Microsoft's Surface Book 3 is the most powerful 2-in-1on earth, and it is the only portable surface that has a dedicated NVIDIA GPU. But it's an incredibly expensive unit, it's a little heavy, and it still doesn't have Thunderbolt 3. Surface Book 3 is worth buying, but only if you need the shape 2-in-1.
We are taking an in-depth look at Surface Book 3. But since it is such a spec-powered laptop, I want to take a second to list the raw specifications and configuration options:
- CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i5 and i7 Chips
- RAM: LPDDR4x RAM in 8 GB, 16 GB and 32 GB Configs
- Storage: PCIe SSD in 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB and 2 TB Configs
- GPU: Integrated Iris Plus (base model), GeForce GTX 1650, GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, Quadro RTX 3000 (Corporate customers only)
- Display: 13.5-inch 3000 x 2000 (267 PPI), 15 inch 3240 x 2160, (260 PPI)
- Ports: USB-A (2), USB-C (Not Thunderbolt 3), headphone jack, full size 2 TB SD card reader, Surface Connect ports (2)
- Camera as: 5.0-megapixel HD selfie camera, 8.0-megapixel HD rear camera with autofocus
- Wireless cards: Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 6
- Weight : 3.3 pounds (13.5 inches) model, 4.2 pounds (15 inches model)
Okay, let's get into that. Surface Book 3 looks pretty much like its predecessor, so what's new? Did Microsoft fix some of Surface Book 2's problems, or is it just an internal spec bul?
What's new in Surface Book 3?
Externally, Surface Book 3 is indistinguishable from its predecessor. Microsoft threw a 10th gen Intel Core i5 processor into the base 13.5-inch Book 3, and all other configurations run on a fast 10th gen Core i7. It's a big step from Surface Book 2's 7th and 8th gen Intel Core processors, which are noticeably slower than their newer counterparts.
Microsoft also replaced Book 2's LPDDR3 RAM with new LPDDR4x modules in 8 GB, 16 GB and 32 GB flavors. In collaboration with Book 3's 10th gene processors, you yourself have a serious multitasking machine. And, like Book 2, Book 3 comes in 256 GB, 512 GB and 1 TB PCIe SSD storage configurations, with a nice 2 TB option for the 15-inch model.
Zoom in on the small details, you We see that the new Surface Book 3 packs Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 6 chips, along with an updated 17.5-hour battery life and improved 127 watt charging. Some Book 2 owners complained that their laptop would lose its charge while connected to under heavy-weight tasks – a problem that should be solved with an additional 20 watts of charging speed.
Finally, there are GPU options. The base 13.5-inch Surface Book 3 has integrated Intel Iris Plus graphics, which is decent but not good enough for AAA titles. Every other configuration of Book 3, including the base 15-inch option, packs NVIDIA graphics cards. You'll find the GeForce GTX 1650 chip in upgraded 13.5-inch models and the slightly faster GeForce GTX 1660 Ti in 15-inch models. Companies can order a 15-inch Surface Book 3 with a Quadro RTX 3000 GPU, and it's a shame Microsoft doesn't offer this model to the public.
Surface Book GPUs are installed in the keyboard dock, so they are & # 39; t active in tablet mode. That said, Book 3's 10th Gen Intel CPU has decent integrated graphics that should handle most design programs and lightweight games while they are docked.
In Microsoft's words, Surface Book 3 is the most powerful 2-in-1 laptop available on the market today. And the company is absolutely correct. But if you saw it on a shelf at Best Buy, you wouldn't be able to tell Surface Book 3 apart from its slower front end, Surface Book 2. Externally, Book 3 is almost identical to its predecessor. If you are not a fan of Surface Book 2's weight and port choices, then prepare to be bummed.
Like its predecessor, the 13.5-inch Surface Book 3 weighs about 3.5 pounds, and the 15-inch model weighs about 4.2 pounds (with some variation depending on the hardware configuration). Almost that weight goes to the removable tablet, which can limit the usefulness of the tablets for some people. As a reference, the iPad Pro weighs just 1 pound, and premium laptops like the Dell XPS 13 weigh about 2.5 pounds.
Despite its heft, Book 2 is universally praised for its screen and keyboard – both of which are included in new book 3. The 13.5-inch model has a 3000 x 2000 panel, while the 15-inch model prints at a resolution of 3240 x 2160 Windows Hello also makes a return, along with the same high quality 5 MP HD front camera and 8 MP HD rear camera as Book 2.
The port selection also remains unchanged. Like Book 2, Book 3 has two USB-A ports, a USB-C port, two Surface Connect charging ports, a headphone jack, and a full-size SD card reader for up to 2 TB of extra storage. Despite Surface 3's price tag, its USB-C port is not up to the Thunderbolt 3 standard, which has faster data transfer rates and greater accessory support than regular USB-C. Thunderbolt 3 is available on most computers at this price, but Microsoft avoids the technology for security purposes – which can be important for companies or government agencies. Despite the lack of Thunderbolt 3, you can still use Surface Book 3 with two external displays by pairing it with Surface Dock 2.
The only external change that you might notice here is the addition of a second built-in microphone. The new Surface Go 2 has this dual microphone set, and if early reviews are any indication, it's a big step forward for voice recording and video calling.
What size is right for you?
Choosing between 13.5-inch and 15-inch Surface Book 3 is not as easy as it should be. Both sizes have almost identical specifications, with the only difference in the GPU. Can you justify spending another $ 400 for the 15-inch Book 3's large display and slightly faster GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics card?
If you are a professional, a creative or a player, the answer may be yes. The 15-inch Surface Book 3 will provide a decent speed boost for visual design tools – especially video editing or rendering software. And although I wouldn't suggest using Surface Book 3 as a dedicated gaming machine (cheaper gaming laptops are more powerful), the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU can drive most games to high graphics settings.
But if you just want a high-performance 2-in-1, then the 15-inch Book 3 might not be worth the extra money. The base 13.5-inch model will run most software like a master, and has decent integrated graphics for older or light video games. Bumping up to the $ 13,000 13.5-inch model gives you an i7 processor, along with a dedicated GeForce GTX 1650 GPU. It's not as fast as the 15-inch model's graphics card, but it will provide reliable video software performance and run most AAA games in the middle and high graphics settings.
While comparing Book 3's sizes, you should take a moment to think about tablet mode. The 15-inch Book 3 weighs more than its little brother and has a screen that is larger than most conventional tablets. If you're interested in using Book 3 as a conventional tablet, the cheaper 13.5-inch model may feel much more comfortable than the larger 15-inch device. That said, the 15-inch model might work better for artists or business people who want a huge touchscreen, and people with big strong hands may find that its 15-inch display is convenient for daily use of tablets.
Don't plan on using Book 3 in tablet mode? Then why bother buying it? Surface Book 3 is perhaps the most powerful 2-in-1 on the planet, but it is hardly the most powerful laptop . There are lots of laptops to choose from in the $ 1,000 to $ 3,000 price range, and all are in more powerful configurations than Surface Book 3.