Surface Book 3 is the latest version of the Microsoft’s most powerful and versatile laptop. An innovative device that joins an increasingly complete and interesting line of hardware.
Confirming the expansion of the hardware business to other market segments, Microsoft surprised locals and strangers with the presentation of a new Surface. At first it seemed “just” a laptop, but as the conference progressed we discovered that it was actually much more because of its hybrid concept, which allowed it to be both portable, convertible and 2 in 1.
Surface Book 3 is the latest version and we really wanted to try it. It maintains the initial conception of the previous ones and their general design, but premieres a new hardware platform to increase performance, as well as offering improvements to the screen, connectivity, keyboard or autonomy.
It’s about a awesome hybrid, a device that remains unique and that is suitable for any type of use on the move and on the desktop.
Microsoft Surface Book 3 features
Microsoft markets Book 3 in two different models depending on the size of its screen: 13.5 and 15 inches. The hardware base of both are the more advanced processors from Intel, the tenth generation Core Ice Lake architecture, manufactured in 10 nanometer technological processes.
The user can choose various hardware configurations according to their needs. Core i5 or Core i7 processors; RAM from 8 to 32 Gbytes and PCIe solid state drives from 256 Gbytes to 1 Tbyte. NVIDIA’s dedicated graphics complementing Intel’s built-in graphics with Core i7 processors raises the bar for graphics on the computer and extends its use to gaming and authoring tasks.
The technical sheet for Surface Book 3 is complemented by:
- screen: 13.5-inch ‘PixelSense’ multi-touch IPS
- Resolution: 3000 x 2000 pixels with 3: 2 aspect ratio
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and Bluetooth 5.0; 2 USB-A 3.1 Gen 2 ports; 1 USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 port; 3.5mm headphone jack; Full-size SDXC card reader; 2 Surface Connect ports
- Cameras: Front of 5 MP with 1080p resolution, IR and Windows Hello support. 8 MP rear camera with autofocus and 1080p HD video
- Various: Front stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos and dual far-field studio microphones. TPM 2.0 chip for business security. Xbox Wireless Controller Compatibility.
- Sensors: Ambient light sensor. Proximity sensor. Accelerometer. Gyroscope. Magnetometer
- Dimensions: 312mm x 232mm x 13-23mm
- Battery: Double on the base and screen – Up to 15.5 hours of autonomy
- Operating system: 64-bit Windows 10 Home with Windows 10 Pro option
The device is well protected in white packaging by Microsoft, which includes the device, the power supply for use with Surface Connect, a quick start guide, and security and warranty documents.
Design and finishes
Surface Book 3 is not just any computer and it has a well-defined personality, innovative, by different, as a sign of the search for new formats. And it is that from the 2-in-1 concept of Surface Pro Microsoft engineers went even further trying to create the total hybrid. A risky design exercise that opened a category of its own and was appreciated by so many teams that are too similar in the PC offering.
The third generation maintains this inimitable and resistant design. It consists of two parts well differentiated: A display and a base that goes beyond the keyboard case that we use in a typical 2-in-1. The display includes most hardware components such as the motherboard, CPU, memory, storage, cameras, and speakers, while the base houses the keyboard and touchpad, dedicated graphics, a second battery, power supply, and external ports. .
The result is that we can use it at a great level to multiple modes of use. We disassemble the touch screen to use it as a tablet or insert it into the base to use it as a laptop. A dynamic hinge, a characteristic component of this model and the one that offers you a unique experience, allows another way of use. We remove the screen from its location, turn it around and once inserted we can rotate it up to 360 degrees to obtain a convertible.
The union of the screen to the base takes place by means of a magnetic connection system that Microsoft uses in other models such as Surface Pro to connect the keyboard covers. Accurate and safe, the speed of the mode change has been accelerated compared to Book 2. It is not instantaneous, although it occurs only in a couple of seconds.
Disconnection is done using a dedicated key on the keyboard, which must be held down for security reasons to avoid accidental withdrawals. It can also be disconnected from the operating system if we have it turned on with a button on the Windows 10 taskbar.
Microsoft announced a new feature for Surface Book 3 called “Secure Separation,” which takes advantage of a DirectX 12 library’s ability to move an active workload from the dedicated to the integrated GPU. In this way the tablet could be separated even when the main GPU was in use, but it is a function that developers must activate for each game.
To highlight its use in tablet mode. The screen is surprisingly thin and light considering its large size close to 14 inches and all the electronics (CPU, RAM, SSD …) included behind the panel.
As for the finishes, Microsoft is accustoming us badly because repeat quality model after model. Fingerprint-resistant, platinum-colored magnesium alloy on the lid and base is characteristic of all surfaces, flawless to the eye and touch. The robustness, the attention to detail and the quality of construction that we have seen in previous devices (even in the cheap ones like the Surface Go 2) could not be missing in a star model like this one. The design is in sight, minimalist, very clean, completing an excellent set.
The concept in which the design of the Surface Book 3 revolves you may like more or less (us a lot), but the result is impressive, it is one of the most innovative equipment on the market And if you are looking for a definitive hybrid it is one of the most personal you will find because it is part of its own category.
