Both Apple and Microsoft have leapt to the challenge of developing ultra-light, thin and extremely portable laptops. Apple has its MacBook Air and Microsoft has introduced the Surface Laptop 2 around the time the MacBook Air update was released in 2018. At first glance, the two are quite similar in terms of specifications and weight. For example, they both have a similar size display of 13.3 (MacBook Air) and 13.5 (Surface Laptop 2) inches. They also have the same processing, storage and RAM capabilities and similar battery life. Here is a look at the two side by side.
Where they differ mainly is pricing, keyboard design, operating systems (Microsoft’s Windows 10 Home vs Apple’s macOS 10.14 Mojave) and biometrics. So, let’s compare these two incredible machines in more detail.
Design and Weight
- Weight: 2.75 lbs
- Screen Resolution: 2560 x 1600
- Screen size: 13.3 in
- Thickness: 0.61 in
- Surface Laptop 2
- Weight: 2.75 lbs
- Screen Resolution: 2256 x 1504
- Screen size: 13.5 in
- Thickness: 0.57 in
So, the screen sizing and weight are very similar for the two laptops, with the MacBook Air having a very slight edge on the resolution.
Here’s where they differ:
- Colours available: MacBook Air is available in the typical metallic colours MacBooks are known for whereas Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 2 is available in matte black, burgundy and blue.
- Keyboard design: MacBook Air has the butterfly key design that generates somewhat mixed feelings with users. Some say they love it while others complain of finger fatigue because of the very small travel distances between keys. Surface 2 has quite a good keyboard design with well-spaced keys.
- Trackpad: MacBook Air has a slight edge on this one, with their very responsive new ForceTouch trackpad compared to Surface 2’s smaller trackpad.
- Touchscreen: Unsurprisingly the MacBook Air doesn’t have touchscreen capability like the Surface 2.
- Screen aspect ratio: Microsoft’s Surface 2 has a 3:2 aspect ratio which is longer than the average screen. This makes it ideal for viewing and writing documents because you can view more lines before having to scroll down. However, it makes viewing movies and videos slightly more awkward.
- Biometrics: MacBook Air signs you in by reading your fingerprint when you tap a key whereas Surface 2 signs you in via face recognition when you look into the Windows Hello camera.
The MacBook Air is based on Intel’s Dual Core CPUs that is built for saving power and lowering heat rather than speed. Surface 2 has Intel’s 8th gen quad-core processors which are incredibly fast. So, in terms of speed and tolerating high computing loads, Surface 2 wins this round.
This is the weak point for both laptops as neither offers a good range of port options. But, this is to be expected of ultra-thin, lightweight laptops.
MacBook Air has two USB-C ports that support Thunderbolt 3. Meanwhile, the Surface 2 has a USB-A 3.0 port. Hence, MacBook Air wins this round because you can always convert Thunderbolt 3 into USB-A ports using an adapter but not the other way around.
Both laptops use solid-state drive (SSD) technology but the MacBook Air has the best SSD technology. So, with the Air, it should be more efficient to access and store data for very large files.
This is the most important difference between the MacBook Air and Surface 2 laptop. For an i5 Core processor with 8GB RAM, and 128 GB SSD, the MacBook Air will set you back $1,199 while the Surface 2 will only cost you $999.
Considering the most important features such as screen size, processing capability, weight, thickness and memory are quite similar, I would say that Microsoft’s Surface 2 offers more value for money.
The MacBook Air is good if you want specific features like the butterfly key design or a larger trackpad.