The third version of Microsoft’s most powerful laptop— Surface Book 3 is finally here. Since its predecessors received many mixed reviews, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on this new and improved ‘transformer’ machine. This version also comes in two size options— 13.5-inch ($1600) and 15-inch ($2300).
While a better GPU has definitely given the Surface Book 3 a wide edge over its competitors, we cannot say the same about its CPU. Moreover, even with a unique hinge design, we could not help but notice the problematic gap and thick bezels. However, on a positive note, some of the technical improvements left us pleasantly surprised.
Let’s jump right into the full review of Microsoft Surface Book 3.
Unique, attractive, bulbous— the three words that describe the design of the unchanged Surface Book 3. Microsoft has barely lifted a finger to change the all-magnesium case design so if you have seen the Surface Book 2, this one is a carbon copy.
Although the detachable hinge is eye-catching and works like ‘magic’ with the detach button, it leaves a very noticeable gap that acts as an invitation to dust and dirt. Yes, the industrial hinge prevents the Surface Book 3 from becoming the slimmest laptop out there. But the mere feel of easily detaching it and using it as a laptop is every geek’s guilty pleasure!
The odd 3:2 aspect ratio may not be everyone’s cup of tea but content creators can benefit from the extra vertical space. Because of the added height, the top of the screen is directly parallel to the eye line which makes viewing a whole lot comfortable.
While most manufacturers are cutting down on bezels for the immersive viewing experience, the Surface Book 3 could be mistaken for a dated laptop with its thick bezels.
The Surface Book has a massive display that makes productivity and entertainment go hand-in-hand. The screen resolution of the 13.5-inch unit is 3000×2000 pixels, and the 15-inch unit is 3240×2160 pixels.
Although unchanged, the display is as vivid and crisp as ever. Serious Netflix and chillers can take advantage of the well-contrasted picture quality.
For photographers, graphic designers, video editors, etc., 75% of AdobeRGB can be a bummer. However, the screen covers 97% of the sRGB color gamut which makes the color accuracy good enough for working on web products.
Now, performance isn’t that bad but Microsoft has left a HUGE scope for improvement.
With the NVIDIA GeForce Graphics (GeForce GTX 1660 TI with 6 GB of Graphics RAM in the 15-inch unit) and 32 GB RAM, video editing, and gaming have become a lot smoother than it was in the Surface Book 2. If you liked the Surface Book 2, you’d be pleased to know that even the detach time has now been reduced to 3 seconds.
Moreover, the Surface Book does not have major heating issues and stays quiet with much workload.
Since the keyboard unit of the Surface Book houses the battery, when used in laptop mode, the battery lasts up to 10 hours. But when used separately as a tablet, the battery life takes a hit.
A cool aspect of the feature is that when you’re using the tablet unit and feel like your battery is draining, you need not rush to get the charger. You can simply attach it to the keyboard with the screen backward, and flip it back to continue using it as a tablet.
Sturdy, responsive, and spacious— these qualities make the Surface Book 3’s chiclet-style keyboard one of the best in the market. The backlit, deep-set keys produce a satisfying clicky sound without being obnoxiously loud. The keyboard even has dedicated keys for controlling the backlight and other multimedia functions. Moreover, one key is assigned for detaching and attaching the screen.
Overall, the Surface Book 3’s curved-edged keyboard is every writer’s dream come true.
Webcam and Speakers
Unlike most laptops, the Surface Book series has a back camera too. Sounds cool but honestly, we don’t see its purpose. One usually uses a laptop or tablet’s camera for official video calls so we see no point in having a back camera in either of them.
Nevertheless, the 5 MP front webcam and 8 MP rear camera ensure good quality pictures and videos. Now, your face won’t look distorted while Skype-ing!
Coming to speakers, Surface Book 3’s sound quality is subpar. Even with the Dolby Atmos sound tuning, the audio leaves us disappointed. It is safe to say that the iPad Pro sounds much better as a tablet.
Like most aspects, even the variety of ports have remained the same. Two USB-A 3.1, one USB-C 3.1, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a full-size SDXC card reader are not that bad. But the absence of a Thunderbolt 3 is sorely felt.
Using the Surface Book as a tablet without the Surface Pen makes no sense, right? Now imagine paying $79 extra on top of the already pricey laptop!
Yes, the Surface Pen, even though a vital accessory, does not come for free with the Surface Book 3. However, with the pen, the tablet can reach its full potential when it comes to digital art and notetaking.
Overall, even though the 10th Gen Intel Core i7 keeps the Surface Book 3 from outshining its competitors, it wins the race when it comes to graphics. It is a good-looking (very subjective) machine that feels premium and durable. The 1080p webcam delivers impressive video quality and the keyboard unit acts as your very own power bank. However, we don’t see anything that stands out in the latest Microsoft laptop (other than that bulbous hinge… you just can’t unsee it!).
Overall, the Microsoft Surface Book 3 is the jack of all trades, master of none. This 2-in-1 laptop can handle everything you throw at it, but individually, other laptops can do those tasks much more efficiently.