Video Perspective: Lenovo Yoga 900 Skylake-powered 2-in-1 Notebook Preview

Subject: Mobile | November 11, 2015 - 03:15 PM |
Tagged: yoga 900, yoga, video, Skylake, Lenovo, Intel

The barrage of Skylake powered notebooks and tablets has begun and the PC Perspective offices are filling to the gills with boxes and samples. I have already previewed the new Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book in preparation for our full review, so I thought I would do the same for the Lenovo Yoga 900. This is the first product released as part of a new branding scheme Lenovo has adopted for its flexible notebook line. 

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The Lenovo Yoga 900 is a 13-in convertible notebook that can be used in the classic clamshell form factor in addition to the fully collapsed mode to operate as a tablet (and in two other forms). It maintains the same watch bad style hinge that was introduced with the Yoga 3 Pro and starts at $1099 with a Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory, a 3200x1800 resolution touch screen and a 256GB  NVMe SSD. You can find it in orange, gold or silver colors.

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Even maxed out with 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD, the Yoga 900 is quite affordable, at just $1299!

For this generation Lenovo has decided to use the full 15 watt Skylake processor which will improve performance over the Yoga 3 Pro (the previous model) quite dramatically. If you remember back to last year, the Yoga 3 Pro was thinner and lighter than the Yoga 2 Pro but actually took a step backwards in performance (using a Core M processor) and battery life. Lenovo got lots of feedback that users weren't interested in those trade offs and the Yoga 900 is a bit thicker and heavier, but offers better performance and impressive battery life at over 9 hours in our Wi-Fi browsing tests.

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Connectivity is decent for a thin and light machine including two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.1 port, SD card reader and a combination power port / USB port. That combo port is used to plug in your charger when you are tethered to power or utilize it as an additional USB port for accessories when mobile. 

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The keyboard and trackpad are still question marks for me - it definitely doesn't feel like previous Lenovo keyboards, with very little throw a requirement to fit in this form factor. I'll give it until we post our full review to really pass judgment.

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Check out the video preview as well for some more thoughts on the new Lenovo Yoga 900!!

Toshiba's new Skylake powered Portégé series

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 9, 2015 - 02:59 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, portege, Skylake

The Inquirer hasn't received a model for review yet but they did get a quick peek at the new line of Portégé business laptops from Toshiba.  The new models are the 13.3" Portégé Z20t-C, 14" Portégé Z30-C, 14" Tecra Z40-C, and 15.6" Tecra Z50-C and will ship running either Windows 7 or Windows 10 depending on your preference.  From what they were told only the small Z20t-C will have the new USB 3.1 Type-C port, other models will sport USB 3.0.  One nice feature with the new Z series is that they will all use the same docking station, handy for when you are managing multiple models.  If you are looking for a new business laptop or your company is fishing for vendors then you might want to wait to check out Toshiba's new line when it officially launches.

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"TOSHIBA HAS UNVEILED fresh iterations of its flagship business laptop range, the Z Series, adding Intel's latest 6th-gen Core processors."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

ASUS’ New ROG Maximus VIII Extreme Flagship Now Available For $500

Subject: Motherboards | October 28, 2015 - 08:38 PM |
Tagged: Z170, Skylake, Maximus VIII Extreme, e-atx, ddr4, ASUS ROG, asus

Motherboards supporting Intel’s latest “Skylake” processor have been trickling out for months, and ASUS is no stranger to the Z170 chipset. After several months of waiting, its flagship motherboard is now available under the Republic of Gamers brand. The ROG Maximus VIII Extreme is a monster both in size – it’s an E-ATX board – and features. It’s not cheap though with an MSRP of $499.

The Maximus VIII Extreme is clad in black and red with silver capacitors. A massive heatsink keeps the Extreme Engine Digi+ power delivery hardware cool even under heavy overclocking conditions. Nested between the VRMs and the four DDR4 slots (up to 3866MHz) is the LGA 1151 processor socket. This motherboard can be used with the OC Panel II hardware overclocking module which can sit outside the case or in a 5.25” drive bay. There are also overclocking buttons on the top-right corner of the board itself.

ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Extreme EATX Skylake Motherboard.png

Storage options include eight SATA 6Gbps ports (two SATA Express), a M.2, and a separate U.2 MVMe connector. Networking is handled by Intel Gigabit Ethernet (1219-V) and a 3x3 802.11ac WiFi NIC. ASUS is further including its SupremeFX 8-channel audio chipset.

