Surface Book vs. MacBook + iPad Pro

I’m in the market for a new laptop. Been using the same MacBook pro for pushing 8 years. Still works just fine, but battery life is getting untenable (even after a replacement).

Pricing for a fully stocked Microsoft Surface Book is comparable to a similar MacBook + iPad Pro.

I do like the idea of having my device all in one, hence why I’m looking at the Surface Book. I’m also uninspired by the UI/UX changes happening over at Apple. But I have an iPhone and kids in the Apple Universe…so, lots to consider.

Looking for flat out performance and subjective reviews for either set-up.

I operate on both platforms as of this year 2020…Win10 PC workstation + Win10 Surface Book+LG Android. iMac+iPad+iPhone.

I’ve found that I’ll only use my Surface Book when I’m traveling (Fusion360, Solidworks, Sketchbook, Adobe Suite, InVision for Design apps). I’ve grown used to my desktop triple monitor setup for daily driver workstationing that includes a large touch monitor (Gaomon PD2200). I use the iMac desktop for Graphics/Video creation work primarily, the ipad for daily content and finance and the iphone for text communicating and image/video creation.

I like the Surface Book when traveling because it does everything and is linked to all my daily information sources. I used it when traveling overseas this summer and was very pleased with its Fusion and Adobe Suite performance capabilities.

I trust my data more on the Apple platform, but reluctantly generate lots of critical 3DCAD data on the Microsoft platform (begrudgingly).

The video work (PremirePro) I do demands the most in terms of performance and have never found a reason to complain about performance while using the refurbished Surface Book that I purchased on Amazon.

What stops you from transitioning to Mac 100% considering you use Fusion and Adobe that are both Mac based as well? I also have the Win10 desktop but even that is encroaching on 5 years old at this point. I have not had any issues with it being to slow yet. That said I haven’t done any intensive video or rendering for a while.

When I bought a iPP and original Pencil, I was able to compare that device and the latest Surface within an escalator ride in the mall. Such memories. At the time it was no question as to the Apple product having a better drawing experience. The gap could have closed, or perhaps the sketching software makes up for the 1:1 sketching feel. If I had $ to burn, which I don’t, I’d wait for the M1 chips to get settled in, and get a new MBP, and some size of iPP for drawing - its more just a ‘tool’ than an all-in-one, in that model.

I just picked up an iPad pro with the plan to use remote PC and tap into a CAD/rendering PC that I plan to build in the near future. I have quite a few friends who do this and it works perfect. Chances are if I am going heavy in CAD I will want to do it at a workstation anyway. The sketching on the 2020 IPP is incredible, I recently gave away my Wacom products and plan to never look back.

I got a Surface Book 3 about 2 month ago. Not the lowest spec but almost - the lowest with dedicated GFX card.
My intention was to have a device that could do everything OK because a client wanted me to be on site 1 day/week, ~2h drive one way. I also have a workstation at the office.

I have noticed that Solidworks runs quite well. Can handle smaller assemblies with complex surfacing (say an advanced mouse) as well as open up a large 500MB step file received from engineering (say a crane with all nuts and bolts). So far I’m not impressed with sketching, it seems unprecise compared to my wacom Intuos 4 tablet. However, that’s in Sketchbook Pro. Since that’s my favourite app for sketching with the tablet (and free) that’s what I’ve been using, but I’ve noticed that the pen response feels much better in apps like Paint, Whiteboard, or Concepts App.

I can’t compare to MBP+iPP combo, but to be able to draw right on screen during a Teams meeting without any peripherals is worth more to me than sketching experience at this point…

I would suggest that you avoid the MS surface as much as you can. To enable their tablet/computer situation MS made a lot of weird engineering choices when building out the hardware architecture in the surface. Since it’s a tablet trying to be a powerful computer, it needs 2 of everything. 2 graphics cards, 2 batteries, 2 processors, etc… All of that extra hardware seemed to contribute to a lot of troubleshooting headaches during my time with that machine. To add to the hardware bloat, the tablet portion and the base would consistently stop communicating with each other causing half a day’s worth of manually detaching the tablet from the base, charging them separately, then reattaching them hoping the problem solved itself. As a cherry on top, the “drawing pad” was horribly unresponsive and lacked significantly compared to any other drawing tablet I’ve used.

On the other hand, I was using a Macbook for awhile with bootcamp installed to do any Solidworks noodling that I needed to do. I always found that approach was soooo close to what I wanted, but the mac never handled SW the way I needed it to. Eventually I had a buddy show me his workstation running SW and it blew my mind in comparison to the bootcamp mac.

Having gone through both setups I ultimately landed on a beefy HP workstation laptop with an ipad pro for all my sketching needs, though I’m eyeing up some of those new Wacom competitors. IMO getting the right tools for the job is the best way to go. The surface is great on paper but it was such a trouble child, and the Macbook couldn’t keep up with my CAD stuff.

Some good takes from engio and eton, thank you. I agree - when you can grab the stylus right in the moment, and don’t have to resort to ‘drawing’ with the trackpad, the value is immediately apparent. To be able to ad hoc sketch, like on a whiteboard during a meeting, is probably going to be more useful in collaboration than being able to generate a ILM-level rendering. Interesting to hear that the MS Book was decent with SolidWorks though.

The interesting element to all of this discussion is that I do have a PC workstation. The issue with it is that it is also getting up there in years (4ish).

Considering I work in Fusion 360, Keyshot, and Adobe Suite almost exclusively for design nowadays, I’m looking at this portable set up to be an eventual transition away from the workstation once it is time to retire it.

I also find that I’m doing as much writing as designing these days, so that plays a factor as well.

I am finding that the older I get, my deep seated love/hate relationship with technology is not waning, and it seems to just amplify whenever it is time to make a choice for an tech upgrade.

I’m currently doing a lot of X86 architecture hardware designs for sbc computing and need to understand that platform more so than Apple’s ARM platform (which is now currently changing again to the M1). I’ve designed/built several computers this year and am using several of China’s own weapons against them in my designs to counter the CCP’s market offensive.

Apples’ business model remains for suckers who pay full retail for their computing needs that become outdated every year or so. The only apple product I have paid full retail for is the new iphone SE this past summer. This low end purchase was much more than a phone, as it gave me an upgraded entrance into the current walled garden ecosystem that is Apple. Otherwise, I’m always in the market to upgrade my long history with refurbished Apples.

I used to be quite particular of the aesthetics of the sketching experience like many here, but I now communicate well enough with any media on any surface to the benefit of my clients. So many designers have become stooges for Apple’s advanced technology development that really only serves itself IMO.

Designers need to be skilled at IT arbitrage and play on both platforms. To do so, they need to be creative with their IT purchasing and applications.