Both Microsoft and Lenovo recently announced updates to their popular 2-in-1 laptops, demonstrating the enduring popularity of the laptop-meets-tablet hybrid. While they share some key similarities, the two notebooks take entirely different approaches to the 2-in-1 form factor. The Yoga is a more traditional offering, with a convertible keyboard and an elegant hinge. It folds flat against itself, providing an exceptionally thin package. The Surface Book takes a slightly different tack, relying on a familiar 2-in-1 experience alongside a display that detaches for tablet use.
So which one is better? Well, it’s tough to say. When it comes to 2-in-1 laptops, specs are often obscured by design. After all, if you don’t care for the way it handles transitioning from one role to another, why even bother with a 2-in-1? They’re unique — and somewhat finicky — products, so it’s important to carefully weigh every detail that you can. Some of the most important, if oft-overlooked, details can be found under the hood.
|Dimensions||12.72 x 8.84 x 0.56 inches||12.30 x 9.14 x 0.51 – 0.90 inches|
|Weight||3.04 pounds||3.63 pounds|
|Keyboard||Backlit English Keyboard||Backlit, Detachable Performance Base|
|Processor||7th Generation Core i7-7500U (2.7 GHz)||6th Generation Core i7|
|RAM||8GB or 16GB||8GB or 16GB|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 620||Nvidia GeForce 965M 2GB|
|Display||13.9-inch UHD IPS||13.5-inch PixelSense|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080 or 3840 x 2160||3000 x 2000|
|Storage||256GB or 1TB SSD||256 GB, 512 GB, 1TB SSD|
|Networking||802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Ports||2x USB Type-C, 1x USB-a, 3.5-inch headphone jack||2x USB-A 3.0, SD card reader, Surface Connect, 3.5-inch headphone jack, Mini-DisplayPort|
|Webcam||720p webcam||5MP front-facing 1080p camera, 8MP rear-facing 1080p camera|
|Operating System||Windows 10||Windows 10|
|Battery||Approximately 9 hours||Approximately 16 hours|
|Price||Starting at $1,330||Starting at $2,400|
|Availability||Lenovo||Pre-order at Microsoft|
The latest Surface Book and the Lenovo Yoga 910 are evenly matched here, coming in neck-and-neck in most areas. They’re both on even footing when it comes to RAM and storage space, though each one can be further customized based on your preference or budget.
The Yoga 910 sports a solid dual-core processor, the latest flavor of Core i7, a 7th-generation Kaby Lake clocked at 2.7 GHz. It’s not a cut-down mobile version, either. That’s right, the 910 is sporting a full-size CPU without any of the usual trimming that’s often associated with competitive 2-in-1 laptops. While the Surface Book sports a previous-gen Core i5 — which you can upgrade to a Core i7 — both options are 6th-generation Skylake CPUs. They’re reliable, middle-of-the-road choices, but nothing to write home about.
The Surface Book really comes into its own, however, when you start looking at its graphical capabilities. The 910 boasts Intel onboard graphics, which is sufficient for most day-to-day computing, but the new Surface Book opts for a Nvidia GeForce 965M with 2GB of RAM. Microsoft has really upped the ante with the Surface Book’s latest update, cramming a discrete GPU into the 2-in-1’s keyboard section, now called the “Performance Base.”
It’s worth noting, however, that the Surface Book loses that performance boost once it’s detached from the Performance Base, where the discrete graphics card — and its ample cooling units — are stowed.
When it comes to display quality, the new Surface Book and the Yoga 910 are evenly matched, but the Yoga pulls ahead just a little on account of the fact that Lenovo managed to cram a 4K display into a thin 2-in-1 laptop.
The 910 sports a 13.9-inch display, with an integrated camera and a touchscreen IPS panel that packs massive 3,840 x 2,160-pixel resolution and 315 pixels-per-inch. That pixel density makes for a crisp, glassy display that makes the most of an otherwise svelte form factor.
