Apple's MacBook Pro vs. Microsoft's Surface Book 2

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 7, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    One of Apple's biggest competitors in the laptop space is arguably Microsoft, with its line of portable, productivity-focused Surface Book machines. Microsoft in November released its newest product, the Surface Book 2, a 2-in-1 PC that has quite a few selling points to entice Apple customers.

    In our latest YouTube video, we took a look at the 15-inch Surface Book 2 and compared it to the 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro across a number of categories including build quality and design, key features, and overall usage experience for someone in the Apple ecosystem.

    Both the Surface Book 2 and Apple's most recent MacBook Pro models are powerful machines with some of the latest technology in processor and graphics cards, so modern apps, games, and other software features run well on either device.

    The Surface Book 2 and the MacBook Pro are both well-built with attractive, eye-catching designs, but there are some major differences here. While the MacBook Pro is a traditional laptop with a display and attached keyboard, the Surface Book 2 is a 2-in-1 with a touch display that can be converted into a tablet.

    Because of its 2-in-1 design, the Surface Book 2 has an unusual hinged design that lets the display be folded backwards or disconnected from the keyboard entirely for use in a tablet mode. The MacBook Pro, meanwhile, has no touch screen and it is a unibody machine.


    Microsoft's Surface Book 2 has a wealth of ports that are missing from the MacBook Pro, which only offers 4 USB-C ports (albeit with Thunderbolt 3). The Surface Book 2 has an SD card slot, a USB-C port, and two USB-A ports, something that Apple users unhappy with the MacBook Pro port situation will appreciate.

    The Surface Book 2 may have a 3240 x 2160 touch screen display, but it has some faults compared to the MacBook Pro's 2880 x 1800 display. It's nowhere near as bright, and it's also not quite as crisp. As for the trackpad, the MacBook Pro wins out because of its large trackpad equipped with haptic feedback and support for multiple gestures. Trackpad is one area where PC laptops often lag behind Apple, and the Surface Book 2 is no exception.


    When it comes to the keyboard, the Surface Book 2 has a softer keyboard that's not quite as clicky and solid as the keyboard of the MacBook Pro, but as we well know, the keyboard redesign on the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models has been receiving a lot of attention lately for reliability issues and its seemingly frequent failures, so the Surface Book 2 may have the edge here.

    The aforementioned 2-in-1 tablet option for the Surface Book 2 is something Apple just can't compete with. You can press a key on the Surface Book 2's keyboard and pull the display right out of the keyboard to use it as a standalone touch-based tablet with the Surface Pen and the Surface Dial, both of which are ideal for creative tasks.


    There are no input devices like a Surface Pen available for the MacBook Pro, and the main feature that it can boast over the Surface Book 2 is the Touch Bar, something that arguably does not get as much use as a 2-in-1 design.

    The Surface Book 2 has a lot of perks that aren't available on Apple's MacBook Pro, but choosing to adopt the machine over an Apple device is still going to be difficult for those enmeshed in the Apple ecosystem. There's a lot of integration between macOS and iOS, and features like Continuity, Handoff, and iCloud will be missed if you're used to Apple devices. Certain software, like Final Cut Pro, is also limited to Apple's machines.

    So which one is better? As with a lot of devices that are similar in specs, it's tough to say. It largely comes down to preference - do you want to use macOS or Windows? Most people in the Apple ecosystem likely won't want to give up macOS/iOS perks for the Surface Book 2's feature set, but those who don't use a lot of crossover functionality won't miss macOS as much.


    If you're not tied to a specific operating system and don't mind mixing devices across different platforms, Microsoft's Surface Book 2 is absolutely worth considering as a powerful, capable machine that offers functionality you can't get in a MacBook Pro.

    Would you switch from an Apple machine to the Surface Book 2? Let us know in the comments.

    Article Link: Apple's MacBook Pro vs. Microsoft's Surface Book 2
  2. iLoveiTunes macrumors 6502

    Feb 26, 2011
    I think it ultimately boils down to one's choice of preferred OS.... and for me it'll never be Windows
  3. Macintosh007 macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2018
    "Would you switch from an Apple machine to the Surface Book 2?"