When it comes to PCI-E expansion, this board delivers with four PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (which can run at x16/x8/x8/x4) and two PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots. 

Rear I/O includes:

  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 4 x USB 3.1 (3 x Type A + 1 x Type C)
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 5 x Analog Audio
  • 1 x S/PDIF optical audio out
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x PS/2 combo port
  • 3 x Wi-Fi antenna connectors
  • 1 x Clear CMOS + 1 x BIOS Flashback button

Needless to say this board has everything but the kitchen sink (though that might be unlocked with a BIOS update...) in it. It is squarely aimed at extreme overclockers and gamers wanting to run triple or quad multi-GPU setups along with Intel’s latest Skylake CPU. The flagship hardware will cost you though, with street prices just under $500 USD. If you’re interested in this beast, keep an eye out for reviews (which appear to be scarce at the moment).

Source: ASUS

Video Perspective: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book Preview

Subject: Mobile | October 27, 2015 - 05:26 PM |
Tagged: video, surface pro 4, surface book, surface, Skylake, microsoft, Intel

In early October Microsoft took the wraps off of a pair of new 2-in-1 convertible notebooks in the form of the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. The Surface Pro 4 is much like the previous tablet designs from the Redmond giant and includes a kick stand and optional Type Cover to make the tablet a notebook in terms of functionality. The update kicks up the processor to Intel's 6th generation Skylake design while increasing storage performance with NVMe Samsung SSDs.

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The Surface Book is definitely the more interesting of the two devices with a unique design that is more notebook than tablet/2-in-1. The 13.5-in 3000x2000 3:2 screen tablet is detachable from a base that includes a full keyboard and track pad, additional battery and even an optional discrete NVIDIA GeForce GPU. The hinge is similar to the watch hinge that Lenovo introduced with the Yoga 3 Pro and uses something Microsoft calls "Muscle Wire" to keep the tablet and keyboard docked firmly using magnets.

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Though I am really just getting started on the review process of these devices, I wanted to share a quick overview of both machines. Check it out in the video embedded below.

So what do you want to know about or see specifically tested on the Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book? Let us know in the comments below!

Two new ROG desktops from ASUS, the G11CD and the G20CB

Subject: Systems | October 9, 2015 - 06:01 PM |
Tagged: Skylake, LGA 1151, Intel H170, Intel H110, G11CDm G20CB, ASUS ROG, asus

ASUS has announced two new models of ROG Desktops for gamers based on Intel's new Skylake processors.  Both models offer a choice of i5 or i7 processors and a gamut of video cards including and AMD R9 380 and in the case of the G11CD/CB an NVIDIA GTX 745 up to a 980 Ti while the G20CB ranges from a GT740 to a TITAN X.

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The G11 is a full sized desktop, 176x440x442mm (6.9x17.3x17.4") and if you choose the CB model you will be able to have an H170 motherboard, a GTX 980Ti and up to a 512GB M.2 SSD.  The CD model does not support those features and is built on an H110 motherboard.  Both models off a choice between a DVD or Blu-Ray optical drive.

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The ROG G20 offers more power in a slightly smaller case, 104x340x358mm (4.1x13.4x14.1") which is achieved by using an external power supply and dropping the optical drive altogether.

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ASUS has managed to offer a vertically mounted TITAN X in this form factor, which is no small achievement.  The ROG G20 also offers wireless connectivity in addition to a wired LAN Port, along with space for two internal drives. 

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All models share the familiar black and red ROG colour scheme, a nice mix of  USB 3.1, 3.0 and 2.0 ports and 7.1 audio.  There is no word on the pricing for either of these desktops, keep an eye out for updates as we learn more.

Source: ASUS

ASUS Announces ROG Maximus VIII Impact Mini-ITX Z170 Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | October 9, 2015 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: Z170, Skylake, SFF, ROG, motherboard, mini-itx, Maximus VIII Impact, lga1151, asus

ASUS has announced their latest mini-ITX offering in the Republic of Gamers series, and the Maximus VIII Impact motherboard packs an outrageous number of features into one formidable little 6.7-inch square. In fact, short of the second PCIe slot afforded the larger mATX form-factor, the newest Impact board looks to be every bit as powerful as the recently released Maximus VIII Gene motherboard.

