Laptops

Microsoft Surface Book vs. 2015 Retina MacBook Pro

Microsoft Surface Book vs. 201...
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Surface Book (left) with the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Surface Book (left) with the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display
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Battery
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Battery
Build
2/25
Build
Color options
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Color options
Processor
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Processor
Detachable tablet
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Detachable tablet
Dimensions
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Dimensions
Display resolution
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Display resolution
Display size
8/25
Display size
Facial recognition login
9/25
Facial recognition login
Force Touch trackpad
10/25
Force Touch trackpad
Graphics
11/25
Graphics
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Surface Book (left) with the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display
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Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Surface Book (left) with the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display
Pen input
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Pen input
Starting price
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Starting price
RAM
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RAM
Release
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Release
SD card slot
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SD card slot
Software
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Software
Storage
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Storage
Touch screen
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Touch screen
Trackpad material
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Trackpad material
USB ports
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USB ports
Video out ports
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Video out ports
Weight
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Weight
Camera megapixels
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Camera megapixels
View gallery - 25 images

The Microsoft Surface Book is more of a laptop than a 2-in-1, but it does stay true to its Surface name by letting you rip its screen off to use it as a (gigantic) tablet. Let's see how it compares to a 100 percent purebred laptop, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

Size

Dimensions
Dimensions

With its boxier 3:2 display aspect ratio, the Surface Book comes out to 6 percent taller than the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, but slightly narrower.

Weight

Weight
Weight

If you get one of the higher-end Surface Books with discrete GPU (tucked away inside its keyboard), weights are about even. The lower-end Surface Books, with integrated graphics, are 4 percent lighter.

Build

Build
Build

Like every other Surface, the Surface Book has a magnesium construction.

Colors

Color options
Color options

No color options for either device; it's silver all around.

Detachable tablet

Detachable tablet
Detachable tablet

Microsoft is downplaying the Surface Book as a tablet by calling it "clipboard mode," but you can remove the Surface Book's screen to use as a humongous slate.

Trackpad material

Trackpad material
Trackpad material

This should be a big upgrade over the Surface Pro 3, as both the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 have big glass trackpads – a lot like Apple's MacBooks.

Force Touch trackpad

Force Touch trackpad
Force Touch trackpad

The MacBook's touchpad, though, uses Apple's Force Touch tech, so clicking is no easier at the bottom than it is at the top.

Display size

Display size
Display size

The Surface Book's display is, based on area, about 6 percent bigger.

Display resolution

Display resolution
Display resolution

The Surface Book's pixel density is 18 percent sharper, but we've never once thought the Retina MacBook Pro's screen was remotely lacking in crispness.

The Surface Book's higher PPI could come in handy, though, when you use it as a giganto-tablet, where it will probably sit a little closer to your eyes.

Touch screen

Touch screen
Touch screen

Apple has yet to make (or show the slightest sign that it has any interest in making) a MacBook with a touch-sensitive display. The iPad Pro is the closest you'll likely get to that anytime soon.

Pen input

Pen input
Pen input

Though the iPad Pro will use a stylus ("Pencil"), the Retina MacBook Pro doesn't support any kind of pen or stylus input.

Like the Surface Pro series, the Surface Book includes a Surface Pen in the box.

Processor

Processor
Processor

Both machines let you choose between Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, though the Surface's are newer 6th-generation Skylake CPUs (this early 2015 MacBook uses 5th-gen Broadwell processors).

Graphics

Graphics
Graphics

Apple only offers integrated Intel graphics in this 13-inch model of the Retina MacBook Pro, but the more expensive Surface Book models have discrete Nvidia GeForce graphics – we just don't know the exact card yet.

Since those models have their discrete graphics cards stashed in their keyboards, you'll lose that extra GPU punch when using the Surface Book as a tablet.

RAM

RAM
RAM

RAM options are the same, though the 16 GB version is a made-to-order configuration for the MacBook (you won't find it in retail stores).

Battery

Battery
Battery

We don't know the specs of the Surface Book's battery, but both Microsoft and Apple are using the same estimate for video-watching.

Storage

Storage
Storage

Both machines start with 128 GB SSDs; if you like to store things like years worth of photos or videos, high-end games or virtual machines on your main drive, then you may need to pay for one of the more expensive models.

SD card slot

SD card slot
SD card slot

The Surface Book and Retina MacBook Pro each have a full-sized SD card slot – great for anyone who uses a non-wireless DSLR (and for discrete storage, at least on the MacBook).

USB

USB ports
USB ports

Each laptop has two USB 3.0 ports.

Video out

Video out ports
Video out ports

If you want to hook up an external monitor so you can use your laptop as a desktop PC, then these are the ports to use (note that Thunderbolt is backwards compatible with Mini DisplayPort).

Camera megapixels

Camera megapixels
Camera megapixels

Though Microsoft is framing the Surface Book as a laptop, it has a tablet-like rear camera.

Facial recognition login

Facial recognition login
Facial recognition login

The Surface Book's front-facing camera lets you securely log into your machine using your face instead of a password.

Release

Release
Release

The Surface Book officially launches on October 26.

Software

Software
Software

It's Windows 10 vs. OS X El Capitan.

Starting price

Starting price
Starting price

The 13-inch Retina MBP starts at US$200 cheaper than the Surface Book – and both of those entry-level models give you the same 128 GB internal storage. That extra money gets you a combination of Skylake processors, a slightly bigger and sharper (and touch-friendly) screen, and that bundled Surface Pen.

Stay tuned for Gizmag's Surface Book review. For more on Apple's laptop you can revisit our 2015 Retina MacBook Pro review.

View gallery - 25 images
9 comments
phissith
Not bad for MS first Laptop. Hopefully this will got other OEM to innovate. I imagine Fanboy will be posting something bad about it soon.
JoeyCaruso
They are both great machines, imho the deciding factor for the most part will be who's ecosystem you like best. I think Microsoft has hit it out of the ballpark with this one can't say for sure but it looks good on paper, now you know who's ecosystem I use.)
KiratVohli
Surface Book looks worthy definitely. I use ipad air, iphone. But don't care about eco system. My laptop is always going to have windows and linux.
RicoAlexander
That's a tko for the Surface Book.
HerveShango
Awesome tech, something i am looking to invest in in the not too far future that's for sure, i see my self with one apple product and thats and imac, for the rest it will be gaming laptop, specced out desktop windows 10 pc and a surface book and for smartphones it will always be either a samsung android phone/htc smartphone.
christopher
You have a typo in your article. you used the word "securely" where you meant INsecurely!
"The Surface Book's front-facing camera lets you securely log into your machine using your face instead of a password."
Passwords are secure. Your face is *not*. Do not fall prey to hype, and don't confuse "convenience" with "security"! biometrics is always far less secure than pretty much every alternative that exists, but yes, it's faster easier.
Also keep in mind that it's illegal for Children in many states and countries. Biometrics isn't just unsafe, it's illegal because it is *dangerous* to use it, which is why grown-ups who's job is to protect children have banned it on them. When you get older to be responsible for your own insecurity, then, and only then, you're allowed to use it on yourself.
PhilipLittlewood
@Christopher If you think Windows Hello Facial recognition is insecure you may be interested in this:
http://uk.businessinsider.com/windows-hello-twins-wins-recognition-2015-8
Kalides Evony
looks like a superb laptop. this is bad, i am not ready to upgrade, but i think i must...great job MS
OctavianCiubotariu
An update of this comparison would be awesome, with the new Mac Book Pro that was released today as well. Thanks!