Surface Laptop 2 review: A jack of all trades marginally better than predecessor
Internal upgrades are plentiful but leave something wanting compared to first Surface
The Surface Laptop 2 is available in a range of colours, with burgundy, black, platinum and cobalt blue in the range but gold is no longer an option.
Product name: Surface Laptop 2
Where to buy: microsoft.com
When Microsoft pulled the Surface Laptop out of its hat in 2017, it was a bit of a surprise.
The company with a focus on software has form for coming up with its own tablets – we are now on to version 6 of the Surface Pro for example – but a laptop was crossing even further into its hardware customers’ territory.
It seems to have paid off; the Surface Laptop 2 has survived into a new generation. You might not realise to look at it though.
Put the Surface Laptop 2 beside its predecessor and you will be hard pressed to pick out any visual differences. You could cheat and get the Surface Laptop 2 in black, but by and large, Microsoft has stuck to the same design.
The differences on the laptop are mainly contained on the inside: a better chip, Windows 10 Home out of the box, and an all-round more powerful laptop.
The Surface 2 that I reviewed came with Intel’s eighth generation Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. There is the option to bump up the specs to an i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 1TB solid state drive, but that will also push the price higher too.
The 13.5 inch display is back, and still looks great.
Text, images, movies – the Surface Laptop 2 tackles it all with style. It’s a touch screen too, like its predecessor, so you can use the Surface Pen or switch it over to tablet mode.
Setting up the device takes only a matter of minutes. Microsoft has decided to ditch Windows 10 S for the second generation of Surface Laptops, so you don’t have the added irritation of having to switch it over to the full working version of Windows.
It wasn’t the biggest hardship – it could be changed over in a matter of minutes, and some people may prefer the limitations of Windows 10 S, such as the restrictions on installing software – but eliminating that unnecessary step is a good move.
Because this is a Microsoft device, you don’t have the added manufacturer software included, taking up space and slowing everything down.
No “helpful” software trying to walk you through the laptop’s features, for example. If you go for the basic model, it means you can put that extra space to good use.
There is very little to criticise the Surface 2 about.
It looks good, it performs well and while it’s not quite as portable as a tablet, it won’t weigh you down. Microsoft claims 14.5 hours battery life for the device; while I never hit that, it lasted comfortably for a transatlantic flight, and did me for most of a day’s work without skirting too close to dead battery territory.
If you were searching for a downside, it could be that it is still a little light on ports. You get one USB 3.0 port, one MiniDisplay, a headphone jack and the power adapter, and that is it.
No USB C, no spare USB port, not even USB 3.1. It feels a bit inadequate when lined up against its peers, and it’s not as if it lacks the space to fit anything else in.
The Surface Laptop 2 takes everything good about the original and refines it More power under the hood means it can handle most tasks with ease. Editing photographs was a snap; pushing it on resource hungry video software wasn’t a struggle.
If you want to go to 3D rendering, you might need a bit more power though; opt for the i7 and extra RAM instead. For the average person who wants a laptop to go online, create a few documents and maybe play a game or two, the i5 Surface Laptop 2 will tick all the right boxes.
The not so good
If you were looking for a reason to upgrade from the 2017 model, there isn’t enough of a jump in the specs to justify the extra investment.
A lack of more up to date ports is also a disadvantage; it would be nice to see a USB C port added in.
The Surface Laptop 2 is available in a range of colours, with burgundy, black, platinum and cobalt blue in the range.
Microsoft seems to have ditched the gold option though. So bad luck if you like your laptops a little more ostentatious.
Another solid device from Microsoft.