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"To push performance even further, Maximus VIII Impact has a full-scale voltage-regulator module (VRM) dubbed Impact Power III vertically-mounted onto the tiny board, allowing you full access to digital power management for ultra-precise and stable overclocks with your  processor and memory.  ROG has also managed to squeeze in 5-Way Optimization auto-tuning and Pro Clock technology so you can get the most out of your 6th Gen. Intel processor and overclocked DDR4 memory which goes up to 4133MHz or higher." 

Let’s check out the specs on this new Impact board:

  • CPU: LGA1151 socket for 6th Generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron processors
  • Chipset: Intel Z170 Express
  • Memory: Dual-channel memory architecture
    • 2x DIMM, max. 32GB DDR4-4133(OC) non-ECC, un-buffered memory
  • PCIe Slot: 1x PCIe 3.0 x16 slot (supports x16 mode)
  • Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics Processor
    • HDMI 1.4b
    • Intel InTru 3D/Quick Sync Video/Clear Video HD Technology/Insider
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac supports dual frequency band 2.4/5GHz; MU-MIMO
  • Bluetooth: V4.1, 4.0LE
  • USB: 2x USB 3.1 ports (1 Type-A and 1 Type-C) powered by Intel USB 3.1 controller; 6x USB 3.0 ports (2 at mid-board)
  • Storage: 1x U.2 port (PCIe x4, 32Gb/s), 4x SATA 6Gb/s ports. Supports Intel Smart Response Technology
  • LAN: Intel® I219-V Gigabit LAN with Anti-surge LANGuard, ROG GameFirst Technology
  • HD Audio: SupremeFX Impact III
    • ROG SupremeFX 2015 High Definition Audio Codec
    • ESS® ES9023P DAC with Hyperstream™ Architecture
    • 2Vrms Headphone Amp into 32-600 Ohms
    • SupremeFX Shielding Technology
    • Optical S/PDIF output at back panel
    • Sonic Studio II; Sonic Radar II; Sonic SenseAmp; DTS Connect
  • Fan headers: 2x 4-pin onboard; 3x 4-pin on daughter card
  • Form Factor: Mini-ITX, 6.7" x 6.7" (17 cm x 17 cm)

Maximus VIII Impact_2D Front.jpg

Update, 10/11/15: The ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Impact motherboard is now available at Newegg.com for $248.99.

Source: ASUS

ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Extreme Z170 Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | October 9, 2015 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: Z170, Skylake, ROG, overclocking, motherboard, Maximus VIII Extreme, lga1151, asus

While a little less flashy looking than some of the performance motherboards we’ve seen lately, opting for an understated gray/red color scheme over a black PCB, there is nothing subtle about the new Maximus VIII Extreme. From the specs it looks to be the most overbuilt gaming/overclocking motherboard possible for the Intel Z170 chipset, and that’s exactly what the ROG Extreme motherboards are made for.

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Here are the (very lengthy) specifications:

  • CPU: LGA1151 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i7/i5/i3/Pentium®/Celeron®
    • CPU Cache Ratio Tuning
    • Turbo Ratio OC
    • BCLK OC (Pro-Clock)
    • iGPU OC
  • DRAM: Spec supported 4x DIMM, max. 64GB
    • DDR4 3866(O.C.) non-ECC, un-buffered memory, XMP 2.0
  • Extreme Overclocking   
    • OC Zone: Retry button, Safe Boot button, LN2 mode, Slow Mode switch, Probelt, PCIe x16 lane switch, DRAM channel jumper
    • OC Gadget: OC Panel II
    • OC Design: ASUS PRO Clock Technology
  • Optimize System             
    • Power Design: Extreme Engine Digi+
    • DRAM Layout: 2nd Generation T-Topology
  • Performance Optimization          
    • Intel® Quick Sync Video
    • Intel® Smart Response Technology
    • USB 3.1 Boost
    • HW Fast Boot support
  • Network: Intel® I219-V NIC with LANGuard Anti-surge
    • Network bandwidth management: GameFirst III + GameFirst IV (Beta)
  • Intel® Rapid Start Technology
  • Intel® Smart Connect Technology
  • Expansion Slots:
    • PCIex16 @ x16 - 1x Max. @Gen3
    • PCIex16 @ x4 - 1x Max. @Gen3
    • PCIex16 @ x8/x4 - 1x Max. @Gen3
    • PCIex16 @ x4 - 1x Max. @Gen3 via PCH
    • PCIex1 @ x1 - 2x Max. @Gen3

