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Microsoft Windows Hardware

Microsoft Surface Book 2 Puts Desktop Brains in a Laptop Body (wired.com) 141

David Pierce, writing for Wired: As Microsoft went to create the Surface Book 2, the company once again tried to bust categories. The result is the most combinatory device Microsoft's made yet. It's a laptop (screens measure 13 or 15 inches; there's a keyboard and trackpad) -- and it's also a tablet (the screen detaches, you can use a pen, everything's touch-friendly), and it's also a desktop. A stupendously powerful one, at that: It runs on Intel's new eighth-generation quad-core processors, in either a Core i5 or Core i7 version. The higher-end models come with Nvidia's GeForce discrete graphics, up to 16 gigs of RAM, and as much as 1 terabyte of solid storage. All that in a fanless body that gets up to 17 hours of battery life, and weighs about 3.5 pounds for the smaller model or 4.2 pounds for the larger. What does all that mean? Microsoft claims the smaller model is three times more powerful than the last Surface Book, and the 15-inch runs five times as fast. Those are meaningless comparisons, but the point holds. This thing screams. More useful are the comparisons to Apple's latest MacBook Pros: Microsoft claims up to 70 percent more battery life, and double the performance of Apple's laptops.
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Microsoft Surface Book 2 Puts Desktop Brains in a Laptop Body

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  • My current desktop [hp.com] has 2 Xeons in it and room for 256GB of RAM. Mobile is always playing catch up. So while this may have an 'i7' and compete fine with older desktops in engineering we've just taken that to mean we get that much faster desktops.

    • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @10:16AM (#55382571)

      Normal/average/whatever-you-want-to-call it desktop users don't have Xeon processors nor 256GB of RAM.

      Heck, my Mac mini has half as much in SSD storage as you have in RAM.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by spire3661 ( 1038968 )
        The age of the 'average user desktop' is over. We are moving into the 'Workstation' era.
        • by torkus ( 1133985 )

          Agreed. The 'average' user doesn't even HAVE a desktop anymore. The closest would be an iMac or similar AIO but even that's a strong minority compared to laptops (and tablets/phones).

          I still don't think the 'average *desktop* user' has anywhere near dual Xeon and 256GB of Ram.

        • Don't forget gamers. Mobile gaming is still heavily performance capped and a comparatively bad value.

        • The age of the 'average user desktop' is over. We are moving into the 'Workstation' era.

          Actually more people are moving the other way, desktop to laptop/tablet/phone...

    • My current desktop [hp.com] has 2 Xeons in it and room for 256GB of RAM. Mobile is always playing catch up. So while this may have an 'i7' and compete fine with older desktops in engineering we've just taken that to mean we get that much faster desktops.

      Either you're an extreme edge case, or you're wasting a lot of hardware. Congratulations.

    • I was thinking the same, then I read where it's from: Wired. Of course, the review makes sense now.
    • way better then Imac pro $4K get's 64 GB ram + dual cpu.

    • Desktops from 2010 apparently. Not much progress from my 2012 Macbook Pro i7, 16GB of RAM, 1TB SSD, 1TB spinning disk, 8 hours battery life (while running a Windows VM). GPU power is about the only progress in laptops in the last 5 years.

    • My current desktop [hp.com] has 2 Xeons in it and room for 256GB of RAM.

      Out of curiosity, how quiet is that - in a home setting? I'm looking for something, more preferably with disk/power redundancy, to serve VMs either via Linux or VMWare. I had been looking at older, less expensive, systems like Dell PowerEdge T### systems from places like Server Monkey.

    • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

      While a dual Xeon 256GB machine is not the "standard" desktop, nor even the "standard" workstation (maybe the dual CPU part), it is definitely worth pointing out that you can fit way more metal into a box, more practically than before.

      But also- the summary is a lie. Here's Microsoft's page for the Surface Book 2, which the summary touts as "desktop brains":

      https://www.microsoft.com/en-u... [microsoft.com]

      Their most powerful option- the 15 inch, with 1 TB storage, 16 GB RAM, and a 3,300 dollar price tag- offers "i7 quad co

  • by JBMcB ( 73720 )

    "Microsoft claims up to 70 percent more battery life, and double the performance of Apple's laptops."

