Microsoft’s tagline for the Surface Book is pretty simple. The Surface Book area added to its website boasts that the company is “redefining the laptop.” The company hopes that changing what it means to be a notebook PC will help revolutionize the high-end PC space. The theory goes, if Microsoft can sell enough of them it’ll inspire Windows hardware makers to follow its lead and create great devices of their own. So great will these devices be that users will have no choice but to pick up Windows machines like the Surface Book and forget all about Apple’s MacBook Pro. Again, that’s the theory.
The reality is that Apple dominates the high-end PC space. The MacBook Pro is the go-to notebook of the mobile professional who wants solid hardware. DJs own MacBook Pros because of their slim profiles and powerful processors. College students want MacBook Pros because they’re good looking, help get things done, and are a universally recognized fashion statement.
To become successful the Surface Book has to give the MacBook Pro some solid competition. Here’s how the Surface Book compares to the MacBook Pro.
Surface Book vs MacBook Pro: Design & Internals
The last time Apple truly innovated with any of its notebooks on the professional side it introduced better ports and the best build quality we’ve seen in any notebook.
The MacBook Pro is fashioned out of aluminum and machined so that all of its parts fit within the single piece shell. Officially, Microsoft calls its latest model the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display. The bottom edges of the MacBook Pro curve up until they hit a flush surface that holds all the devices port’s. The MacBook Pro comes with two Thunderbolt 2 ports, a MagSafe 2 connector, two USB 3.0 ports and a headset jack. There’s also a media card slot and a full-size HDMI port for connecting to larger displays. 802.11Ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 are all wireless communication standards that the MacBook Pro understands. From top to bottom the MacBook Pro is 0.71 inches. It’s 12.35 inches long too.
The Retina Display in the 13-inch MacBook Pro has a native resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels. Displays with higher resolutions offer more detail. The $1499 model includes a 2.7GHZ dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. $1299 gets users the same model MacBook Pro with a smaller amount of storage; 128GB of storage to be exact. Apple claims that the MacBook Pro with Retina Display lasts through 12 hours of iTunes movie playback.
The Surface Book costs $1499, the same price as the MacBook Pro with Retina Display and 256GB of storage. The base of the Surface Book is still magnesium, with convex silver keys protruding from its solid frame. Most notebooks are incredibly thin when closed. The Surface Book is thinner when closed in the front than it is the back.
This is because the Surface Book uses what Microsoft calls a fulcrum hinge to hold the display in place. This hinge ensures that the display wobbles a lot less when a user goes to interact with it using its 13.5-inch PixelSense touchscreen display. The Surface Book has a resolution of 3000 x 2000 pixels, making it the clear winner in the display race.
The base has two USB 3.0 ports, a memory card reader, a headset jack and MiniDisplay port. An 5 megapixel camera for video chatting and self-portraits competes directly with the FaceTime camera on Apple’s professional notebooks. There’s an 8 megapixel front-facing camera and dual microphones on the Surface Book too. Why?
Because tapping a button on the magnesium keyboard of the Surface Book undocks the display. The Surface Book disconnects from the batteries and graphics processor in its base and switches to internal batteries that let users take the 13.5-inch tablet anywhere they want. An ambient light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer help nail the tablet experience.
The Surface Book weighs 3.34 pounds when connected to its dock and can last for up to 12-hours. The $1,499 Surface book comes with an Intel Core i5 Processor and 8GB of RAM. To get more storage users need to upgrade to the $1,699 Surface Book. Even that price doesn’t get users a base with a dedicated graphics processor inside the base. For that, users are looking at $1,899.
Surface Book vs MacBook Pro: Which Should You Buy?
At 3.48 pounds the Surface Book is lighter than the MacBook Pro, but comes with less storage. Microsoft undoes this somewhat with a free Surface Pen that lets users take notes on the Surface Book’s display and activate the Cortana personal assistant.
Design is only a matter of taste, but it’s worth noting that the MacBook Pro completely closes whereas the Surface Book doesn’t. The fulcrum hinge acts as a spine lifting the screen and keeping it in place. Users can flip the display around if they want for a more easel-like experience if they want. Whether you want the Surface Book or the MacBook Pro comes down to what you plan to use it for. If you want one device for everything in your life, the MacBook Pro is the closer in that fight. It’s screen is stationary, you’ll need something else to read on or take notes with.
Comparing the Surface Pro 4 and the iPad Pro is pretty easy. The iPad Pro loses that battle every time. I’m not so sure that the Surface Book wins handedly against the MacBook Pro. It has a better screen and a tablet if users really need that, but the Surface Book definitely has a premium price – even more premium the MacBook Pro.