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Here are the details of the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 chips, and why they matter

Gordon Mah Ung, Mark Hachman | Oct. 12, 2015
Know what you're buying, before you open your wallet.

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Microsoft has cleared up the mystery about what processors are inside the new Surface Book and Surface Pro 4, and here’s the answer: The high-end Surface Pro 4 contains a dual-core Core i7 Skylake chip, while the Surface Book uses a faster, also dual-core, version.

Specifically, the high-end “clipboard” tablet portion of the Surface Book uses a dual-core Intel Core i7-6600U chip with Intel’s HD Graphics 520 integrated GPU inside, Microsoft confirmed. The premium version of the Surface Pro 4 uses a Core i7-6650U with Intel’s premium graphics, the Intel Iris 540.

Microsoft also confirmed some details of the GPU inside the base of the Surface Book. “[The] Surface Book with the optional discrete GPU uses a custom Nvidia GeForce GPU designed for Surface Book and based on the Maxwell architecture. Featuring 1GB GDDR5 high-speed memory, it was customized to deliver accelerated graphics performance within Surface Book’s versatile form factor,” Microsoft said in a statement.

Microsoft also revealed which processors are used in the other versions of the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4, but not the clock speeds.

Why this matters: You could be paying $2,699 for the premium version of the Surface Book. So, is it worth it?

Much of the confusion was caused during Tuesday’s unveiling of the Surface Book, when Microsoft’s corporate vice president for Surface Computing Panos Panay said that “by adding the discrete GPU, two extra processors, it fundamentally makes Surface Book two times faster than the MacBook Pro.” That had a lot of folks wondering if Microsoft hadn’t somehow magically jammed a quad-core CPU into the thin tablet body of the Surface Book. 

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What CPU is inside the Surface Book? We now know.

Here’s what’s inside

Here’s what Microsoft told PCWorld on Friday about the specs of each Surface Book and each Surface Pro 4. The sixth-generation chips refer to the ”Skylake” processors that we reviewed earlier, at least on the desktop. Microsoft hasn’t confirmed the clock speeds, but Intel’s own spec sheets tell us what they are.

Surface Book:

  • 6th Gen 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-6600U processor with Intel HD graphics 520
  • 6th Gen 2.4-GHz Intel Core i5-6300U processor with Intel HD graphics 520

Intel has a comparison chart of the two chips on its site.

Surface Pro 4:

  • 6th Gen 2.2-GHz Intel Core i7-6650U processor with Intel Iris graphics 540
  • 6th Gen 2.4-GHz Intel Core i5-6300U processor with Intel HD graphics 520
  • 6th Gen 900-MHz Intel Core m3-6Y30 processor with Intel HD graphics 515

You can compare these three chips on Intel’s site, here.

Which Surface Book to buy: Core i5 or Core i7?

 

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