Surface Book 2 flies higher with eighth-gen Core and Pascal

Microsoft surprised us with its Surface Book 2 this morning. In one fell swoop, the company cleared away most of the head-scratching hardware choices that have graced older versions of its flexible, flippable detachable. The new machines can tap Intel's eighth-generation Core CPUs with four cores and eight threads, and they'll get graphics horsepower from Nvidia's Pascal chips. For the first time, Microsoft is also scaling up the Surface Book to 15 inches to give creators a larger canvas to work with.

Let's start with the big dog. The 15-inch machine will ship with Intel's Core i7-8650U CPU inside. That chip boasts a 4.2 GHz Turbo speed and a 1.9 GHz base clock. Microsoft pairs the i7-8650U with a GeForce GTX 1060 6GB graphics chip, although whether the Book 2 is a Max-Q design remains a mystery. The 15" Book comes with a 3240x2160 "PixelSense" display that claims a 1600:1 static contrast ratio. 16GB of RAM comes standard on this model, and it's the only option. Solid-state storage options start at 256GB and stretch through 512GB and 1TB drives. Like past Surface Books, the machine can be used as a regular notebook, a tablet, a Wacom-esque drawing surface, and in a sort of easel mode thanks to its versatile hinge. The 15" Book 2 is 0.9" (2.3 cm) thick and weighs 4.2 lb (1.9 kg) all told.

The 13" model of the Surface Book 2 sticks with a dual-core Kaby Lake Core i5-7300U CPU, 256GB of storage, and 8GB of RAM as its base option. The entry-level Book 2 has no discrete graphics or any provision for adding them. To really rev up the smaller Book 2, you'll need to start ticking option boxes. Thankfully, Microsoft makes doing so worthwhile. The upgraded 13" machine offers the same Core i7-8650U CPU as the larger Book 2, and it can house an optional GeForce GTX 1050 graphics chip with 2GB of RAM in tow. Along with the beefier CPU and graphics adapter, Microsoft offers up to 16GB of RAM and SSDs as large as 1TB. This model has a 3000x2000 PixelSense display, it's 0.9" (2.3 cm) thick, and it weighs 3.4 pounds (1.5 kg) in its fully-docked mode.

Microsoft claims both versions of the Surface Book 2 are good for up to 17 hours of battery life in their fully-docked modes. Both feature two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, one USB Type-C port (albeit without Thunderbolt 3 behind it), 5MP front and 8MP rear cameras, and Dolby Atmos support through the headphone jack. Both machines will offer support for Microsoft's Surface Pen and Dial peripherals. Pre-orders for both devices will open November 9. Full pricing details will presumably be released then. Shipments will begin November 16.

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