When it comes to premium laptops that are also 2-in-1 convertibles the Microsoft Surface Book 2 and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga come from different starting points but end up being very similar.

Which is better? Well, it's not so clear as both have it set of pros and cons. Which of those matter to you is a personal preference, but the critical thing to know is what you are getting into before you click that buy button.

Today, in my smackdown I'll highlight the strengths and weaknesses of both.

Surface Book 2 vs. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga tech specs

Model Surface Book 2 13.5 Surface Book 2 15 ThinkPad X1 Yoga
Processor Intel 8th gen Core i5-7300U (dual-core 3.2GHz)
Intel 8th gen Core i7-8650U (quad-core 4.2GHz)
Intel 8th gen Core i7-8650U (quad-core 4.2GHz) Intel 8th gen Core i5-8250U (quad-core 3.4GHz)
Intel 8th gen Core i7-8650U (quad-core 4.2GHz)
Display 13.5-inch PixelSense Display
10-point multi-touch
15-inch PixelSense Display
10-point multi-touch
14-inch LCD
Multi-touch
Anti-reflective, anti-smudge
Dolby Vision HDR (optional)
Display resolution 3,000 x 2,000
3:2 aspect
267 PPI
3,240 x 2,160
3:2 aspect
260 PPI
1,920 x 1,080
16:9 aspect
158 PPI
2,560 x 1,440
16:9 aspect
210 PPI
RAM 8GB or 16GB DDR3-1866MHz 16GB DDR3-1866MHz 8GB or 16GB DDR3-2133MHZ
Native graphics Intel HD Graphics 620
Intel UHD Graphics 620
Intel UHD Graphics 620 Intel UHD Graphics 620
Discrete graphics Core i5: None
Core i7: NVIDIA GTX 1050 (2GB)
NVIDIA GTX 1060 (6GB) None
Storage 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB PCIe SSD 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB PCIe SSD 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB PCIe SSD
Active Pen N-Trig
$99 (extra)
4,096 levels of pressure
N-Trig
$99 (extra)
4,096 levels of pressure
Wacom AES
$0 (included)
2,048 levels of pressure
Battery 70WHr
Up to 17 hours
Up to 5 hours in Tablet Mode
80WHr
Up to 17 hours
Up to 5 hours in Tablet Mode
54WHr
Up to 15 hours
Wireless Marvel
Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.1
Marvel
Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.1
Intel Dual-Band Wireless AC (2 x 2) 8265 + Bluetooth 4.2
LTE-A optional (FHD model only)
Xbox Wireless No Yes, built-in No
Ports Two USB-A 3.1
USB-C 3.1
Full-size SDXC card reader
3.5mm jack
Two Surface Connect ports (one in tablet, one in keyboard base)
Two USB-A 3.1
USB-C 3.1
Full-size SDXC card reader
3.5mm jack
Two Surface Connect ports (one in tablet, one in keyboard base)
2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (one Always On)
2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C / Intel Thunderbolt 3 (Power Delivery, DisplayPort, Data transfer)
HDMI
4-in-1 MicroSD card reader
Ethernet Extension Connector
Audio Stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium
Windows Sonic for Headphones
Dolby Atmos for Headphones compatible
Stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium
Windows Sonic for Headphones
Dolby Atmos for Headphones compatible
Dolby Audio Premium
Dual speakers (bottom edge)
Noise-cancelling dual-array mic
Dimensions 312 mm x 232 mm x 15 to 23 mm
12.3 in x 9.14 in x 0.59 to 0.90 in
343 mm x 251 mm x 15-23 mm
13.5 in x 9.87 in x 0.57 to 0.90 in
333 mm x 229 mm x 17.05 mm
13.1 in x 9.0 in x 0.67 in
Weight i5 total: 1.53 kg (3.38 lbs)
i7 total: 1.64 kg (3.62 lbs)
Tablet: 0.72 kg (1.59 lbs)
Total: 1.91 kg (4.20 lbs)
Tablet: 0.82 kg (1.80 lbs)
1.4 kg (3.08 lbs)
Cameras 5.0MP 1080p video at 30 FPS (front)
8.0MP 1080p video at 30 FPS with auto-focus (rear)
5.0MP 1080p video at 30 FPS (front)
8.0MP 1080p video at 30 FPS with auto-focus (rear)
720p (front)
Biometrics IR Camera IR Camera Fingerprint reader ("Match-in-Sensor")
IR Camera (WQHD option only)
Price Starts at $1,499 Starts at $2,499 Starts at $1,480
Availability Now Now Now

No matter how you fold it

Although both laptops turn into tablets each does it different. The Surface Book 2's display famously detaches into a much lighter tablet with a click of a button, while the X1 Yoga flips the display while also retracting the Wave keyboard into the chassis.

From my experience, the Surface Book 2 makes a better tablet due to how light it is, but it is not nearly as convenient. The detaching mechanism is not very quick and, once you remove the display-as-a-tablet, you have a heavy base laying around. Reattaching the display is easy, but there is the extra step of having to line up the guide pins.

The X1 Yoga, on the other hand, lets you simply rotate the display around. It's fast, easy, and with the keyboard retracted into the laptop's chassis, feels natural. You also have a full 180-degrees of positions including tent mode. The tradeoff is you now have a three-pound (1.4kg) tablet, which is almost twice the weight as the Surface Book 2 as a tablet.

Lenovo X1 Yoga gets points for ease and convenience, but Surface Book 2 wins for long term use.

Displays – the power of color

The Surface Book 2 in both 13.5. and 15-inch varieties come with similar PixelSense displays. The resolution of both shifts between 3,000 x 2,000 in the smaller model to 3,240 x 2,160 in the larger one.

