Ever since Microsoft has revealed the price tag on its Surface Book’s top end, 13.5 inches, 1TB SSD configuration, pundits have gone through lengths to point out how Microsoft is now the company selling the most expensive device, effectively dethroning Apple’s $2,499 MacBook Pro, with its $3,199 high-end laptop.
The Surface Book is most definitely not the most expensive laptop on the market, especially when looking at specs.
Without delving into ridiculous comparisons with Luvaglio’s $1M laptop, which is essentially a laptop-sized 128GB diamond-coated mp3 player, or the Tulip’s $350,000 Gold-Palladium plated laptop with lower specs than an entry level 2011 MacBook Air, there are devices, especially in the gaming and desktop-replacement category, with very reasonable, and respectable specs, with upgrade options that look at the Surface Book’s price tag in the rearview mirror.
Pound-for-pound, the Surface Book does not cost more than the MacBook Pro, and here is a few reasons for it:
How much would you expect to spend on a 1TB Solid State drive for a laptop? A quick look at the latest pricing for 1TB SSDs reveals prices swinging between $250 and as $500, and considering that 1TB SSDs are still very new on the market, it’s also rare to find a laptop that ships with that much solid state storage available. Considering that the MacBook Pro, so far, offers half of the SSD upgrade options available on the Surface Book, we say the price is definitely justified.
Make no mistakes: the top-end configuration for the Microsoft Surface Book is designed for high-end intensive computing, requiring tons of memory and speed. Speaking of memory options, the Surface Book ships with 16GB of RAM, which is the same as the top-end MacBook Pro.
Discrete nVidia GPU
While the identity of the GPU that ships with the Surface Book is still surrounded by mystery, what we know is that it’s definitely on par with the latest GTX M950, featuring 384 CUDA Cores. When considering the cost of adding a high-end GPU, especially one made by nVidia, there is no argument on price.
Skylake 6th gen. CPU
Adding Intel’s latest top of the line i7 CPU to the Surface Book’s configuration, means to leverage performance considerably. The price range set by Intel for its brand new CPU starts around $300-$400, all the way up to the Extreme edition, which reaches almost $1,100. It’s very possible that Apple will include Skylake in the next iteration of the MacBook Pro, but chances are, it won’t happen until 2016.
Touchscreen and Muscle-Wire mechanism
Aside from the touchscreen, the fact that the Surface Book doubles as both tablet and laptop, and is capable of working in both states by removing the high-end GPU that resides at the base, shows some considerable engineering feat behind it. The “Muscle Wire” mechanism developed by Microsoft, allows the display to detach instantly, and effortlessly from the base, causing the device to automatically switch from the high-end nVidia GPU, to Skylake’s own integrated graphics processing.
Putting a price on features is rather difficult, however, the Surface Book’s target audience is most definitely not the same as the one for which the MacBook Pro is meant.
Why the emphasis on the MacBook Pro?
The most likely reason why Microsoft has been pitching its own new laptop against Apple, is because Microsoft is gearing up to be a hardware manufacturer. This may put Microsoft in a difficult position with other manufacturers who build laptops running Microsoft’s own operating system.
Having said that, by building the Surface Book, Microsoft’s objective is to create leverage for itself, in a world where Apple is synonym with high-end top-quality consumer laptops.
At its lowest entry point, Microsoft Surface Book starts at $1,499, which is about $200 more expensive than the entry level 13 inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, however, when factoring in features and specs, the two devices are on equal ground, at least price-wise.