Surface Pro vs Surface Book – The never ending question: which one should I buy? In this guide, we’ll help you decide whether you should get a Surface Pro (2017) or a Surface Book.
After a long wait, Microsoft has now introduced the Surface Pro 4 successor, but it’s not called the “Surface Pro 5,” instead it’s simply called the “Surface Pro” without a number.
Although this feels more like a refresh, the new Surface Pro (2017) is lighter and thinner than its predecessor with rounded edges. The new version also sports the latest Intel processors. Some models have a fanless design, the kickstand goes down further, and you can expect longer battery life.
Indeed, it’s the best Surface Pro yet, but it’s not the only one. If you’ve been looking to get a Surface, you probably came across the Surface Book, which is also a 2-in-1 that packs some serious horsepower in a sleek and compact design that can make your buying decision a bit more difficult.
While Microsoft is targeting these devices to different audiences, the decision to which one to buy can come down to design, graphics, battery life, and pricing.
Updated June 8, 2017, to reflect the comparison between Surface Book and Surface Pro (2017).
When you first look at the Surface Book, it’s not hard to realize that the laptop has a design inspired by the Surface Pro line. However, the Surface Pro (2017) is 7.93mm thick while the Surface Book is 22.8mm on its thickest point (when you detach the display, you’ll end up with a 7.7mm thin clipboard).
Additionally, the Surface Book can be as heavy as 3.48 pounds when you get it with the discrete graphics processor, and the Surface Pro can be as light as 1.69 pounds (without the Type Cover).
In other words. If you pick a Surface Pro, you’ll probably never notice that you’re carrying a computer in your backpack, while the Surface Book will make a statement.
The Surface Pro sports a 12.5-inch display, while the Surface Book includes a 13.5-inch screen. And even though, you’re getting a larger viewing real estate with the laptop, interesting enough, both provide the same 267 pixels-per-inch (PPI) density, 3:2 aspect ratio, 100 percent sRGB color, and support for the Surface Pen.
You also get a multi-position kickstand that now goes down up to 165 degrees with the Surface Pro, which improves functionality while using the Surface Dial.
The Surface Book doesn’t include a kickstand, but you get a keyboard base with a dynamic fulcrum hinge design that helps with stability and “lapability.” However, because you can use it as a tablet as well, the device includes a new hinge design, which is not as steady as those found on traditional clamshell laptops.
Hardware specifications is another aspect to consider, while the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book included similar specifications, the Surface Pro (2017) has more updated components.
The Surface Pro and Surface Book sport the same 8-megapixel rear-facing and 5-megapixel front-facing camera, and they both offer support for Windows Hello.
These two devices come with a wide variety of configurations, but the biggest difference will be in the processor. The Surface Book uses Intel’s sixth generation (Skylake) processors, while the Surface Pro (2017) includes Intel’s seventh generation (Kaby Lake) processors, which run faster, snappier, cooler, and they get better battery life.
Also, the Surface Book only offers the choice of Intel’s Core i5 and i7 with 8GB or 16GB of memory, while the latest Surface Pro gives you the choice of Core m3, i5 and i7 with the option of 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB of memory. In addition, thanks to the improvements on the Kaby Lake processors, you can now get the Surface Pro with Core m3 and i5 with a fanless design.
Aside from the processor, both devices offer configurations up to 16GB of memory and up to 1TB of SSD storage.
The Surface Book comes with a the “best in class” full-size keyboard. The touchpad also works great, it’s very accurate, and it’s made of the same glass material found in the Type Cover.
If you go with the Surface Pro, you’ll need to purchase a Type Cover separately, which this time around comes in three new colors (platinum, cobalt blue, and burgundy). Of course, that’s if you pick the one covered with Alcantara fabric.
You’re not getting USB Type-C on either device, but the Surface Book features two USB 3.0, SD card reader, and Surface Connect port. In the Surface Pro, you only get one USB 3.0, microSD card reader, and Surface Connect port.
When it comes to battery life, the Surface Pro now offers up to 13.5 hours of video playback, unlike the 12 hours with the Surface Book. The company was able to increase the battery life as a result of new improvements on Windows 10, a new technique to integrate the storage into the motherboard, and thanks to the new Intel processors.
But… If you throw in the Performance Base version of the Surface Book, you’re looking at up to 16 hours of video playback.
If you go with the Surface Book, you can detach the screen and use it as a tablet, but you’ll only get 3 hours of battery. You’ll need to keep the display attached to the base to get the claimed 12 hours (or 16 hours with the Performance Base). If you’ll be using the device more like a tablet, then your best option would be a Surface Pro.
On graphics, there is not doubt that the Surface Book delivers the most graphics performance. You don’t get one, but two graphics chips, including an Intel HD Graphics 520 inside the display and an optional NVIDIA processor on the base.
In the Surface Book with the Performance Base, you get even more performance with a NVIDIA GTX965M chip.
If you’re in the market for a device that can handle graphics intensive applications, then you’ll appreciate the benefits with the Surface Book.