The X1 Yoga has three different display types to choose from including a paltry full HD 1,920 x 1,080 with just 270-nits of brightness, WQHD at 2,560 x 1,440 and a third, premium model also at WQHD but with Dolby Vision HDR and 500-nits of brightness.

For color accuracy, the Surface Book ranges from 99 percent sRGB and 80 percent Adobe RGB in the 13-inch model with the 15-inch one falling a bit lower at 98 percent sRGB and 75 percent Adobe RGB. Meanwhile, the X1 Yoga with Dolby Vision HDR gets 100 percent for sRGB and Adobe RGB and even 99 percent for NTSC making it by far the more color accurate.

All three laptops have fantastic displays with the X1 Yoga and Dolby Vision HDR winning out for color accuracy, being anti-reflective and brightness, but the Surface Book 2 wins for highest pixel-per-inch and preferable 3:2 display aspect.

Consider this race a draw.

Premium design, but one is built to be rugged

Microsoft is not new to delighting users with high-end, shiny hardware. The entire Surface series is all about elegance and creating PCs that inspire.

Surface Book 2 is not immune to this with its fulcrum hinge that creates a notebook binder feel. It also lets the keyboard not touch the display when closed and it feels great in the hand. Matching that is the all magnesium, machined metal chassis, which also hides fingerprints.

That design by Microsoft comes at a price though (besides literal). The Surface Book 2 is not particularly rugged. Metal can dent, chip, and scratch the delicate parts and the screen can crack with one wrong bang. Repairs are also not cheap as the all-in-one design makes any fixes impossible for the user. If you crack the display that is a $600 repair bill. Yikes.

The X1 Yoga is the business suit of laptops. It calls no attention to itself at meetings and it can easily be described as conservative, but still proper. But that stuffiness though hides its magic of being one tough Ultrabook. Lenovo ensures the X1 Yoga passes 12 MIL-STD 810Gtests and it just feels solid. If you are prone to dropping or banging your laptop on road trips the X1 Yoga will last you much longer.

Performance, graphics, or both?

Breaking down which laptop is faster is difficult as it depends on what you are measuring.

For raw CPU speed, all three laptops feature at the top end an Intel 8th gen quad-core Core-i7 8650U processor with bursts up to 4.2GHz. These are excellent processors, and all perform within range on Geekbench 4.0.

The Surface Book 2 though pulls ahead of the X1 Yoga for graphics. It's no contest between the NVIDIA GTX 1050 in the 13.5-inch, NVIDIA GTX 1060 in the 15-inch and the on-board Intel UHD 620 with the X1 Yoga, which falls miles behind. If graphics – including gaming – matter to you then the X1 Yoga is completely out of the picture.

But, to complicate matters the X1 Yoga has not only a user-replaceable SSD for storage, but it comes with the brand-new Samsung PM981, which is blazing fast. The X1 Yoga will get well past 3,000 MB/s for read and more than 2,000 MB/s for write speeds, while the Surface Book 2 will get less than half that with just 1,411 MB/s and 1,202 MB/s respectively.

RAM for both Surface Book 2 and X1 Yoga is the DDR3 type, but the Lenovo laptop has its memory clocked slightly faster at 2,133 MHz versus the Surface Book 2's 1,866 MHz.

Overall, the Microsoft Surface Book 2 is a more powerful laptop due to those NVIDIA graphics cards, which are powerhouses. But the X1 Yoga is now slouch in some areas too. If you are interested in productivity and general laptop use the X1 Yoga will be slightly more performant, but the Surface Book 2 will crush it as soon as graphics matters.

Bring the Thunder with ports and security

The Surface Book 2 finally features a forward-looking but single USB Type-C port. Unfortunately, it also lacks Thunderbolt 3 making it only semi-interesting. The other two USB Type-A ports are great for accessories and photographers and video buffs will love the full SD card slot.

Contrasting with the sparse Surface Book 2 the X1 Yoga is full of ports. Two Type-A, Two Type-C, full Thunderbolt 3 support, full HDMI, micro SD, and it even has full 10/100/1000 Ethernet hardware (with an external RJ45 dongle) that supports MAC address passthrough. While the fingerprint reader is slow for Windows Hello authentication the Synaptics "Match-in-Sensor" technology gives it some extra security.

There's no contest here. For ports and future-proofing, the X1 Yoga is years ahead of Surface Book 2.

Conclusion: These are both winners

Choosing between the X1 Yoga and Surface Book 2 is not easy. For some, the 3:2 display aspect, design, and better audio of the Surface Book 2 make it a clear winner. It's also just better for artists and people who plan to draw a lot.

The X1 Yoga though does some things better. Turning it into a tablet is faster and easier than the Surface Book 2. The built-in active pen, which while not comfortable for long periods of use, is very convenient for quickly signing a document, or highlighting some text, or making a quick diagram.

Full review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (2018)

Both laptops feature excellent keyboards, Microsoft Precision touchpads, and outstanding screens. Does Dolby Vision HDR in the X1 Yoga outweigh the larger 3:2 display aspect of the Surface Book 2? That's a tough call.

Lenovo also offers a very useful option for LTE Advanced, but due to the antenna design, it is only available with the full HD display at just 270-nits of brightness. That's a tough pill to swallow to have internet all the time.

When it comes to battery the Surface Book 2 can go past ten hours on a single charge, which is well ahead of the eight hours from the X1 Yoga (but the X1 Yoga has USB Type-C fast charge, which helps).

Full review: Microsoft Surface Book 2

Neither laptop is cheap and you will pay for the privilege to own one. Lenovo though still comes out hundreds of dollars cheaper when maxed out for the 1TB and 16GB model ($2,465) versus the 15-inch Surface Book 2 at 1TB at a jaw-dropping $3,299.