Microsoft

Surface Pro 6 vs. Surface Laptop 2: Which should you buy?


Style meets substance

Surface Laptop 2


Pro versatility

Surface Pro 6


The Surface Laptop 2 is a powerful continuation of Microsoft’s sleek laptop line, with great lapability and high-powered specs. The laptop form factor restricts it in the tablet and inking department, but it’s still capable for some light annotations and signatures.

$1,000+ at Microsoft

Pros

  • Classic laptop form factor
  • Great on the desk as well as on your lap
  • Better battery life than the Pro

Cons

  • No tablet-style mode
  • No Surface Pen storage
  • No expandable MicroSD storage

The Surface Pro 6 is the latest addition to the Surface family, as one of the most powerful Windows 10 2-in-1s out there. The detachable keyboard and pen storage make this a great device for professional digital artists on the go, but you’ll have to buy those accessories separately.

$900+ at Microsoft

Pros

  • Detachable keyboard for tablet use
  • Kickstand adds to its versatility
  • Magnetic Surface Pen storage
  • MicroSD storage option

Cons

  • Keyboard and pen sold separately
  • Not too great to use in the lap
  • Less battery life and thermal space than the Laptop 2

Ultimately the battle between the Pro and the Laptop boils down to their form factors. Do you need 2-in-1 with great inking support, pr would you prefer something a little more traditional?

Category Surface Laptop 2 Surface Pro 6
Display 13.5-inch Pixel Sense display
10 point multi-touch
12.3-inch Pixel Sense display
10 point multi-touch
Display resolution 2256 x 1504 (201ppi)
Aspect Ratio: 3:2
2736 x 1824 (267 PPI)
Aspect Ratio: 3:2
Software Windows 10 Home Windows 10 Home
Processor 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U or i7-8650U 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U or i7-8650U
Storage (SSD) 128GB, 256GB, 512GB SSD 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Memory 8GB or 16GB LPDDR3 RAM 8GB or 16GB LPDDR3 RAM
Graphics Intel Graphics UHD 620 Intel UHD Graphics 620
Rear camera None 8.0MP autofocus camera with 1080p HD video
Front camera 720p
Windows Hello face-authentication
1080p HD
Windows Hello face-authentication
Speakers Omnisonic speakers with Dolby Audio Premium 1.6W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium
Ports One full-size USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, headset jack, and Surface Connect One full-size USB 3.0
Mini DisplayPort
Headset jack
Surface Connect
microSDXC card reader
Sensors Ambient light sensor Ambient light sensor
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Keyboard Full-sized, backlit, soft-touch
1.5mm travel
Type Cover sold separately ($130)
Security TPM 2.0 TPM 2.0
Battery life 14.5 hours of use 13.5 hours of use
Pen Surface Pen ($99) Surface Pen ($99)
Weight i5 2.76 lbs (1.25 kg)
i7 2.83 lbs (1.28 kg)
1.7 lbs to 1.73 lbs (770 g to 784 g)
Dimensions 12.13 in (308.02 mm) x 8.79 in (223.27mm) x 0.57 in (14.47 mm) 11.50 in (292 mm) x 7.9 in (201 mm) x 0.33 in (8.5 mm)

Inking vs. Lapability

Surface Pro 6

On paper, the Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2 share many of the same internal characteristics, revolving around the latest quad-core processors from Intel, with improved thermals to reduce throttling as seen with the previous generation. We have full, comprehensive reviews of both the Surface Laptop 2 and Surface Pro 6 available for more information. They’re both solid devices, but which one you go for depends on what you’re looking for.

The Surface Laptop 2, like its predecessor, is slim and light, perfect for plugging away at a desk or in your lap. Unlike the Surface Pro line, the Surface Laptop 2 doesn’t have a kickstand, and should feel a lot more natural to use when you don’t have a desk handy. Sadly, it doesn’t include a 360-degree hinge, which prevents it from providing a solid inking or tablet experience, despite sporting a digitizer and a 10-point touch screen. At best, you’ll be signing documents, annotating, and doing the occasional tap here and there. Of course, if you’re not interested in doing much digital inking, all of these facts might be a plus, rather than a negative.

On the flip side, the Surface Pro 6 is a bit awkward to use as “lapable” device, but the trade off is a better inking experience. If you’re a digital artist or student who prefers taking hand-written notes (which are, studies say, better for learning), then you’ll want a Surface Pro 6 (of course, be aware that that the Surface Pen costs extra). There are other differences between the two worth being aware of, though.

Surface Laptop 2.

The Surface Laptop 2 gets slightly better performance overall than the Pro 6 owing to its form factor — there’s simply more spare room to distribute heat. The Pro 6 by comparison is packed a lot more densely. The trade off is that the Pro 6 is designed to be a true “mobile” experience, with a reverse-facing camera which is surprisingly capable, as well as an accelerometer and a gyroscope. It also comes with microSD expandable storage, whereas the Laptop 2 does not.

Additionally, the Laptop 2’s alcantara fabric keyboard finish is often the subject of controversy. Some say it stains easily over time, and isn’t particularly easy to clean. Plus, if it gets damaged, you’ll have to send away the whole laptop to get it repaired, whereas with the Pro 6, you need only send the detachable keyboard in for repairs. However, some think it adds some luxury to the product, so it depends on your preference.

The Laptop 2 has a slightly worse display than the Pro 6, with a lower PPI density across a larger panel. Digital artists will enjoy the Pro 6’s richer display, but will envy the Laptop 2’s battery life, which is at least two hours better than that of the Pro 6.

So, which should you buy?

Most of the differences between the two devices are relatively minor. The Laptop 2 gets slightly better battery life and performance while the Pro 6 gets a better display and more feature versatility. The biggest question is: how much do you value inking?

The Pro 6’s form factor lends itself to inking far better than the Laptop 2, with an experience completed with magnetic Pen storage. If you’re a digital artist or student looking for a perfect note-taking companion, look no further than the Pro 6. If you want something more traditional you can use in your lap, and don’t care so much about inking or tablet-style usage, get the Laptop 2.

Sleek and sexy


Surface Laptop 2

The perfect pal for portable productivity

While the lack of configuration modes prevents it from being great for fans of inking, this is a great device for regular laptop users. Quad-core processing and new cooling techniques make this an absurdly powerful device, squeezed into a small package.

Power in versatility


Surface Pro 6

A versatile creator’s tool

It can be a bit awkward to use in your lap, but the Pro 6 is a digital artist or note-taker’s dream, boasting quad-core power, a detachable keyboard, and a magnetic Surface Pen storage on the side of the device. Do note though that the accessories cost extra.

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