Notebookcheck

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 (Core i5, 256 GB) Laptop Review

Andreas Osthoff, Felicitas Krohn (translated by Katherine Bodner), 01/04/2019

Great display, relatively weak connectivity. The new Surface Laptop 2 from Microsoft is a slightly reworked version of the old model with an up-to-date processor. Overall, this creates a well-balanced package. We are particularly happy with the 3:2 screen. Unfortunately, the manufacturer has not improved connectivity.

Just over a year ago, Microsoft presented its first notebook, the Surface Laptop. This year's update is simply named Surface 2 and follows the basic concept of its predecessor. The largest changes are the new quad-core processor and the matte-black model. The unusual 3:2 display remains the same and is still rather unique in the world of notebooks. Particularly productive applications benefit from the additional vertical space that is available in comparison to normal 16:9 panels.          

Our test unit is named LQN-00004 and is currently available from $1500. The configuration includes the current Core i5-8250U processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 256-GB NVMe SSD. Users can also choose a stronger Core i7, 16 GB of RAM or larger storage devices (512 GB or 1024 GB). Some of these options are limited to certain color schemes or hardware combinations, which makes things rather complicated.

The biggest competitors of the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 are the Dell XPS 13 9370, the Asus ZenBook S UX391 and the new Apple MacBook Air, although this device is a little more expensive than the others. Microsoft itself has produced another competitor - the Surface Pro 6, which can be considered a very good convertible. The screen of the convertible is slightly smaller at 12.3 inches, but its performance can easily keep up with that of normal laptops. In combination with the optional Signature keyboard, a comparable configuration of the Surface Pro 6 is actually slightly more expensive than our test unit.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004
Graphics adapter
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Core: 1100 MHz, Memory: 933 MHz, Intel 24.20.100.6195
Memory
8192 MB 
, LPDDR3-1866, soldered on
Display
13.5 inch 3:2, 2256 x 1504 pixel 201 PPI, capacitive, VVX14T092N00, IPS, glossy: yes
Mainboard
Intel Kaby Lake-U iHDCP 2.2 Premium PCH
Storage
SK Hynix BC501 NVMe 256 GB, 256 GB 
, 202 GB free
Soundcard
Intel Kaby Lake-U/Y PCH - High Definition Audio
Connections
1 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 DisplayPort, Audio Connections: 3.5-mm audio jack, Brightness Sensor
Networking
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.1
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 14.5 x 308 x 223.2 ( = 0.57 x 12.13 x 8.79 in)
Battery
45 Wh Lithium-Ion
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 720p
Additional features
Speakers: Stereo, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, 44-watt power supply, 12 Months Warranty, TPM
Weight
1.251 kg ( = 44.13 oz / 2.76 pounds), Power Supply: 213 g ( = 7.51 oz / 0.47 pounds)
Price
1299 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case - Metal and alcantara in four colors

No changes have been made to the case apart from the fact that Microsoft is now offering the Surface Laptop 2 in four different colors. Apart from our test unit in platinum, users can also choose black, burgundy or cobalt blue cases. The color of the alcantara surface on the top of the base unit changes accordingly. This material feels very nice and does not show up fingerprints and dirt immediately. In addition, the surface does not feel as warm under load as metal tends to do.

The remainder of the case is made of aluminum and is very well made. We encountered no creaking and the stability of both the base unit and the display lid is very good. The touchscreen is further protected by a layer of Corning Gorilla glass 3. The main hinge is well adjusted and only allows for minimal wobbling of the screen. The quality of the Microsoft laptop can easily keep up with its Apple and Dell competitors.  

When it comes to maintenance, Microsoft has unfortunately decided to take the same path as with its convertibles by making it impossible for users to open up the device. There are no visible screws and opening the glued case risks damaging parts. The competing ultrabooks/subnotebooks are not particularly maintenance-friendly either, but they often allow access to the cooling fan, SSD and battery.

Due to its slightly smaller display, the Surface Pro 6 has a significant advantage in our size comparison. If we only look at the devices in our comparison field, the Dell XPS 13 is the most compact device, followed by the MacBook Air. The Surface Laptop 2 is slightly deeper due to its unusually sized panel, but it is narrower than the ZenBook S from Asus. Particularly the direct comparison with the recently presented MacBook Air shows that subjectively the difference is not very noticeable; the Surface Laptop 2 easily fits into most bags. If you are looking for a very compact device, you should take a look at the convertible Surface Pro 6.

Size Comparison

311 mm / 12.2 inch 213 mm / 8.39 inch 12.9 mm / 0.508 inch 1 kg2.24 lbs308 mm / 12.1 inch 223.2 mm / 8.79 inch 14.5 mm / 0.571 inch 1.3 kg2.76 lbs304.1 mm / 12 inch 212.4 mm / 8.36 inch 15.6 mm / 0.614 inch 1.2 kg2.73 lbs302 mm / 11.9 inch 199 mm / 7.83 inch 11.6 mm / 0.4567 inch 1.2 kg2.69 lbs292 mm / 11.5 inch 201 mm / 7.91 inch 8.5 mm / 0.3346 inch 1.1 kg2.4 lbs

Connectivity - Surface Laptop still missing Thunderbolt 3

Surface Connect
Surface Connect

As Microsoft has not made any changes to the case, one of the device's largest weaknesses remains as well: Microsoft has chosen to forego the modern Thunderbolt 3 connector. The manufacturer has instead chosen to include its own Surface Connect port, for which the company offers several accessories, including a docking station. The mini-DisplayPort takes care of video output and there is also one normal USB 3.0 port, which continues to be important in everyday use.       

We understand that Microsoft wanted to keep its proprietary Surface Connect port in order to ensure compatibility with its own accessories. However, the manufacturer could have installed a Thunderbolt 3 port instead of the mini-DisplayPort. This would have future-proofed the device and also enabled the connection of eGPUs for users who want to increase the device's graphics performance. The missing Thunderbolt 3 also makes third-party docking stations incompatible. For now, however, the missing Thunderbolt 3 connector should not have a very large impact on everyday use. 

