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Surface Book aspect ratio beats competition


This might have been obvious to a lot of folks already but having a 3:2 aspect ratio actually makes the SB have significantly more screen real estate than the competition.

Although I can whip out my geometry equations from high school, I found this website helpful to figure out the screen dimensions: Screen Dimensions Calculator v2

Almost all 14" Windows laptops have a 16:9 aspect ratio (like Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga). Using the calculator the SB's 13.5" screen has a surface area of 84.1 sqin whereas the standard 14" Windows laptop has a surface area of 83.8 sqin. Therefore you are actually getting more screen space on the 13.5" SB than other 14" laptops!

That's one of the reasons I'm seriously considering the SB over the PC competition. For example although the Dell XPS 13 is really cool, due to the screen aspect ratio, the screen surface area is only 75.5 sqin. So you are getting a lot less screen real estate for only being 0.2" smaller.
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More importantly, you are getting glorious vertical pixels. Vertical pixels are much more valuable than horizontal pixels.
I did the calculations before getting my SP3, and found that the physical vertical height of the 12 inch SP3 was the same as most 14 inch displays.
With the Surface Book, the vertical height calculates to be 190 mm, almost the same as the 194mm of a 15.6 inch 16:9 display.
Definitely a winner (though I've been pining the logs of 4:3 displays on laptops for years - the alleged advantage of side by side windows on wide-screen had never worked for me l


Staff member
The math is not very difficult ...

The Surface Book 3:2 aspect ratio is equivalent to 16:10.7
(or 18:12)

16:10.7 compared to 16:9 brings 18% more vertical pixel real estate, distributed across the actual screen size.


Active Member
Agreed. I love the 3:2 aspect ratio. 16:10 on the desktop works for me as well. I guess since I have three of those monitors that makes it 48:10. Extreme widescreen lol.


The reason I like it is that I use it to hold sheet music for chorus rehearsals. I tried using a Yoga 3 Pro, but its 16:9 aspect ratio meant that pages were either scaled too thin in portrait mode or not enough of the page was visible in landscape mode. I came from using a Galaxy Note for the same purpose which has a 16:10 screen that is closer to the SB, but also smaller overall and not much lighter. The Galaxy was small enough that I would typically use it in landscape mode and not see the entire page at a time. The SB and the Y3Pro were large enough to mostly use in portrait mode.

Both the 16:9 screen of the Y3Pro and the 3:2 screen of the SB can hold the image of an 8.5x11 page in portrait mode with extra space above or below it, but the SB screen does it much more gracefully. In terms of overall size, the SB screen is about 7.5 inches wide (in portrait) which makes the image about 88% full size. The Y3Pro screen is about 6.5" wide which makes the image about 76% full size, so obviously the SB shows the image larger (about 15% larger). In addition, the "extra space" above and below which you only need enough to hold some menus and toolbars is only 400 pixels or 13.7% on the SB - plenty of room for the menus and tools. The Y3Pro has over 850 extra pixels or about 27% of the screen way more space than needed - space that is instead devoted to making the page image larger on the SB.

(Some of those calculations are rounded and I ignored the presence of a scrollbar in both cases so the actual mileage may slightly vary from those numbers, but they give a good estimate of the relative usefulness of the SB for page viewing. My subjective impression in real world use would have suggested that the numbers would be skewed even more in favor of the SB than my calculations showed above...)

The icing on the cake is the light weight of the clipboard compared to the Y3Pro which carries the keyboard folded back on itself and makes for a crunchy back to hold. The i7 skylake also blows away the core-M in the Y3Pro by quite a margin. The SB also has a digitizing pen like the Galaxy whereas I was having to write with my finger on the Y3Pro screen when I had notes to take in rehearsal. Not fun...


Super Moderator
Staff member
Personally, I do love 3:2, but I've absolutely no issue with 16:9, displays what I need to display just fine.


Super Moderator
Staff member
For photography the 3:2 is excellent especially viewing pics in portrait orientation. One reason I use a Dell ultrasharp with 16:10 for my desktop pc. Surface still has it beat in y pixels though.


Active Member
I use my SB for lecturing in class, instead of using a binder. So I am trying to approximate the size of a regular 8.5 x 11 piece of paper. Accordingly, I much prefer the 3:2 ratio over a more letterboxed ratio.