Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 vs Surface Laptop: What’s new?

At a low-key launch tonight, Microsoft unveiled a sequel to last year's original Surface Laptop. Here's how the new Surface Laptop 2 compares with its predecessor, so you know whether it's worth upgrading to the 2018 model.

Microsoft has been busy recently, although you wouldn’t know it if you weren’t keeping a close eye on tech news feeds. Its Surface launch event was so low-key (read: a US-only press event for which there was no livestream) that as far as potential UK buyers are concerned, it might as well have taken place on Pluto.

Still, we now officially have a Surface Pro 6 hitting stores in October, alongside a new Surface Laptop 2 and Surface Studio 2. The real question is, what has actually been updated and improved over the originals?

Related: Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Pro 5

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 vs Surface Laptop – Overview

We were very impressed by Microsoft’s first Surface Laptop, a fully-fledged notebook which compared favourably with the hybrid Surface Pro devices. This Windows ultrabook delivered decent performance despite its slim and light design, although like most of its rivals, the Surface Laptop wasn’t (and still isn’t) cheap. Our mid-range review model cost £1249, meaning Microsoft’s portable pal has strong competition from the likes of Dell, Huawei and LG.

Related: Best ultrabooks

Still, design touches such as the soft-touch suede keyboard and that crisp and colourful display make for a unique and enjoyable user experience. You can rely on the Surface Laptop when it comes to performance as well. The 7th-Gen Kaby Lake chipsets from Intel offer a smooth everyday experience, while the top-end Core i7 model can be used for video editing and other demanding creative tasks.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 vs Surface Laptop – Specs

Those specs have been updated for the new Surface Laptop 2, so you can expect a performance boost to match the latest ultrabooks such as Dell’s XPS 15. Last year’s Kaby Lake processors have been replaced by the latest 8th-Gen Intel chipsets, again in Core i5 and Core i7 flavours. Presumably this means Whiskey Lake, but that’s not been officially confirmed.

Microsoft reckons that this makes the second Surface Laptop 85% faster than the original, although we’re not entirely sure which Intel Core models that is comparing, and which benchmarking tests are being used. We’re certainly expecting a big jump in performance however, so stay tuned for our in-depth Surface Laptop 2 review for the full skinny.

As before, you get a choice of 8GB or 16GB of RAM. However, the 4GB option appears to have been retired.

Thankfully that boost in power doesn’t appear to have impacted longevity. When it comes to battery life, Microsoft is once again quoting 14.5 hours of video playback from a full charge. We’re expecting just under ten hours of mixed use, if our review of the original Surface Laptop is anything to go by.

Related: Intel Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 vs Surface Laptop – Features

A new matte black model of Surface Laptop will give Surface fans greater choice, launching alongside red, blue and platinum models. However, the weight and overall dimension are basically identical, while a lot of the rest of the Surface Laptop’s features appear to remain unchanged for this sequel.

Once again you have a 13.5-inch ‘PixelSense’ touchscreen display, which can be used in conjunction with the Surface Pen for precision input. The Surface Laptop 2 sports the same 2256×1504 resolution, giving an output of 201ppi. Still, Microsoft has apparently boosted the contrast ratio to 1500:1, which should make movies and images look absolutely fantastic.

That soft-touch Alcantara keyboard once again offers full backlighting, so you can beaver away in the dark. And connectivity seems to be the same too, with no Type-C USB action on offer. Likewise, storage will max out at 1TB SSD.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 vs Surface Laptop – Price

The original Surface Laptop can still be snaffled at the time of writing, direct from Microsoft. The cost is from £649, rising to £2699 if you want the best possible specs.

We’re yet to receive the official UK pricing from Microsoft for the new 2018 release, although the Surface Laptop 2 will start from $999 in the US. That’ll likely translate to at least £899 over here, if past experience is anything to go by.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 vs Surface Laptop – Release date

The Surface Laptop is still available, although Microsoft may well phase it out given the slender upgrades of the Laptop 2. That new 2018 edition will be releasing on October 16th.

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