All images: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo

Microsoft is finally dragging its ambitious Surface Book line into the present day, refining the striking design and making this a laptop you can covet for reasons besides that funky hinge.

The surprise launch of the original Surface Book back in 2015 might have left critics thunderstruck, but it hasn’t transformed the computer market like its slimmer sister, the Surface Pro. Instead, the 2-in-1 stands boldly on its own, iconic in its hinge design, outrageous in its price, and with the new Surface Book 2, potentially light enough to be a true contender to the MacBook Pros, and Dell XPSes, and HP Spectres of the world.

The vents look kind of cool, and the Surface Book designers take advantage of the fact that the laptop lid doesn’t need to lie flush against the keyboard.

The first thing you’ll notice is that there are two Surface Books now. A 13.5-inch similar in size and shape to the original, and a larger 15-inch version for people who demand a little extra power and desktop space (and are still okay with a big honking hinge).


The other major difference you’ll notice at a glance are the fan vents above the keyboard, which are there to cool the discrete graphics card in the devices. The 15-inch packs an Nvidia 1060, while most models of the 13.5-inch have an Nvidia 1050. These GPUs won’t let you run Rise of the Tomb Raider in 4K at max settings, but they’ll be more than enough for decent gaming and will be a marked improvement over the super slow, “custom” discrete video card found in the original 13.5-inch Surface Book.

The 15-inch is no thicker, but a lot bigger.

A single model of the 13.5-inch Surface Book 2 lacks the vents as it has no discrete GPU. It’s also a little slower, running an Intel 7th Generation i5 processor, while every other version of the Surface Book 2 will have a faster 8th Generation i7.


And you would think, as I thought, that a laptop that jumps ahead two generations (the original Surface Books ran 6th Gen processors) would be way heavier, particularly as the Surface Book stores all of its guts—with the exception of the GPU—behind the display. And yes, when keyboard and display are married together the i5 Surface Book 2 weighs in at 3.38 pounds, .04 pounds more than the current i5 Surface Book. But that weight is balanced for once.