Another strength of Surface Book 3 is its display. Its size 13.5 inch it is ideal looking for the balance between mobility, productivity and comfort of use. It should be remembered here that Microsoft sells a version with a larger screen size (15 inches with 4K resolution), but, thinking about the design, we believe that the tested model is the ideal of the series to take advantage of the different modes of use, especially tablet and convertible.
The panel uses proprietary display technology that Microsoft calls ‘PixelSense’. A derivative of IPS that has already shown its virtues because the company uses it on other Surface. Its native resolution is high, 3000 x 2000 pixels for 267 dots per inch. Its aspect ratio 3: 2 we still like more than the standard 16: 9 in this type of equipment. It is gained in vertical space which is very useful for creation and editing, something that advanced and professional users will appreciate.
The panel is superb and sharpness is the norm for both text and still images and video with native 3K resolution. In our tests, it achieves an excellent contrast ratio of over 1,400: 1 and an average brightness of over 400 nits, suitable for bright light conditions. Support for the main color ranges, 97% sRGB, 73% DCI-P3 and 76% for the Adobe RGB color gamut, is sufficient for image editing tasks.
The screen has multi-touch technology of ten points of contact. Its response is extremely accurate and as responsive as all Surface we have tested in the past. It is compatible with the Microsoft Surface Pen. A premium stylus that offers tilt support and 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. We haven’t tested it in this review, but it’s an interesting accessory to further complement the capabilities of the Surface Book 3. The Surface Dial is also compatible, an innovative accessory especially thought for designers and creatives.
Support for Wi-Fi 6 It is one of the novelties of interest that the Surface Book 3 offers in this section. The new generation of wireless networks is a great advance in not relying on Ethernet cabling.
External connection ports are included in the base. On the left side we find two USB 3.1 ports They scale to Generation 2 and are offered in USB Type-A format to ensure compatibility with any peripheral. Also included is a full-size SDXC card reader, which is always handy for moving data, for example, photos from a camera or data from a mobile microSD with an adapter.
On the right side we have another USB 3.1 Gen 2 port this time with a USB Type-C connector. In addition to using peripherals or accessories, this port allows you to connect external monitors or eventually charge the battery of the base by its support for USB Power Delivery version 3.0. And we say eventually because next to it we have a dedicated Surface Connect port for it with a 102 watt power supply. Very well located, the external ports are sufficient for the use of the equipment.
This feeder is also used to charge the device when we separate the screen from the base and use it in tablet mode, since the equipment has dual battery in both base and display. At the top of it, we find the power / sleep button and the volume button.
Surface Book 3 includes two cameras on the front and on the back from the screen. The first 5 MP is just great for video conferencing uses and the included IR sensor for security tasks. The 8-megapixel rear performs its function, although we have used it little for the size of the team.
The sound is covered by stereo speakers installed in a front position on both sides of the screen, positioned vertically and almost invisible to the eye. Count on support for Dolby Audio and are accompanied by dual far-field studio microphones. The connectivity section is completed with the typical sensors of a tablet, including an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, ambient light sensor and proximity sensor. The headphone jack located at the top right of the screen is always appreciated compared to other manufacturers that don’t include it.
Keyboard and TouchPad
Surface Book 3 offers one of the best keyboards that you will find on a laptop. Its size is generous, occupying the entire base and the keys have the correct separation to offer great depth and responsiveness.
It has a white backlight and three lighting levels and the truth is that it took us very little time to get used to it and limit the errors that initially occur with any new keyboard. The writing experience has been comfortable and accurate and is another outstanding component. And this Surface Book 3 offers a few.
The touchpad is also of a high standard. A glass touchpad that works under controllers Microsoft Precision Touchpad, which are – by far – the best that any Windows device can use. It works great in navigation and gestures and if its size were just a little bit bigger it would be perfect.
Surface Book 3 pre-installs Windows 10 Home 64-bit with the option to equip Windows 10 Pro as an upgrade. The operating system is delivered quite “clean” as is standard on all Surface. Does not include trial or ad applications or demo games.
The operating system takes up about 50 Gbytes of internal storage space and pre-installs a copy of Office Online, the free, basic version of Microsoft’s productivity suite. From the tablet you can access a free one-month trial of Microsoft 365, the company’s new online productivity solution that adds to Office applications, cloud services, parental control and other advanced security.
Like other equipment of the brand includes the «Surface» application intended to provide the user with information on equipment, maintenance, technical support options, or general settings for usage preferences. Allows you to identify and fix problems, view battery levels, get individualized assistance, and other features.
The company supports Surface devices accordingly, with monthly device firmware updates, in addition to the operating system’s own updates in security patches, bug fixes and quality updates. It should be remembered that Windows 10 is a system in constant update to include new functionalities and improvements in the user experience.
Performance and user experience
Surface Book 3 uses the 10th generation Core “Ice Lake” processors, “U” series low-voltage models. It is the most advanced architecture from Intel and the only one from the company that until now has been manufactured in technological processes of 10 nanometers. It is an ideal processor for a hybrid device that we are going to use on the go and on the desktop. and in our tests the experience of use has been remarkable in all kinds of tasks.
