Last week Apple and Microsoft locked horns in a battle for the notebook computing space, Apple with its latest MacBook Pro and Microsoft with its second generation Surface Book, which offer similar specs. But how do they compare specs-wise, and what options are available?

macbook pro 2016 vs surface book 2

MacBook Pro vs. Surface Book

If you’re looking for something a little less ordinary in the design front, then maybe the second-gen Surface Book is for you. Weighing in at around 3.5 pounds, depending on whether the screen is attached or not, it’s no ordinary notebook computer.

Alternatively, the MacBook Pro comes with two screen size choices, 13 and 15 inches, which is a little more conventional than the Microsoft offering. However, it is super thin at 13.9mm and weighs roughly the same as the Surface Book at 3 to 4 pounds.

Display

There one huge difference which can make or break the deal for either of these two devices is that the Surface Book has a full touchscreen that is not only detachable but is also used as a Windows tablet. The downside is that it is only available in the one 13.5-inch configuration.

If you prefer to have a choice of screen sizes, then the MacBook Pro offers both 13-inch and 15-inch variations, with the only downside being that you can’t detach the display and use it as a tablet.

If you need high-resolution computing capabilities, the MacBook Pro can’t stand-up to the Surface Book with its 3,000 x 2,000 pixel display. The 13-inch Apple device has a 2,560 x 1,600 display, and the 15-inch has a 2,880 x 1,800 display.

Power

Both the MacBook Pro and Surface Book come with a choice of CPUs. You can have the sixth-generation Intel Core i5 or i7, so neither outshines the other performance-wise. However, when it comes to graphics, there are some differences, with the Microsoft device offering both Nvidia GTX 965M and Intel HD graphics.

In comparison, the MacBook Pro is a little disappointing, coming with Integrated Intel Iris graphics for 2D gaming as standard. But if you choose the larger 15-inch display, there’s a Radeon Pro chip for 3D gaming.

Touch control

If you were hoping for a full touchscreen-enabled MacBook Pro, you’re going to be disappointed because yet again, the rumors are correct. Apple has opted for what it calls a “Touch Bar” instead of a touchscreen display. In contrast, the Surface Book has a full touchscreen that can be used to operate the device in tablet mode.

If you’re fairly sure that Apple’s Touch Bar isn’t enough for you, then the Surface Book could be for you. However, it’s thought that Apple included the Touch Bar for those who don’t want to learn keyboard shortcuts, which could be a good reason to give it a try. Also there’s sure to be additional functionality added in the future.

Connectivity

Ports are critical when choosing any modern computing device, and we’re pleased to say that both deliver. The Surface Book has two USB 3.0 ports and a full-size SD card reader. There’s also a mini display port, headphone jack, and a surface connect.

As it always does, Apple has taken its own path and included four Thunderbolt 3 ports, plus a USB-C connector for power, USB, VGA, HDMI, or Thunderbolt.

Battery life

As with many Apple products, battery life is not quite up to scratch compared to its rival. The MacBook Pro offers a seemingly passable 10 hours of juice; in comparison, the Surface Book provides 12 to 16 hours of battery life, with early reports from reviewers placing that battery time at a more believable 12.29 hours using the i5 CPU.

Specs Compared

macbook pro vs surface book

Price

The entry-level MacBook Pro starts at a hefty $1,499, but at this price, you won’t get the Touch Bar. To get it, you’ll have to pay $1,799 and have the 13-inch display and the i5 CPU. This also comes with 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD.

The Surface Book starts at $1,349 and comes with the Intel i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD.

Higher-spec devices will obviously cost much more, with the 15-inch MacBook Pro and Surface starting at $2,399. So the difference here is that Microsoft is giving you a detachable tablet, and Apple is giving a larger screen. At this spec level, the Mac comes with the i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and 2GB Radeon Pro 450 graphics, while the Surface Book also has the i7 CPU and 256GB SSD but only 8GB of RAM.