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The included OC Panel II fits in an open 5.25” bay

  • BIOS: CPU-Free Update/USB BIOS Flashback/UEFI Level Update/EZ Flash 3/BIOS Flash Protection/CrashFree BIOS 3
  • BIOS feature:
    • All fans including pump header are DC and PWM mode compatible
    • Wizard for simple OC and RAID
    • SSD Secure Erase
    • My Favorite & Shortcut
    • Boot Logo Size Adjustment
    • F12 BIOS Print
  • Power Solution:
    • Full Digital 8 Phase CPU Power Design
    • 4 Phase for iGPU
    • 2 Phase Digital DRAM Power Design with ASUS DRAM Power Utility
    • System Agent Power: 1 Phase for VCCSA
  • Extreme Engine Digi+     
    • Dual PWM Controllers, 1 for Vcore, 1 for VGT
    • 10K Black Metallic Capacitors
    • MicroFine Alloy Chokes
    • OptiMOS™ MOSFET
  • Real-time adjustment: ASUS DIGI+ Power Control Utility
  • Anti-Surge Protection
  • Mass Storage:
    • 1x M.2 socket 3 with M Key; Supporting form factor 2242, 2260, 2280, 22110, PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA mode, PCIe RAID
    • 1x U.2 connector (sharing PCIe with M.2)
    • 2x SATA Express via PCH (SATA-E 1 share SATA with M.2)
    • 8x SATA 6Gbps (2 via PCH native; 4 via SATA-E; 2 via ASM1061)
    • RAID: RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 via iRST 14
  • USB Support:
    • 4x 3.1 (1 Type-A and 1 Type-C via Intel Alpine Ridge; 2 Type-A via Asmedia USB 3.1 controller)
    • 4x USB 3.0 (4 rear, 4 mid) via PCH
    • 6x USB 2.0 - 6 mid via PCH, two shared with ROG extension (ROG_EXT) port
  • Bundled Software           
    • AI Suite 3 (Real-Time OC); ROG GameFirst III + GameFirst IV (Beta); ROG Keybot II; RAMCache; ROG RAMDisk; USB 3.1 Boost; ROG CPU-Z; ROG MemTweakIt; Lighting Control

Pricing and availability were not immediately available.

Source: ASUS

Podcast #370 - Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming G1, New Microsoft Surface products, NVIDIA Pascal Rumors and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2015 - 03:57 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, gigabyte, z170x gaming g1, Skylake, microsoft, surface pro 4, surface book, Android, ios, iphone 6s, Samsung, 840 evo, msata, dell, UP3216Q, nvidia, pascal

PC Perspective Podcast #370 - 10/08/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming G1, New Microsoft Surface products, NVIDIA Pascal Rumors and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:31:05

  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:30:00 This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Audible, the world's leading provider of audiobooks with more than 180,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature including fiction, nonfiction, and periodicals. For your free audiobook, go to audible.com/pcper
  3. News item of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Ryan: iPhone 6s Stallion
  5. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Dell Releases Redesigned XPS 15 Laptop with InfinityEdge Display

Subject: Systems, Mobile | October 8, 2015 - 10:05 AM |
Tagged: dell, XPS 15, InfinityEdge, laptop, notebook, Skylake, i3-6100H, i5-6300HQ, i7-6700HQ, GTX 960M

The redesigned Dell XPS 15 is here, now a larger clone of the popular XPS 13 including the same minuscule “InfinityEdge” display and featuring optional 4K resolution.

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Image credit: Engadget

The XPS 13 is among the highest-rated Windows laptops of the past year, and the preferred notebook of our own Ryan Shrout. Dell certainly had a big design win with a 13-inch screen on a laptop that would normally only house an 11.6-inch display, thanks to the razor-thin bezel surrounding the LCD panel. This InfinityEdge display makes a lot of sense for the larger XPS 15, and the newly redesigned notebook now occupies the space of a mere 14-inch notebook, while offering both FHD and UHD/4K screen resolutions.

What good would a beautiful screen be without the horsepower to drive it? For this Dell has implemented the latest 6th Generation Intel Skylake mobile processors, namely the Core i3-6100H, Core i5-6300HQ, and Core i7-6700HQ. Graphics duties are performed either by the integrated Intel HD 530 or an NVIDIA GTX 960M GPU, and 8GB of DDR4 memory comes standard with options up to 32GB available (and this is SoDIMM memory so users can upgrade later as well).

