Apple 15 inch 2016 MacBook Pro Vs Microsoft Surface Book i7 – Performance, Design, Features, Price Dissected & Analyzed

Ramish Zafar

It's been a week for portable computing. Both Microsoft and Apple have ended the year on a strong note. For the former, the Surface Book's upgrade and the Surface Studio show a very different company. For Apple, it's the much awaited MacBook upgrade that finally seems to deliver on multiple ends. While Kaby Lake didn't make it on board, we got a ton of other upgrades which show how serious Cupertino really is towards its notebooks. If you're wondering which of the Surface Book and the 15 inch MacBook is the better device, wonder no more. We've done a preliminary comparison so head over below to find out more.


Apple's 15 Inch MacBook Pro Vs Microsoft's i7 Surface Book; Which Is The Right Device For You?

Let's start from design. It's a positive sign that manufacturers have finally started to pay a much stronger focus towards overall notebook design. The advent of modern manufacturing methods have provided us with greater control on how to mold different materials. For Apple, this has resulted in the MacBook being thinner than ever. Redmond on the other hand has developed a delicate hinge for its Surface Book which allows for portability and accessibility simultaneously.

Diving into details, the 15 inch MacBook Pro measures 15.5mm in thickness and weighs in at just four pounds. The Surface Book i7 stands within the range of 13 - 28mm in thickness and 3.5 pounds for weight. The latter's dimensions and weight depend on which processor it's running. For the MacBook, they're the same regardless of specifications. In design, both the devices simply look great.

The MacBook Pro takes a more serious approach to form and manages to feature a domineering look while decreasing in thickness. The unibody aluminum continues its appearance on the lineup, complete with Apple's refined aesthetics. We're really not sure how Cupertino will be able to change design after this upgrade. There's really not much you can do with the notebook now. For the Surface Book, Microsoft's signature hinge is back. It manages to look like a notebook, while not being heavy on the eyes at all.

2016 MacBook Pro model spec differences
macbook pro
2016 MacBook Pro


Now, let's move towards hard numbers. It's here that the Surface Book really shows its strengths. The Surface Book i7 features Intel's Core i7 as its base processor, a fact that's easily discernible through its name. But that's not where its true strength is. The upgraded Surface Book also features Nvidia's GTX 965M with 2GB of DDR5, 1024 Cuda cores and 966Mhz frequency. The i7 Surface Book is available in configurations of 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD, and 16GB RAM combined with 512GB or 1TB storage.

Moving towards the MacBook Pro, it also features Intel's Core i7. You can get a 2.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz, with 6MB shared L3 cache, or a 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz, with 8MB shared L3 cache. Both of these can be upgraded to 2.9GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz, with 8MB shared L3 cache. Apple's also got better storage options. The MacBook Pro starts with base 256GB SSD and is configurable to 512GB, 1TB or 2TB storage. RAM is fixed at 16GB of 2133MHZ LPDDR3.

For display, Apple's got a slight edge over here. The Surface Book features a screen resolution of 2000x3000 pixels with 267ppi and 13.5inch screen size. On paper, these are higher numbers and will translate into more pixels shown. The MacBook Pro on the other hand features a 15.4 inch screen with resolution 2800x1800 and 220ppi. The real difference lies with the Wide P3 Gamut which Apple debuted on the 9.7 inch iPad Pro earlier this year. It's the P3 which will allow for an entirely new color spectrum to be visible on the screen and gives Apple the advantage over Microsoft.

Surface Book i7 Performance base
Microsoft’s Surface Book Nabs the ‘Laptop of the Year’ Award

Battery & Miscellaneous:

Battery life gives Microsoft the clear advantage. Apple claims that the MacBook Pro will last 10 hours for wirless web and iTunes movie playback, with 30 days of stand by time. Battery specifications stand at a 76 Watt/hr lithium polymer power pack. The Surface Book i7 on the other hand will last for 16 hours for video playback, with auto brightness off. These are Microsoft's official numbers and the tests were likely conducted in controlled environments.

It's the miscellaneous where Apple and Microsoft each provide their unique offerings to the notebook world. The MacBook Pro's biggest feature is its Touch bar The touch bar allows for configurable function keys which adjust according to the program being used on the device. In Safari, they'll display tabs. For photos, they'll display scrolling options. The Touch ID sensor is located at the extreme right of the bar, providing for some great convenience. You also get a Force Touch trackpad that's 2x larger than its predecessor.

The Surface Book on the other hand features an amazingly designed detachable screen. Microsoft's hinge is its strongest aesthetic feature for the device and provides for a great amount of functionality. Want to use the Surface Book with a keyboard? Go ahead. Need to take quick notes? Detach the screen and use a stylus. Oh and you also get front and rear cameras of 5MP and 8MP resolutions respectively. It really is an all-in-one notebook. There's improved thermal management as well, which won't result in overheating when using graphics intensive applications.


Pricing & Conclusion:

The final bit in the puzzle is the pricing for the devices. Microsoft's Surface Book starts at $2,399, moves to $2,799 and ends at $3,299. The MacBook Pro on the other hand starts at $2,399 for the 2.6GHz Core i7 and $2,799 for the 2.7GHz variant. Both of these will feature 256GB of SSD storage. Upgrading the processor to a 2.9GHz i7 for the former will require shelving out $300 more. Increasing storage to 512GB, 1TB and 2TB increase the price by $200, $600 and $1400 respectively. Choosing the Radeon Pro with 4GB of RAM adds $200 to the price.

Conclusion? Both the devices present impressive aesthetic upgrades and design. Performance wise, it depends on your choice of variant. Apple's got the heavier hand with max storage of 2TB. Microsoft's got the better option in graphics with Nvidia's GTX 965M. It depends on whether you're more of a screen or a keyboard user. If you absolutely require portability, then the Surface Book is the device for you. Need to work while sitting down with a larger screen? The MacBook Pro with its Touch Bar should be the device for you. Thoughts? Let us know what you think in the comments section below and stay tuned for the latest.

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