After two hectic days of speculation followed by announcements, we finally have the new Microsoft Surface Book and then the new MacBook Pro which launched yesterday. The Surface Book from Microsoft has clearly got the Macbook pro in its sights and has tried to match the storied Mac punch for punch.
Both the notebooks are beasts and can do all kinds of operations but both of them have their own target audience and in perhaps a loyal audience as well. Apple celebrated 25 years since it first launched the first laptop so just by this fact we know that MacBook already has a larger loyal audience. However, the Surface Book has never failed to impress us and the new variant is no exception. Nevertheless, let’s put these side to side and compare them in terms of specifications.
Design and Display
There are no compromises in terms of design on both sides. No denying that MacBook Pro 2016 comes with a thinner design and also with 2 size variants but Surface Book is not left behind in this department. Talking about the display, the Surface Book wins here with its better resolution and pixel per density even though Apple touts its retina display. The display on the Surface Book comes in at 13.5 inches only with a resolution of 3000 x 2000 pixels. While MacBook Pro comes in two size variants, one with 13.3-inch display with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 and one with 15.4-inch display with a resolution of 2880 x 1800 pixels.
Microsoft Surface sports a touch screen PixelSense display which is detachable and can be used as a tablet. It also comes with Surface Pen which adds a lot more functionality to it. On the other hand, MacBook Pro has included the all new Touch Bar just above the keyboard which acts like a control center depending on what you are doing on your MacBook Pro. Moreover, the touch pad is now bigger and it includes the same touch sensitive sensation we saw in the previous generation and even in the new iPhone 7.
When we dig a little inside, these notebooks don’t differ much. Both of them come with 6th Gen Core i5 and i7 processors. However, things change a little bit in the graphics department with the Surface Book with Performance Base sporting both Intel HD graphics and Nvidia GTX 965M graphics. On the other hand, the 13-inch MacBook Pro comes with Intel Iris for 2D games, and the 15-inch featured AMD Radeon Pro for 3D titles. Of course you get different storage and RAM options with up to 16GB RAM and SSD starting at 128GB for Surface Book and 256GB for MacBook Pro. The base model of Surface Book features 128GB SSD, 8GB RAM, and lower clocked Core i5 version. One the other hand, MacBook Pro’s base model ships with 2.0GHz Core i5, with 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD.
Battery and Connectivity
In terms of battery life, Microsoft Surface Book comes out as a winner with the company claiming it to offer about 12-14 hours of battery back up in a single recharge. On the other hand, MacBook Pro 2016 will give you a battery back up of about 10 hours, continuing Apple’s apparent conservatism with batteries to this segment too. Or perhaps that is the small price to pay to win the “thinner than you” stakes.
In terms of connectivity, Apple has given four thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports on the 15-inch model and two on the 13-inch model which lacks Touch Bar and Touch ID, any of which can be used for charging the device. Though not directly but these ports do support Display Port, as well as 40GBps Thunderbolt connections, HDMI and VGA. Sorry surprise! The MacBook Pro does feature a 3.5 mm headphone jack, probably marked out for a snip in the next edition. On the other hand, MacBook Surface Book features two full-size USB 3.0 ports, a full-size SD card reader, a Mini DisplayPort and a headphone jack. thus, as astonishing as it may sound, you can’t connect an iPhone to MacBook Pro 2016 without using an adapter.
Touch Bar vs Touch Screen
Apple yet again in an attempt to include something new introduced the new OLED Touch Bar on to the new MacBook Pro and initial impressions indicate it to be a pretty nifty feature. Not only does it performs basic functions like control volume, brightness and music, it adapts itself to the app you are using on your MacBook Pro which makes it even more useful. Further, it can even display predictions when you are typing and tapping the prediction on the Touch Bar enters the word.
On the other hand, the Surface Book comes with a full touch screen display with a stylus (Surface Pen). And believe it or not the Surface Dial feature which Microsoft showcased on its Surface Studio is amazing and it’s here as well.
But, The new MacBook Pro has Apple’s famous Touch ID just next to the Touch Bar and while most of the high end notebooks do come with bio metric fingerprint scanner, the Surface Book skips it all together. The nearest it comes to such thing is with its Performance Base model with facial-recognition sign-in via Windows Hello.
Price and Availability
The base model 13.3-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar and Touch ID starts at $1,499, While the one with a Touch Bar starts at $1,799 for 13.3-inch laptop and packs a 2.9-GHz dual-core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, a 256GB SSD and Intel Iris graphics. For the bigger 15.4 inch model, you have to dig your pocket up to $2,399. While the regular model has already started shipping, the models with the Touch ID and Touch Bar will start shipping in 2-3 weeks in the United States. There hasn’t been any information about its availability in India.
On the other hand, the 13.5 inch Surface Book with detachable display starts at $1,349 and includes a 6th Gen Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD and Intel HD graphics. However for performance base model with Core i7 and NVidia graphic card you have to spend $2,399. So there you have it, a dead heat on price too.