  4. Corrode macrumors 6502a


    Dec 26, 2008
    Calgary, AB
    A surprisingly balanced review from Macrumors.
  5. Junior117 macrumors 6502

    Apr 9, 2015
    Toronto, Canada
    That hinge on the Surface Book always makes me extremely concerned. Otherwise, it looks nice and while I won't be switching from my MacBook Pro to this, I can see some use for it (like native Windows development).
  6. e1me5 macrumors 6502


    Jun 11, 2013
    Good comparison. But what about performance between the two. Who wins?
  7. L-Viz macrumors 6502


    Apr 28, 2017
    I think Surface sucks, but if Apple is keeping its slow pace on Macs, Surface will overtake MacBook and leave it far behind within 3 years.
  8. jumanji macrumors regular

    Sep 12, 2003
    Austin, TX
    my wife has a surface book 1 and if you look through my comments history, you'll see that multiple times, I've said it is definitely a worthy competitor. i do wish apple would appease the creative community a bit more. love the new macbook pros but a tablet is very nice. kill the air and offer one already. a cross between an ipad and a laptop.
  9. macguru212 macrumors 6502


    Apr 17, 2009
    If the Surface Book ran MacOS I'd be there in a heartbeat.
    But it doesn't, so I won't, so there you have it.
    Good review though!
  10. sprezz macrumors regular


    May 28, 2014
    Zurich, Switzerland
    A comparison to the new Thinkpad X1 Carbon would make a lot more sense:
    - similar footprint
    - business/lightweight machines
    - amazing screen
    - thinkpads rocks the mobile keyboard for years now
    - thinkpad actually has an i7 (quadcore) option in a 14inch slim-bezel design.

    We will see what WWDC brings this year, it better be good (better)...
  11. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 68000

    Darmok N Jalad

    Sep 26, 2017
    I've owned enough MS-branded products, from Band to Lumia to Surface to Xbox. By my recollection, I've owned one Surface RT, four Surface 2s, and one Surface 3. All of them had problems, mostly centering around sleep. The SD card and keyboard were notoriously bad about disappearing after resuming from sleep, and it was probably every week or so, the battery would be completely dead in the morning because the device failed to sleep correctly. The reason I had so many Surface 2s was warranty service. After the same issues persisted with my Surface 3 (and all the bad press surrounding SP4 and SB1), I vowed to never buy a Surface device again.

    I had similar issues with Band 2, which was a great device that would literally start falling apart after a few months of use. Even my Xboxes had various hardware issues. For whatever people can say about Apple's decline in QA, MS's has never been there to begin with, in my experience. I'd have to really think about it, but I've easily owned a dozen of their (MS-made) products over the years, and probably something like 75% of them had anything from persistent, annoying bugs to downright hardware issues. It's sad, because they make some compelling products. I've had far less trouble from the OEMs that sell products with Windows on them.
  12. longofest Editor emeritus


    Jul 10, 2003
    Falls Church, VA
    One thing not reviewed is Microsoft's hardware reliability. I bought a Surface Pro 4 for my wife and it was great - until it stopped working, and I'm finding many folks have hardware failures with Surfaces.

    Take a look at one that we took apart at work and marvel at the thermal engineering - putting the heat sync on the lithium battery.

    If Microsoft can ever get their **** together regarding reliability though, then really the Surface is truly a great machine.
  13. BoulderAdonis macrumors regular


    Apr 30, 2012
    Palo Alto, CA
  14. ctg7w6 macrumors 6502

    Oct 23, 2014
    How about a Mac version of the surface pro? OS X when attached to keyboard, iOS when not. So easy. Oh, and an option to turn off OS X for all of the nay sayers who only want iOS on an iPad!
  15. Naraxus macrumors 6502a


    Oct 13, 2016
    The only thing I don't really care for about the SB is the awkward "hinge" connecting the keyboard from the tablet. It also shows that you can make a device pretty thin AND have plenty room for needed ports. Still though with as much as I criticize Apple I'd still go with the MB over the SB
  16. TonnyM macrumors member

