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Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 review: A faster Surface Laptop 2 is back, now in black

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The Good The Surface Laptop 2 ups the default RAM and upgrades to much faster processors. The new matte black color option looks great.

The Bad Other than a CPU/RAM bump, there's very little new about this. The black color option is only available on more expensive configurations. No USB-C, a rarity for premium laptops.

The Bottom Line Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2 gets a big speed boost and a new color option, but is otherwise a minimal update to the first version.

8.2 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 7
  • Performance 8
  • Battery 8

Last year's Surface Laptop from Microsoft broke the mold for Surface devices. Microsoft had spent a good part of the past half-decade pushing the idea of Windows-powered slates and two-in-one hybrids, eventually becoming the standard bearer for the category with the best-in-class Surface Pro line. But the Surface Laptop was something different. It was a slim, premium laptop designed to compete with the Dell XPS, HP Spectre and Apple MacBook Air laptops of the world.

The Surface Laptop borrowed more than it invented, but it did an excellent job of synthesizing a greatest-hits high-end laptop, with a slim, modern design, great 12.3-inch touchscreen, good keyboard and touchpad combo and even a decent set of ports. It wasn't necessarily better than those other laptops, but it was at least in the running, and provided a real alternative to the same familiar shapes seen in every coffee shop and classroom. 

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The Surface Laptop's one big innovation was a fabric-covered interior, using an artificial material called alcontera, perhaps best known for its role in the boat upholstery industry. The fabric surfaces ended up being much sturdier and more stain-resistant than I expected, and I've become a fan.

You can read a deeper dive into the use of fabric in the Surface Laptop design in our review of the 2017 version

Surface Laptop 2

Price as reviewed $1,299
Display size/resolution 13.5-inch 2,256 x 1,504 touch display
CPU 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-8250U
Memory 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 1,866MHz
Graphics 128MB dedicated Intel UHD Graphics 620
Storage 256GB SSD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.1
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

In the year-plus since the original Surface Laptop, it's remained near the top of my premium slim laptop list, in part because the official Microsoft Store and other retailers often had steep discounts on the base model.

Now that there's a new version, unimaginatively named Surface Laptop 2 ($998 at Amazon), and that means the starting price is bouncing back to $999. As I liked the Surface Laptop, it should come as no surprise that I like the Surface Laptop 2, but that's because they're nearly identical. The outer form is unchanged, with the exception of a new matte black color option. There's still a USB-A port and mini-DisplayPort, but no USB-C or HDMI. 

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