Microsoft first unveiled an upgrade to its Surface Book, which boosts its power and battery life. The following evening, Apple presented its long-awaited MacBook Pro, which has a new touch bar with virtual keys and an in-built fingerprint scanner.
While Microsoft’s Surface Book i7 might not feature as many innovative additions as the MacBook Pro, many Apple fans were left disappointed at the price rise and removal of the standard USB port.
Microsoft introduced the Surface Book design in 2015 and although the model updated in 2016, it still looks the same, offering that proper keyboard, that innovative hinge that will let the screen sit at any angle, as well as offering a detachable 13.5-inch display. The Surface Book measures 312.3 x 232.1 x 22.8mm and weighs 1.516kg or 1.647kg for the top i7 Performance Base model.
The MacBook Pro has an all-new design that slims down the aluminium unibody, expands the Force Touch trackpad and gives a really slim display, which remains attached. MacBook Pro measures 304.1 x 212.4 x 14.9mm, so it’s smaller in all directions than the Surface Book. It weighs 1.37kg, so it’s a good deal lighter too.
The MacBook Pro introduces a Touch Bar OLED panel, replacing the function keys at the top of the keyboard, dynamically changing depending on what you’re doing. There’s also a Touch ID sensor in the power button, allowing for Apple Pay payments online, and easy sign-in.
Touch Bar gives you dedicated controls that simply don’t exist on other devices, with a solution that’s adaptable and doesn’t require any touching on the display itself.
These laptops are different: MacBook Pro might be more compact and portable, but Surface Book offers a full touch tablet, so it’s potentially more flexible, if a little bulkier.
There’s a big difference in what you can use these displays for. Surface Book has an advantage, offering a detachable display that offers full touch, as well as supporting Surface Pen. That means that Surface Book will do things you’d need an iPad Pro for – here there’s a Windows tablet in the same package.
The Surface Book has a 13.5-inch PixelSense display with a 3000 x 2000 pixel resolution, 267ppi, with 3:2 aspect.
The MacBook Pro offers a conventional 13.3-inch Retina display with 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution, 227ppi, with 8:5 aspect.
The Surface Book is sharper and can potentially offer more detail on its display, although the MacBook Pro has always been a very good quality display and in this latest model, it boosts the brightness and contrast.
Which looks better is difficult to judge without getting them side-by-side.
Both the Surface Book and the MacBook Pro offer sixth-gen Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs. Both offer various RAM from 8GB to 16GB depending on your configuration.
The Surface Book starts with 128GB SSD, with options up to 1TB. The MacBook Pro starts at 256GB SSD, with options up to 1TB. Storage depends on the model configuration you choose in both cases.
When it comes to GPU, the MacBook Pro 13-inch offers Intel Iris Graphics 540 or 550, depending on the model you choose. There’s only the option for an AMD Radeon GPU on 15-inch MacBook Pro models, so the 13-inch model is a little weaker in the GPU department.
The Surface Book offers much wider options for graphics, with Intel HD graphics at the entry level, but also offering discrete GPUs, up to the Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M on the top i7 model.
At the entry level these two laptops might be close, but in the 13-inch size, Microsoft is offering more powerful graphical options than Apple does.
The starting price of these laptops doesn’t tell the whole story. The older Surface Book at $1,349 comes with half the storage of the MacBook Pro’s starting point, so we’ve picked the 256GB model instead, where the pricing is close, with the Surface Book a little cheaper.
However, because of those powerful GPU options, the top Surface Book, with Core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD and an Nvidia GPU will cost you $3,299. The top MacBook Pro, with Core i7, 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD will cost you $2,899.
Although these devices occupy different spaces – Apple is more conventional but offers that unique Touch Bar, Microsoft is more versatile with touch and tablet mode – they’re both gunning to be the best 13-inch laptops around.
Whichever you choose, be prepared to be a pretty penny for them.
The Surface Book is available to order from the Microsoft Store. The MacBook Pro is available to pre-order from the Apple Store.
Both the devices present impressive aesthetic upgrades and design. Performance wise, it depends on your choice of variant. Apple’s got the heavier hand with max storage of 2TB. Microsoft’s got the better option in graphics with Nvidia’s GTX 965M.
It also depends on whether you’re more of a screen or a keyboard user. If you absolutely require portability, then the Surface Book is the device for you. Need to work while sitting down with a larger screen? The MacBook Pro with its Touch Bar should be the device for you. Thoughts? Let us know what you think in the comments section below and stay tuned for the latest.