    That's great. How much? The article claims $1500 for the "base model" whatever that is. Is that one going to be twice as fast as an equivalent MacBook?

    Also, how long after it's release are the inevitable hardware bugs are worked out?

    • That's great. How much? The article claims $1500 for the "base model" whatever that is.

      Indeed, I suspect the 15" model with a high end i7 with 16 GB RAM, discrete graphics and 1 TB SSD might cost a tad more. Just look at the difference in price between the cheapeat and most expensive current Surface Books.

    • Yeah its going to cost a bloody fortune and thus not sell very well at all. MS really really doesn't understand their customers.
    • Re:Cost? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @10:29AM (#55382653) Homepage

      Well, they might double the performance but Microsoft has a long way to go before it even approaches build quality or customer care. Of the 5 surfaces and 3 Surface Books we've purchased, two of the Surfaces are still working. None of the Books.

      Trying to get a warranty service from MS is like Time Tunneling back to the '90's and dealing with Dell. Unenglish, unorganized, unhelpful.

      Although I really liked my Surface Book for the entire month it worked, we've dropped Microsoft hardware entirely at this point. Details matter, it's not just 'innovation'.

    • 17H standby time with 60kw/h battery and 22w TDP CPU? Not gonna happen, Satya should learn math

  • Faster than what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @10:09AM (#55382537)

    Faster than a macbook air 13" with intel's ultra slow high efficiency processor or faster than the high end mac book pro with the hex core, and 2 graphics cards. NOT. Even the new Iphone from apple is faster than the slow mac book (not making that up). On the other hand MS tablet actually weighs more than the entire laptop from apple.

    • Yes, I'll wait for Geekbench scores to show up before I decide which is faster.
    • by Algan ( 20532 )

      Where did you find that magical mac book pro with hex core? I'd buy one right now, but as far as I can tell a loaded up mbp still sports a 4 core processor.

  • Finally a compelling reason to perhaps ditch my 7 year old PC. The huge drawbacks of non replaceable battery and storage give me pause, but the mobile factor and managing one system may win over.

  • Good but expensive (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @10:10AM (#55382543) Homepage

    The 15" version reportedly starts at $2499 [theverge.com], maybe if it's my company paying but not me. It makes my gaming PC - which in itself is a giant money sink - seem like a good investment. Unless you're actually making money with it, real money.

    • Unless you're actually making money with it,

      You could be mining cryptocurrency. As long as the amount you mine is more than your electric bill...WIN

      real money.

      OH, you mean like the slips of paper that some government has given an arbitrary value that we just trust?

  • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @10:14AM (#55382567)

    Apple's innovation is impossible to beat. Witness the specifications of the new low-end 2017 MacBook Air [apple.com]:
    - 5th-generation Intel Broadwell processor, your choice of dual-core or dual-core processor
    - Your choice of 8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 or 8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3
    - Impossibly-large-to-fill 128GB SSD storage
    - Low-resolution twisted nematic (TN) display (patented in the 1970's)
    - "only" USD$999

    I have to agree with Apple on this one, it takes courage to still ask that much money for ancient technology.

    • $200 to go 512GB storage and no way to up the ram

      • $200 to go 512GB storage and no way to up the ram

        Thin is in--get used to the idea of non-upgradeable computers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Apple hasn't updated the MacBook Air for a couple years (e.g. MacBookAir7,2 is the current model and came out in 2015). Apple isn't good about lowering the price as stuff ages.
    • The Macbook Air is on its way out, right? You look a bit desperate or ridiculous comparing a brand new, supposedly "best in class" portable from Microsoft with an Apple notebook that's been around with only incremental upgrades over the years since about 2011.

      Honestly, the only reason people usually keep buying the Airs is because you've got a lot of educational or corporate deployments of them and the consistency has value. Apple's not exactly known for keeping a specific machine configuration around for

      • It's about margin. Apple makes a boatload of money on this old-tech.

        And most members of the congregation don't understand tech, but they know they can support their religious needs for only $999, and get to open up that lid, with the big Apple logo, at their favorite indy coffee shop.

    • Get your Apple out of my Microsoft commercial!

  • Anyone know for sure (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @10:15AM (#55382569)

    Can you totally get rid of Windows and install Linux natively on these?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Only if you're a communist.