A further disadvantage is the missing SD card reader, for which there would have been plenty of space available. We noticed that sometimes the magnetic plug of the power supply did not connect to the device properly due to the shape of the base unit. We came across this problem several times during our testing period, particularly when the device was standing on a table.

Right: Surface Connect (power & docking)
Right: Surface Connect (power & docking)
Left: USB 3.1 Type-A (Gen.1), Mini-DisplayPort, 3.5-mm audio jack
Left: USB 3.1 Type-A (Gen.1), Mini-DisplayPort, 3.5-mm audio jack

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Communication

Microsoft still uses the Wi-Fi module from Marvell (AVASTAR Wireless-AC) that supports all current Wi-Fi standards, including the fast 802.11 ac. It is a 2x2 module with decent transfer rates, reaching over 500 Mb/s in our standardized Wi-Fi test (Router Linksys EA8500). Both the old Surface Laptop and the Surface Pro 6 offer comparable speeds while the new MacBook Air is actually slightly slower. The comparison with the Dell XPS 13 and the Asus ZenBook S UX391 shows that there are faster modules available - from Killer or Intel, for example. Our module's performance is absolutely sufficient for everyday use and we encountered no connection issues during testing.

The Wi-Fi module also supports Bluetooth connections. These are limited to the 4.1 standard, however. Users will have to do without the newer 5.0 protocol and WWAN module. However, the same goes for the competition.

Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Dell XPS 13 9370 i5 UHD
Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1435 Wireless Network Adapter
639 MBit/s ∼100% +11%
Asus ZenBook S UX391U
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
625 MBit/s ∼98% +9%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller
593 (min: 560, max: 611) MBit/s ∼93% +3%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller
576 (min: 549, max: 597) MBit/s ∼90%
Apple MacBook Air 2018
Broadcom 802.11ac
570 (min: 566, max: 572) MBit/s ∼89% -1%
Microsoft Surface Laptop i5
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller
534 MBit/s ∼84% -7%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (71 - 950, n=99)
533 MBit/s ∼83% -7%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller
559 (min: 519, max: 577) MBit/s ∼100% +3%
Microsoft Surface Laptop i5
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller
556 MBit/s ∼99% +2%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004
Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller
543 (min: 486, max: 584) MBit/s ∼97%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (72 - 949, n=99)
522 MBit/s ∼93% -4%
Asus ZenBook S UX391U
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
507 MBit/s ∼91% -7%
Dell XPS 13 9370 i5 UHD
Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1435 Wireless Network Adapter
505 MBit/s ∼90% -7%
Apple MacBook Air 2018
Broadcom 802.11ac
461 (min: 216, max: 525) MBit/s ∼82% -15%
0102030405060708090100110120130140150160170180190200210220230240250260270280290300310320330340350360370380390400410420430440450460470480490500510520530540550560570580590600Tooltip
; iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10; iperf 3.1.3: Ø575 (549-597)
; iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10; iperf 3.1.3: Ø543 (486-584)

Accessories

The device comes with a compact 44-watt power supply and several service brochures. Microsoft offers a wide range of accessories, including docking stations and different input devices that can be connected via the Surface Connect port.

Warranty

The Surface Laptop 2 comes with a one-year warranty that cannot be extended. The XPS 13 has a significant advantage here, as Dell offers a large range of service options (for an additional charge). Please see our Guarantees, Return policies and Warranties article for country-specific information.

Input Devices

Microsoft has not made any changes to the input devices of the Surface Laptop, as this was not necessary. Compared to most slim subnotebooks, the keys have a generous travel of 1.5 mm, which when combined with a precise stop enables a comfortable typing experience. The keyboard is not particularly loud either. Microsoft has included three-level white backlighting that is a little more even than on the previous model. Unfortunately, the backlighting does not turn on automatically when it gets darker (although the device is equipped with an ambient light sensor). Overall, the keyboard is not quite at par with very good business laptops, but it is very comfortable for a slim subnotebook. It is definitely suitable for long typing sessions. 

However, there is a small disadvantage: The position of the power button takes some getting used to. It is integrated into the normal keyboard and positioned between the F12 and delete keys. Particularly at the beginning users might hit this key by mistake - although this did not occur during testing.

Input devices
Input devices
Backlit keyboard (maximum brightness)
Backlit keyboard (maximum brightness)

Touchpad & Touchscreen

The touchpad is a ClickPad with integrated mouse keys, and it supports the Microsoft Precision standard. The glass surface has very good gliding properties - only damp fingers might have difficulties sliding over the surface smoothly. Overall, the cursor is easy to move and gestures with up to five fingers are recognized well. The ClickPad is well-made and does not rattle, although the clicking sound made by the integrated mouse keys is relatively loud.

Of course, you can also use the touchscreen for inputs. The capacitive touchscreen recognizes up to 10 inputs simultaneously. As you would expect from a modern touchscreen, there are no limitations as to the operation and inputs are implemented immediately. The screen is compatible with input pens and Microsoft also has its own suitable model (the Surface Pen). Whether the touchscreen is really useful depends on what the device is being used for.

Display - 13.5-inch PixelSense

Subpixel array with visible touch layer
Subpixel array with visible touch layer
Slight backlight bleeding at the edges (amplified in this image)
Slight backlight bleeding at the edges (amplified in this image)

The highlight of the Surface Laptop 2 is undoubtedly its 3:2 display. Apart from Apple (16:10), basically all other subnotebooks are equipped with 16:9 displays that are very suitable for displaying videos but often require a lot of scrolling when using more productive applications (for example when using spreadsheets). The 3:2 panel is more suitable in these situations. The 13.5-inch panel has a resolution of 2256x1504 pixels and therefore a pixel density of 201 PPI. This value is below those of many 4K panels, but particularly considering the size of the screen, it is absolutely acceptable. In practice, the image is very sharp and we subjectively felt that the quality of the screen was very good. We do not often see such full colors and lifelike images.

Like its predecessor, our test unit is equipped with a panel from Panasonic (VVX14T012N00). The brightness is still around 400 cd/m², but the black value has improved (0.24), which also leads to a significantly better contrast ratio (>1600:1) and it explains the lifelike images. These values are very good, even if there are also brighter panels around - for example in the Surface Pro 6 or the Dell XPS 13 4K. Both the new Apple MacBook Air and the Asus ZenBook S UX391 have darker displays. Microsoft has included an ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts the brightness of the panel according to the current surroundings. 

