Apple launched its new MacBook Pros just a day after Microsoft unveiled its new Surface Book. Though the Cupertino giant claims that its new premium laptops are redesigned to bring something new to the table, it’s easy to see that just like the Redmond giant’s new laptop, they still resemble their predecessors in terms of design. With the holiday season fast approaching, for sure most consumers are torn between these devices. Comparing their specs and features would be a good way to identify which portable computer makes a better investment for home, school and personal use. 

Performance

Though Microsoft put emphasis on the i7 version of its second Surface Book during its launch event, the device actually comes in two processor options — one with a sixth-generation Core i5 Skylake processor and another with the sixth-generation Core i7 Skylake processor. The previous Surface Book was also built to have the same processors. What the Redmond giant did with its new convertible laptop, however, is boost the graphical performance side of things. The new Surface Book houses Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 965M GPU with 2GB of DDR5 memory, and Microsoft claims this setup doubles the graphical performance of the device compared to its predecessor. 

Apple is known for creating a powerhouse in the form of its MacBook Pro device, and this year’s iteration is no exception. Just like the new Surface Book, the Cupertino giant’s new premium laptop runs on either a sixth-generation Intel Core i5 Skylake processor or a sixth-generation Core i7 one. It is important to note at this point that the MacBook Pro has two size variants because the 13-inch model only comes with the Intel Core i5 processor, while the 15-inch model has the Intel Core i7. Since Apple did not secure the latest Kaby Lake processor for its new devices, just like Microsoft, it is banking on the advanced graphics processor of its laptops to catch the attention of customers. For the 15-inch version, the graphics technology used is the Radeon Pro graphics with AMD Polaris architecture. For the 13-inch model, it has Intel Iris GPU instead of the Radeon Pro, according to AppleInsider.

MacRumors has pointed out the main difference between the 15-inch MacBook Pro and the 13-inch version when it comes to their graphics performance and computing power. The Apple-centric news site says the 15-inch version has 130 percent faster graphics performance than the previous-generation thanks to the Radeon 460 GPU, and it is 2.5 times  more efficient than the older model in terms of computing power per watt. Meanwhile, the 13-inch MacBook Pro’s Iris Graphics 550 makes it 103 percent faster than its predecessor. 

Since the new Surface Book will not start shipping until Nov. 10 and Apple will not be delivering its new MacBook Pros until late November or early December, it’s too early to tell which one does a better job graphics-wise. Hopefully, we’ll get to see a side-by-side comparison of the new MacBook Pro and Surface Book by the time they officially arrive. 

Display

As mentioned earlier, the new MacBook Pro comes in two display size versions. For its entry-level offering, it has a 13.3-inch display. On the other hand, the high-end device is rocking a 15.4-inch screen. Both screens are still what Apple likes to call as Retina displays. The 15-inch display has 2880 x 1800 resolution and 220 ppi, while the 13-inch screen has 2560 x 1600 resolution and 227 ppi. Trusted  Reviews says Apple is claiming that the new screens are 67 percent brighter than those found on the previous-generation models. They are also said to have 67 percent higher contrast ratio and 25 percent more colors. 

Apple’s displays for its MacBook Pro series already have an established following due to their quality, so Microsoft is also building its own identity in this display department by keeping the rather odd 3000 x 2000 resolution it introduced with its first Surface Book last year. Engadget reported following the release of the original Surface Book that the unconventional resolution was conceived because of the company’s intention of bringing the 3.2 aspect ratio of its Surface devices to the 13.5-inch panel of the Surface Book. Aside from keeping the same screen resolution, Microsoft also carried over the 267 ppi pixel density of the original Surface Book to its 2016 brother. In effect, the new convertible laptop trumps the MacBook Pro’s 227 ppi easily. 

Design

Microsoft’s new Surface Book borrows the same design and form factor of its predecessor. It is still the premium version of the Surface Pro with a detachable screen instead of a detachable Type Cover. The device features the same magnesium case and the Dynamic Fulcrum Hinge that keeps the laptop balanced at any angle while also providing a means for the detachable display to easily reattach to the keyboard. The original hinge actually drew criticisms, for it was responsible for the gap that allowed dirt to easily get into the Surface Book in its closed state. BGR reports Microsoft has altered the Dynamic Fulcrum Hinge for its new Surface Book, so it now has a smaller gap when folded. The larger battery also pushed the tech giant to alter the width of the laptop’s base, so the display is now almost flush with the keyboard when the device is closed down. 