    • Now that Microsoft has joined the Linux Foundation and claims to support Linux they should offer it pre-installed as Dell does on their XPS 13. Shouldn't they?
    • by PoiBoy ( 525770 )
      I tried installing a few different versions (Fedora, Gentoo) on my old Surface Pro 1. Getting things like the pen, suspend and resume, the volume buttons, etc. to work properly proved to be too difficult -- things I'd found online for making regular laptops behave didn't seem to work. I use it in my workshop as a PC replacement, but using it as a 2-in-1 laptop/tablet doesn't seem possible with linux.
  • A Core i7 with that amount of RAM, screen and battery wonâ(TM)t have 15h life. In standby perhaps but not anywhere near useful life. These puppies use 77W so they can keep a cup of coffee warm. You need a Tesla powerpack to keep the system running that long.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      Between keystrokes, your CPU is in standby, unless you have a web page open that uses Coinhive to mine Monero.

      • by guruevi ( 827432 )

        Your CPU goes in lower power mode if your computer isn't doing anything else (like checking network packets, receiving e-mails, writing out logs etc), but the synopsis is talking about a desktop CPU, it's not optimized for mobile and won't go into as aggressive of a low power mode.

  • replacecability and the expandability of a desktop too?

    I mean the point of a desktop vs using a laptop for the same thing today is mostly the fact that all the ports are there and that you can easily put in a new hard drive or swap out the video card or whatever you need to do.

    Somehow I doubt that the Microsoft device has that, so it is just a high end laptop. They are a different beast from a desktop...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is a 15W TDP mobile processor, not a desktop chip. Someone should look at the specs before posing nonsense.


  • Lets see, they've got almost all the major ports one would need but missing ethernet and an external video port. Can the USB-C connection support two simultaneous video signals so that I can plug in two external monitors (with the relevant dongles)?

    Lets be clear. It's not about the age of the CPU or the RAM, although that's obviously a factor. The biggest reason anyone would want to leave Apple is because of bullshit games they're playing with their hardware. Soldered unupgradable ram and storage is una

  • by dabadab ( 126782 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @10:58AM (#55382881)

    That desktop part is pure bullshit.

    Its CPU is a U series (that's the low power one) mobile CPU (i5-7300U or i7-8650U, both have 15W TDP) and it has the mobile version of the Nvidia GPU, too (and 16 GB max memory is pretty puny).

    So it actually has a pretty run-of-the-mill laptop HW, it's the case and the display that is interesting.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Shhh! Wired needs the ad revenue. Do you want Wireds' children to starve... or something? You must hate America.

  • This is the second time this week that a Slashdot story has referred to the CPU of a computer as its "brains". What is this, 1980?

  • Apple has, in review after review, shown to be pretty accurate in battery life estimates.

    Meanwhile all we know about the Surface Pro battery life from existing products is that the estimates are about DOUBLE [thenextweb.com] reality - consider what you can expect from real life use of the current Surface Pro with a battery life estimate of 13.5 hours:

    "With my typical moderate-to-heavy usage, I regularly managed about six to eight hours of Getting Work Done."

    So an estimate of 70% batter than the hasn't-been-updated-in-years

  • Doesn't matter what hardware they stuff into these things. They are crippled by the OS>
  • Only thing that prevents me from getting one at this point. Hunting for WiFi is annoying.
  • Uninterested unless they have the bravery to tell us what actual GPU chip is inside each model. CPU has not been a bottleneck for my workloads for many years, but GPU definitely is. If this is still Maxwell, I'm definitely not interested (and will be VERY annoyed).

  • I got my hopes up on reading this - had MS cracked the lightweight, high-performance bracket by shoving desktop components in a slimline laptop?

    Nope. It's the same old crummy performance-of-a-cucumber U processor, albeit with a semi-decent GPU.

    For now, the limited number of genuinely "desktop" laptops remains as it is. I'm wriitng this on one (with a desktop i7-6700K processor and a "desktop equivalent" GeForce 1080 - and of course this laptop is nowhere near as thin and light as the Surface. I'd rather hav

  • This isn't a 'story', it's an advertisement for a Microsoft product. Oh and by the way when did /. become a shill for Microsoft? Did they get sold again or something? Seriously, /. is shitty enough at times, we don't need advertisements for Miscreant-o-soft products masquerading as 'tech news stories'. Please delete this 'story' immediately.

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