Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Laptop 2: get the best new Surface for you

Does the Surface Pro 6 or Surface Laptop 2 have what it takes?

Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Laptop 2

Microsoft has treated us to a selection of new Surface devices in 2018, including the upgraded Surface Laptop 2 and its latest 2-in-1 tablet/laptop hybrid, the Surface Pro 6. And so your next question might be: which of these fine computers should you be investing in?

Well, we're here to help – we're going to tell you how these two new Surface devices stack up against each other in terms of specs, design, features, price and more. By the time we're through, you should be in no doubt about which of these models is better for your needs.

Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Laptop 2: design

Surface Pro 6

Surface Pro 6

Microsoft is now several years into its Surface hardware strategy, and has had chance to refine its design approach – something that's evident with these two new entries in the Surface catalogue. They're both very well made machines.

The Surface Pro 6 is, of course, a tablet that doubles up as a laptop (via a clip-on keyboard). It features a 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 pixel screen (267 pixels-per-inch), and in tablet mode is 8.5 mm (0.33 inches) thick. It's available in platinum silver or black, with a matching keyboard cover, if you want to pay extra.

As for the Surface Laptop 2, obviously it comes with a permanent keyboard attached, so we're talking about a different form factor. This time there's a larger 13.5-inch, 2,256 x 1,504 pixel display (201 ppi), and your choice of platinum silver, black, burgundy, or cobalt blue colours to pick from.

Squint your eyes and from a distance it's difficult to tell the difference between the Surface Pro 6 (with a keyboard attached) and the Surface Laptop 2. They're both thin, light, well-designed gadgets, though if you need the portability of a tablet then the Surface Pro 6 is likely to suit you best.

Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Laptop 2: specs

Surface Laptop 2

Surface Laptop 2

Under the hood, both the Surface Pro 6 and the Surface Laptop 2 come in a choice of configurations, so you can pick your components based on your needs and your budget – though both of these product lines focus on the higher end of the market.

With the Surface Pro 6, you can pick an 8th-gen Intel i5 or i7 processor (including integrated Intel graphics), 8GB or 16GB of RAM, and 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB of SSD storage. You can pack it with some serious power, if you want.

Over to the Surface Laptop 2, and here your options are... exactly the same. Microsoft is offering the same choice of processors, the same RAM options, and the same selection of SSDs with the Surface Laptop 2 as it is with the Surface Pro 6.

In a way, that makes your purchasing decision simpler. Both computers can be tricked out with the same choice of components, right up to the super-powerful Intel i7 processors and 16GB of RAM, so your main decision is whether you want a regular laptop design or a tablet that can turn into a laptop with the addition of a clip-on keyboard cover.

Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Laptop 2: features

Surface Pro 6

Surface Pro 6

Both these computers come running Windows 10, of course, and both have other features in common – like a 3.5 mm audio jack, so you can carry on using your regular wired headphones, if you want to. There are some differences in the available features that you should know about before parting with your cash, however.

For instance, the Surface Pro 6 comes with an integrated MicroSDXC card reader (handy for transferring images over from a digital camera), while the Surface Laptop 2 doesn't. The Surface Pro 6 has cameras front and rear too, and they're both significantly better than the 720p webcam included with the Surface Laptop 2.

Both devices snub USB-C but come with a single USB-A 3.0 port, and both the Surface Pro 6 and the Surface Laptop 2 also come with a Mini DisplayPort socket for your video out needs (if you want to hook up an external display for whatever reason). Both computers work with the Surface Dial accessory too.

Again, it's largely honours even – though it's worth pointing out that Microsoft says the Surface Laptop 2 can last for 14.5 hours of video playback between charges, compared with 13.5 hours for the Surface Pro 6. It's not a huge difference, but perhaps something to bear in mind if you're on the go a lot of the time.

Surface Pro 6 vs Surface Laptop 2: price and verdict

Surface Laptop 2

Surface Laptop 2

As you can see from the details listed above, the Surface Pro 6 and the Surface Laptop 2 are more evenly matched than you might think in terms of specs and features. The big difference is the obvious one – one's a laptop and one's a 2-in-1 – and that should be your primary consideration when you're trying to choose between them.

With identical configurations, the prices are very close as well, though don't forget the extra cost of the Surface Pro Type Cover – yours for £124.99/$129.99 and up – which you may or may not want. There's also the Surface Pen (£99.99/$99.99), which will work with the Surface Laptop 2 as well as the Surface Pro 6, should you want to dab at the screen of your laptop with a stylus.

There's no doubt the Surface Pro 6 is the best Windows 2-in-1 Microsoft has put out so far, packed with power and style, elegantly portable... and now available in black. If you think you need a tablet mode and can live with a flimsy, clip-on keyboard when it comes to typing, it might be the device for you.

And while the Surface Laptop 2 isn't as powerful as the Surface Book 2, it's more portable, and will handle just about everything you can throw at it... as well as now being available in black too. It's probably the preferable choice if you're going to be doing more trackpad and keyboard work rather than relying on the touchscreen.

David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.