Microsoft's Surface Books get massive battery, graphics boost

It turns out, you can teach an old laptop new tricks.

Alfred Ng Senior Reporter / CNET News
Alfred Ng was a senior reporter for CNET News. He was raised in Brooklyn and previously worked on the New York Daily News's social media and breaking news teams.
Alfred Ng
2 min read
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These are more than surface level updates.

As Microsoft pushed new 3D software and the Surface Studio at its New York Windows event on Wednesday, the PC giant squeezed in a small, but important update for its Surface Book.

The new Surface Book i7 offers 16 hours of battery life and double the graphics performance of its predecessor.

"Everyone asks for battery life," said Panos Panay, Microsoft's head of Surface devices. "It actually doesn't matter what device you're using."

The upgrade was also in response to demands from gamers and engineers who wanted better graphics. The new Surface Book's GPU isn't quite top-of-the-line, though: it's a GeForce GTX 965M, instead of one of Nvidia's new 10-series chips.

Microsoft Surface Book i7 brings powerful performance to 2-in-1 design (pictures)

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While gaming was possible -- but not ideal -- on the original Surface Book, the upgrade bounces the video memory to 2GB, just barely meeting the threshold that gamers demand now.

Microsoft introduced its first Surface Book in October 2015. It featured PixelSense technology and "best-in-class" palm detection. With 128GB of storage and up to 16GB of memory, Wednesday's upgrades mean the tablet-laptop hybrid will be even faster.

The Surface Book i7 has a 30 percent battery life jump from 2015's model, which boasted 12 hours of juice.

The Surface Book, Microsoft's high-end answer to Apple's MacBook Pro, started at $1,499. But its high-powered update jumps the price to $2,399.

Microsoft's big reveal comes a day before Apple's event, where the rival tech giant is expected to announce a line of new laptops.

Preorders for the upgraded Surface Book start on Wednesday, with the device available in November.

Updated at 9:42 a.m. with new details on graphics processor.