Surface Book Surface Laptop
Surface Laptop and Surface Book are two similar products that suit different needs. Andrew Burton/Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Surface Laptop and Surface Book are very similar products, but they potentially serve different audiences. Taking a look at the specs, price and features of both devices, we aim to show what makes each one different.

Software: The Surface Laptop is the flagship product for the newest version of Windows 10, Windows 10 S. However, just because it’s newer, that doesn’t necessarily make it better. Windows 10 S is faster and essentially virus-proof, but it doesn’t allow users to install apps outside the Microsoft Store. That means no iTunes or Google Chrome. The Surface Book uses Windows 10 Pro, so it offers more freedom with the same implied risks Windows has always dealt with. Through 2017, all Surface Laptop owners can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free if they choose.

Dimensions: In few words, the Surface Laptop is shorter, thinner and slightly taller than the Surface Book. It’s also about a half-pound lighter.

Displays: Both have displays with resolutions somewhere in between 1080p and 4K, but the Surface Book is slightly closer to the latter with its 3000x2000 screen. The difference probably won’t be very noticeable, though. Despite its slightly lower quality, the Surface Laptop’s Gorilla Glass 3 panel may make it more resistant to damage.

RAM: Both products support up to 16GB RAM, but the Surface Laptop is the only one with a 4GB tier.

CPU: Both have i5 or i7 processors, but the Laptop has a newer seventh-gen Kaby Lake configuration as opposed to a sixth-gen Skylake. There isn’t much of a difference in terms of performance, but you’ll see how the Laptop’s average battery life increases as a result.

Battery Life: The Surface Laptop is advertised to last for 14 hours, while the Surface Book gets around 12 hours. Both numbers are pretty impressive, but the Laptop is the clear winner here.

Storage: Both products have identical storage capacities ranging from 128GB to 1TB. The 1TB option for the Laptop is not yet available.

GPU: The major difference here is that the Surface Book offers comparable configurations with dedicated GPUs, while the Laptop exclusively supports integrated solutions. Those with gaming or media backgrounds may find more to like about the Surface Book in those regards. That being said, neither product is really designed for the hardcore gamer.

Connections: The Surface Book is the winner here with two USB 3.0 ports, two Surface Connect ports and an SD Card reader. The Laptop just has one USB 3.0, one Surface Connect and no SD Card reader.

Cameras: The Surface Book has a better 1080p front-facing camera to the Surface Laptop’s 720p. Because it can be used as a tablet, the Surface Book has an additional 1080p rear camera too.

Unique Features: The Surface Laptop is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a well-built standard laptop akin to Apple’s MacBook or MacBook Pro. The Surface Book has a hinge-attached keyboard that can be folded or removed to use the device as a tablet. In other words, the Surface Book is more versatile, but the Surface Laptop is more familiar.

Pricing: There are many configurations for both products, so we apologize in advance if this gets a little confusing.

  • Surface Laptop i5 Processor: 4GB/8GB RAM, 128GB/256GB Storage - $999, $1,299
  • Surface Book i5 Processor: Four models with increasing storage and NVIDIA GPU. - $1,499 to $1,999. Essentially you have plenty of ways to get more RAM or storage if you need it.
  • Surface Laptop i7: 8GB/16GB RAM, 256GB/512GB Storage - $1,599, $2,199
  • Surface Book i7: 8GB RAM/256GB Storage with better GPUs, - $2,099, $2,399. There are more, but the higher price ranges don’t compare.

Which Should You Buy: In terms of purchase advice, the biggest differences we’ve noticed relate to software, GPU and price. If you don’t want the potential hassle of Windows 10 S, the Surface Book is still a great product. Gamers and graphic designers may also want to consider the Surface Book’s bevy of GPU options. The only strange value separation we can see is that you may want to swap out the high-tier i5 Laptop for a low-tier i7 Book instead.

It’s also a matter of use as well. Do you think the tablet features are more helpful? Is a standard Laptop more comfortable for you? The answers to those questions can greatly inform your final choice.

Surface Book is available now, while the Surface Laptop is open for pre-order with shipments starting June 15.

Do you prefer the Surface Laptop or Surface Book? Are the specs and price too high for you to care about either? Tell us in the comments section!