Microsoft is updating the Surface Laptop with 8th Gen Intel processors, more RAM, and a matte black finish. The second-generation model, called the Surface Laptop 2, is supposed to be 85 percent faster and includes twice as much RAM in its base configuration. It goes on sale October 16th, and preorders start today.
The big news this year is that the laptop’s base model, at $999, jumps from 4GB to 8GB of RAM, correcting one of the original model’s weak spots. But other than that and the new processors, nothing else appears to be changing — the hardware is identical: there’s a still a 13.5-inch display with a 2256 x 1504 resolution, and Microsoft is still estimating 14.5 hours of battery life for nonstop video playback. Storage still starts at a 128GB SSD and goes up to 1TB, and ports are still limited to a single USB 3.0 and Mini DisplayPort. That means another year without USB-C.
The original Surface Laptop was announced in May 2017, and it became a surprise favorite, thanks to its balance of size, power, and style. But the laptop did have shortcomings. The original model started at just 4GB of RAM and didn’t include USB-C ports, despite them becoming increasingly standard. Microsoft has addressed one of those complaints today by upping the RAM, but it’s still sticking by traditional USB and the Surface Connector for docking and charging. That might be okay if you’re replacing an existing Surface device, but it’s otherwise a miss on a laptop that you’re likely to use for four or more years, as USB-C grows ever more common.
While the first Surface Laptop is still one of the best laptop options around, this new model faces some stiffer competition. In recent months, Huawei has claimed the title for best laptop, thanks to a model with ultra-thin bezels, a simple and light design, and plenty of power (and ports). But that laptop starts at a much higher price — $1,500 — and is going for a somewhat different audience.
With the Surface Laptop, Microsoft is targeting the college student and the everyday customer who just wants a reliable machine to get things done. The Surface Laptop 2 doesn’t look like it’s going to change that formula much; it’s just updating specs to be a bit more competitive in 2018.
Correction October 2nd, 6PM ET: The Surface Laptop 2 starts at $999, not $899.