Hardware

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2: A cheat sheet

Everything you need to know about Microsoft's recently upgraded MacBook challenger.

The Surface Laptop 2 is a mid-to-high end Windows PC designed to challenge competing devices like Apple MacBooks. You'll find everything you need to know about Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2 in this "living" article, which will be updated over time.

SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)

Executive summary

  • What is the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2? A $999 Apple MacBook challenger made by Microsoft, starting at $999 but ranging up to more than $2,000.
  • Why does the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 matter? For striking a balance between performance and battery life.
  • Who does the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 affect? Like its predecessor, the Surface laptop is being pitched at college students, as well as home and business users.
  • When is the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 available? Available to pre-order now and shipping from 16th October.

SEE: All of TechRepublic's cheat sheets and smart person's guides

What is the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2?

Microsoft pitches the $999 laptop as a premium laptop with decent battery life and robust performance.

The Surface Laptop 2 is available as a consumer version, with Windows 10 Home, and a business version running Windows 10 Pro.

The Surface Laptop can supposedly last for an entire working day on a single charge, with Microsoft claiming the laptop can manage up to 14.5 hours of video playback. The same claims were made of the first generation Surface Laptop, however for the original model ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley found battery life to be closer to around seven-plus hours in her time with the laptop, while CNET's tests averaged at around 11 hours.

Performance is also improved over the first Surface Laptop, with Microsoft saying the 8th generation Intel Core processor in the Surface Laptop 2 is up to 85% faster than that in the original. The base memory has also been bumped up, from 4GB to 8GB. The starting price for a Surface Laptop 2 with a Core i7 processor is $1,599, with the entry-level $999 machine packing a less-powerful Intel Core i5 CPU.

However, while several key aspects of the laptop have been upgraded, Microsoft hasn't addressed other criticisms of the first-generation Surface Laptop, such as the limited number of USB ports or lack of USB-C.

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Specs for the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2

CPU: Eighth generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor

Graphics: Intel HD 620

Memory: 8GB or 16GB RAM

Display: 2256 x 1504 resolution (201 PPI) PixelSense touchscreen with Corning Gorilla Glass

Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB SSD

OS: Windows 10 Home for consumers or Windows 10 Pro for business

Ports: USB 3.0, mini DisplayPort, 3.5mm headphone jack, Surface Connect

Battery life: Up to 14.5 hours video playback

Dimensions: 12.13" x 8.79" x .57" (308.02 mm x 223.20 mm x 14.47 mm)

Weight: Intel i5 version: 2.76 lbs (1.25 kg). Intel i7 version: 2.83 lbs (1,283 grams)

Keyboard: Coated in Alcantara

Exterior casing: Aluminum

Colors: Burgundy, Platinum, Cobalt Blue, Graphite Gold, Black

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Why does the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 matter?

It remains to be seen if the Surface Laptop 2 will make more of an impact than its predecessor.

Sales of the original Surface Laptop failed to make a significant impression on Microsoft earnings, with the company's Surface devices division reporting a revenue increase of just 1% in the year to the end of Q2 2018, despite three major new product launches during that period.

A big change from the original Surface Laptop is the operating system. The first-generation Surface Laptop shipped with the locked-down Windows 10 S OS, which only ran apps from the Microsoft Store.

The Surface Laptop 2 runs Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro, with Microsoft not making any mention of the OS being locked to store apps.

Removing that barrier for users, as well as boosting the Surface Laptop's processing power while retaining its sizeable battery life, may help the laptop fare better.

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Who does the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 affect?

The original Surface Laptop was primarily pitched at students.

However, with the Surface Laptop 2 Microsoft appears to be casting its net wider, aiming at high-end home users and professionals.

The laptop is selling in two editions, as the Surface Laptop, which ships with Windows 10 Home, and as the Surface Laptop 2 for Business, which ships with Windows 10 Pro. The business variant has a slightly higher starting price of $1,199 despite the base hardware being identical.

However, firms buying the business version of the Surface Laptop 2 will get Microsoft's "Advanced Exchange" warranty, which offers expedited device replacement for free.

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What are the competitors to the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2?

Microsoft seem to be pitching the device against the Apple MacBooks, from the Air through to the Pro.

surfacelaptop2.png

The Surface Laptop 2.

Image: Microsoft

While it's Google Chromebooks that are proving increasingly popular with students, the price of the Surface Laptop 2 positions it more as a competitor to the now defunct Chromebook Pixel, rather than the majority of low-cost Chromebooks.

Additional resources

When is the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 available?

The laptop is available to pre-order now, for consumers here, and for businesses here, and will ship on October 16th. Prices start at $999 for the Intel Core i5 version with Windows Home, and range up to more than $2,000 for the Intel Core i7 model with a 1TB SSD and 16GB RAM.

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About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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