Michael Grothaus 14/05/2018 - 2:49pm

The professional laptops go head to head!

A friend of mine came to me and asked me what kind of laptop he should get. My friend is an iPhone user but had traditionally used Windows PCs. He loves his iPhone and was seriously thinking about making the jump to Mac due to the company’s sleek MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

However, he really likes the idea of having a tablet hybrid, so was also thinking about getting Microsoft’s latest Surface Book 2 (the iPad Pro was out of the question as he wanted a device that runs a full desktop OS). His predicament got us thinking about how the two devices compare, so without further ado, we put a Surface Book 2 and a MacBook Pro head to head to see how they stack up against the other.

Keep in mind that both of these laptops come in the 13in and 15in variety. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll be comparing the high-end 15in model of each.

Surface Book 2 vs MacBook Pro: Specs

Microsoft Surface Book 2

  • Display: 15in PixelSense display, 3240 x 2160 (260 PPI) resolution 
  • Design: Hybrid laptop with a detachable keyboard
  • Storage: 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, or 1 TB SSD
  • CPU: 8th gen Intel Core i7-8650U (quad-core) with up to 4.20 GHz Max Turbo
  • RAM: 8GB or 16GB
  • Ports: 2 USB 3.0, 1 USB-C, SDXC card reader, 2 Surface Connect, headphone jack

Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

  • Display: 15in Retina display, 2880 x 1800 (220 PPI) resolution 
  • Design: traditional laptop
  • Storage: 512 GB, 1 TB, or 2 TB SSD
  • CPU: 2.9GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Ports: 4 USB-C, headphone jack

Surface Book 2 vs MacBook Pro: Storage, CPU, And RAM

Just looking at the raw specs of the two devices, the MacBook Pro has more generous offerings. First, the Surface Book 2 comes in 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, or 1 TB SSD offerings, while the MacBook Pro starts at 512 GB and offers 1 TB or 2 TB SSD options. There are not many people who could make due with a professional laptop that has less than 512GB of storage nowadays except for light Internet users–in which case a pro laptop isn’t for them.

It’s nice that the Surface Book 2 offers either 8 or 16 GB of RAM; but it’s nicer than Apple packs ever 15in MacBook Pro with 16 GB of RAM default. As for processors, both machines pack in the latest Intel Core i7.

Surface Book 2 vs MacBook Pro: Display And Form Factor

Of course, the biggest differences between the two are their form factors. Hands down on the design front the MacBook Pro wins here. It’s just so slim and sexy looking and its choices of colors (space grey or silver) are all beautiful. The Surface Book 2, on the other hand, doesn’t look near as slim or sexy–and that’s largely thanks to its hinge.

However, the Surface Book 2 is a hybrid, so that means its display is a full-blown tablet and its bottom keyboard is detachable. This means you can use the Surface Book 2 as a regular laptop or a keyboard-less tablet. What it lacks in design, it makes up for in function. Given that the Surface Book 2 is also a tablet, that means you can interact with it not just via keyboard and mouse, but via touch or stylus too. The MacBook Pro offers no touchscreen or stylus support, though it does offer the Touch Bar–a screen that offers different digital buttons depending on what app you are using.

As for the display technology, the Surface Book 2 offers the better display coming in at 15in and a 3240 x 2160 (260 PPI) resolution. The 15in MacBook Pro display is still a Retina display but its resolution maxes out at 2880 x 1800 (220 PPI).

Surface Book 2 vs MacBook Pro: Ports

And now we come to…the part APPLE MESSED UP ON. As beautiful as the MacBook Pro is, it has been (rightfully) slighted in the press because it offers only one type of port–the versatile USB-C. And while Apple does include four of these ports, one is always dedicated to the power supply, meaning you only have three left. The bigger issue here, however, is that many people simply don’t have USB-C devices, so they need to use adaptors.

The Surface Book 2, on the other hand, is packed with most ports you’ll need. You get TWO USB 3.0 ports, an SDXC card reader, a USB-C port, and two Surface Connect ports. Both devices have a headphone jack too.

Surface Book 2 vs MacBook Pro: Operating System

Both devices run the latest OSes. The MacBook Pro runs the latest macOS and the Surface Book 2 runs the latest Windows 10 Pro Creators Update 64-bit.

Surface Book 2 vs MacBook Pro: Price and verdict

The 15in MacBook Pro comes in two default options: £2349 (256GB storage) and £2699 (512GB storage and *slightly* faster processor). Check latest prices here. 

The 15in Surface Book 2 comes in three default options starting at £2349 (256 GB), £2749 (512 GB), and £3149 (1 TB). But the various prices aren’t an apples-to-apples comparison since the tech inside is so different. Check latest prices here

Let me be clear: there is no easy choice. No one device wins here.

The MacBook Pro is an excellent laptop for someone who loves macOS and needs a powerful portable to get professional work done. But it's hindered FOR SOME PRO USERS by its lack of ports that aren’t USB-C.

The Surface Book 2 is an excellent hybrid. It’s a great laptop AND tablet.

However, I would stress that it's ONLY for people who want a hybrid–ie: they use both devices frequently. If you’re just looking for a Windows laptop, there are plenty of cheaper and better options available.