At maximum brightness and with dark content, you can see slight backlight bleeding around the edges. However, this is not particularly bothersome. The panel does not use PWM to regulate brightness. However, its response rates are not particularly high. As this is not a gaming device (and it is not possible to connect an external GPU), this should not be an issue for most users.

402
cd/m²
396
cd/m²
387
cd/m²
408
cd/m²
392
cd/m²
387
cd/m²
393
cd/m²
376
cd/m²
365
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 408 cd/m² Average: 389.6 cd/m² Minimum: 2.6 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 89 %
Center on Battery: 392 cd/m²
Contrast: 1633:1 (Black: 0.24 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 3.2 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.2, calibrated: 1.4
ΔE Greyscale 4.5 | 0.64-98 Ø6.4
95% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 63.9% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.2
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004
VVX14T092N00, , 2256x1504, 13.5
Microsoft Surface Laptop i5
ID: MEI96A2, Name: Panasonic VVX14T092N00, , 2256x1504, 13.5
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
LGPhilips LP123WQ112604, , 2736x1824, 12.3
Dell XPS 13 9370 i5 UHD
ID: Sharp SHP148B, Name: LQ133D1, Dell P/N: 8XDHY, , 3840x2160, 13.3
Apple MacBook Air 2018
APPA039, , 2560x1600, 13.3
Asus ZenBook S UX391U
AUO B133HAN04.9, , 1920x1080, 13.3
Response Times
24%
42%
7%
42%
36%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
69.2 (34.8, 34.4)
50.8 (25.6, 25.2)
27%
43 (21, 22)
38%
67.2 (31.6, 35.6)
3%
39.6 (20.8, 18.8)
43%
44.8 (22.8, 22)
35%
Response Time Black / White *
46.4 (26, 20.4)
37.2 (20, 17.2)
20%
25 (13, 12)
46%
41.6 (22.8, 18.8)
10%
28 (15.6, 12.4)
40%
29.2 (16, 13.2)
37%
PWM Frequency
22000 (50)
2500 (20)
113600 (75)
Screen
6%
-3%
-6%
16%
-29%
Brightness middle
392
384.2
-2%
484
23%
496.4
27%
320
-18%
299
-24%
Brightness
390
378
-3%
473
21%
469
20%
315
-19%
300
-23%
Brightness Distribution
89
90
1%
91
2%
84
-6%
95
7%
92
3%
Black Level *
0.24
0.36
-50%
0.33
-38%
0.5
-108%
0.29
-21%
0.26
-8%
Contrast
1633
1067
-35%
1467
-10%
993
-39%
1103
-32%
1150
-30%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
3.2
1.8
44%
4.29
-34%
2.9
9%
1.2
62%
5.6
-75%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
6.3
4.2
33%
6.46
-3%
5.26
17%
3.2
49%
9.1
-44%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 calibrated *
1.4
1.34
4%
0.5
64%
2.6
-86%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
4.5
1.2
73%
4.3
4%
3.9
13%
0.8
82%
5.5
-22%
Gamma
2.2 100%
2.21 100%
2.51 88%
2.066 106%
2.2 100%
2.47 89%
CCT
7556 86%
6708 97%
7315 89%
7169 91%
6548 99%
7533 86%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
63.9
63.7
0%
62
-3%
63.9
0%
62.1
-3%
58.9
-8%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
95
94.2
-1%
95
0%
98.2
3%
96
1%
90.3
-5%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
15% / 9%
20% / 4%
1% / -4%
29% / 20%
4% / -19%

* ... smaller is better

We measured the display with our spectrophotometer XRite i1Pro2 and the results are already quite good ex-works, although they are not as good as those of its predecessor. We measured a slight color cast (blue-green) and the color temperature is too cool. The grayscale deviations are just above the ideal range (DeltaE <3). The situation is a little better for colors and there are no large outliers. Users who do not need a good screen for image-processing do not necessarily have to calibrate the screen.

Grayscale before calibration (target color space sRGB)
Grayscale before calibration (target color space sRGB)
Saturation before calibration (target color space sRGB)
Saturation before calibration (target color space sRGB)
ColorChecker before calibration (target color space sRGB)
ColorChecker before calibration (target color space sRGB)
Grayscale after calibration (sRGB)
Grayscale after calibration (sRGB)
Saturation after calibration (target color space sRGB)
Saturation after calibration (target color space sRGB)
ColorChecker after calibration (target color space sRGB)
ColorChecker after calibration (target color space sRGB)
sRGB: 95%
sRGB: 95%
AdobeRGB: 63.9%
AdobeRGB: 63.9%

Our measurements of the screen after calibration show what great potential the screen has. While brightness decreased slightly (~360 cd/m²), both the grayscale display and color temperature are excellent and the color cast has disappeared. The colors also deviate less and only 100% red has a DeltaE value of over 3. The icm file from our calibration can be downloaded for free above.

This panel is of very high quality and is very suitable for image and video-processing - at least for those who work with the sRGB color space, which the screen covers almost entirely. Users who want to work with the larger AdobeRGB color space will have to connect an external screen.

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
46.4 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 26 ms rise
↘ 20.4 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 99 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (25.5 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
69.2 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 34.8 ms rise
↘ 34.4 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 98 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (40.8 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM not detected

In comparison: 52 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9868 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

The screen of the Surface Laptop 2 is very reflective, which means the device is not really suited for outdoor use. If you do work outside, you will have to position the device to avoid reflections from sunlight or bright surfaces. Otherwise it will be difficult to read the screen. The viewing angles of the IPS panel are good as usual. Only at very wide angles will users notice a brightening of the display. This should not have an impact on everyday use.