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Image credit: Windows Central

Specifications:

  • Processor:
    • 6th Gen Intel Core i3-6100H (3M Cache, up to 2.7 GHz)
    • 6th Gen Intel Core i5-6300HQ Quad-Core (6M Cache, up to 3.2 GHz)
    • 6th Gen Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad-Core (6M Cache, up to 3.5 GHz)
  • Display: 15.6" FHD (1920x1080) InfinityEdge display or 15.6" UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD (3840x2160) InfinityEdge touch display
  • RAM: 8GB, 16GB or 32GB DDR4 at 2133 MHz (32GB post-RTS) (2 x SoDIMMs)
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 530; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 2GB GDDR5
  • Storage: 500GB HDD + 32GB Flash or 1TB HDD + 32GB Flash
  • 256GB PCIe SSD, 512GB PCIe SSD, or 1TB PCIe SSD
  • Camera: Widescreen HD (720p) webcam
  • Ports and Connectors: HDMI, USB 3.0 (x2), Headset Jack, SD card reader, Kensington Lock slot, Thunderbolt 3
  • Dimensions: 11-17mm x 357mm x 235mm
  • Weight: Non-touch, starting at 3.9 lbs; Touch, starting at 4.4 lbs

The new Dell XPS 15 is available today and prices start at $999.

Microsoft Surface Book 2-in-1 with Skylake with NVIDIA Discrete GPU Announced

Subject: Mobile | October 6, 2015 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: video, surface book, surface, Skylake, nvidia, microsoft, Intel, geforce

Along with the announcement of the new Surface Pro 4, Microsoft surprised many with the release of the new Surface Book 2-in-1 convertible laptop. Sharing much of the same DNA as the Surface tablet line, the Surface Book adopts a more traditional notebook design while still adding enough to the formula to produce a unique product.

book-3.jpg

The pivotal part of the design (no pun intended) is the new hinge, a "dynamic fulcrum" design that looks great and also (supposedly) will be incredibly strong. The screen / tablet attachment mechanism is called Muscle Wire and promises secure attachment as well as ease of release with a single button.

An interesting aspect of the fulcrum design is that, when closed, the Surface Book screen and keyboard do not actually touch near the hinge. Instead you have a small gap in this area. I'm curious how this will play out in real-world usage - it creates a natural angle for using the screen in its tablet form but also may find itself "catching" coin, pens and other things between the two sections. 

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The 13.5-in screen has a 3000 x 2000 resolution (3:2 aspect ratio obviously) with a 267 PPI pixel density. Just like the Surface Pro 4, it has a 10-point touch capability and uses the exclusive PixelSense display technology for improved image quality.

While most of the hardware is included in the tablet portion of the device, the keyboard dock includes some surprises of its own. You get a set of two USB 3.0 ports, a full size SD card slot and a proprietary SurfaceConnect port for an add-on dock. But most interestingly you'll find an optional discrete GPU from NVIDIA, an as-yet-undiscovered GeForce GPU with 1GB (??) of memory. I have sent inquiries to Microsoft and NVIDIA for details on the GPU, but haven't heard back yet. We think it is a 30 watt GeForce GPU of some kind (by looking at the power adapter differences) but I'm more interested in how the GPU changes both battery life and performance.

UPDATE: Just got official word from NVIDIA on the GPU, but unfortunately it doesn't tell us much.

The new GPU is a Maxwell based GPU with GDDR5 memory. It was designed to deliver the best performance in ultra-thin form factors such as the Surface Book keyboard dock. Given its unique implementation and design in the keyboard module, it cannot be compared to a traditional 900M series GPU. Contact Microsoft for performance information.

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Keyboard and touchpad performance looks to be impressive as well, with a full glass trackpad integration, backlit keyboard design and "class leading" key switch throw distance.

The Surface Book is powered by Intel Skylake processors, available in both Core i5 and Core i7 options, but does not offer Core m-based or Iris graphics options. Instead the integrated GPU will only be offered with the Intel HD 520.

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Microsoft promises "up to" 12 hours of battery life on the Surface Book, though that claim was made with the Core i5 / 256GB / 8GB configuration option; no discrete GPU included. 

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Pricing on the Surface Book starts at $1499 but can reach as high as $2699 with the maximum performance and storage capacity options. 

Source: Microsoft