Surface Book 2 Review for Digital Artists & Traveling Gamers

If you are a digital artist like me, and often take your work outside, the Surface Book 2 is the device for you. I’m a digital artist myself and I have been a freelance illustrator for nearly six years. As a freelance illustrator, I’ve been traveling constantly, working from an airbnb to cafes and various outdoor spaces, switching between client presentations to on the spot concept sketching. I constantly need to switch between working from home in laptop mode and working al fresco in clipboard mode. The SB2 works seamlessly for a digital artist that is constantly on the go and uses a laptop and tablet interchangeably for their work.

the SB2, UAG case, surface pen, pad pucks, and one handed keyboard

Surface Book 2 with i7, Nvidia GeForce 1050, 13.5” Specs

Dedicated graphic cards aren’t as important for light to moderate graphic design work but it may help if you do a lot of 3D design work. In terms of performance, the GeForce 1050 performs well but it isn’t much faster than its predecessor, the GeForce 965M. However, the SB2 has a longer battery life and still has an excellent display. The processor of the SB2, the core i7 is extremely powerful. The core i7 with the dedicated GeForce 1050 is actively cooled with a fan. With the Surface Book 2, you can either go with the dual-core i5 processor or the quad-core i7 processor. I have the SB2 with the i7 processor and it’s a lifesaver for processor-intensive tasks like exporting 3D renders, photos, and videos. With the i7 processor, all of those things are done fairly quickly. Although the Surface Book 2 is expensive, it’s a good choice for an artist because of its screen drawing capabilities and the ability to detach the screen transforming it into a tablet when you need that direct drawing experience.

In terms of gaming, I am able to play Assassin’s Creedy Odyssey on high, there is a bit of coil whine and heat but not so much to prevent me from enjoying the experience. The Sims 4 gives it a bit more resistance but then that’s on EA more than it is on Surface (it’s like that for a lot of other laptops I’ve played this on).

I normally use a one handed keyboard when I game, just because the mechanical feel of it appeals more to me than mashing my SB2’s own.

Common Problems

Now I haven’t ever had a machine that I would be able to call perfect, and the SB2 is not an exception. A common problem with this line is the pen jitter. This is more of a problem with the pen than the SB2 itself. This usually happens when the pen corrects for parallax when it is tilted using the tilt sensor. This may be an issue with the new Surface Pen and I would recommend looking for older generations of the pen or Wacom Ink because they don’t correct the parallax when tilting the stylus. I know this isn’t really a “solution” but Microsoft hasn’t acknowledged the problem yet so this is what I’d recommend if you’re facing this issue. Some models of the SB2 have had a problem with overheating, specifically models with an i5 processor. Some solutions to this issue are making sure the latest updates are installed and then checking the task manager to make sure apps or programs aren’t running in the background, you can also put your device into low power mode to avoid CPU overload. .

Is it worth it?

The SB2 is pricey but well worth it if you’re a digital artist. The SB2 is a fully functioning tablet and laptop device. Laptop mode allows the device to act as a regular laptop with the keyboard attached to it but when you switch to clipboard mode it’s a tablet that you can sketch on with your pen. You can also keep the keyboard attached to the back of the screen so you can charge it and use the USB ports while using the tablet. The only compromise would be that the processor could be a lot faster given the price but no other device has the 2-1 functionality to this caliber. Is it worth it? Yes, it is! With the Surface Book 2, you’ll be able to work on your art regardless of where you are and you can use it as a tablet or laptop. 

I still have a working Surface Pro 2 (refurbished and purchased in 2014) as well, so in terms of quality it seems like the Surface line is still pretty okay for use over the long term.

Here’s a link to the product. Note that if you decide to use the link and make a purchase I may get a percentage. I’ve had this model since April 2019, and as of this writing I am still quite happy with it. .

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