Outdoors (with reflections)
Outdoors (with reflections)
Outdoors (without reflections)
Outdoors (without reflections)
Viewing-angle stability
Viewing-angle stability

Performance

LatencyMon with active Wi-Fi connection
LatencyMon with active Wi-Fi connection
 

Processor - quad-core Kaby Lake-R

Intel Extreme Tuning Utility
Intel Extreme Tuning Utility

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is available with either a Core i5-8250U or a Core i7-8550U. The two processors both belong to the Kaby Lake Refresh series from Intel and have four cores. The Core i5 has a base clock rate of 4x 1.6 GHz and a maximum turbo clock rate of 3.4 GHz for all cores. Thanks to the higher number of cores, the processor is faster in multi-core scenarios compared to the old Core i5-7200U with which the previous Surface Laptop was equipped. You can read up further technical information on the Core i5-8250U here.

Like their predecessors, Intel's Kaby Lake R chips have a typical power consumption of 15 watts, although we know from experience that these chips consume significantly more power, particularly when clocking at turbo rates. The performance of the individual processors can therefore vary depending on the manufacturer and model. Microsoft allows the Core i5 to have a maximum power consumption of 25 watts during the first 28 seconds and then limits consumption to 18 watts. In our Cinebench Multi test, this means that the processor clocks at 4x 3.0-3.1 GHz (25 watts) and then 4x 2.6 GHz (18 watts). The performance remains stable under continuous load and only drops by a few percentage points.

Overall, the performance of the Core i5 is only average and we have already experienced i5 chips that offered significantly better results. We therefore doubt that the optional Core i7 is worth the additional price for the Surface Laptop 2. The comparison with the Surface Pro 6 shows that this device is only slightly faster than our test unit despite being equipped with the faster Core i7-8650U. The predecessor is topped by about 82% and the new MacBook Air only offers half the performance. By the way, the CPU performance of the new Surface Laptop 2 is not limited when running on battery. 

0102030405060708090100110120130140150160170180190200210220230240250260270280290300310320330340350360370380390400410420430440450460470480490500510520530540550560570580590600610620630640650660Tooltip
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004 Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel Core i5-8250U: Ø551 (528.17-577.63)
Microsoft Surface Laptop i5 Intel Core i5-7200U, Intel Core i5-7200U: Ø308 (297.09-324.81)
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB Intel Core i7-8650U, Intel Core i7-8650U: Ø571 (559.56-638.59)
Dell XPS 13 9370 i5 UHD Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel Core i5-8250U: Ø603 (497.61-656.64)
Apple MacBook Air 2018 Intel Core i5-8210Y, Intel Core i5-8210Y; macOS: Ø277 (266.55-285.88)
Asus ZenBook S UX391U Intel Core i7-8550U, Intel Core i7-8550U; Quiet Mode off: Ø395 (373.59-570.04)
Asus ZenBook S UX391U Intel Core i7-8550U, Intel Core i7-8550U; Quiet Mode on: Ø253 (250.35-278.63)
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Asus ZenBook S UX391U
Intel Core i7-8550U
165 Points ∼100% +17%
Asus ZenBook S UX391U
Intel Core i7-8550U
108 Points ∼65% -23%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
Intel Core i7-8650U
163 Points ∼99% +16%
Dell XPS 13 9370 i5 UHD
Intel Core i5-8250U
142 Points ∼86% +1%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004
Intel Core i5-8250U
141 Points ∼85%
Average Intel Core i5-8250U
  (81 - 147, n=90)
141 Points ∼85% 0%
Apple MacBook Air 2018
Intel Core i5-8210Y
132 Points ∼80% -6%
Microsoft Surface Laptop i5
Intel Core i5-7200U
126 Points ∼76% -11%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (20 - 184, n=250)
113 Points ∼68% -20%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
Intel Core i7-8650U
639 Points ∼100% +8%
Dell XPS 13 9370 i5 UHD
Intel Core i5-8250U
636 Points ∼100% +8%
Asus ZenBook S UX391U
Intel Core i7-8550U
602 Points ∼94% +2%
Asus ZenBook S UX391U
Intel Core i7-8550U
301 Points ∼47% -49%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004
Intel Core i5-8250U
590 Points ∼92%
Average Intel Core i5-8250U
  (320 - 730, n=94)
570 Points ∼89% -3%
Microsoft Surface Laptop i5
Intel Core i5-7200U
324 Points ∼51% -45%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (32 - 721, n=260)
324 Points ∼51% -45%
Apple MacBook Air 2018
Intel Core i5-8210Y
285 Points ∼45% -52%
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
141 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
590 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
97.8 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
53.4 %
Help

System Performance

Modern processor, sufficient RAM and fast NVMe SSD - this is the recipe used by almost all modern subnotebooks and the result is a very reactive system. The same can be said for the Surface Laptop 2 and our test unit acts as expected. However, there were some issues with two tools: PCMark 10 did not run smoothly, which is why we can only show two sub scores, and HWiNFO was also aborted after about 20 seconds. We could not find a reason for these issues and all the other benchmarks went smoothly.

