that field.

After 2 years of using this machine I can tell you 2 things about it: the hinge mechanism still amazes me how clever it solved the 2in1 problem, but at the same time gives me creeps about how easily I can break this device because of it.

Weight balance is also an uneven topic here - while Microsoft did a pretty good job with general weight distribution (so it never fall back on the screen, despite the very similar size/weight of the screen and keyboard part) it's impossible to open the lid with one hand.

Even though this device is rather light for its size (15" is 1.9kg) it's very difficult to keep it holding comfortably in hands for a longer period of time when it's opened - probably because of the unusual big weight of its display part.

Fortunately Surface Book 2 does not live by hinge alone

Autobots, transform & roll-out!

Besides being of the best 2in1 device, Surface Book offers you one of the best keyboard & literally the best touchpad among all available Windows laptops in the market (can compare its ergonomics level to devices that apple offers in its MacBook line - yes it's THAT good).

Despite the fact that this device had its premiere 5 years ago (which is A LOT, in terms of mobile device performance) it still fulfills its role as a daily workhorse.

Of course, you won't be able to play Cyberpunk 2077 on ultra graphic settings on it (but I would give it a shot on medium), but being a gaming laptop never was its purpose.

Visual Studio Code, Android Studio, Photoshop, Premiere Pro - all of those programs still works smoothly on my machine.

The only downside after 2 years of using it was available disk space (my configuration had 256GB SSD, because upgrade to 512GB was insanely expensive), but I've solved it by buying a 256GB SD card and moving my biggest folders/files on it (which works surprisingly well 👍).

Final words

Would I recommend buying Surface Book 2 to anyone? I'm… not sure. If you're looking for a apple-grade finish quality, minimalist look & pretty good performance - go for it, but be aware, that for a way lower price you can get similar devices, just without 2in1 functionality.

My personal feelings list after 2 years of using it:

  • Thanks to WSL using it a development machine is not a problem
  • It's still a powerful enough machine for my needs (btw. I've installed recently Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and it runs smoothly on 1080p with graphic settings set to high & Horizon: Zero Dawn which is running great as well on medium-high 1080p settings 😎 🔥)
  • From time to time I'm surfing the internet in tablet mode on the couch, which is pretty dang comfortable!
  • Maybe it's because my lack of experience, but I think drawing on it is difficult to master
  • Battery life is still great - without paying attention to screen brightness, opened apps etc. it lasts for ~6 hours with no hassle
  • Magnetic charger should be a common standard!

I'm very curious if among visitors of my website are there any happy owners of the Surface Book 2 device 🤔.

If so, let me know please!

-- ł.