Laptop Comparisons: Apple MacBook Pro vs Chromebook Pixel vs Microsoft Surface Book



Yesterday, Microsoft took center stage and introduced (among other things) their new Surface Book to compete with the Apple MacBook Pro and the Google's Chromebook Pixel.  We thought you might like a specification comparison and a few thoughts on which one might just be what you are looking for in the book-style laptops.  Which notebook is best for you may depend on how you plan on using the device, as they all have great specs and build quality – as well they should with these prices.  Please note that the specs listed below are all for the 'entry' level model, as you can add memory and upgrade processors in some devices, which will increase the specs and the price accordingly.


MacBookvsChromebookvsSurface Book SpecsHardware/Displays

All three devices offer a very high build quality and all fall in right around the 13-inch display size – the Chromebook Pixel is 12.85-inches and the Surface Book is 13.5-inches, and these two also happen to have a 3:2 Aspect Ratio rather than the normal 16:9.  All of the displays fall in the 227 PPI for the MacBook, 239 PPI for the Chromebook and 267 PPI on the Surface Book.


The Surface Book has a unique hinge that allows you to detach it or fold it completely backwards into a "creative canvas."  It also incorporates 'Palm Block' technology so you can have your entire hand on the screen to write more naturally.

All three devices have duplicate ports for hooking up to external products and are powerful enough to be used as a personal or business notebook.  All offer enhanced sound and speakers, which are great for listening to videos or giving presentations at work.


When it comes to processing power, all three devices use some form of the Intel i5 chip – the MacBook Pro is clocked at 2.8GHz and the Chromebook Pixel and Surface Book are both clocked at 2.2GHz.  The MacBook and Chromebook show 3MB of cache and there was none listed for the Surface Book.  They all use an Intel Graphics card as well, although there is an option with the Surface Book to get a Nvidia GeForce graphics card.


All three notebooks start off with 8GB of RAM although their internal storage differs – the MacBook Pro has 512GB of SSD storage, the Chromebook Pixel has 32GB of Flash storage and the Surface Book has 128GB of SSD storage.


All of these devices allow you to access your work from multiple devices, for instance, when you sign in with you Google Account, all of your Gmails, Calendar, Docs and other files are instantly available to you on your Chromebook Pixel, Android tablet or Android Smartphone.

The MacBook Pro has eighteen or so built-in apps, such as Photos, iMovie, Numbers, Safari, Mail, Messages, FaceTime, iTunes, etc.  The Chromebook Pixel will run all of your favorite Google Apps and ones from the Chrome Web Store, as well as Google's Chrome browser.  The Surface Book will run all of the Microsoft software – from their Windows browser to OneNote and Surface Pen.  It comes with full Office Products and can run Adobe software as well.



When it comes to cameras, the win would have to go to the new Microsoft Surface Book with a huge (for a notebook) 8MP main camera with autofocus and other features making it most like a smartphone main camera.  It also has a large 5MP front-facing camera (FFC) for selfies or video chatting.  The MacBook Pro and Chromebook Pixel only have a 720p FFC for selfies or video chatting.  This is not so unusual as some notebooks have no camera at all or just a small one for video chatting – the Surface Book is the exception to the rule.

The batteries in all three lists only their hours – the MacBook Pro claims a nine-hour battery life, the Chromebook Pixel and Surface Book list a 12-hour rating.  Times will vary a lot based on what you are doing with your notebook, but these numbers give you a baseline.


When it comes to pricing the Chromebook Pixel is still a bargain, starting at $999.  The Microsoft Surface Book is next in line at $1,499 as a starting figure and for that you can get many features, innovations, software and a lot of power.  As usual, the Apple MacBook Pro comes in as the most expensive notebook, starting at $1,799.  I think many will take a long look at the new Surface Book, because it beats out the MacBook feature for feature and costs less money.


Final Thoughts

These are all fine devices – the Surface Book probably has the largest list of features in both hardware and software and its pricing falls right in the middle.  As with all of these devices, much of their worth is based on what ecosystem you are using.  If you are under Apple's spell of iPhone, iPad, iTunes, etc., then the MacBook Pro would be your best bet, as would the Chromebook Pixel if you were into the Google fold.  The advantage of the Surface Book is that it runs all of the great Microsoft software we grew up using (if you are somewhat older) – MS Office, Outlook, Word, Powerpoint, etc.