Microsoft introduced the Surface Book 2-in-1 back in 2015 and updated the range in November of the following year by adding a GTX 965M option to the dock. Now in March 2017, Microsoft has given the high-end systems a price cut and introduced another option in the process.
Surface Book comes in a variety of Core i5 and i7 setups, with the top of the line device shipping with a discrete GPU. Today though, Microsoft has begun offering the Core i7 Surface Book with 16GB of RAM and without the dGPU for $2,999 – down from $3,199. This isn't a universal pricing rule though, as the Core i5 with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD is $1,699 regardless of whether you have the dGPU or not.
It has been pointed out before that Microsoft's pricing strategy for the Surface Book hasn't really ever made a whole lot of sense. Looking up the range, the company charges an extra $600 (almost 30 per cent more) for 8GB more RAM and 256GB of additional storage. Quite a jump for arguably not a massive amount of gain. The decision then to launch this $200 cheaper model then comes as quite a curious one that has only a handful of benefits.
The lack of dGPU will probably lead to marginally better battery life, and a cooler running speed. However, Nvidia's Optimus technology is designed to prevent these issues for systems runnning on GeForce by routing workloads to more power-efficient integrated graphiccs, and pushing workloads through the integrated GPU to help battery life. It also goes without saying that dropping the dGPU would also significantly decrease the computer's performance – which would be a primary concern for someone spending upwards of $2,000 on a PC.
It remains to be seen just how these new dGPU-less systems will perform under benchmarking, and – to be honest – who this really is for.
Want to find out more about the Surface and what Microsoft is up to in the mobile space? Make sure you pick up the April issue of PCR for our full interview with Microsoft product design manager Robert Epstein.