    Oct 5, 2017
    It’s almost too funny when Surface look like 3 times thicker than MacBook Pro. Heavy, thick and ugly laptops it’s just the category that Apple doesn’t compete in, of course, the bigger shell, the more power you can put in, but Ive’s philosophy of design efficiency is completely opposite of what competitors do.
  17. matheussiq8 macrumors newbie


    May 7, 2018
    I made this change 2 months ago. Mostly use Adobe Creative Suite and Davinci Resolve, which requires a powerful GPU. So the Surface Book 2 with a Nvidia 1060 was a no brainer. Loving it! Got a 256gb micro-sd card to store my media for another $100 and love that they have a magnetic power cord (clearly inspired by the older mac laptops) that my dog can run by without taking my laptop to the floor.

    The only thing that I actually miss is Keynote though, nothing comes close to the ease of use of it.

    Felt that Macrumors didn't consider that the 13 inch version comes with a Nvidia 1050 and the 15 inch has the Nvidia 1060, making them one of the most portable devices with a decent dedicated GPU. That was the main selling point for me.
  18. apple_iBoy macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2003
    Philadelphia, PA
    I give credit to Microsoft for carving out space for its Surface line of products. I am seeing them more and more (I teach in higher education, and I still see most of my students choosing Apple products, although the faculty are going more and more for Surfaces). Apple is ceding so much of its progress up and down its Mac line, and I don't quite understand why.
  19. Rique macrumors regular

    Mar 31, 2011
    Northern Virginia
    Answering the question:

    For myself, the answer is "no", because IMNSHO, iOS > Windows 10 for a touch GUI and MacOS > Windows 10 for a laptop GUI. Having said that, Windows 10 has some hardware capabilities which I dearly wish the iPad had, such as support for external monitors. However, that's kind of an Apples - Oranges comparison (pun not intended).
  20. Sasparilla macrumors 65816

    Jul 6, 2012
    >> the keyboard redesign on the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models has been receiving a lot of attention lately for reliability issues and its seemingly frequent failures, so the Surface Book 2 may have the edge here. <<

    May have an edge? You're kidding right? The new Apple laptop keyboards, prone to failure, should render their laptops non recommendable - especially considering the price. I love Apple's stuff, but wouldn't touch one of these laptops with a 10 foot pole till they fix the keyboard key design - to be absolutely durable and not prone to failure. The latest updates don't fail as often but apparently still fail.
  21. Abazigal macrumors G4


    Jul 18, 2011
    Finally got to play around with one and while the hardware feels nice, I find I still prefer my iPad for what it is - a giant iPhone, rather than a tablet running desktop software.

    And having to press a button to eject the display? It’s ultimately still all these small details which differentiates Apple from Microsoft. Apple would find a way for me to be able to just yank the screen away as and when I wish without having to think about it.
  22. oneMadRssn macrumors 601


    Sep 8, 2011
    New England
    I wish the iPad stole some of the Surface Book designs tbh, and (given my work is adamantly never going to support Apple) I wish my work would buy me a Surface Book. But for my personal use and future professional use where I have a choice, I will never buy another Windows computer.
  23. blackcrayon macrumors 68000

    Mar 10, 2003
    Ehh, The MacBook Pro offers 4 USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports, while the Surface Book has no Thunderbolt. That's a pretty big difference and means the MacBook is more versatile from an expansion standpoint- you can plug in high end video cards or high performance disk arrays that the Surface Book isn't going to be able to use effectively.
  24. DanielDD macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2013
    It's 2018 and Windows scaling in high DPI displays is still subpar.

    Except it is double the thickness of a MacBook Pro, and the touchpad / touch screen is not really ergonomic (it requires carrying around a mouse). It may be more powerful, but not as portable as a MBP.
  25. neoelectronaut macrumors 68030


    Dec 3, 2003
    Southeastern Louisiana
    That hinge looks so weird on the Surface. Like something out of Robocop.

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