Microsoft - Microsoft Surface Book (Performance Base)


Microsoft Surface Book 2017, a nice technical update

Aprox. 2599€

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A little over a year ago, the first Surface Book model came to our lab. Despite some youthful flaws and some confusing design choices, the product had largely seduced us. This "new" version of the hybrid notebook from Microsoft is adorned with a handful of new features: more powerful graphics card, slightly more enduring battery, very slightly reworked design. Enough to earn a star?

Our review


Let's make it short: the Surface Book screen is the best of all the laptops tested to date in our laboratory. It surpasses that of the Surface Pro 4 or Apple MacBook. As a reminder, we are dealing with a 13.5-inch IPS panel, in 3: 2 format in a definition of 3000 x 2000 px.

The figures speak for themselves: maximum brightness of 430 cd / m², contrast ratio of 1,310: 1, delta E of 1.3 and color temperature set at 6,940 K. Add an overall reflection rate of only 12% and you get a very readable screen, whatever the lighting conditions.


Microsoft slow us the most upscale version of the Surface Book, billed a whopping € 2,919. We were therefore relatively confident when we launched our benchmarks, and the results were indeed, overall, very satisfactory. The Intel Core i7-6600U processor (2 cores clocked between 2.6 and 3.4 GHz), coupled with 16 GB of RAM achieves a very good power index. If the MacBook Pro 2015 achieves a better score, the Yoga 900, also a premium laptop, is slightly out of date, just like the Surface Pro 4 with Core i5.

In use, it is therefore very difficult to take the Surface Book into default, all the more since the update deployed by Microsoft last week. Indeed, some of our colleagues who received the product a few days before us seem to have noticed a lot of bugs, especially concerning the standby and the management of the hinge. None of this on our side: the use of Windows 10 is fluid, the machine immediately enters standby as soon as it is closed and all uses, even the most advanced, are no problem. We only encountered, once, a problem with the scrolling of the touchpad, which was solved by restarting the PC.


Here we come to the main difference between this Surface Book model and the previous ones. Microsoft has indeed carried out a technical update of the integrated graphics card and replaces the GeForce 940M with the GeForce GTX 965M. If we stay on the previous generation of Nvidia GPUs, the performance gain between the 940M and the 965M is real and very significant. Now the Surface Book becomes a portable PC which is also used to play, even if it is of course necessary to make some concessions on the levels of graphic details.

Playing at 30 frames / second and more requires limiting yourself to Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 px) and often setting the graphic settings to a level oscillating between "medium" and "high". Some examples: 37.5 fps on Metro Last Light (very high quality, normal motion blur, SSAA disabled), 35 fps on The Witcher 3 (graphics on "medium", digital processing on "medium"), 28 i / s on Rise of the Tomb Raider (high level of detail, FXAA activated), or even 54 i / s on Crysis 3 (standard system specifications, low SMAA, "high" texture quality).

Mobility / Autonomy

With the arrival of a more powerful graphics card, Microsoft had the good idea to increase the battery capacity of the Surface Book. Or rather batteries, since there is one in the chassis and another in the screen. The first displays 62 Wh (compared to 52 on the previous model) and the second remains at 18 Wh. A good balance between power and battery, which allows this Surface Book to be just as autonomous as its predecessor, despite a slightly more energy-consuming configuration.

Our streaming video playback test (Netflix under Chrome, headphones plugged in, brightness at 200 cd / m², backlight off) thus ran for 7:43 (compared to 8 hours on the first model). Use during an entire working day is therefore quite possible. On the other hand, on the tablet side, no miracle, it is difficult to use only the Surface Book screen for more than 2 hours. Charging is in any case very fast, since we go from 0 to 100% of batteries in 2h15.


No miracle, the audio part of the Surface Book remains very average and does not necessarily do better than that of other laptops on the market. The headphone output delivers correct sound, with very little distortion (0.02%), enough power (118 mVrms) and good reproduction of the sound spectrum.

Speakers side (graph above), however, is much more mixed. The power is very low and the distortion still very present. Difficult to distinguish the bass, while the treble is, conversely, a little too present.


This new version of the Surface Book keeps its promises in terms of power and the product can now be perfectly suited as an extra game machine. We also find the qualities that had enchanted us last year (general construction, user comfort, autonomy, screen), but we regret a lack of development in terms of connectivity and a tendency to emit a lot of noise when the graphics card starts to heat up. A good development, but not significant enough to increase the final grade.