Design

By forgoing the convertible nature of the rest of the Surface lineup, the Surface Laptop doesn’t offer the wow factor that the other models do. But for those that are after the pure laptop experience, they also don’t get any of the drawbacks of those designs either. Surface Laptop 2 is just a pure laptop. Thin, light, and offering almost 12% more display area than an equivalent 13.3-inch 16:9 laptop, the Surface Laptop should allow a lot of productivity without sacrificing portability.

The Surface Laptop 2 is built out of aluminum, unlike the magnesium alloy used in Surface Pro and Surface Book. Meanwhile the exterior colors of Burgundy, Platinum, Cobalt Blue, or the Black featured on the review unit allow the customer to choose a laptop color to suit their tastes a bit more than most manufacturers who offer one, or sometimes two color options. The edges are sharp and the finish is smooth, and although taste is subjective, the Surface Laptop is a stunner. Microsoft continues to impress with their device build quality and design.

Opening up the device takes just a single finger, which is one of the advantages of going with a pure laptop over a convertible model. The display bezels aren’t the smallest on the market, but are small enough that it still feels like the 3:2 display fills the entire area, while still providing room for the Windows Hello IR camera, ambient light sensor, and 720p front facing webcam in its correct location. The extra vertical height helps with the proportions of the device too, since it doesn’t have to have a large chin on the bottom, or be a very squat design.

One of the main design features for the Surface Laptop 2 is the Alcantara keyboard deck, and it is color-matched to the outside of the device. The fabric isn’t quite the same texture as a Surface Pro keyboard either, offering a smoother finish, while still feeling great when used. There may be concerns about durability over time, but as a synthetic fabric it holds up well and can be cleaned if needed. The fabric deck is a great contrast to the cool, smooth aluminum used elsewhere.

Microsoft generally offers a great keyboard experience, and the Surface Laptop 2 is no exception. The keys feel great to use. There’s just enough travel and resistance to provide you with good feedback, and is really one of the best keyboards on a thin and light laptop. There are also three levels of white backlighting, and unlike some manufacturers who get this wrong, the backlighting wakes up when using the trackpad, so even in a dark room you can find your keys easily.

Speaking of the trackpad, Microsoft pretty much offers the best trackpad experience of any Windows PC. There are others that equal it, but none that really surpass it. The trackpad is very smooth glass, and responds well to taps or gestures. The extra vertical height of the 3:2 display also allows for a slightly larger trackpad than a 16:9 laptop would. The extra space on the vertical doesn’t get in the way either like some of the wider trackpads do. It’s of course adjustable with Microsoft’s Precision trackpad drivers, so you can adjust it right in Windows.

The Surface Connect port is located on the right side of the laptop, and is where the magnetic Surface Connect charging cable goes. Microsoft also sells a Surface Dock that can connect here, and which provides two display outputs along with extra USB and Ethernet. But be warned that the Surface Dock can’t run two UHD displays at 60 Hz. The Surface Connect port really needs a refresh at this point, since it is showing its age. Most Surface users probably appreciate the magnetic charging connection, but it is time for a spec bump.

Meanwhile the single USB Type-A port is located on the left side, along with the Mini DisplayPort and 3.5 mm headset jack. Although this amount of expansion is definitely on the light side, for many this should be plenty, and the color-matched accessories such as the Surface Mobile Mouse connect over Bluetooth anyway. Even so, it would have been nice to see Microsoft mimic the Surface Book 2 here and just replace the Mini DisplayPort with USB-C, since it would double the expansion, allow for charging, and there really isn’t a downside. It’s hard to argue with them that the Type-A port is still required, but it is 2019 and not having any USB Type-C is just not acceptable anymore on a premium device such as this.

