Microsoft Surface Book 3 Review: Better Specs, Same Old Design

Microsoft has released the third generation of the Surface Book series, the Surface Book 3. It is the successor to the previous version of the Surface Book 2 released in November 2017. The Surface Book 3 release date for the retail version was on May 21, 2020, even though the device was officially released on May 6, 2020.

If you are here to know the Surface Book 3 price, the device starts from $1,5999.99 in the US and around Rs.1,56,299 for the Surface Book 3 in India. The 15 inch model of the Surface Book 3 starts from Rs.2,20,399 in India.

Surface Book 3 comes in two sizes: the 15-inch model and a 13-inch model. Here we are doing the Microsoft Surface Book 3 15 inch review and not the 13 inch one but we will compare the differences between the two in places where it is necessary. You can also read The Verge’s take on the Microsoft Surface Book 3 13 inch here.

First, let’s clear the Microsoft Surface Book 3 specs before we move onto the review.

Microsoft Surface Book 3 key specs (as seen on the official Microsoft website)

Display

Surface Book 3 13.5” PixelSense™ Display

Resolution: 3000 x 2000 (267 PPI)

Aspect ratio: 3:2

Contrast ratio: 1600:1

Touch: 10 point multi-touch G5

Surface Book 3 15” PixelSense™ Display

Screen: 15” PixelSense™ Display

Resolution: 3240 x 2160, (260 PPI)

10 point multi-touch G5

Aspect ratio: 3:2

Contrast ratio: 1600:1

Memory

Surface Book 3 13.5”

8GB, 16GB, or 32GB 3733Mhz LPDDR4x

Surface Book 3 15”

16GB or 32GB 3733Mhz LPDDR4x

Processor

Surface Book 3 13.5”

Quad-core 10th Gen Intel® Core™ i5-1035G7 Processor

Quad-core 10th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-1065G7 Processor

Surface Book 3 15”

Quad-core 10th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-1065G7 Processor

Battery life

Surface Book 3 13.5″ connected to keyboard base: Up to 15.5 hours of typical device usage 

Surface Book 3 15″ connected to keyboard base: Up to 17.5 hours of typical device usage 

Graphics

Surface Book 3 13.5”

Intel® Core™ i5-1035G7 models: Intel® Iris™ Plus Graphics

Intel® Core™ i7-1065G7 models: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 with Max-Q Design w/4GB GDDR5 graphics memory

Surface Book 3 15”

Intel® Core™ i7-1065G7 models: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti with Max-Q Design w/6GB GDDR6 graphics memory

Storage

Surface Book 3 13.5”

Solid-state drive (SSD) options: 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB PCIe SSD

Surface Book 3 15”

Solid-state drive (SSD) options: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB PCIe SSD

Connections

2 x USB-A (version 3.1 Gen 2)

1 x USB-C® (version 3.1 Gen 2 with USB Power Delivery revision 3.0)

3.5mm headphone jack

2 x Surface Connect ports (one on the keyboard base, one on tablet)

Full-size SDXC card reader

Wireless

Wi-Fi 6: 802.11ax compatible

Bluetooth Wireless 5.0 technology

Exterior

Casing: Magnesium

Color: Platinum

Weight

Surface Book 3 13.5”

Intel® Core™ i5: 3.38 lb (1,534 g) including keyboard

Intel® Core™ i7: 3.62 lb (1,642 g) including keyboard

Surface Book 3 15”

Intel® Core™ i7: 4.20 lb (1,905 g) including keyboard

Microsoft Surface Book 3 Design and Display

Just in case if you are wondering how Surface Book 3 looks, the Microsoft Surface Book 3 looks like it’s made from a piece of slab. Yes, it’s so smooth and rigid with the matte grey magnesium alloy that coats the chassis.

Microsoft Surface Book 3 grey detached design and build with the keyboard deck kickstand and hinge.
Microsoft Surface Book 3 15 inch | Source : XDA Developers

The texture also feels kinda smooth and you get the feeling that you are sliding your hand on paper. The notebook feels simple and elegant just like the previous models of the Surface Book series.

