Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 is a capable machine, and it should be with a retail price of almost $1500. Luxury devices are not without their flaws, however, and it seems as if the Surface Book 2 has a big one: during heavy performance tasks like gaming, the Surface Book 2 battery will drain even when plugged in.
The main draw of the PC / tablet hybrid is the idea of an ‘all-in-one device’. Microsoft has made a big deal out of the Surface Book 2 being both portable and powerful, able to function both as a tablet and a high-powered PC. It’s an issue, in that case, that gaming on the computer causes battery drainage. If the Surface Book 2 is to be a replacement for a gaming PC, it needs to be able to run for hours on end under a heavy load. If the intense demands of a modern game cause the battery to slowly drain down, it’s hard to recommend the Surface Book 2 as a complete and well-rounded device.
Like most Microsoft laptops, the Surface Book 2 battery options come with a slider that allows you to prioritize performance or battery. Pushing the maximum amount of power out of your PC will draw a total of 105 watts of power, with the CPU taking 35 watts and the GPU, 70. The device includes a 102 watt charger which is already a little on the low side, but the situation is even worse, as only 95 watts actually reach the PC.
Under normal use or even with light gaming, the Surface Book 2 battery won’t be an issue. But if you’re playing a graphically intensive game like Battlefield 1, you’re going to run into some problems. A game that puts that much stress on the PC needs a lot of power, and if the charger can’t keep up, you’ll end up with a dead or struggling computer after a few hours.
Microsoft confirmed to the Verge that “In some intense, prolonged gaming scenarios with Power Mode Slider set to ‘best performance’ the battery may discharge while connected to the power supply provided in-box with Surface Book 2. However, through power management design, the battery will never drain entirely, ensuring that users are able to keep working, creating or gaming.”
This basically means that performance will be throttled in situations where the battery is about to die. This isn’t ideal, but at least you won’t end up with a dead laptop. Still, the Surface Book 2 battery problems will definitely make the system less attractive to gamers and other users that frequently draw a lot of power from their computers.
If Microsoft is to continue marketing the system as a complete solution for PC and tablet needs, it’s very important that this issue be resolved — if that’s even possible. It’s likely that the battery problems are here to stay and that we may need to wait for the Surface Book 3 to get a PC / Tablet hybrid that caters to gamers.