PCMark 10
Productivity
Asus ZenBook S UX391U
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung PM961 NVMe MZVLW512HMJP
6111 Points ∼100% +14%
Average Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (3851 - 6653, n=61)
5728 Points ∼94% +7%
Dell XPS 13 9370 i5 UHD
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV256G
5370 Points ∼88% 0%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
5353 Points ∼88% 0%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, SK Hynix BC501 NVMe 256 GB
5344 Points ∼87%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (1690 - 7281, n=65)
5122 Points ∼84% -4%
Apple MacBook Air 2018
UHD Graphics 617, 8210Y, Apple SSD AP0256
3902 Points ∼64% -27%
Essentials
Dell XPS 13 9370 i5 UHD
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV256G
8258 Points ∼100% +20%
Average Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (5855 - 9289, n=61)
7401 Points ∼90% +8%
Asus ZenBook S UX391U
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung PM961 NVMe MZVLW512HMJP
7087 Points ∼86% +3%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
7039 Points ∼85% +3%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, SK Hynix BC501 NVMe 256 GB
6862 Points ∼83%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (3073 - 8549, n=65)
6679 Points ∼81% -3%
Apple MacBook Air 2018
UHD Graphics 617, 8210Y, Apple SSD AP0256
4504 Points ∼55% -34%
Score
Dell XPS 13 9370 i5 UHD
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV256G
3678 Points ∼100%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
3448 Points ∼94%
Asus ZenBook S UX391U
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung PM961 NVMe MZVLW512HMJP
3321 Points ∼90%
Average Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (3407 - 4081, n=61)
3278 Points ∼89%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (1102 - 4344, n=68)
3051 Points ∼83%
Apple MacBook Air 2018
UHD Graphics 617, 8210Y, Apple SSD AP0256
2174 Points ∼59%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, SK Hynix BC501 NVMe 256 GB
0 Points ∼0%
PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, SK Hynix BC501 NVMe 256 GB
4923 Points ∼100%
Asus ZenBook S UX391U
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung PM961 NVMe MZVLW512HMJP
4882 Points ∼99% -1%
Average Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (2699 - 5106, n=53)
4647 Points ∼94% -6%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
4262 Points ∼87% -13%
Dell XPS 13 9370 i5 UHD
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV256G
4140 Points ∼84% -16%
Microsoft Surface Laptop i5
HD Graphics 620, 7200U, Toshiba THNSN0128GTYA
4106 Points ∼83% -17%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (1283 - 5363, n=193)
3990 Points ∼81% -19%
Apple MacBook Air 2018
UHD Graphics 617, 8210Y, Apple SSD AP0256
3209 Points ∼65% -35%
Creative Score Accelerated v2
Dell XPS 13 9370 i5 UHD
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV256G
4933 Points ∼100% +26%
Asus ZenBook S UX391U
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung PM961 NVMe MZVLW512HMJP
4707 Points ∼95% +20%
Average Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (3308 - 5090, n=35)
4594 Points ∼93% +17%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
4454 Points ∼90% +13%
Microsoft Surface Laptop i5
HD Graphics 620, 7200U, Toshiba THNSN0128GTYA
3962 Points ∼80% +1%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, SK Hynix BC501 NVMe 256 GB
3927 Points ∼80%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (1011 - 5544, n=146)
3605 Points ∼73% -8%
Apple MacBook Air 2018
UHD Graphics 617, 8210Y, Apple SSD AP0256
3285 Points ∼67% -16%
Home Score Accelerated v2
Average Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (2986 - 4458, n=64)
3602 Points ∼100% +14%
Asus ZenBook S UX391U
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung PM961 NVMe MZVLW512HMJP
3554 Points ∼99% +13%
Dell XPS 13 9370 i5 UHD
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV256G
3471 Points ∼96% +10%
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
3281 Points ∼91% +4%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, SK Hynix BC501 NVMe 256 GB
3153 Points ∼88%
Microsoft Surface Laptop i5
HD Graphics 620, 7200U, Toshiba THNSN0128GTYA
3071 Points ∼85% -3%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (1027 - 4182, n=219)
3020 Points ∼84% -4%
Apple MacBook Air 2018
UHD Graphics 617, 8210Y, Apple SSD AP0256
2484 Points ∼69% -21%
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
3153 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
3927 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
4923 points
Help

Storage Devices - NVMe SSD

Last year's Surface Laptop was equipped with a comparatively slow SATA III SSD (128 GB). Therefore, the basic configuration of the Surface Laptop 2 could easily still be equipped with this slow version rather than a fast NVMe SSD. The 256-GB M.2 SSD in our test unit is connected via the faster NVMe protocol. The storage drive comes from SK Hynix and is significantly faster than the 128-GB device. While there are even faster SSDs around, this speed is absolutely sufficient for everyday use.

Of the 256 GB, 202 GB is available to the user after the initial setup. Apart from the 128-GB version, Microsoft also offers models with 512 GB or 1 TB. The surcharge for the additional storage, however, is relatively high. Microsoft seems to be following Apple's example here. As mentioned before, the configurations cannot be put together freely. If you require more than 256 GB of storage, you will have to pick the version with 16 GB of RAM and the Core i7, which is available for $2500. The 1-TB SSD is only available in a gray case.

Read up on further comparisons with other storage devices here.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004
SK Hynix BC501 NVMe 256 GB
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
Dell XPS 13 9370 i5 UHD
Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV256G
Apple MacBook Air 2018
Apple SSD AP0256
Asus ZenBook S UX391U
Samsung PM961 NVMe MZVLW512HMJP
Average SK Hynix BC501 NVMe 256 GB
 
CrystalDiskMark 5.2 / 6
-5%
29%
17%
41%
7%
Write 4K
87.3
83.23
-5%
121.4
39%
118.01
35%
98.9
13%
107 (87.3 - 133, n=4)
23%
Read 4K
36.52
43.84
20%
33.42
-8%
29.97
-18%
38.33
5%
34.5 (20 - 42.6, n=4)
-6%
Write Seq
715.96
636.4
-11%
385.3
-46%
1000.4
40%
1414.3
98%
692 (571 - 765, n=4)
-3%
Read Seq
1009.4
899.7
-11%
1958
94%
1217.96
21%
1050.5
4%
1023 (866 - 1110, n=4)
1%
Write 4K Q32T1
324.07
192.9
-40%
375.7
16%
232.08
-28%
370.7
14%
350 (236 - 452, n=4)
8%
Read 4K Q32T1
249.04
247.36
-1%
364.1
46%
253.96
2%
251.35
1%
332 (249 - 466, n=4)
33%
Write Seq Q32T1
810.9
861.1
6%
1069
32%
1001.1
23%
1605.6
98%
812 (809 - 817, n=4)
0%
Read Seq Q32T1
1630.9
1615
-1%
2564
57%
2555.3
57%
3218.4
97%
1655 (1610 - 1742, n=4)
1%
SK Hynix BC501 NVMe 256 GB
Sequential Read: 1033.4 MB/s
Sequential Write: 717.8 MB/s
512K Read: 775.17 MB/s
512K Write: 468.92 MB/s
4K Read: 37.51 MB/s
4K Write: 90.98 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 260.29 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 346.26 MB/s

Graphics - no Iris GPU

The Surface Laptop 2 is not equipped with a dedicated graphics card (nor with faster Intel Iris iGPUs) but only has the integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 available. The maximum core clock rate of the GPU changes depending on the processor. However, users will not experience any noticeable difference in everyday use. Combined with the Core i5-8350U, the GPU clocks at 1100 MHz and has a maximum clock rate of 933 MHz. The iGPU does not have its own working memory but has to share the RAM with the processor. Read up on further technical information on the UHD Graphics 620 here.