The Surface Book is no slouch, either. It has a fairly impressive display, but it isn’t quite 4K. The Surface Book opts for a modest 13.5-inch display, one with a 3,000 x 2,000-pixel resolution and 267 ppi. Taken on its own, the Surface Book’s screen is impressive, silky, and vivid. Compared to the 910, however, the Surface Book just barely yields some ground to its thinner competitor.
The Lenovo Yoga 910 wins this category by a large margin. The 910 was almost the thinnest 2-in-1 on the market when it initially came out, edged out only by Asus and the company’s 10-millimeter Spin 7. The Yoga is still incredibly thin, measuring in at just under 15 millimeters. In other words, toss it in a bag and you might forget it’s even there.
The Surface Book is not a huge laptop, but it’s not that small either. It’s bigger than the 910, coming in at 22.8 millimeters and almost four pounds, whereas the 910 weighs a mere 3.04 pounds. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re in the market for a thin, ultra-light laptop, every millimeter counts.
That said, the Surface Book takes the lead when it comes to battery life. According to Microsoft’s internal estimates, the Surface Book can squeeze around 16 hours out of a single charge, while the Yoga 910 will likely get around 9 hours on a single charge.
Connectivity is one area where ultra-light laptops and 2-in-1s tend to lag behind the competition — it’s just one of those things you shed when you’re trying to shave excess weight off a laptop. The Yoga 910 has three USB ports (two USB Type-C and one USB-A) and a head phone jack. The Surface Book, on the other hand, offers two USB-A ports, a headphone jack, a Mini-DisplayPort, and a full-size card reader.
Here, it’s largely a matter of personal preference. If you’ve already invested in USB-C peripherals, it might be worth going with the 910, but if you’re still not sold on the new USB standard, the Surface Book might be for you.
In terms of design, it’s tough to compare the Yoga 910 and the Surface Book because they really take two fundamentally different approaches to the 2-in-1 build. The 910 is a distillation of the traditional 2-in-1, an elevation of a classic design, while the Surface Book forges its own path, providing a unique user experience and unique design.
The Surface Book’s detachable Performance Base allows it to more flexible, and shed some unwanted pounds when you use it as a tablet. It’s a versatile design, and if you don’t mind a little extra girth in laptop mode, an impressive one. The 910 opts for a different route. The 2-in-1 employs a stylish watchband hinge, which allows it to perform well as a laptop, and after it’s been folded back, as an incredibly thin tablet. Here, personal preference is the most important factor. Both laptops are well-made, solid, and flexible — they simply provide different takes on a classic design.
Availability and price
Neither 2-in-1 laptop is a budget option, but the Yoga 910 might provide a little more bang for your buck. The 1080p version of the Lenovo Yoga 910 is available now for $1,330, as is the 4K version for an extra $100.
The new Surface Book with Performance Base goes on sale on November 10, starting at $2,400 (you can pre-order now). That’s a pretty big price gap, considering how evenly matched the two laptops are in terms of performance.
Declaring a winner here is a difficult proposition, even if you’ve been keeping score. Both laptops have a near equal number of positives and negatives. The Surface Book offers better graphical performance and battery life, and the Yoga 910 is less expensive, has a faster processor, and opts for a better display. The deciding factor here could very well be design, and if you’re comparing the two laptops as objectively as possible, the new Surface Book might come ahead by just a hair.
Why’s that? Well, think about your daily routine. If your Surface Book is going to be your daily driver, you want versatility, battery life, and performance. The Surface Book provides all three in spades. The processor may be a little behind the curve, but having a discrete GPU more than makes up for that particular shortcoming, and the fact that the Surface provides an unparalleled tablet experience — with the Surface pen — means that you’ll have a laptop that can meet most any challenge you’re likely to face while on the go.
A 2-in-1 laptop is designed for versatility, and that’s the one area where the Surface Book beats the 910 without question. However, if you’re more interested in a very solid laptop — that will only occasionally be used as a tablet — the Yoga 910 is a better pick.
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