The Surface Book 3 adopts Apple’s design style with its own slight touch and I must say it feels much more premium. I loved the simple yet refreshing look of the Microsoft Surface Book 3 more than the fancy and bulky laptops that are available in the market right now.

The Surface Book 3 keyboard Is the best we have seen in Windows Notebooks so far. The keys have good travel and require just the right amount of actuation force to register the keystroke. However, there is no Numpad which is a caveat considering there is ample space in the keyboard deck to provide one.

surface book 3 keyboard trackpad keys precision drivers

The Microsoft Surface Book trackpads are one of the best I have used other than the Apple trackpads. The trackpad feels smooth and the clicks are satisfactory. It also supports Windows Precision drivers.

Microsoft after all these years still haven’t changed the Surface Book design by much. Everyone thought that the Microsoft Surface Book 3 would have a huge design change but it failed to make any noticeable improvements.

The Surface Book 3’s hinge is almost the same as that of the previous version but with some changes to improve the overall durability.  It has the same old gap between the lid and the deck, visible when closing the lid.  This can become a real problem as small objects can enter and scratch the screen. 

The signature feature of the Surface Notebook is the detachable display. The display houses the main components like the motherboard, CPU, RAM, etc. This means that you can detach the entire top portion of the Notebook i.e., the display with the press of a button. 

The top display part and the Surface Book 3 keyboard deck are connected and held in place with the help of an engineering technique that Microsoft calls the “dynamic fulcrum hinge”. There is also the usual camera on the back of the display, the same as the one we see on iPads. 

Microsoft Surface Book 3 PixelSense Display or screen in tablet mode

Moving to the display, the Surface Book 3 offers the same, good, satisfyingly pleasing PixelSense Display we used to like on the older Surface Book 2. The display comes with 3240 x 2160 resolution with a 1,600:1 contrast ratio and also supports 10 points multi-touch support. The display has a 3:2 aspect ratio and would be highly beneficial for photo editors and also regular browsing will also feel better as it lets you see more with less scrolling.

Microsoft Surface Book 3 Weight and Dimensions

The Surface Book 3 weighs around 4.3 pounds(15”) which is slightly heavier than the Dell XPS at 4.2 pounds. Meanwhile, the 13-inch model weighs around 3.35 pounds or 1.6 kg. Without the keyboard deck, the Surface Book 3 weighs just 1.8 pounds or 0.81 kg.

At 1.5kg the surface book 3 feels quite sturdy and is a perfect travel companion. When in tablet mode, the laptop weighs only 0.8 kg which is impressive considering most people will buy the Surface laptops for their portability. 

Surface Book 3 measures 13.98 inches wide, 8.94 inches deep, and 0.59 inch high. 

Microsoft Surface Book 3 Battery and Performance

Honestly we expected the Surface Book 3 to come with the Intel ‘H’ series processors but instead we get the Core i7 1065G7 processor. This is also the same processor used in the Dell XPS and we got the same Cinebench score as expected.

Microsoft Surface Book 3 Intel i7 1065G7
AIDA64 CPUID Info

The 15 inch model of the Surface Book 3 comes with a dedicated Nvidia GTX 1660Ti graphics card and can go up to NVidia Quadro 3000. This is the first time that Microsoft is offering a Quadro card option. Functionally the Quadro 3000 performs similar to the RTX 2060, both have the same 1920 CUDA cores. Also, the improved RT cores will surely offer a bit too much performance boost than the Surface Book 3 can handle.

The 13 inch model of the laptop comes with Nvidia GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU although this card doesn’t provide Ray tracing capabilities, it is still a good upgrade from the previous year’s Surface Book model. The Surface is still much more expensive than the XPS 13 thanks to the dedicated Nvidia GTX 1660Ti card it comes with.

