Surface Book 2 Vs ThinkPad X1 Yoga (2018)
Hello, Folks! Today I’m going to make a full specifications comparison between the Surface Book 2 Vs ThinkPad X1 Yoga (2018). So, now that we’ve got some of the big laptop reviews for early 2018 out of the way, we’re going to start doing some verses. These both laptops are very high-end and premium. If you’re on a budget, neither one of these are going to be good choices, but they do represent sort of that new hybrid style of laptops, and what I think are the best form factors, but they do it in different ways.
Now, I know you guys are going to look for a clear winner here, but it’s gonna come down to personal preference because both of these laptops I’ve rated very highly. They do have some pros and cons for each, and I kind of wish I could combine both of them, but let’s go through those specifications and get down to the nitty-gritty. So, let’s started in detailing-
These are both excellent displays. Now, you’re talking higher resolution with Surface Book 2, slightly it’s nothing crazy 3000 by 2000p, but it is 13.5-inches. The real big difference here is that aspect ratio. It’s going to be 3 by 2, and I’m a convert to that. I’ve already written an editorial about it saying just how I prefer it. One of the reasons why I have a hard time switching away from the Surface Book 2 is because it’s one of the reasons I like the MateBook X Pro.
Now, the ThinkPad you’ll get a traditional 16 by 9 ratio display, which I don’t care for as much. I feel everything is squished, but for some people, they still like it, so there you go. Now, the benefit though, with the ThinkPad is, of course, you get that Dolby Vision HDR, at least in the high-end model but it’s $180 extra, which is my opinion, is worth it. It is an outstanding colour display. We’re talking 100% Adobe colour accuracy and 100% sRGB, plus it gets 500 nits of brightness. It’s just stunning looking.
Ports & Slots: –
The ThinkPad X1 Yoga is going to win out for the majority of you. That is, it just has more ports and more options, and there’s no sacrifice here. So, you have two USB Type-C and Thunderbolt-3 PCIe lanes. You can do eGPU on this. Plugin to 4K displays running at 60hertz. You got it all here, plus you have your legacy USB A ports. Now, when it comes to storage, you’ll get a micro SD slot in the back, it’s not convenient, and I don’t like the microSD cards, but they are compatible with a lot of modern cameras and smartphones. You also get an LTE option which, it’s, in theory, you have a choice, you can’t order it yet, but you should be able to in a couple of months.
Additionally, on the X1 Yoga, you’ll get a full HDM port which, when I go to hotels, and I wanna plug into the TV, I still find very useful, and those in business prefer to use it, too so attractive option there. You also have the weird Ethernet dongle thing. So what they did is they built Ethernet into the motherboard, but the connector is just too big for the device, so they have a dongle that acts as the connector. That’s an extra purchase, but it does allow you to get very high-speed internet wired through this device.
Now, Surface Book 2, apparently a lot of compromises but not in all areas. You get two USB Type-A ports which are pretty cool. You also get a USB Type-C port which is new which is new to the Surface Book 2, but as everybody knows, it is not Thunderbolt 3 which means you can’t do a lot with it. You can do peripherals; you can charge the device from it and to it. It’s nice, but you get two external GPUs, and you can’t power to 4k displays, but you can power one though, so better than nothing. Now, you do get a full SD card slot on this device, and even I find that useful for photography.
So what about being a convertible?
So, the cool thing about both of these devices is they turn into tablets. They do it in different ways. There’s no clear winner here, although, for some of you, there will be.
The Surface Book 2 detaches as a tablet, so you have the entire computer in the upper display. The benefit here is it makes that tablet very light. You don’t, however, get all your IO ports now with that choice. There’s also the time thing. It’s a little clunky to hit the button, you’ve got to wait a second for the system to detach, lift it off, and then begin using it. I know that sounds trivial, but it’s one of those things I don’t use it as a tablet very often because it feels like an extra step.
The ThinkPad X1 Yoga does it very differently. Uses the classic hinge system, so you rotate the display around. Well, that gives you many more options, including tent mode, presentation mode, you can use it as a tablet. You’re still talking the dull weight of this device, which is around 3 pounds, as a tablet, and that makes it more cumbersome. That’s twice the weight of what this thing would be as a tablet, so that’s going to be a trade-off. But the benefit here with that hinge is I find myself flipping this around more often than I’d used this as a tablet, that is this just much easier to get.
Which is better?
