Unprofessional Product Review: Microsoft Surface Book

After the smashing success of our first product review, we’re back for another priceless breakdown for our beloved followers. This time, we’ll be looking at the Microsoft Surface Book. Before getting into how it does, nerd out a bit on the system stats of the Surface Book I use.

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-6600U CPU @ 2.6GHz

  • RAM: 16 GB

  • Hard Drive: ~500GB

  • OS: 64-bit Windows 10

Who is this machine for?

Great question! Since I am an engineer, and I assume most of you are (or are at least technical) is this machine for you? Maybe! Ahh, I did it to you again! If you’re an engineer that has fallen into the unfortunate trap of primarily using Microsoft Office products, the Microsoft Surface Book comes highly recommended. On the other hand, if you’re an engineer that actually has to use design software like CAD, CAM or Simulation, you might want to look elsewhere. Display issues aside (because this is likely a Windows 10 issue), working with even remotely large assembly files in CAD programs brings things to a grinding halt. Parts or small assemblies, sure. Taking drawings to the factory floor? Not a problem. Actual design? No thank you.

That being said, I have had no trouble with any other software. Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator both run without a hitch. Camtasia for video editing, OBS for podcast recordings, Cura for 3D printing. This machine is great for all of that. Oh, and most importantly of course, Facebook and Instagram have no problems!

What do I love about this machine?

There is a lot to be excited about with this thing. First off, it shows off great peacock images as you can see above. In all seriousness though, you will notice that they are working with the peacock in Photoshop, and can do so with a mouse or the stylus. Extremely helpful if you are an artistic type, unlike most engineers. Did I mention with one click you can disconnect the monitor to more easily show your plans to people or sketch a design? Pretty cool.

The battery life on this thing is also amazing! I run a pretty powerful Dell laptop as well, and it remains plugged in at all times so that it doesn’t die in under an hour. My Microsoft Surface Book can go the whole day without a charge, and maybe longer! Perfect for traveling, or for when you forget your charger at home.

Light weight is an understatement. Taking this on a road trip is so much better than any other laptop I have ever had, as you can take it out on the airplane without an issue and hauling it around from a hotel to the office is no sweat.

What do I hate about it?

Of course, for every good there is a bad. Let’s start with the constant updating and multiple blue screens of death. I'll give this a little bit of a pass as it probably is a Windows 10 issue as well as a Surface Book problem, but the first 2 months of ownership was basically a constant restarting cycle. In fact, multiple times I had to let the battery die in order to restart as the machine was unresponsive.

Then there is the display. It is really crisp. So many pixels. BUT inside just about every product the drop down menus are tiny. So small that you could have trouble reading what you are trying to click on. Again, this is likely a mix of Windows 10 and Surface Book not being optimized for running products together, but wouldn’t you think Microsoft would have that one figured out? I’m sure there is a fix for this, but one of the endless software updates should have taken care of this for me automatically.

Last but not least are the ports included. Where is my HDMI?! Oh it doesn’t exist. That’s convenient. Then there are only two USB ports. At a minimum I have 2 being used, sometimes 4 or 5, so this just doesn’t cut it. On top of that, both of them are on the left side of the computer. Not a big deal, unless you’re still stuck in the world of the wired mouse like me, where you then have to work the cord around the computer and keep getting snagged. Yes, I could change my ways, but I have tried the horrible folding Microsoft mouse and hate it (spoiler; it would get a 1 star review).

Overall Rating:

I’m going to give this two scores, because one just doesn’t seem to be enough. For an engineer that is using design software on a daily basis, or ever, I’d give the Microsoft Surface Book a score of 4/10. If you can’t really design anything bigger than a few parts, how useful could this be? It is really only earning points for being able to run MS Office, which is what most of us use the most anyway.

For the rest of you out there, the graphics artist, the home user, the light gamer, I would give the Surface Book a score of 8/10 after the first few months of updating and shutting down on you. If you don’t need many ports and you take the time to figure out the display issues, you might decide this is a ten for you.

All and all, I guess that makes the Microsoft Surface book a 6/10. If you have any solutions to my issues above, have feedback of your own to give, or just want to say hi, feel free to reach out to us at unprofessionalengineering@gmail.com. Maybe you’ll even get a shout out on the next podcast episode!

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