Microsoft Surface Book vs Surface Pro 4 for sketching and SW

Does anyone have an experience using either the new Surface Book or Surface Pro 4 for sketching and 3D CAD? The programs I use are Sketchbook and Solidworks.

This is what I know so far:

The advantages of the Surface Book are larger screen, optional discreet GPU, and better keyboard.
Disadvantages are the screen only has 3 hour battery life when not docked to the base and cost.

In December I upgraded to the top option Surface Book, it’s a 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM, i7 processor and the Nvidia GPU. I paired it with the new Surface Dock which has the following connected to it; an external LG DVD drive, an external Toshiba SSD, a 28" Dell 4K monitor, an Epson printer and a kickin’ sound system. We use a SeaGate 1TB network “cloud” drive for internal stuff (most recent stuff I keep backed up on the Toshiba as well), OneDrive for collaborative storage and interfacing with our independent contractors / a few clients and DropBox for collaborative storage and interfacing with some other contractors and clients.

I like having everything again in one machine (I hadn’t had that luxury since the last Toshiba Tecra M7 slowed to such a crawl that I had to take it out back and put it down). After studying my workflow for the last few months, I think MS got everything right except for one detail - the screen should flip around like my Tecra used to - it made quick work of going from typing/reading/surfing work to sketching work…I now have to detach the screen, flip it around and reattach it to keep using the Nvidia GPU or detach the screen and leave it detached if the integrated GPU is OK for the task (it’s fine for all but the heaviest of graphics intensive work). Rhino and my graphics programs never skip a beat, so the i7, the 16GB RAM and the Nvidia were worth the cost.

Size is what led me to this over the Surface 4 (those old Tecras were 14.4", this is very close at 13.5") and the fact that I’m typing project related emails probably a third of my time.

I was worried that NTrig would be a disappointment but it hasn’t been at all - I have a Samsung NotePro 12.2 (it’s Wacom) that I sketched with until I got this thing and the experience is equal - smooth, no jitters, no lag, no inadvertant markings.

As an early adopter, I HAVE experienced a few glitches, which I expected and am OK with - I’m a good soldier in the fight so I send in feedback to help the dev teams prioritize their updates, and based on the latest 2/2 update pushed through, it looks like they’ve solved 1 or 2 of the 3 issues I’d seen from time to time.

All in all, it rocks. Super lightweight, super thin (especially the screen, it’s amazingly thin and has everything in it except for the Nvidia GPU and the second battery, so it’s the computer all by itself.) Expensive, but is styled and detailed like an Apple and appears to be built like an Apple as well.

I sold my 15" MBP and got a used SP3 and built my self a decent desktop for the price of a well speced SP4/mid-range Surface Book.

Sketching is great. My SP3 has no hiccups when sketching - the pen could be a bit better but that was improved with the SP4. CAD is a bit more of a toss up. It really depends on the complexity of your models and what you’re doing with them. Rendering and simulation will be really slow. But most standard modeling should be handled well.

I think it’s great for sharing idea though. The tablet makes it easier to have several people looking at something. The pen makes it easy to take a screen grab and put notes on top.

Surface Pro 4 is batter than surface book.

I’m also considering getting a Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book mainly for digital sketching, rendering, and to replace my old laptop. I’ve only used both the SP4 and SB only for sketching in different apps but have really liked it. Specifically, Sketch Book felt great.

Initially, I was leaning heavily towards the $1300 SP4 i5 8gb ram model + keyboard cover which would total about $1430.

Then looking at the SB prices and specs, for $70 it seemed like going for the $1500 base model with i5, 8gb ram would be the right way to go even with less hard drive space . It doesn’t have the GPU in the base but for $70 you’d get much better battery life, a bigger screen, and a better keyboard and trackpad, oh and a cool hinge! I’m betting that hinge/release mechanism won’t last forever though I’m hoping Microsoft may allow the future Surface Book 2 base to be compatible with the SB like they have for the newest type covers and pens across the Surface Pro line.

So far so good with my Surface Book. I was an early adopter and saw some strange things when reconnecting the screen to the base when already docked but updates seem to have sorted everything out. To your point, the slightly bigger screen was the biggest selling point for me over the SP4.