It depends on how you use it. I think for some artists and people looking at the pen, the Surface Book 2 would be a better option. But for those in business who wanna do presentation mode, who like to watch movies, well, this one would be a little bit easier.
Biometrics & Security: –
It’s also a tough decision. So, Surface Book 2 by default comes with Windows Hello facial recognition. It’s phenomenal, works very well, no issues. ThinkPad gets a little bit complicated. You can get Windows Hello Facial recognition, which is recommended, but the trade-off there is you can’t get that awesome Dolby Vision HDR display, which I just raved about so instead you get a fingerprint reader, which to be honest, on a laptop, ain’t a bad thing, except for the ThinkPad fingerprint reader, its not good at all. I do not like this fingerprint reader.
When it comes to audio and sound, Surface Book 2 puts those speakers next to the display. They are front firing with perfect audio. Not a lot of bass but I don’t have any complaints about it. It’s some of the best speakers you can get on a laptop.
The ThinkPad X1 Yoga puts the speakers on the bottom. These are pretty good. Now when I read the X1 Carbon, I didn’t like the audio at all. With the Yoga, they changed things up quite a bit, much better speakers, and although they’re downwards firing, If you rotate this around, you get upward firing speakers. Still, Surface Book 2 is going to beat it out, but these are pretty good speakers overall.
I like the Surface Book 2’s keyboard. In fact, all the Surface devices, in my opinion, have excellent keyboards, but you can’t deny the legacy of Lenovo. I mean, people are stuck on these keyboards and for a good reason. Even I enjoy using this and have a hard time giving it up. But honestly, either one of these keyboards is going to be good. They have a lot of travel on them, they’re both backlit, and you do get the TrackPoint system with the Lenovo, if that’s important again, for some people, they rely on it, ThinkPad is the best thing in the world. I still haven’t converted to it although it’s on my to-do list in 2018.
Surface Book 2 has a little bit bigger Trackpad, just because it doesn’t have that TrackPoint system, so it’s going to be taller, also glass. It’s using precision touchpads. The ThinkPad X1 Yoga is not as big, but it’s a pretty good size. I don’t have any complaints about it, but those TrackPoint buttons do take away from some of that space, but you are getting precision touchpad drivers here as well. Now, if I had to choose, Surface Book 2 is going to be the winner, but I can’t complain about the ThinkPad’s trackpad, it’s solid.
Surface Book 2 doesn’t come with one, so that’s a bummer. You’ve got to pay $99 for that brand new Surface Pen, and it’s a pretty good pen. It’s also expensive but it has a cool magnet, and it attaches to the side of the device, so that’s quite nice to have. Plus, you get to pick your colour, which is always a beautiful thing to have.
Now, the ThinkPad Yoga is quite cool because it has an active pen built into the system. It’s more like a toothpick. It’s not a full pen, it’s minimal, but it pops out, and it charges while it’s in there. In fact, 15 seconds of being in there, charge it for like 100 minutes which is quite crazy. That convenience of having that pen there all the time is pretty impressive.
So this comes down to how are you going to use the pen?
If you’re going to use the pen all the time or frequently, Surface Book 2 is a much better choice. If you’re like me though, you like the idea of a pen, you don’t use it very often, but you’d want to have a device with it then this is the better choice.
Don’t forget, even that small pen, also if you don’t want to use it, you can buy an AES pen that supports the ThinkPad X1 Yoga, that’s bigger and more natural. And that’s another difference, Surface Book 2 has Intrigue, and ThinkPad has AES.
Surprisingly both of these are the same, at least on the high-end model. With the ThinkPad, you’re going to get a few more options as Lenovo is always a big fan of that, but we’ll talk about high-end stuff. So you’re talking about the Intel 8th generation 8650U for both of these. These are technically 15-watts chips, but they can actually rate a little bit higher, so they go up to around 20, 25-watts for boosting, and they are Quad-Core.
The ThinkPad surprisingly, although a little bit smaller, they don’t throttle back that processor. It does perform very well, but as a result, it can run a bit hot.
Surface Book 2 can also run a little hot, but since it’s processor is behind the display, you won’t quite feel it in your lap as much, and you’re not going to hear the fans as much, either. But they both run very well. Now, when it comes to the RAM, you’re going to talk about 16 gigabytes DDR3 so nothing too unusual there, and both of these are soldered-on options, so you’ve got an order it configured and be happy with it.
