Microsoft Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Laptop 2: Which is best?

Microsoft just launched refreshed 2018 models of its Surface Pro hybrid device and fully fledged Surface Laptop, at a low-key US event. We dive into the specs of each and figure out which of these Surface machines might be best for your needs.

Last night’s almost subterfuge Surface launch event heralded the imminent arrival of the new Surface Pro 6, alongside a refreshed Surface Laptop 2 and Surface Studio 2. Microsoft may not have thought the news exciting enough to livestream, yet the buzz quickly spread and we’re already looking forward to testing out the new devices.

Some critics have voiced disappointment at the scarcity of new features. Sure enough, both the Surface Pro 6 and Microsoft’s Laptop sequel are missing some updates that the community had cried out for, such as Type-C connectivity. All the same, you can expect the latest 8th-Gen Intel Core chipsets, offering premium performance wherever you roam.

Related: Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Pro 5

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Laptop 2 – Overview

Microsoft introduced us to the original Surface Pro hybrid back in 2013 and has improved on that first model every subsequent year, leading to this sixth generation in 2018. The Pro is a 2-in-1 machine similar to the iPad Pro, running full Windows OS. In its natural state, you can clutch it like a tablet and get busy on that touchscreen display – something that’s even more satisfying using Microsoft’s optional Surface Pen stylus.

However, snap on the Type Cover keyboard (again, you’ll have to pay extra for it) and the Surface Pro turns into a makeshift laptop. And thanks to the latest Intel Core chipsets stuffed inside, performance is strong enough for whatever you need, although creative users who want to edit video will have to stretch their budget to the premium-priced top-end models.

The Surface Pro 6 is all about convenience, but if you’d rather rock a fully fledged laptop, Microsoft also offers the Surface Laptop. Last night we saw the unveiling of the Surface Laptop 2, sequel to the 2017 original. This offers the same sleek ultrabook styling, again packing plenty of power. Question is, which device is best for your needs?

Related: Best ultrabooks

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Laptop 2 – Specs

One of the biggest upgrades for this year’s new Surface Pro 6 and Laptop 2 is the fresh new Intel chipsets stashed inside. The old Kaby Lake platforms are gone, replaced by 8th-Gen Core i5 and Core i7 processors. We haven’t had full confirmation on which precise chipsets will be used yet, although we’re hopeful for some Whiskey Lake action.

Surface Laptop 2

While the Surface Pro 6 is apparently 65% more powerful than last year’s ‘all-new’ model, the updated Surface Laptop 2 enjoys an 85% jump in performance compared to the original. This is all according to Microsoft, however, with no mention of specific SKUs or benchmarking tests. So you’ll have to wait for our full reviews to see which device truly is the champion.

Both the Laptop and the Pro offer a choice of 8GB or 16GB of memory, to keep things running smoothly even when multi-tasking.

As for battery life, the Surface Laptop 2 will offer an impressive 14.5 hours of local video playback from a full charge – again, all Microsoft stats. The Surface Pro 6 isn’t far behind, with 13.5 hours quoted in the official launch. So either device should keep you going all day, even with plenty of use.

Related: Best laptop

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
Dimensions 292 x 201 x 8.5 mm 308.1 x 223.27 x 14.48 mm
Weight 775g (i5) / 792g (i7) 1.25kg (i5) / 1.28kg (i7)
Processor Intel Core 8th Gen i5 / i7 Intel Core 8th Gen i5 / i7
Memory 8GB / 16GB RAM 8GB / 16GB RAM
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 620 Intel UHD Graphics 620
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Display 12.3-inch, 2736 x 1824 (267 ppi): 3:2 aspect ratio PixelSense display with 10 point multi-touch 13.5-inch 2256 x 1504 (201 ppi) 3:2 aspect ratio Pixel Sense display with 10 point multi-touch, Surface Pen enabled, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Connectivity Wi-Fi ac (IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.1 Wi-Fi ac (IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.
Ports USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, Surface Connect port, Surface Type Cover port, 3.5 mm headphone jack, microSDXC card reader USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, Surface Connect port, Surface Type Cover port3.5 mm headphone jack, microSDXC card reader
Cameras and mics 5.0-megapixel front camera with 1080p Skype HD video, Windows Hello, 8.0-megapixel rear camera with 1080p full HD video and autofocus, dual microphones, 1.6W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium 720p HD front camera with Windows Hello, stereo microphones, Omnisonic Speakers with Dolby Audio Premium

Related: Intel Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Laptop 2 – Features

One of the major differences between these devices is, of course, the design. The Surface Pro 6 offers flexibility and seriously impressive portability, with the ability to function in tablet or laptop modes. One disadvantage of that is you’ll need to stump up more cash if you actually want a keyboard – that Type Cover doesn’t come bundled.

Obviously the Surface Laptop 2 comes with a keyboard attached, although you can’t snap this off when convenient. In both cases, the keyboard features a soft-touch finish and full backlighting.

The Surface Laptop 2 is impressively slim and light, weighing just 1.25kg in its base form. However, the Pro 6 is even more portable, starting at just 770g. That doesn’t include the Type Cover, but this accessory only adds a little extra weight.

Surface Pro 6

Both 2018 Surface machines boast a new matte black model, offering a greater choice to suit all tastes. That means the Surface Laptop 2 and Pro 6 can be snaffled in black, red, blue or platinum finishes.

There’s a bit of difference when it comes to the display tech, although these devices both sport a ‘PixelSense’ panel. The Surface Pro 6 packs in a 12.3-inch screen with 2736 x 1824 resolution, giving 267ppi (pixels per inch). In comparison, the Surface Laptop 2 offers a slightly more spacious 13.5-inch display, although that resolution is scaled back to 2256 x 1504. This delivers 201ppi, so your visuals won’t be quite as crisp. However, both panels will apparently offer improved contrast over last year’s models, for a richer, more lifelike picture.

Of course, you can expect more audio punch from the Surface Laptop 2, with its Omnisonic speakers. The Surface Pro 6’s 1.6W blasters should still impress, but likely won’t be as loud or as clear.

As for connectivity, the Surface Pro 6 serves up a full-sized USB-A port and Mini DisplayPort just like the Surface Laptop 2. You also get a MicroSDXC memory card reader, and the option of slipping in a SIM card for full LTE Advanced connectivity – options missing on the Laptop.

Both the Laptop 2 and Pro 6 have a front-facing camera for Skype sessions or preening. This is a basic 720p lens on the laptop, while the Surface Pro 6 upgrades to a 5MP Full HD effort. And the new Pro also offers an 8MP rear-facing camera, with full autofocus. That’s a feature missing on the Laptop 2.

You get a choice of 256GB to 1TB of storage with both new Surfaces.

Related: Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 vs Surface Laptop

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Laptop 2 – Price

The Surface Laptop 2 will start from $999 in the US and £979 here in the UK, meaning it’s going up against the likes of Dell’s XPS 13 yet again.

The Surface Pro 6 begins at $899 US or £749 here in the UK, making it a more affordable option than the laptop version – although not by much.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Laptop 2 – Release date

Both of these new Surface devices will be released worldwide on October 16.