Surface Laptop 2 vs. Surface Pro 6: Which is right for you?

Surface Laptop 2 vs. Surface Pro 6
Surface Laptop 2 vs. Surface Pro 6

Surface Laptop 2 vs. Surface Pro 6 is a question that plagues potential Surface consumers who have no idea which device is best for them. 

Microsoft refreshed its popular Surface Pro and Surface Laptop products with more powerful internals and a new sleek matte black color scheme, making two of our favorite computing devices better than ever.

We reviewed both the Laptop 2 and Surface Pro 6 and came away impressed by their gorgeous displays, long battery lives and premium designs. But which of these two recommended machines is best for you: The detachable Surface Pro or the traditional clamshell Laptop 2? Let's find out.

Surface Laptop 2 vs. Surface Pro 6: specs and performance

One is a tablet, and the other a laptop, but the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop 2 have a lot more in common than you might expect. Both thin-and-lightweight devices are made of metal and come in the same color variants: Platinum, Black, Burgundy and Cobalt Blue. 

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Surface Laptop 2 vs. Surface Pro 6
Row 0 - Cell 0 Microsoft Surface Laptop 2Microsoft Surface Pro 6
Price (Starting/as configured)$999 ($1,299)$899 ($1,429)
ColorsPlatinum, Black, Cobalt Blue, BurgundyPlatinum, Black, Cobalt Blue, Burgundy
Display13.5-inch, 2256 x 1504-pixel12.3-inch, 2736 x 1824-pixel
CPU8th Gen Core i5, i78th Gen Core i5, i7
SSD128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
Key Travel1.3mm1.3mm (Type Cover)
PortsUSB 3.0, mini DisplayPort, Surface Connect port, headphoneUSB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, Surface Connect port, microSD, headphone
WebcamHD (720p)HD (720p)
Size 12.1 x 8.8 x 0.6 inches11.5 x 7.9 x 0.3 inches
Weight2.7 pounds1.7 pounds (2.4 pounds with keyboard)

The two Microsoft machines also have gorgeous 3:2 touch-screen displays that use the same PixelSense technology. The Laptop 2's display covers an impressive 176 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which trumps the premium laptop average of 114 percent. The Surface Pro 6 lags behind with a sRGB rating of 136 percent, but that's still a very good result. The tablet wins when it comes to screen brightness, reaching 408 nits compared with the 321-nit display on the Surface Laptop 2.

The Laptop 2 and Pro 6 are even offered in the same configuration options — consumers can choose between an Intel Core i5 or i7 CPU, and upgrade RAM and SSD storage up to 16GB and 1TB, respectively. With similar specs, the two devices achieved similar performance scores on our benchmarks. The Surface Laptop 2 scored a 12,676 on the Geekbench 4 overall performance test, while the Surface Pro 6 scored a slightly higher 13,025. The Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2 played the racing game Dirt 3 at 81 and 82 frames per second, respectively.

Surface Laptop 2 vs. Surface Pro 6

Unlike the Laptop 2, the Surface Pro 6 has a microSD card slot, but, otherwise, both devices house a USB 3.0 port, a headphone jack, a Mini DisplayPort and a Surface Connect port. Unfortunately, neither device features a USB Type-C connection.

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Despite having distinct designs, these two PCs get nearly the same battery life. The Surface Pro 6 lasted 9 hours and 20 minutes on our Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous web surfing at 150 nits of screen brightness; the Surface Laptop 2 lasted only 2 minutes longer, at 9:22.

Surface Laptop 2 vs. Surface Pro 6: configurations

Given their similar specs and performance, it's no wonder the Laptop 2 and Pro 6 sell for around the same price. The Laptop 2 starts at $999 for an Intel Core i5, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, while the Pro 6 goes for $899 for the same specs. It's worth noting, however, that if you want to use the Surface Pro 6 as a laptop, you'll need to spend an extra $129 for the Type Cover keyboard accessory.

Reasons to buy Surface Pro 6: Laptop power, tablet flexibility

If you want a tablet, then go with the Surface Pro 6. The Pro 6 has a 10-inch display that transforms into a laptop when paired with a keyboard accessory. This flexibility makes the Surface Pro 6 an excellent choice for travelers who spend their days sitting in cramped airplane seats. Ditching the keyboard and propping the Surface Pro 6 up on its rear kickstand will save you precious tray space when you're viewing content from 40,000 feet.

The Surface Pro 6 is also a great choice for students, especially those pursuing art and design degrees. Without the keyboard, the Surface Pro weighs a measly 1.7 pounds, so it won't weigh you down as you walk across campus from one class to the next.

And because the Surface Pro 6 is a true tablet, you can take full advantage of its responsive touch screen and the excellent Surface Pen accessory. Trust us, drawing images and taking notes with the Surface Pen is a lot more intuitive on the Surface Pro 6 than it is with the Surface Laptop 2.

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Because of its laptop-grade performance, the Surface Pro 6 is perfectly capable of being the primary device for everyday consumers. You can attach the keyboard and take advantage of its excellent performance when you're at work, then detach it from its base and watch hours of Netflix on the couch when you get back home.

Reasons to buy Surface Laptop 2: A comfortable, familiar form

The Surface Laptop 2 is the device to get if you prefer a traditional laptop design. A kickstand and lightweight keyboard attachment may add flexibility to the Surface Pro 6, but they aren't always comfortable to use. The Laptop 2 and its clamshell form is more convenient for lap use since you don't have to worry about adjusting a kickstand or getting the display positioned in a way where it won't tilt over or fall down.

With the Laptop 2, you also get a 13.5-inch display that provides precious extra real estate when compared with the 12.3-inch panel on the Surface Pro 6.

Bottom line

Overall, the Laptop 2 and Pro 6 are similar both in performance and aesthetics, so your buying decision will ultimately come down to personal preference. The Surface Pro 6 gives you the benefits of a tablet, while the Surface Laptop 2 offers a larger display in a comfortable clamshell design.

Credit: Laptop Mag

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.