Surfacebook 2 Review Part 2


Staff member
So after spending a week with this device, and speaking with several people, I have some new insights.

The only glitch I have routinely that bugs the hell out of me is likely easily overcome and may have already been resolved. Every time I close the laptop and awaken it again, it never reconnects to wifi. I have to either disconnect from the network or turn off wifi completely and turn it back on to regain internet access regardless of what the icon in the bottom right states.

I write my reviews from an every-day use perspective. I won't go into deep colour coordinates on the monitor nor do I believe in artificial benchmarks. I read a tonne of product reviews all the time and I feel what is missing in this space is an every day perspective. I read a tonne of reviews on the Surfacebook 2 and never once did I see anyone mention the behemouth real estate it takes up for being classed as a 15" laptop.

This isn't necessarily a negative. First of all, I have no idea how this laptop got classed in the 15" category, as the screen actually measures 16 inches diagonally from corner to corner. Technically I guess, the illuminated display may only use 15 inches of that real estate, but traditionally screen size is categorized diagonally from corner to corner. If a manufacturer chooses not to use an edge to edge display, that is their choice.

The overall dimensions of this machine easily equate to most traditional 17" laptops on the market in terms of overall size and real estate they take when open on your lap. This absolutely IS NOT a deficiency or a detriment in regards to the Surfacebook 2. Once I was over the initial shock of the actual size, the SB2 is an incredibly light, incredibly powerful machine capable of any tasks any modern day "gaming laptop" can handle at a fraction of the weight.

The SB2 is both light and balanced on your lap. You don't constantly have to shift your position to accomodate it. The large palm rest is comfortable. It does not even get warm at all and is completely silent. Lets not also forget that it is incredibly thin. The base of the laptop, when open, is about a quarter inch at it's thickest point and maybe a half inch total when it's folded.

I have tested and used both Alienware and Lenovo's top of the line gaming machines in their 17" varieties. The SB2 has similar specs, in what they were able to classify in the 15" category of laptop, and has better performance than those counteparts. Both similarily spec'd Alienware and Lenovo laptops will easily come with a weight in the laptop alone that is way over what the SB2 weighs and will also have significant cooling issues. The SB2 is significantly under weight compared to it's competitors, has a much superior display and significantly superior performance edge to similarilarily priced 17" gaming laptops and only weighs--at most, 5=6lbs--power adapter included. Both Alienware and Lenovo's 17" models carry that weight in their power adapter alone!!

In my personal opinion, I think Microsoft screwed up. I see how they wanted this marketed as a desktop replacement and, on the business side, did not want to reveal it's true size but in doing so completely missed out on a market they could totally dominate with this design. I would easily buy this over a 17" branded "gaming" laptop now that I have used it. To be quite honest, it outperforms any other device in this category that I have tested to date.

So far, in every day use, the SB2 has easily lasted a full day for just normal web-surfing and email use on a full charge. I have also tested moderate gaming. It does emulation exceptionally well running pcsx2 and fight night rd 3 with no slow downs.

This weekend I will be testing my HTC Vive and 4k gaming so stay tuned for my final thoughts.
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Staff member
So Part 2

I know this is way overdue but I have been fighting with this thing since my last post.

I've tested out emulation with PCSX2 and Fight Night Rd. 3 (legitimately owned and my go to for testing out emulation on any device) and once a few tweeks have been made, it works flawlessly. I did expect as much as the Surface Pro 4 I had from a previously employer had no issues with the same test even though my eight core and 580 RX amd desktop rig has serious issues on this same benchmark.

The problem comes when I wanted to test my HTC Vive on this setup. The SB2 has no mini-display ports on the device itself, unlike a normal Surface Pro. Even when you undock the screen, the connectors that are being used to dock to the base of the device are basically useless for anything other than that. The demo device did not come with a minidisplay port to hdmi cable (though did come with a minidisplayport to vga (who the hell still uses vga today?))

I, being the resourceful guy I am, borrowed an adapter from work. No matter what I try, I simply cannot get the SB2 to recognize an external display. I have the vendor pissed because I have this device longer than I am supposed to. I have their third party (which provides demo products for them) upset because I have these device longer than I am supposed to. My kids and my girlfriend are upset because I am spending all my time fighting to get this thing to work. I am about ready to give up.

I have reset to factory, installed new firmware, tried 3 different adapters. I think I am pretty much done. I have also researched online and come to find that this is a common problem with the SB2 and no one seems to have that 1 path that fixes the issue for sure.

For a $3000 device, this is a deal breaker for me! After some research, I come to find that these devices are loaded with bugs and warranty issues. I said above that I thought Microsoft screwed up in it's marketing but now I completely understand why it stuck to marketing solely to the business segment. The simple reason for that is that there are so many glitches and unresolved issues the consumer/gaming market this device would target simply would not put up with not only the issues at this price point but the lack of resolution or even response from Microsoft about all of these issues. Microsofts answer is to simply ignore them completely and keep selling without looking back

For that reason alone, even though I hate to do it, I have to strongly advise against purchasing this product. It will only lead to headaches and suffering and 0 support from the company that manufactures it. What a shame as the device has such tremendous potential!!

PS. I can honestly say that I have never reviewed a product that I have been so tremendously impressed with on first impression only to be so tremendously disappointed by at the end of my review nor have I ever had to try so hard to make something just simply work as it should (connecting an external display is an extremely basic and fundamental mechanism today--it's not like we are in the 80's where multiple displays were a rarity. Hell, every gpu on the market today comes with multiple ports!!). It is a shame something that should be so extremely simple makes this device virtually useless--even for the business market, at this price point.

AND yes, I tried both the 15" and the 13". Neither one would detect an external display.
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