Microsoft’s Surface Book vs Apple’s MacBook Pro

The highest-end model of Microsoft’s newly announced Surface Book has been revealed and it is very pricey compared to your usual Windows 10 laptop. The newest model comes with an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory and 1TB of built-in storage. The price for this model is a whopping $3,199, which is $500 more than the same model with 512GB of onboard storage.

Clearly Microsoft has designed the Surface Book to be a direct competitor to Apple’s MacBook Pro. But how do the two devices stack up side-by-side? Even though the Surface Book is technically a 2-in-1 hybrid (though it is more of a laptop) it can still go toe-to-toe with the MacBook Pro, which is a complete and total laptop.

In terms of size and weight, there’s not a whole lot of discrepancy between the two devices. The Surface Book measures 232mm by 312mm by 22.8mm with the MacBook Pro measuring 219mm by 314mm by 18mm. The small size difference is due to the Surface Book’s 3:2 aspect ratio, making it slightly taller than the MacBook’s Retina Display screen. In terms of weight, the Surface Book with the GPU weighs 1.58kg, the same as the MacBook Pro. The Surface Book without the GPU weighs 1.52kg.

The Surface Book is made of a magnesium body while the MacBook Pro is made of an aluminium body, both of which are silver. The similarities remain with the trackpads both being made of glass. Where the touchpads differ is in the fact that the MacBook Pro comes with Apple’s Force Touch technology, meaning that clicking the trackpad is as easy on the bottom as it is on the top.

The Surface Book has a slightly larger display, measuring in at 13.5″ with the MacBook Pro screen measuring in at 13.3″, making the display on the Surface Book bigger by nearly 6%. The Surface Book also has a pixel density that is 18% sharper. Screen resolution for the Surface Book is 3000 x 2000 while the MacBook Pro’s is 2560 x 1600. The Surface Book also has a higher PPI at 267 over the MacBook Pro’s 227. Since the Surface Book is also a tablet, that means the screen itself is a touchscreen, unlike the Retina Display of the MacBook Pro.

The MacBook Pro allows you to choose between Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, as does the Surface Book though the Surface Book uses Intel’s newest 6th-generation Skylake CPUs where the MacBook Pro uses the 5th-generation Broadwell processors. The Surface Book also comes with Intel HD 520 (i5) or Nvidia GeForce (i5/i7) graphics processors whereas the MacBook Pro only comes with Intel Iris 6100 graphics.

RAM options between the two are identical with both devices coming with either 8GB or 16GB. However, the 16GB option on the MacBook Pro is a made-to-order configuration, meaning you can’t buy it in stores. Storage options are also identical. Both devices offer 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB options, though, like the RAM option, the 1TB option is only available to be ordered.

Both the Surface Book and the MacBook Pro come with a full-sized SD card slot along with two USB 3.0 ports. Other ports include a Mini DisplayPort on the Surface Book and two HDMI Thunderbolt ports on the MacBook Pro. All the other standard inputs that you would expect from a laptop are also included on each of these devices.

The Surface Book, although it is published as a laptop, has a tablet-like camera system. The Surface Book comes with a 5MP front-facing camera along with an 8MP rear-facing camera. The MacBook Pro comes with a 720p front-facing camera only. The front-facing camera on the Surface Book also allows for facial recognition login, something not available with the MacBook Pro. Another interesting feature that the Surface Book offers over the MacBook Pro is pen input. The iPad Pro will offer users a stylus though that’s the only Apple product to do so. Since the Surface Book operates as a tablet, it includes a Surface Pen right out of the box.

The differences in specs are not that extreme so it seems that when choosing between the Surface Book and the MacBook Pro users will probably make a decision based on a few things. The detachable screen of the Surface Book and the touchscreen capabilities are definitely nice features, as is the discrete graphics. While the screen resolution is slightly better on the Surface Book I don’t think you’ll see anyone complaining about the Retina Display of the MacBook Pro.

The final factor will have to be the price. The 13″ Retina MacBook Pro has a starting price of $1,299, which is $200 less than the $1,499 base price of the Surface Book. For the higher price, you do get the better Skylake processors, a slightly bigger screen, and a sharper touch-sensitive screen with a Surface Pen. So which will you choose? The tried and trusted MacBook Pro from Apple or the fancy new Surface Book from Microsoft?


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