March 8, 2019
Joel Hruska

The Cheapest Surface Book 2 May Get a Quad-Core Upgrade

Currently, Microsoft only sells its Surface Book with two different flavors of Intel CPU. The bottom-end machine sells with a dual-core mobile CPU from Intel’s Kaby Lake days (the Core i5-7300U), while the high-end system packs a Core i7-8650U. In this case, that gap is quite significant, given that Intel’s 8th Generation Coffee Lake CPUs added two additional CPU cores to its mobile processors. The Core i7-8650U is a 4C/8T chip at 1.9GHz base with a 4.2GHz Turbo, compared with the Core i5-7300: 2C/4T, at 2.6GHz base, 3.5GHz Turbo. Now, there’s a rumor that the 13.5-inch variant of the laptop could be getting a new CPU upgrade.

A new model, with a Core i5-8350U, is now popping up on retail store listings, WinFuture reports. The 8350U is a 4C/8T CPU with a 1.7GHz base clock and a 3.6GHz Turbo, putting it on par with the 8650U at a lower clock rate. The new model is reportedly retailing for €1569 or $1500 with a 256GB SSD. If you check the Microsoft store’s current listing for the same system with the dual-core model, it’s been discounted down to $1,299 from $1,499, implying that Microsoft is indeed trying to clear inventory.

Can the Surface Book 2 Handle the Heat?

One point worth mentioning is the fact that the 15-inch Surface Book 2SEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce has been demonstrated to throttle under significant CPU load. A report last November from HotTech Vision and Analysis demonstrated that the 15-inch Surface Book 2 throttled by 14-17 percent under sustained load.

HotTech-Data

A 14-17 percent throttle would still result in a net performance improvement for the Core i5-8350U versus the 7300U, but we don’t know if the numbers would be the same for the 13.5-inch system as they are for the 15-inch system. Typically, manufacturers use the additional space for better cooling in one way or another. Even if the two systems have the same cooling solution, the smaller chassis might still cause additional performance degradation.

But if the performance throttling issues aren’t a concern, and Microsoft doesn’t sneak a price increase in alongside the new CPU core, this new system should be significantly faster than the current Surface Book 2. There’s no word of any other meaningful system changes and it’s not clear if Microsoft is bumping the specs quietly now in lieu of updating the product line later this year. A small spec increase like this doesn’t necessarily mean the company won’t update the product family later, depending on its own introduction schedule.

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