The synthetic benchmarks place our test unit on par with its convertible sibling Surface Pro 6 and the performance remains the same when running on battery. Our test unit also manages to complete the Fire Strike stress test, which means that it can keep up its performance even under continuous load. The largest forte of the iGPU lies in displaying high-resolution video thanks to the video decoder, which avoids putting large loads on the processor. Even 4K videos can be displayed smoothly and without lags.

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i7-8650U
1977 Points ∼100% +7%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8250U
1852 Points ∼94%
Dell XPS 13 9370 i5 UHD
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8250U
1806 Points ∼91% -2%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (1235 - 1979, n=132)
1696 Points ∼86% -8%
Apple MacBook Air 2018
Intel UHD Graphics 617, Intel Core i5-8210Y
1572 Points ∼80% -15%
Microsoft Surface Laptop i5
Intel HD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-7200U
1467 Points ∼74% -21%
Asus ZenBook S UX391U
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i7-8550U
1440 Points ∼73% -22%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (230 - 4905, n=338)
1212 Points ∼61% -35%
3DMark
2560x1440 Time Spy Graphics
Average of class Subnotebook
  (85 - 905, n=26)
434 Points ∼100% +12%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8250U
389 Points ∼90%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (299 - 402, n=21)
347 Points ∼80% -11%
Apple MacBook Air 2018
Intel UHD Graphics 617, Intel Core i5-8210Y
286 Points ∼66% -26%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8250U
1271 Points ∼100%
Dell XPS 13 9370 i5 UHD
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8250U
1200 Points ∼94% -6%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (557 - 1399, n=103)
1104 Points ∼87% -13%
Asus ZenBook S UX391U
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i7-8550U
997 Points ∼78% -22%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (222 - 3726, n=220)
983 Points ∼77% -23%
Apple MacBook Air 2018
Intel UHD Graphics 617, Intel Core i5-8210Y
947 Points ∼75% -25%
Microsoft Surface Laptop i5
Intel HD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-7200U
789 Points ∼62% -38%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i7-8650U
10213 Points ∼100% +3%
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8250U
9946 Points ∼97%
Dell XPS 13 9370 i5 UHD
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8250U
9349 Points ∼92% -6%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (6910 - 11294, n=118)
9024 Points ∼88% -9%
Asus ZenBook S UX391U
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i7-8550U
7372 Points ∼72% -26%
Apple MacBook Air 2018
Intel UHD Graphics 617, Intel Core i5-8210Y
7231 Points ∼71% -27%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (1484 - 21755, n=248)
7224 Points ∼71% -27%
Microsoft Surface Laptop i5
Intel HD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-7200U
6539 Points ∼64% -34%
3DMark 11 Performance
2065 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
8910 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
1162 points
3DMark Time Spy Score
446 points
Help

Gaming Performance

The integrated UHD Graphics 620 chip has been tested by us numerous times and the benchmark results of the Surface Laptop 2 do not offer any surprises. Even relatively simple sports titles such as Rocket League can only be displayed at low to average details. Demanding games cannot be displayed with this chip. If you are looking for a compact Microsoft device that offers more graphics performance, you should take a look at the Surface Book 2 equipped with a GeForce GTX 1050. You can find further gaming benchmarks for the UHD Graphics 620 here.

low med. high ultra
BioShock Infinite (2013) 55.634.129.59.2fps
The Witcher 3 (2015) 16.6fps
Rocket League (2017) 93.934.821.6fps

Emissions

System Noise

The Surface Laptop 2 is a very quiet device that remains silent during most everyday applications. It takes quite some time for the cooling fan to turn on under load, too. In our average load scenario, it took until the end of the second round of 3DMark06 (first scene) for the device to reach 30 dB(A). Many slim devices turn on their fans a lot earlier. The maximum noise emission we measured was 32.9 dB(A). However, the fan noise has a relatively high frequency at this stage, which we feel makes it more bothersome than we would have expected from this noise level. Nonetheless the Surface Laptop 2 is significantly quieter than the XPS 13 or the MacBook Air 2018.  

We noticed a very quiet electronic noise when there is a strong load on the SSD (for example during benchmarks). This did not occur during normal tasks. 

Noise Level

Idle
28.7 / 28.7 / 28.7 dB(A)
Load
30 / 32.9 dB(A)
  red to green bar
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Audix TM1, Arta (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 28.7 dB(A)
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, SK Hynix BC501 NVMe 256 GB
Microsoft Surface Laptop i5
HD Graphics 620, 7200U, Toshiba THNSN0128GTYA
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G
Dell XPS 13 9370 i5 UHD
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV256G
Apple MacBook Air 2018
UHD Graphics 617, 8210Y, Apple SSD AP0256
Asus ZenBook S UX391U
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung PM961 NVMe MZVLW512HMJP
Noise
-3%
-6%
-6%
-4%
-8%
off / environment *
28.7
28.2
2%
30.3
-6%
29
-1%
28.5
1%
29.7
-3%
Idle Minimum *
28.7
28.2
2%
30.3
-6%
29
-1%
28.5
1%
29.7
-3%
Idle Average *
28.7
28.2
2%
30.3
-6%
29
-1%
28.5
1%
29.7
-3%
Idle Maximum *
28.7
29
-1%
30.3
-6%
29
-1%
28.5
1%
30.1
-5%
Load Average *
30
30.3
-1%
33.5
-12%
32
-7%
30
-0%
36.8
-23%
Load Maximum *
32.9
39.3
-19%
33.5
-2%
40.1
-22%
41.8
-27%
36.8
-12%

* ... smaller is better

Temperature

Stress test
Stress test

Microsoft seems to have reworked the cooling system of the Surface Laptop. Despite the quieter cooling fan, the maximum temperatures are lower. The device hardly heats up while idling or under low load. The alcantara surfaces are a great feature in terms of temperature management as they remain more comfortable to the touch even at high temperatures in comparison to metal surfaces. On the top of the base unit, the hotspot under load is positioned in the top center and left area of the keyboard and we noticed while typing that the keys are warmer in this area. Despite the predecessor being around 3 °C cooler, 40 °C cannot be considered too hot. Instead, temperatures have dropped from 45 to 42 °C on the bottom of the base unit. The power supply reaches a maximum of 40 °C, which is nothing to worry about.  

The processor works normally under load. We registered a CPU consumption of max 25 watts at the beginning of the stress test, which then dropped to 18 watts after 28 seconds (like in our Cinebench test). During the test, the power consumption settled down at around 15 watts. As the processor and the iGPU have to share this value, the processor clocked at 4x 900 MHz and the graphics card at 700 MHz. The stress test did not have an impact on the subsequent performance of the device.

Max. Load
 39.3 °C
103 F
39.3 °C
103 F
37 °C
99 F
 
 36.2 °C
97 F
36.1 °C
97 F
33.4 °C
92 F
 
 29.1 °C
84 F
28 °C
82 F
29.2 °C
85 F
 
Maximum: 39.3 °C = 103 F
Average: 34.2 °C = 94 F
41.3 °C
106 F
42 °C
108 F
41.5 °C
107 F
37.6 °C
100 F
40 °C
104 F
38.4 °C
101 F
31.7 °C
89 F
32.5 °C
91 F
32.1 °C
90 F
Maximum: 42 °C = 108 F
Average: 37.5 °C = 100 F
Power Supply (max.)  39.2 °C = 103 F | Room Temperature 19.7 °C = 67 F | Voltcraft IR-900
(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 34.2 °C / 94 F, compared to the average of 30.7 °C / 87 F for the devices in the class Subnotebook.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 39.3 °C / 103 F, compared to the average of 35.8 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22 to 57 °C for the class Subnotebook.
(±) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 42 °C / 108 F, compared to the average of 40.2 °C / 104 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 23 °C / 73 F, compared to the device average of 30.7 °C / 87 F.
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are cooler than skin temperature with a maximum of 29.2 °C / 84.6 F and are therefore cool to the touch.
(±) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.6 °C / 83.5 F (-0.6 °C / -1.1 F).
Stress test (top)
Stress test (top)
Stress test (bottom)
Stress test (bottom)

Speakers

The two speaker modules are positioned at the edge below the keyboard (near the shift keys), which is why the sound comes out through the keyboard. Like with the old model, Microsoft advertised Omnisonic speakers. Our measurements indicate that the speakers in the new model are actually slightly better than last year's. The basic characteristics are very similar, which is why we presume that Microsoft used software optimization. The sound quality is quite good and the speakers are sufficiently loud. Only the bass frequencies continue to be rather weak. The MacBook Air offers a more balanced sound in comparison. Overall, we are still very happy with the speakers in the Surface Laptop 2.

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2028.529.82525.225312627.84023.927.1502625.86322.422.98021.325.71002334.61252239.716022.948.220021.452.725021.855.431520.2564002057.550019.562.363018.862.880018.361.4100017.459.7125016.859160016.561.420001662.4250015.660.3315015.259.240001558.7500015.16163001555.880001556.81000014.858.31250014.5541600014.248SPL28.772N1.231.2median 16.8median 58.3Delta2.93.730.128.225.925.324.925.522.526.322.225.323.836.722.135.621.243.220.450.620.256.12054.32053.719.356.719.26018.862.818.463.91860.617.564.617.263.316.364.215.966.915.465.515.261.715.160.61561.614.960.614.657.514.65514.456.614.657.128.5751.136.1median 17.2median 60.62.13.8hearing rangehide median Pink NoiseMicrosoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004Apple MacBook Air 2018
Frequency diagram (checkboxes can be checked and unchecked to compare devices)
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004 audio analysis

(±) | speaker loudness is average but good (72 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 10.5% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (12.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 2.7% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (4.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 1.4% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (4.7% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(+) | overall sound is linear (11.5% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 7% of all tested devices in this class were better, 3% similar, 90% worse
» The best had a delta of 8%, average was 20%, worst was 50%
Compared to all devices tested
» 5% of all tested devices were better, 1% similar, 93% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Apple MacBook Air 2018 audio analysis

(±) | speaker loudness is average but good (75 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 8.1% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (10% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 2.9% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (5.6% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 2.2% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (4.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(+) | overall sound is linear (9.5% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 2% of all tested devices in this class were better, 2% similar, 97% worse
» The best had a delta of 8%, average was 20%, worst was 50%
Compared to all devices tested
» 2% of all tested devices were better, 1% similar, 98% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Energy Management

Power Consumption

44-watt power supply with additional USB-A port
44-watt power supply with additional USB-A port

The power consumption has increased slightly under low load but is still good (9 watts) considering the high brightness. The stronger processor becomes noticeable under load. We measured a maximum consumption of 42.6 watts during our stress test while the average power consumption was 34 watts. Therefore, the included 44-watt power supply should be entirely sufficient. The power supply also offers an additional USB A port with which you can recharge devices such as smartphones, which can be quite useful. The keyboard backlighting consumes 1 watt at maximum brightness and therefore does not weigh too hard on the battery.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.19 / 0.4 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 3 / 6.8 / 8.76 Watt
Load midlight 35.1 / 42.6 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004
8250U, UHD Graphics 620, SK Hynix BC501 NVMe 256 GB, IPS, 2256x1504, 13.5
Microsoft Surface Laptop i5
7200U, HD Graphics 620, Toshiba THNSN0128GTYA, IPS, 2256x1504, 13.5
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
8650U, UHD Graphics 620, Toshiba KBG30ZPZ512G, IPS, 2736x1824, 12.3
Dell XPS 13 9370 i5 UHD
8250U, UHD Graphics 620, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV256G, IPS, 3840x2160, 13.3
Apple MacBook Air 2018
8210Y, UHD Graphics 617, Apple SSD AP0256, IPS, 2560x1600, 13.3
Asus ZenBook S UX391U
8550U, UHD Graphics 620, Samsung PM961 NVMe MZVLW512HMJP, IPS, 1920x1080, 13.3
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
 