The 32 Gbytes of LPDDR4x RAM and the PCIe NVMe solid state drive for internal storage installed are all a guarantee of performance, while the dedicated NVIDIA graphics located in the base allows us to work fluently on the desktop, for computing tasks. , entertainment, editing, development and also games.
He Intel Core i7-1065G7 It is a development of four cores and eight threads of native processing, with working frequencies ranging from 1.3 to 3.9 GHz. It has 8 Mbytes of cache and its TDP consumption is only 15 watts. It includes in the same package one of the best integrated graphics from Intel, Iris Plus, supported by a dedicated NVIDIA graphics installed in the base, model GeForce GTX 1650 with 4 Gbytes of GDDR5 memory and Max-Q Design.
The results we have obtained in the CPU, GPU and overall performance tests are remarkable for a 13-inch hybrid and in tablet mode is the highest performance model that we have tested. Its noise and temperature levels are very contained, showing the effectiveness of the cooling system.
NVMe SSDs are being adopted by default on all types of modern equipment and a premium model like this was not going to be an exception. The solid state drive installed to the PCIe interface offers a great performance to the storage section and, without the need for tests, we noticed it in the instant start of the applications or in the start-up of the equipment that occurs in just six seconds. And the same when we copy files from external devices to the USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports that it includes.
Measure the speeds with CrystalDiskMark 7 we get good results in reading and writing
- Random Read: 2,395 Mbytes per second
- Random Write: 1,501 Mbytes per second
Surface Book 3 debuts the chip Intel AX201 leaving behind previous Marvell solutions. And it is a success. It offers Wi-Fi 6 (and Bluetooth 5.0) 2 × 2 MIMO with the support of full channel width of 160 MHz and the usual quality of Intel drivers. This allows us to take full advantage of the new wireless standard that, together with 5G, promises to change the landscape of connectivity to networks and the Internet.
The Wi-Fi 6 standard quadruples the speed of Wi-Fi ac offering a theoretical performance of up to 10 Gb / s thanks to the most efficient use of spectrum. In addition to performance, it provides a greater capacity of connected devices especially in dense deployment scenarios of local area networks and lower energy consumption, improving the autonomy of the devices that use it.
We have tested the Surface Book 3 with the iPerf3 application in positions close to the access point obtaining a fantastic result with downloads almost at the limit of the connection. Web browsing, streaming and even online games are perfectly played without cuts. If you can access a Wi-Fi 6 compatible router you will not miss Ethernet. And its cables.
The front camera of the Book 3 repeats the outstanding one with which we have rated the one installed on other Surface, such as that of the Go 2. The best we have tried on a laptop or tablet, offers high-quality video conferencing at 1080p resolution and its infrared sensor makes facial recognition very fast. We connect to Windows Hello using biometric authentication and forget about the problematic passwords.
The team also includes a rear camera with an 8 megapixel sensor, with autofocus and video with 1080p resolution. The truth is that we have used it little, but there it is in case when you use the equipment in tablet mode you need it.
Microsoft declares a autonomy of up to 15.5 hours for the base version of this equipment (with a Core i5 and without a dedicated GPU) in a scenario of web browsing, use of the Office productivity suite and a screen brightness lowered to 150 nits .
The configuration of the equipment that we have tested is much higher in performance than that discussed and logically we obtain lower figures. This is not an objective parameter and it depends greatly on the use to which we dedicate the equipment and the brightness of the screen. The best we can say is that has offered us autonomy for a whole day of work. According to our tests:
- 13.5 hours playing video with brightness reduced by half.
- 11.5 hours in web browsing with 150 nit brightness.
- 6 hours in the Mark 10 PC battery test at peak performance and multitasking, authoring and editing, office automation, streaming and web browsing.
Surface Book 3 conclusions
The Surface Book 3 is difficult to rate because we have no one to compare it to. The tech industry offers a wide choice of laptops, 2-in-1s or convertibles, but there is none on the market that is capable of doing all of those functions and at a premium level. If other manufacturers have followed the approach of the Surface Pro, nobody has dared to imitate this Book series. It is simply unique, and tremendously versatile as a total hybrid.
The build quality and finishes are outstanding, while its screen offers the ideal size and aspect ratio for this type of device, with high resolution, image quality and operation of its touch interface. Components such as the keyboard or the webcam are the best on the market, it offers autonomy for a whole day of work and connectivity is sufficient (except for Thunderbolt 3).
In the performance section we must highlight its operation as a tablet (probably the fastest on the market) while in portable mode it allows you to perform all kinds of tasks on the desktop with great fluency and if you connect it to a good monitor you will not miss a Desktop PC.
Versions and price
Surface Book 3 is available in the Microsoft Store and on the specialized retail channel from 1,799 euros.
The equipment is compatible with different accessories that are sold separately. We highlight two that will increase their potential even more especially in creation tasks: the Surface Pen and the innovative Surface Dial. The Surface Book 3 is also available in a 15-inch screen size version.
Microsoft offers free technical support, a two-year warranty, and special discounts for eligible students, parents, and teachers. More information and purchase | Microsoft Surface Book 3