Apple MacBook Pro 2016 vs Microsoft Surface Book i7: Clash of the Titans

At a time when Chromebooks are slowly gaining ground in the laptop markets, Apple and Microsoft respectively launched the new MacBook Pro and Surface Book, renewing their pitch amidst a slowdown in sales. Both devices offer among the best performance and user experiences to laptop users and we take a look at if the new devices offer that extra bit of capabilities over their predecessors to justify their price tags.

Launched within a day of each other, the Surface Book and the MacBook Pro are more efficient than their predecessors but if new features are considered, the MacBook Pro surely seems to hold an edge over the former thanks to a re-designed touchpad, Touch ID and the revolutionary Touch Bar. Here's a detailed look at how the two devices compare in every spec and parameter and if their new capabilities are good enough to stall the rise of Google's Chromebooks.

Design and looks

Like Panos Panay, chief of devices at Microsoft said, the Surface Book isn't much of an upgrade when it comes to design or looks, but brings in better graphics, processing power and battery life. As such, we didn't expect it to look much different than it's predecessor and expectedly it doesn't. Going by existing looks, the Surface Book is still among the lightest 13-inch laptops around and its sleek aluminium frame makes it highly portable.

On the other hand, Apple introduced major changes to the MacBook Pro line in terms of design, making the new MacBook Pros extremely light, thin and portable. The Space Gray variant is a beauty to behold and the difference in looks between the new MacBook pro and its predecessor is quite visible. The 13-inch MacBook Pro weighs just 3 pounds, is just 14.9mm thick and is 20% less in volume while the 15-inch one weighs 4 pounds, is 15.5mm thick and is lighter than its predecessor as well. The large touch pad, the colourful Touch Bar and the extra-bright display also adds to its looks, making it among the most beautiful laptops around.

Winner: Apple MacBook Pro

Display

The 13.5-inch Surface Book features a PixelSense™ display with 6 million pixels and which is touch-sensitive and works with the Surface pen as well. Qualitatively, there's no improvement over the previous iteration. But if you look at the new MacBook Pro, its display comes with a 67% higher contrast ratio and holds 25% more colours than sRGB, thus looking vibrant and colourful from every angle and the reds and greens stand out more than ever before. The display also features LED backlighting and the higher contrast ratio brings in deeper blacks and brighter whites, thus making the MacBook Pro perfect for graphics designers and photo editors. However, in terms of pixel density, the Surface Book has the lead with 267 ppi compared to the MacBook Pro's 227 ppi.

Winner: Apple MacBook Pro

Battery life

During the Surface Book launch event, Panos Panay said that all engineers, gamers and designers wanted from Microsoft was more battery life. Heeding their demands, Microsoft filled in the new Surface Book with 16 hours of battery life, a record among laptops and 6 hours more than the MacBook Pro's stated battery life. The peak battery life of 16 hours for video playback in the Surface Book was achieved on a Surface Book running an Intel Core i7 processor and featuring 1TB of storage and 6GB of RAM.

Winner: Microsoft Surface Book

Processing and graphics power

Both the Surface Book and MacBook Pro are powered by Intel Core i5 and i7 processors which offer the best processing power if coupled with enough RAM to drive performance. The top-end Surface Book runs a 6th Gen Intel Core™ i7 Skylake processor along with a NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 965M 2GB GPU graphics card to offer a graphics performance much faster compared to the 2015 Surface Book. We were expecting the laptops to feature Intel's Kaby lake processors but we many have to wait for another 12 months to see that happen.

The Intel i5/i7 processors in the MacBook Pro generate up to 2133 MHz of power and also feature Radeon Pro graphics with 4GB VRAM, making MacBook Pro faster than its predecessor by 2.3 times. The graphics experience is 130% faster and the gaming experience is 60% faster than in the previous MacBook Pro as well. While processing power hasn't changed much in both laptops, graphic performance surely has and it will thus be interesting to compare them in real-time once bith laptops are available in the UK.

Winner: Tie.

New features

Aside from powerful graphics performance, there's little in the new Surface Book that sets it apart from its predecessor, given that the predecessor was in itself a very good laptop. The original Surface Book ruled over MacBooks thanks to a superior display, intuitive keyboard, advanced Surface Pen integration and powerful processors. However, with Microsoft turning its attention solely to performance and battery life, Apple has jumped on the opportunity to close the gap in other factors, among which keyboard design and utility is a major one.

Not only does the keyboard feature a larger touch pad, but also featured LED-backlit keys and an all-new OLED Touch Bar which completely changes the way we view and use MacBooks. The Touch Bar has a dedicated Siri button, brightness and volume controls, function keys and adapts to the software you're using. It offers a multitude of options no matter which app you're using, be it mail, social media apps, gaming apps or work apps. It also features Touch ID which lets users log in and make payments using their fingerprints and is supported by Apple T1 chip which comes with Secure Enclave to let you make secure purchases.

Winner: Apple MacBook Pro

Verdict

While the Surface Book continues to remain among the best high-performance laptops with the best battery life in the industry, an advanced touch-sensitive display, an intuitive keyboard and superior graphics performance, the upgrades this time haven't been as per expectations as the laptop still offers the same processing power, design and user experience as its predecessor. On the other hand, Apple's MacBook Pro has surprised existing users with several new features like a Touch Bar, Touch ID functionality, improved graphics performance and a better display and has thus stolen the show for the time being. Having said that, both laptops continue to remain among the most powerful in the industry and their race for supremacy looks set to continue despite a surge of Chromebooks in the recent past.

1Comment

  1. Guest
    Guest29th Oct 2016

    Why do you write biased reviews. Does apple pay you. Mac book still doesn't have a touch screen interface , forget about pen. Touch bar is a cover up ...

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