The beauty of the Surface Book lies not only on the fact that its display is detachable; it is a device that on top of having an innovative design also has components that work together to make an outstanding whole. For one thing, its full-fledged keyboard is “quiet, stable and comfortable” and is said to offer best-in-class keystroke. Not only that, its trackpad is designed to have 10 points of sensitivity, as per Pocket-lint. In addition, its display is designed not only to be viewed, but also to be touched and written on thanks to its PixelSense display technology. Its artistic functionality is maximized when the top part is attached to the keyboard with its screen facing upward while the device is in folded position. Using the Surface Pen in this setup gives a delightful experience to the user. 

Like what earlier rumors claimed, Apple redesigned its MacBook Pro but not to the point wherein it is not recognizable anymore. The Cupertino giant did tweak some parts to make it more lightweight and thinner, but the form factor that is very familiar still remains. Apple’s marketing chief Phil Schiller has alluded to the fact that the form factor of the laptop will remain intact for a long time, as per MacRumors. In an interview Schiller said, “As far as your eyes can see, there will still be a place for this basic laptop architecture.”

Despite keeping the form factor of the MacBook Pro, it is quite easy to spot the new iteration from its predecessors due to its upgraded display that has richer and more vibrant colors, a massive Force Touch trackpad, an upgraded keyboard that is almost identical to the Butterfly keyboard of the 12-inch MacBook, all-new speakers and the new marvel in Apple’s advanced technologies, the Touch Bar. The new MacBook Pro also comes in Silver and Space Gray, and having one in the shade of the latter is a complete giveaway that it’s the latest iteration and not its predecessor. 

Special Features

When it comes to special features, it is clear from the get-go that the Surface Book provides a premium laptop alternative to consumers who are not pleased with the Surface Pro’s Type Cover. It is built to be a laptop that also offers the same functionality as the Surface hybrids. Its display has 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity to enhance the user experience of the PixelSense display technology, making the device a sophisticated piece of digital sketchpad or canvas for artists. Given its processor and graphics, the Surface Book is also the perfect device for professional-grade software, like AutoCAD and Adobe Creative Cloud. 

On the contrary, Apple made the new MacBook Pro to continue its series of premium laptops that are geared toward heavy computer users, without focusing on coming up with something that provides a high-tech artistic tool for consumers. The MacBook Pro is still void of a full touchscreen, but it did improve the hardware by adding an OLED panel to its keyboard. The panel, which is called the Touch Bar by Apple, is considered a game changer for Apple’s Pro series, since it dynamically switches keyboard shortcuts and commands based on what is running on the screen. 

During the company’s “Hello again” event, Apple software head Craig Federighi showed how the Touch Bar enhances the user experience on the MacBook Pro. He showed the audience that the OLED panel makes it easier for people to scroll through photos since thumbnails are displayed on the Touch Bar and they can easily be scanned with just a swipe of a finger. Not only that, there are tools available in the new macOS Sierra that make it possible for users to customize the Touch Bar. It is also worth mentioning that Apple’s fingerprint sensor is now embedded into the power button that is useful when verifying Apple Pay transactions, unlocking the laptop and other things that require identity verification. 

Miscellaneous

In terms of connectivity, the Surface Book that runs Windows 10 Pro comes with two USB 3.0 Type-A ports. It also has a Mini DisplayPort, a headphone jack and a full-size SD card reader. The 0.9-inch thick convertible laptop is advertised to last up to 12 to 16 hours on a single charge. Contrariwise, the macOS Sierra-running MacBook Pros (both 13-inch and 15-inch models) have four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports that support charging, DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA and 40GBps Thunderbolt connections. They also have a 3.5mm headphone jack — the universal audio port that Apple removed from its new iPhones. The 0.6-inch thick Mac laptops are said to last for up to 10 hours, as reported by Laptop Mag

The low-end configuration of the new Surface Book that comes with Intel Core i5, 128GB SSD and 8GB RAM costs $1,349. On the other hand, the high-end configuration with Intel Core i7, 1TB SSD and 16GB RAM is valued at $3,199. Meanwhile, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM and 256GB flash storage sells for $1,799, while the 15-inch model with Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM and 256GB flash storage sells for $2,399. Their 512GB versions are priced at $1,999 for the 13-inch model and $2,799 for the 15-inch variant.

Which do you think is the better laptop between the new Surface Book and the new MacBook Pros? Sound off in the comments below.