Thanks for the feedback on my question Scott. Yeah, I remember seeing that you were planning to be an early adopter from the Surface Book announcement thread started here on the boards a little while back. Glad to see from your updates that you’re enjoying it! I think I’m going to go for it!

Do you do any work in Solidworks/Keyshot on you Surface Book?
Anyone do photoshop sketching?
I haven’t used Sketchbook pro in a while because photoshop CS4 and onward seemed at parity…is sketchbook still less laggy or something?

My surface book lags in Photoshop sketching, and the icons are quite tiny on the screen when using Rhino. I haven’t tried Keyshot but I’m skeptical that it would work well.

I use mischief to sketch with and it works OK. I’m definitely jealous of the iPad pro and pencil when it comes to sketching.

The icons are certainly tiny in Rhino, but I don’t get any lag at all - in any of the software I’ve used with my Surface Book - maybe it’s the specs.

Hmm that’s interesting, I own the $2,100 version, with the i7 processor, what specs are you running?

Mine is the i7-6600U CPU @ 2.6-2.81GHz with 16 gb RAM and the Nvidia GPU running Windows 10 Pro.

so @apowers, is @Generatewhatsnext’s surface book beefier than yours, or is your perception just different? =)

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Since it looks like services-spam had the last word, I’ll pipe in again about my Surface Book.

All good so far - We’re coming up on 10 months of constant use (studio use, work travel use, personal use) and MS looks to have tackled all the strange things that popped up (as I expected they would - I don’t get pissed off at stuff like that, in-use development is a reality now).

Nothing I’ve used has bogged it down (granted it’s the top spec’d version, so it shouldn’t bog down). Over the last few moths, some updates screwed up the hot-docking capability (I use the Surface dock connected to stuff) and one update screwed up the pointer tracking but subsequent updates fixed everything. She’s humming along nicely, and I like being able to undock quickly to go sketch & do admin work on the couch or outside.

I’d say my only dislike is the way the screen goes from laptop screen to sketching tablet - I liked the old Toshiba Tecra flip-around screens, nothing had to be disconnected and reconnected like this one has to.

Here are some awesome apps I’ve found for stylus input;
Drawboard PDF - this IS the admin boss - you know how the idea of annotating PDFs with writing, drawing, marking up is a great idea but used to take three or four steps to do it?, not anymore…I quickly open PDFs, sign them, add sketch directions, annotate engineering drawings, etc and resave the doc…
Leonardo - I’ve been using this instead of SBP and I have to say, it’s awesome. I get errant marks with SBP because of the pen tech fighting with single finger touch (didn’t happen with Wacom, of course) so I had to start wearing a glove on my sketching hand but Leonardo lets you deactivate single touch so only the pen and multi-finger touch are active - it’s solved a big frustration that I kept having with SBP.

Since the anniversary update it is possible to completely switch of any touch input as long as the pen is active. Fixed any of the palm drawing issues for me completely! I only use the surface pro 2 with the wacom digitizer though so it was never a huge problem to begin with and I am not sure if it works just as well with the new pen tech.
I just played around with Leonardo and it looks really awesome. It marries the infinite Canvas of Mischief with useful sketchbook-like ruler and perspektive tools. The ellipse tool is even better than in sketchbook imo. That’s basically all I always wanted. Why is this software not better known??

I’ll look to see if those input on/off controls are on the Book as well. The important one for me is single finger touch to be controlled separately from multi-touch.

I stumbled across a reference to Leonardo in a blog, I hadn’t heard of it either…downloaded the trial and liked it, so I contacted the author - he’s a programmer in the EU and has been very responsive to my feedback - he’s working on custom brushes and determining if we might be able to import brushes as well (like maybe the SBP brush families). Glad you liked it, I bought it (it was inexpensive).

I am considering using an Onda or Cube tablet with the latest specs and Win OS for sketching together with a third party stylus (the FiftyThree pencil looks great).
I imagine that 9.7" and 1200p is the minimum I can reasonably sketch with.
Does anyone have experience with these Asian brand tablets for professional use?

The ellipse tool alone is the reason I will switch to Leonardo, by the way :bulb: