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Microsoft Surface Book is the company's first ever laptop

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Surface Book 3

Microsoft has just announced its first ever laptop, and it's called the Surface Book.

Unveiled at the company's product launch event today, the Surface Book was described as "the ultimate laptop" by Panos Panay, Microsoft's Surface and Lumia VP.

The notebook has a 13.5-inch PixelSense screen – that's the same display technology featured on the new Microsoft Surface Pro 4 – with a 3,000 x 2,000 pixel resolution, a 3:2 aspect ratio, and 10-point multi-touch.

The display has an impressive pixel density of 267-pixels-per-inch, which works out at about 6 million pixels.

In terms of performance, you're looking at serious graphical potential courtesy of an optional dedicated Nvidia GeForce GPU, as well as integrated Intel HD 520 graphics. It's also got 1GB of dedicated high-speed GDDR5 RAM and new Skylake i5/i7 processor options.

Memory options available are 8GB or 16GB, while SSD storage is offered in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB variants.

Panay also claimed that the processor and dedicated GPU 'fundamentally makes Surface Book two times faster than the MacBook Pro'.

With any portable device, battery life is a concern. Fortunately, it sounds respectable enough, with Panay claiming a solid 12-hour charge cycle with video playback – we'll have to wait for a review unit to verify this.

The trackpad is built from glass and offers five points of multi-touch. The keys are backlit, and have a neglible 1.6mm travel distance. Oh, and the keyboard is detachable – not bad for a powerhouse notebook.

That last bit is where it all gets interesting, because the Nvidia GPU is actually built into the dock. So you won't get high-grade graphics performance unless the keyboard is attached.

Related: Five things things that will make you want a Surface Book

Surface Book

Device dimensions of the laptop are 232.1 x 312.3 x 13.0-22.8mm, while tablet dimensions are 220.2 x 312.3 x 7.7mm.

The laptop sans the Nvidia GPU weighs 1.515kg, rising to 1.579kg with the GPU. As a tablet only, the Surface Book weighs 726g.

On the camera front, you're looking at an 8-megapixel rear-facing sensor, and a 5-megapixel front-facing selfie snapper.

There are dual microphones – front- and rear-facing – as well as frong-facing stereo speakers equipped with Dolby audio.

The Surface Book also works with Microsoft's new Surface Pen, which comes in five colour options and offers up a range of interchangeable tips for varying use-cases.

In terms of connectivity, there are two full-size USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, Surface Connect for power and docking, a 3.5mm audio jack, a Mini DisplayPort, Bluetooth 4.0, and 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO Wi-FI support.

Related: Windows 10 features guide

The Surface Book starts at a price of $1,499, and is available to pre-order starting October 7. It's available to buy outright on October 26.

What do you think of the Microsoft Surface Book? Let us know in the comments.

Surface Book 5

Related: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review

Check out our smartphone buyer's video guide below:

Alex Mason

October 6, 2015, 3:59 pm

I hope you're joking about the £1499 price. On stage the price was indicated at $1499. £1499 is more like $2200!!!! So it will be very cheeky if they do just substitute the £ for the $!

BoneStamp

October 6, 2015, 4:03 pm

Keep in mind we pay tax in addition to $1499 and your VAT is built in to your price. It's still more, but it's not as dramatic as it appears at first. Also minimum wage is way lower here so things can be sold for less because the distribution chain is way cheaper.

Alex Mason

October 6, 2015, 4:18 pm

Do you still pay sales tax online? I know different states have different sales tax rates, so just wondering how that is done online?

I think the SP3 is $799 in the US and in the UK the same model is £639. So there at least the figures aren't the same with a different currency sign, but equally its not a true conversion to sterling (£639 is $970, still $100 more even with 8% sales tax say), likely for the reasons you outline.

BoneStamp

October 6, 2015, 4:35 pm

Taxes may not always be charged by the retailer online (depending on the state that the retailer and customer are in). However, taxes still need to be paid on the item even if the retailer doesn't collect it. When I do my taxes I get a report from Amazon (where I buy almost everything anyways) that shows all of the stuff I bought that I didn't pay tax on and then factor that into my income tax filing.

Christopher Adam

October 6, 2015, 5:39 pm

any info on Nvidia GPU specs?

chris rock

October 6, 2015, 7:16 pm

They are already taking pre-orders but on their page they don't specify the GPU, WTF?!, that's sneaky at best...

Tom Watts

October 6, 2015, 8:37 pm

American taxes are insane compared to british ones, they don't really do PAYE like the UK does, you have to keep track of it all yourself/employ an accountant to do it for you. People will always pay sales tax on online purchases, unless they're breaking the law.

Dead Words

October 6, 2015, 9:55 pm

Apple releases all of their products without telling you many specifics. If Microsoft omits a single number it's the end of the world.
Either way, I think it may be the 960M but don't quote me on that.

chris rock

October 6, 2015, 10:27 pm

it is pretty f* important man, there is a world in performance difference between the 965m and the 970m, let's say that I assume it is the gtx 960m and it ends up being a gtx 950 or something like that, wouldn't you be pissed?

Con Fused

October 7, 2015, 9:43 am

Surely an error in the dimensions. How can the tablet only (220mm), be deeper than the laptop whole (212mm) - Are these the wrong way round?

MattMe

October 7, 2015, 11:27 am

Pretty impressive.

Is the 1GB GDDR5 RAM just for the Intel graphics, and the nVidia will have it's own dedicated memory?

Wish it had more USB ports, and maybe a type C for future-proofing.
Otherwise looks pretty amazing.

Dead Words

October 7, 2015, 11:45 am

Of course I would be. But if you're worried, then don't preorder it yet.
This was Microsoft's best event ever, probably. Instead of standing awkwardly spouting technical mumbo jumbo that only the specs nerds care about and boring everyone to death, they gave us real life presentations, charisma, personality, and told us what was really important. The specs will come later, and if you want them you'll have to wait for them.

Stephen Middlehurst

October 7, 2015, 12:45 pm

It's not, apparently this is a new (and possibly bespoke) GPU from Nvidia with a focus on bringing performance to ultrabooks. Think all we know at the moment is it's a Maxwell part and has 1GB of ram. They do mention League of Legends in the blurb which Nvidia used for its 950 desktop part so somewhere around there seems possible.

While I agree with you about not focusing on specs there's something a little off here. They say it's twice as fast as a Macbook Pro... but no 13" rMBP has a dedicated GPU. The i5 and i7 CPU's sound great but, again, there's no details.as to *which* version they are or clock speed. Based on what we know right now I wouldn't be shocked if the entry models at least were running basically the same CPU's as the 13" rMBP (albeit Skylake rather than Broadwell) but for all we know they could be a core M.

And here's where I do have a bit of a problem. It's all very well claiming twice as fast as the competition... but if you don't provide details that (IMO) needs to be true across the line. With the entry level models that's almost certainly not the case and once you get to dGPU levels with an i7 you're looking at north of $2000. Might be twice as fast but it's also getting on for 50% more expensive! Don't get me wrong, very glad MS have stepped up and shown the PC industry what can be done at the high end but they may have moved to far to the presentation side and sacrificed a bit too much detail as a result.

Menorca Man

October 7, 2015, 1:00 pm

The 212.1mm laptop dimension is incorrect. It should read 232.1 x 312.3 x 13.0-22.8mm.

Dan Neely

October 7, 2015, 2:36 pm

It's almost certainly going to be less than a 950M in performance. The DDR3-950M is a 55W product, the GDDR5 version would be a bit higher. However the power brick in the dGPU version is 65W vs 36 for the IGP only model. That suggests the dGPU is only an ~30W part; it can't be much more than 45W because above that there wouldn't also be enough power to run the CPU/display/etc too (and at that level while fully loading you won't be able to recharge the battery). If the speculation I've seen elsewhere that the "2 more cores" remark in the announcement means the top end model will be using the i7 6822EQ (25W quad-core Skylake), the upper limit for GPU power would drop to ~35.

Dead Words

October 7, 2015, 8:26 pm

The thing is, Apple gets away with far less than that and more presentation. If Microsoft even begins to move in that directions they get scorn and derision. They're Core i Skylak processors (i5 and i7) and any current Nvidia GPU is better than the integrated Intel graphics. As long as the specifics are fully released by the time the product is fully released (October 26 or 27?) then what's the issue?

Stephen Middlehurst

October 7, 2015, 9:48 pm

First off 'scorn and derision' is maybe a tad strong a response to what's being said... just a thought. The issue is that these devices are already available for order and those details aren't out there. You say Apple gets away with more but that's simply not true. Check the Macbook intro at the March keynote and they clearly show screen size, processor type and speed, graphics card, memory and storage on one slide along with the price. All the core (heh, sorry) info up front.

My big problem with this though is the headline claim of 'twice as fast as a Macbook Pro'. Looking at the specs there's just no way that's the case with the two lower models and, realistically, the entry model with a dGPU is going have similar issues. If you need the i7 (presumably a quad core) the cost goes up to the point you'd be looking at the 15" rMBP which is an entirely different beast and likely to outperform the Book. But people may - likely, will - buy in thinking that even the bottom end models live up to that claim.

Again don't get me wrong, I'm impressed with what MS has done here and wish more companies would try to play in the high end of the market. But not giving all the relevant information up front at a point is bad for customers and that 'twice as fast' claim could be very misleading. What's deeply frustrating is this is such a simple fix and they didn't need to do this sort of cheap trick. The product seems to be more than good enough to stand on its own so why not be more open about what's under the hood?

chris rock

October 8, 2015, 2:17 am

Wow, GTX960M, I'm actually surprised.

Dead Words

October 8, 2015, 11:25 am

The bottom line Surface Book is a beast on its own, but it's when you jump to the i5 that it gets interesting. It has dedicated Nvidia graphics, and a Skylake processor. Right there, mid range, it is more powerful than the MacBook Pro. Maybe not twice as much, but there you go.
You can't blame Microsoft for reaching for extremes. The strangest thing is, Apple is probably Microsoft's biggest competitor right now and that's a weird thing to think about. Chrome OS isn't really a viable productivity option yet, it's more of a miniature laptop operating system. It's Windows and Mac OS. So, I mean, it sucks, but it's just marketing. Microsoft is the underdog right now.
Besides, it's NOT available yet. You're just preordering it.

Sean Keach

October 9, 2015, 3:53 pm

The GDDR5 RAM is with the Nvidia GPU's dedicated VRAM.

Sean Keach

October 9, 2015, 3:53 pm

Yup, thanks for the spot. It should've been 232.1 not 212.1mm – typo, now fixed!

Sean Keach

October 9, 2015, 3:54 pm

All we still know is that it's a Maxwell based Nvidia GeForce GPU built specifically for the Surface Book, with 1GB GDDR5 VRAM. Nothing more specific just yet.

MattMe

October 9, 2015, 4:06 pm

What do you mean is with? Do you mean separate from? Does that mean it's dedicated to the onboard Intel GPU?

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