It’s not all about work. With outstanding graphics, you can also use the laptop for gaming. Of course, you don’t have to expect flawless 60FPS on graphical intensive video games, but overall games will look good on the Surface Book, and even better on the Surface Book with Performance Base.
The Surface Pro wasn’t designed for graphics demanding applications, but it includes the Intel’s latest graphics processors, and you’ll get very decent experience playing games.
The Core m3 model of the Surface Pro includes Intel’s HD Graphics 615, which offers similar performance than the HD Graphics 520 in the Surface Book. The Core i5 model sports Intel’s HD Graphics 620, and the Core i7 features an Intel Iris Plus Graphics 620, which are more powerful than the chip integrated into the Surface Book.
The money you’ll spend is another factor that will play a role in the decision. Both devices offer different configurations and different price points, but the Surface Pro will always be the choice if you’re looking for value.
A Surface Pro (2017) base model comes with a Core m3 processor and 4GB of memory, and it starts at $799 without the Type Cover or Surface Pen, compared to the $1,499 starting price for the Surface Book with a Core i5 and 8GB of memory.
You can always max out the Surface Pro with an Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and 1TB SSD for $2,699, while a similar Surface Book configuration, but using an Intel sixth generation processor, starts at $3,199.
The Surface Book with Performance Base starts at $2,399 with a 256GB SSD storage and 8GB of RAM, and it maxes out at $3,299 for the 1TB SSD and 16GB of RAM.
In the table below, you can compare the Surface Pro and Surface Book tech specs side-by-side, which can help you make a better decision.
|Category||Surface Book||Surface Pro|
|Software||Windows 10 Pro||Windows 10 Pro|
|Display||13.5-inch PixelSense display||12.3-inch PixelSense Display|
|Display resolution||3000 x 2000 at 267ppi
Aspect Ratio: 3:2
|2736 x 1824 267ppi
Aspect Ratio: 3:2
|Processor||6th-Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 (Skylake)||7th-Gen Intel Core m3, i5 or i7 (Kaby Lake)|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB, 512GB SSD||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB SSD|
|Memory||8GB or 16GB RAM||4GB, 8GB or 16GB RAM|
|Graphics||i5: Intel HD graphics (non-GPU), i5/i7: NVIDIA GeForce graphics (GPU), GTX965M (Perf. Base)||m3 Intel HD graphics 615, i5 Intel HD graphics 620, i7 Intel Iris graphics 640|
|Rear camera||8MP, 1080P recording||8MP, 1080P recording|
Full HD (1920 x 1080)
Full HD (1920 x 1080)
|Speakers||Stereo speakers with Dolby audio||Stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium|
|Ports||Two full-size USB 3.0, Full-size SD card reader, Surface Connect, Headset jack, Mini DisplayPort||Full-size USB 3.0, microSD card reader, 3.5mm headset jack, Mini DisplayPort, Type Cover port, Surface Connect|
|WiFi||Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0||Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1|
|Battery life||Up to 12 hours (up to 16 hours w/Perf. Base)||Up to 13.5 hours|
1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity
4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity (sold separately)
|Weight||Clipboard: 1.6lbs, Non-GPU: 3.34lbs, GPU: 3.48lbs||i5/i7: 1.73lbs, m3: 1.69lbs|
|Dimensions||Laptop: 9.14 x 12.30 x 0.51- 0.90-in ( 232.1 x 312.3 x 13 -22.8mm)
Clipboard: 8.67 x 12.30 x 0.30-in (220.2 x 312.3 x 7.7mm)
|11.50 x 7.9 x 0.33-in (292mm x 201mm x 8.5mm)|
Should you buy a Surface Pro or a Surface Book?
It’s now the time to pick one, but remember that these devices belong to different categories, and you can only compare them up to a certain point. While both devices share many similarities, they’re built for different audiences, and we’re also comparing devices that have been released at different times.
The Surface you want to get will depend on the type of work you’ll be doing. If you’ll be working with graphics intensive applications, or playing games, you’ll benefit from the NVIDIA graphics processor. Also, if you’re looking for a device that includes a full-size keyboard and stylus with better “lapability,” then the Surface Book may be the right choice.
If you need even longer battery life and better graphics, then the Surface Book with Performance Base could be the one.
If you won’t be working with hardware intensive applications, and you’ll be doing everyday tasks like document editing, video streaming, web browsing, and you like a smaller device with long battery life, then the new Surface Pro is probably your best bet.
In addition, the Surface Pro has a LTE option that will be available later this year, if you’re looking for a device with on-the-go connectivity.
The Surface Pro (2017) will be available starting June 15, and pricing starts at $799 in the United States, and with the Surface Pen and Type Cover (Alcantara fabric), you’re looking at $1,058.98.
The Surface Book is available now, and pricing starts at $1,499 for the based model and $2,399 for the Performance Base.
See Surface Pro at Microsoft See Surface Book at Microsoft
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