Average of class Subnotebook
 
Power Consumption
11%
-7%
-21%
16%
-7%
-8%
-40%
Idle Minimum *
3
3.2
-7%
3.2
-7%
4.3
-43%
2.2
27%
3.24
-8%
3.95 (1.3 - 12.4, n=139)
-32%
6.75 (1 - 36, n=575)
-125%
Idle Average *
6.8
6.5
4%
8.7
-28%
8
-18%
5.7
16%
6.1
10%
7.21 (4.3 - 15.5, n=139)
-6%
9.96 (2.06 - 39, n=575)
-46%
Idle Maximum *
8.76
6.8
22%
10.4
-19%
8.1
8%
10.3
-18%
9.2
-5%
9.09 (5.2 - 16.6, n=139)
-4%
12.3 (3.9 - 55, n=575)
-40%
Load Average *
35.1
28.2
20%
29.2
17%
46.6
-33%
25.6
27%
38.8
-11%
35.2 (12.9 - 51.6, n=139)
-0%
33.4 (6.3 - 75, n=565)
5%
Load Maximum *
42.6
36
15%
40.8
4%
49.8
-17%
30.6
28%
52.6
-23%
42.7 (22 - 79, n=139)
-0%
40.4 (7.6 - 111, n=568)
5%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Runtime

Charging process
Charging process

The battery size has remained the same (45 Wh) while power consumption has increased. Accordingly, the battery runtimes have dropped. For example, our test unit managed just over 9 hours in our practical Wi-Fi test (the predecessor offered 10 hours) and videos can be played for over 13.5 hours, which is very close to Microsoft's claim of 14.5 hours. Several competing devices are equipped with larger batteries, but only the Apple MacBook Air offers longer runtimes in our Wi-Fi test. As the performance is not reduced in battery mode, the minimum runtime is relatively short at 98 minutes.

The charging process is very linear and there is no QuickCharge function. After just over an hour, the battery has recharged to 50%. It takes another 165 minutes for the capacity to reach 100%.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
20h 49min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3 (Edge 42.17134.1.0)
9h 03min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
13h 38min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 38min
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004
8250U, UHD Graphics 620, 45 Wh
Microsoft Surface Laptop i5
7200U, HD Graphics 620, 45 Wh
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i7, 512 GB
8650U, UHD Graphics 620, 45 Wh
Dell XPS 13 9370 i5 UHD
8250U, UHD Graphics 620, 52 Wh
Apple MacBook Air 2018
8210Y, UHD Graphics 617, 50.3 Wh
Asus ZenBook S UX391U
8550U, UHD Graphics 620, 50 Wh
Average of class Subnotebook
 
Battery Runtime
15%
5%
-16%
19%
-3%
-21%
Reader / Idle
1249
1351
8%
1083
-13%
869
-30%
1340
7%
608 (87 - 2557, n=538)
-51%
H.264
818
740
-10%
621
-24%
461 (182 - 950, n=106)
-44%
WiFi v1.3
543
602
11%
509
-6%
408
-25%
721
33%
491
-10%
468 (206 - 805, n=192)
-14%
Load
98
124
27%
131
34%
106
8%
131
34%
115
17%
122 (40 - 347, n=543)
24%

Verdict - Surface Laptop 2

Pros

+ high-quality, stable case
+ good display with precise colors
+ low emissions
+ good input devices
+ decent performance
+ very good speakers
+ long battery runtime

Cons

- neither Thunderbolt, USB-C, BT 5.0 nor SD card reader
- no maintenance options
- high premiums for RAM, CPU and SSD
- display has slow response rate
Review: Microsoft Surface Laptop 2. Test unit provided by Cyberport
Review: Microsoft Surface Laptop 2. Test unit provided by Cyberport

As mentioned at the beginning, Microsoft has mainly updated the old Surface model. The Surface Laptop 2 offers up-to-date processors with four cores, a quieter cooling system, slightly improved speakers and a new color variation. The screen continues to represent the highlight of the device and impresses us with its precise color display combined with good brightness and high contrast. While 4K displays offer higher resolution, the image of the Surface Laptop 2 is very lifelike and we personally really liked it. The 3:2 display offers an advantage when using productive applications. If users are mainly interested in watching videos, they might be better off with a 16:9 panel. The input devices are also very convincing and the keyboard has comparatively long travel considering how slim the device is. As a result, typing is very comfortable.

We found two main points of criticism about this device. The first is the case itself, which, while it is of high quality and very stable, is basically impossible to open. This means that users are not even able to clean the fan. The second problem is the missing Thunderbolt 3 port. Instead, the device offers the Surface Connect port for which Microsoft has a series of connecting devices. Of course, it makes sense that Microsoft wants to keep this connector; however, the manufacturer could have included Thunderbolt 3 instead of the mini-DisplayPort. This would have future-proofed the device and enabled users who prefer having one single device for stationary and mobile use to connect eGPUs. A further disadvantage is the missing SD card reader - particularly as the panel would be very suited to image-processing.

If you are looking for a high-quality laptop with a good display, quiet operation and good input devices, the Surface Laptop 2 from Microsoft should be a good fit. While the fact that there is no Thunderbolt 3 port is disappointing and incomprehensible, this does not currently impact everyday use.

Nonetheless, the Surface Laptop 2 offers a very good package, particularly considering its target group, which consists of casual users and people who need a good display and touchscreen. The price-to-performance ratio is good, although unfortunately Microsoft has set very high premiums for more RAM and SSD storage and the configuration limits (depending on color, RAM etc.) make things unnecessarily complicated. The Surface Laptop 2 beats the new MacBook Air in our comparison and is probably the better (and cheaper) choice for most users, without considering the operating system. Users looking for an even more compact device should take a look at the XPS 13, which also offers more hardware and service options.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2-LQN-00004 - 01/02/2019 v6
Andreas Osthoff

Chassis
88 /  98 → 90%
Keyboard
89%
Pointing Device
92%
Connectivity
41 / 80 → 51%
Weight
72 / 35-78 → 86%
Battery
93%
Display
87%
Games Performance
59 / 68 → 86%
Application Performance
86 / 87 → 99%
Temperature
92 / 91 → 100%
Noise
94%
Audio
85 / 91 → 93%
Camera
53 / 85 → 62%
Average
79%
89%
Subnotebook - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 (Core i5, 256 GB) Laptop Review
Andreas Osthoff, 2019-01- 4 (Update: 2019-02-23)