Microsoft on Wednesday announced a refresh to its highest-end Surface Book laptop.
The updated 2-in-1 notebook, dubbed the Surface Book with Performance Base, is available for pre-order starting on Wednesday, and will be available on November 10.
The new machine starts at $2,399 for a model with 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. Additional configurations with 512GB and 1TB of storage cost $2,799 and $3,299, respectively. Both of those have 16GB of RAM.
For those high prices, Microsoft says the company has boosted the machine with twice as much graphics performance – thanks to a decent-but-not-great Nvidia GeForce 965M graphics processor, which should be strong enough to play various games – and 30% more battery life.
The latter is the big selling point: Microsoft’s Surface boss Panos Panay says the company has built more batteries into the device, purportedly allowing it to achieve up to 16 hours of juice. Earlier Surface Book models were rated at up to 12 hours.
The rest of the laptop looks just about identical to the Surface Book Microsoft launched last year. That means has the same magnesium alloy finish, flexible hinge, Surface Pen stylus, and detachable 13.5-inch display we’ve enjoyed in the past.
Panay says the company did redesign the device’s thermal system and add a second fan to help keep the device cool, though. The new battery system also makes it marginally heavier, at 3.63 pounds.
The updates here strictly apply to the highest-end configurations. The more standard versions will still be available starting at $1,499 – Microsoft did not announce any price cut or specs refresh for those devices.
Each Surface Book with Performance Base runs on an Intel Core i7 processor, but, notably, they don’t use the latest-generation Kaby Lake chip. Despite the claimed performance upgrades, Microsoft has stuck with the same 6th-generation Skylake processors as before. The performance gap between Kaby Lake and Skylake isn’t as big as past transitions, but it’s worth noting that other premium laptops have made the jump in recent weeks.
In any case, Panay stressed that the new Surface Book models are the performance-level entries in the series, and as such are meant for professionals and creative types.
Thatfalls in line with the rest of Microsoft’s announcements at its Windows and Surface event on Wednesday, which focused on the forthcoming “Creators Update” to Windows 10, as well as a new Surface Studio all-in-one touchscreen PC.
The relatively minor update comes just a day before Apple is expected to announce a wholesale refresh of its competing MacBook Pro. That device is expected to feature a slimmer design and a new, touch-enabled function row.