Now for storage, you get a bunch of options. Both of these are PCIe, so they’re going to be high-speed drives. You can get up to 1 terabyte in both of them, but regarding raw speed, the ThinkPad is going to win out. It ships with the Samsung PM981, which is a blazingly fast SSD, and it’s the fastest one you can get right now with over a 3000 read speed and 2000 writes, it’s just a killer.
Now the Surface Book 2 has got a good SSD in it, but it’s not going to perform nearly as well, plus with the ThinkPad, you can open it up and swap it out, where you can’t do that in the Surface Book 2. So if you’re looking for storage solutions and the fastest one out there, the ThinkPad going to win out.
Now, when it comes to the Real-world performance difference between these two devices, it’s apparently in graphics. So the 13-inch Surface Book 2 ships with a Nvidia GTX1050, and if you go for a 15-inch model, you get the GTX1060. These are both very good gaming-level GPUs, and you can do gaming on both of these. They’re just excellent choices.
For ThinkPad X1 Yoga, you’ll get the Intel UHD620 graphics. The UHD620 is an excellent GPU for web browsing and working in Word, and that’s what this laptop is meant for, It’s said for productivity, after all, not gaming. But you’re not going to get any graphics boost in here. I would have liked to see the MX150 thrown in there just for that little extra boost, but you’re not even going to get that.
They’re both, I would consider, nearly all game machines, but the Surface Book 2 is going to win out here. It’s excellent battery life. We’re talking near 10 hours quickly with this. That’s both the 13 and the 15-inch versions. They’re the best performing Surface Books regarding the battery life.
The X1 Yoga, it’s good, maybe 8 hours, you can probably push it to nine. The ThinkPad has a lot more capabilities, you have the HDR display of hitting 500 nits, so if you turn up that display very bright, it’s going to drain the battery quickly.
Likewise, Surface Book 2, if you start using that GPU a lot and playing video games, YouTube also drain that battery. So your mileage will vary, but if you’re doing productivity work, Surface Book 2 is going to last longer.
Another essential difference between these two systems for battery, the X1 ThinkPad, you can swap out that battery in a couple of years if you want to. It’s pretty easy to do so that’s important if you’re going to hold onto this for five years.
Well, as I mentioned earlier, these are both expensive devices but no surprise, Surface Book 2, the more expensive one. It does start off at @1499 which is a doable price for some people but that’s the Core i5 version with 256 stores and eight gigs of RAM, and you don’t get discrete graphics, so that is just the Intel UHD620, and that’s the older version, the Core i5. It’s a weird device, to be honest, but if you like this form factor, it’s a high price point for that to get in there and it’s pretty good performer, but you’re not going to get all the cool stuff that you get in the Core i7 model.
Speaking of the Core i7 model, once you throw in those in video graphics, all of a sudden you’re going to bump into $2300 for the 13-inch; it goes up more for the 15-inch. All in all, if you were to max this system out with the 15-inch version, you’re talking $3299 which is very expensive.
Now, the X1 Yoga is cheaper. Lenovo always has sales, so it’s quite hard to pinpoint their pricing. Starts around $1400, you can get that with the Core i5, and this maxes out around $2500 for the Core i7, one terabyte, 16 gigabytes RAM. That’s still though, few hundred dollars cheaper than the Surface Book 2.
Let’s wrap it up.
Is there a clear winner here?
For me, there isn’t. Now, I like using Yoga. It’s a fun device, great keyboard, excellent trackpad, that HDR display is phenomenal. I don’t love the aspect ratio though. I talked about this endlessly. He 16 by 9 still feels dated. The fingerprint reader is kind of a deal killer for me. Given that LTE modem though, if that option comes out, is enticing though. I like the idea of taking this device anywhere, using it everywhere around the world. And the build quality on this is not necessarily better than Surface Book; it’s more resilient though.
Lenovo is very well known for making sturdy devices. It meets mil-spec design and testing. If you drop the ThinkPad X1 Yoga, it probably won’t break. I can’t say that with Surface Book 2. Surface Book 2 is sturdy, but it’s pretty delicate.
All in all, these are both excellent devices. I don’t know; I still feel an attachment to Surface Book 2 just because of the display. It’s the first thing I see. I like that aspect ratio, the keyboard, and the all-day battery life goes for me, and I have to admit, this is an excellent choice as well.
I don’t think you can go wrong with either one of them. If you’re looking to save money, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is going to be the better value.