Though this is not a gaming review of the Surface Book 3, since we are talking about performance we should also talk about gaming, right? (since it is the most ideal benchmark for performance). So here goes: We tried playing Metal Exodus at 1080p on the 15 inch 1660Ti model of the notebook and it managed to gain only around 38fps on Metal Exodus at 1080p. Although Microsoft claims that this device is game-ready(not terribly wrong), you might want to lower the resolution to 1080p as 4K gaming will be a tight squeeze for this laptop.

Surface Book 3 comes with 32 GB LPDDR4X of RAM and it would have been great if Microsoft combined it with a better processor so that the laptop would be much more usable for creative professionals. This laptop is great for movie watching, blogging, web surfing, etc.

Doing resource-intensive tasks like video editing, photo editing, etc is where you are going to see this laptop suffer as the CPU is not that powerful which is a shame considering this laptop comes with 32 GB of RAM. So all in all, a much more beefy processor could’ve really helped. You can also read more details about the benchmark results at Anandtech.

The Microsoft Surface lineup provides a much better space for the battery than we see on traditional laptops in this price range. We get a 22 Wh battery on the tablet itself and a 63 Wh battery on the keyboard which totals to around 85Wh of battery size. With that 83Wh battery, we got close to 10 hrs of battery life(nothing compared to the Dell laptop we reviewed) on the new Surface Book 3 during our tests which included web browsing and some light movie watching.

The Surface Book 3 comes with a 127 watt AC adapter which solves the problem of discharging the battery under heavy load. Surface Book 3 also supports USB C charging although it will not be as fast as the included proprietary charger.

Microsoft Surface Book 3 Ports and Connectivity

With the introduction of Wi-Fi 6, Microsoft now uses the Intel AX201 Wi-Fi 6 network adapter which is a 2×2:2 design with the full 160 MHz channel width support. The speeds offered by the Intel AX201 is really impressive and beats all other manufacturers in this segment. Surface Book 3 also comes with a Bluetooth 5.0 chip on board.

surface book 3 usb type a usb type c

All the configurations of the Surface Book 3 has the same ports, it comprises of two USB 3.1 Gen 2 – Type-A ports, one USB Type-C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a full-size SDXC card reader. So far this is one of the best port configurations offered by Microsoft even the Microsoft Laptop 3 was not close to this. The display part also houses the 3.5mm headphone jack. There is also the Surface Connect Port, a proprietary port that allows connecting both the included charger and also an adapter like the Surface Dock 2.

Final Thoughts

So now it is time to answer the big question, is the Surface Book 3 really worth it? Well for starters, the new Surface Book 3 comes with a better(not the best) 10th Gen Intel processor and a pretty good graphics card for regular mediocre gaming and other graphic intensive stuff. The Surface Book’s form factor allows you to use the device as a Notebook as well as a tablet and hence caters to a bigger audience.

Watching YouTube videos and movies on Surface Book 3 is really a treat as the PixelSense display is simply awesome to look at. In terms of battery life, the new 10nm processor is sure to provide better battery life than previous models and there is also the faster LPDDR4X RAM included. The notebook also comes with a USB Type C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack but the lack of Thunderbolt 3 support on the Surface Book 3 is still a bummer though.

surface book 3 on desk

The Surface notebook series has always marveled me with its magnesium alloy build and Surface Book 3 keeps the legacy forward. So does all this mean the Surface Book 3 is suitable for business usage? Yes, if you are planning to get into the Microsoft ecosystem then the Surface Book 3 is the best notebook you can buy in the Surface lineup if you are willing to pay the hefty price. The notebook is just an iteration over the previous Surface Book 2 but has some great improvements to it.

Where to buy the Microsoft Surface Book 3?

You can buy the latest Microsoft Surface Book 3 from :

If you want to buy the Microsoft Surface Book 3 offline, visit here.

Mohasin K.R

A die-hard tech enthusiast who likes to tinker with gadgets(often resulting in a disaster :)). During his free time, you can find him either reading 📚,playing 🎮or watching 📺. Not much of a social guy, but loves to scroll through his twitter feed 🤳.

One thought on “Microsoft Surface Book 3 Review: Better Specs, Same Old Design

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