Still, despite that obvious flaw, the overall design of the Surface Laptop 2 is excellent. It feels good to carry around. It feels great to use. The Windows Hello camera is fast and accurate, and makes you miss it the second you use a device without it. Microsoft continues to deliver on chassis, keyboard, and trackpad quality across their lineup. There’s no wow factor like a Surface Book’s detachable display, but the benefit is you get a much tighter, lighter package.

Introduction System Performance
POST A COMMENT

59 Comments

View All Comments

  • damianrobertjones - Saturday, March 30, 2019 - link

    Buys a usb to usb c cable for a few pounds. Connects his phone and gopro. Carries on with life. Reply
  • Chrispy_ - Friday, March 29, 2019 - link

    These are still utterly unserviceable, utterly impossible to upgrade, and have the terrible combination of very high price and one of the worst and shortest warranties legally permitted.

    Watch a video of someone trying to repair one and then ask yourself why you'd support idiocy like that, at your own cost - Ifixit teardown of the Surface Laptop 2:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eShF-PFQfAk
    Reply
  • mrboonmee - Friday, March 29, 2019 - link

    how would you plug into 4K TV? DisplayPort isn't always perfect for this and not even DisplayPort? Lame. What are good alternatives? Reply
  • dickeywang - Friday, March 29, 2019 - link

    So basically, when in comparing with the matebook x pro, the surface notebook has a weaker GPU, lacking of thunderbolt port (for eGPU)/type-c USB, a worse display but costs $700 more?
    LOL
    PS, Huawei custom service is also better(at least in mainland China), e.g. you can buy a SSD with larger capacity and ask the custom service to replace it with the smaller one.
    Reply
  • peconi - Saturday, March 30, 2019 - link

    And still no thunderbolt. Why? Reply
  • VictorBd - Saturday, March 30, 2019 - link

    Love my Surface Laptop 2. It’s elegant, light, snappy, and it just works. Love the keyboard and Surface Connect and dock. Easily drives 32” 4K 60hz external displays at home & office, while also perfect on the go. I also prefer USB-A and the fabric deck. Tried Asus, Samsung, Dell XPS, HP - nothing else provided me an all around balanced, light, reliable, package. And I get amazing first party service from the Microsoft store. Glad this is in my inventory. Reply
  • InvidiousIgnoramus - Sunday, March 31, 2019 - link

    The only laptop that is literally impossible to repair. Reply
  • ballsystemlord - Sunday, March 31, 2019 - link

    Only 1 typo, keep it up!
    "A few players, such as Huawei, have skirted the issue by adding a NVIDIA GeForce MX class GPU, but the added cost and complexity of that is not something that many manufacturers have gone."
    Should be "done" not "gone" at the end of the sentence.
    "A few players, such as Huawei, have skirted the issue by adding a NVIDIA GeForce MX class GPU, but the added cost and complexity of that is not something that many manufacturers have done."
    Reply
  • amosbatto - Friday, April 5, 2019 - link

    It is very irresponsible for Anandtech to do a long review of a product like this and not mention that it is literally impossible to repair without destroying the device. ifixit gave the previous version of this laptop a repairability rating of 0 out of 10.
    https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Microsoft+Surface+...

    A lot of people are going to buy this laptop and discover in a year or two that they are screwed when something fails. A key on the keyboard stops working, and you have to throw away the entire laptop because the keyboard can't be replaced. The motherboard dies and it is impossible to get your data off the machine, because the SSD is soldered to the motherboard. The battery will start to degrade after 500 full charge and discharge cycles, so you have to throw away the machine after a couple years of use or accept that you can only use it for an hour or two without being plugged in.

    Every Anandtech review should mention the fixability of a device in its reviews, because that dramatically changes the longevity of a device. A laptop which costs $500 but lasts 2 years is more expensive per year than a laptop which costs $700 but lasts 4 years. Anandtech should be an advocate for consumers, not the advocate for the planned obsolescence being pushed by the hardware industry. At the very least Anandtech should forewarn consumers so that they know that they are getting planned obsolescence when they buy a Surface laptop.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now