Microsoft’s (MSFT) excellent Surface line of products is getting a couple of new additions today with the announcement of its Surface Book 3 and Surface Go 2 laptop-tablet hybrids. The Surface line has won praise for its industrial styling and flexibility, not to mention its performance, and the Surface Book and Surface Go are no different.
The two represent different extremes in Microsoft’s hardware lineup, with the Surface Book 3 offering high-powered performance, and the Go designed as a low-cost, but travel-friendly, device for students and professionals on the go.
Those extremes are also apparent in the devices’ price tags, with the Surface Book 3 starting at $1,599, and the Surface Go 2 coming in at $399. The best way to think of it is this: The Book 3 is a high-powered competitor to Apple’s (AAPL) MacBook Pro, while the Go 2 is more in line with Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) Chromebook and Apple’s iPad.
The Surface Book 3 comes in both 13.5-inch and 15-inch variations, and carries the same design language Microsoft has used in the system’s two previous iterations. It sports a full-size keyboard and trackpad on its base, and a detachable display that disconnects via a smart latch system.
Pressing a button on the Book 3 cuts off the connection between the base, where the system’s graphics processor and additional batteries are located, and display where the CPU is located. When you press the detach button, the Book 3 transfers all of the processing to the CPU and integrated GPU, ensuring there’s no interruption in your work.
Certain apps will warn you that you need to close them when making the switch, though, including those that depend heavily on the discrete GPU like games and heavy video editing software.
You can, of course, dock the Book 3’s display with the panel facing the keyboard for normal laptop use, or away from the keyboard for use in hybrid mode. And if you want to ditch the keyboard entirely, you can just take the display with you and use it as a tablet.
In terms of power and performance, the 13.5-inch Surface Book 3 comes with your choice of Intel’s 10th-generation Core i5 or Core i7 processors and integrated Intel graphics or Nvidia’s GTX 1650 discrete graphics chip. You can also choose between 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB of RAM and 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB of storage.
Microsoft says the 13.5-inch model will last up to 15.5 hours on a charge, though expect that to be reduced if you’re gaming or doing serious photo or video editing.
The 15-inch Surface Book 3, meanwhile, comes with an Intel Core i7 chip, no Core i5 here, and a choice of Nvidia’s GTX 1660 Ti graphics chip or a workstation-class Quadro RTX 3000 chip. You get either 16GB or 32GB of RAM, no 8GB option, and 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of storage. A 2TB model will also be available in the U.S.
As far as connections, the Surface Book 3 gets a USB C port, 2 USB A ports, two Surface Connector slots (one of the tablet and one on the keyboard base), and a full-size SDXC card reader. Oh, and there’s a headphone jack.
Really, this is a system designed for professionals and people who just want a boatload of power from their laptop. Apple’s MacBook Pro line is comparable in terms of specs, but to get a 10th-generation Intel chip out of the 13-inch Pro, you’ll need to go with the $1,799 model.
Then there’s the Surface Go 2. A competitor to the likes of Apple’s iPad and Google’s Chromebook line, the Surface Go 2 is a pint-size version of Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7. The laptop tablet hybrid packs the same design as the full-size surface, with its built-in stand, but shrinks the size down from a 12.3-inch display to a 10.5-inch panel.
That panel, by the way, is actually larger than the original Surface Go’s 10-inch screen. Microsoft said it managed to wring out that extra 0.5 inches by reducing the size of the Go’s bezels.
The Go 2 is made for more basic computing — think emails, web browsing, streaming movies and music — rather than heavy-duty processing. You’re not getting this to render video or play high-end games.
Microsoft is upping the performance for the second-generation Go by bringing along Intel’s 8th-generation Core M processor, which the tech giant says is 64% faster than the original Go. RAM options include 4GB or 8GB, with available storage of either 64GB or 128GB of space.
Microsoft is also shipping the Go 2 with Windows 10 in S Mode. This is a more protected version of Windows 10 that only allows users to install apps directly from the Microsoft Store. You can switch over to full Windows 10 for free when you get the Go 2, but once you make the change, it’s irreversible.
The Surface Go 2 will be available May 12, with the Surface Book 3 following May 21.
World news – GB – Microsoft debuts high-powered Surface Book 3 and portable Surface Go 2