Microsoft’s unique power-laptop with detachable tablet screen is back for its third iteration, and other than new chips nothing has changed.

The Surface Book 3 is Microsoft’s workhorse for those who need oodles of power, available in a 13.5in version (as reviewed here) and a larger 15in version. Over four years and three main releases the Surface Book 3 really hasn’t changed. The new Surface Book 3 has the exact same design, dimensions and weight.

Microsoft Surface Book 3 review
The screen of the Surface Book 3 is held to the keyboard base by magnets and a smooth electronic latching mechanism, and can be detached.

Not that the Surface Book 3 functions poorly. The keyboard is still fantastic, and with 1.55mm of key travel it feels almost sumptuous compared with many. The trackpad looks a little small in the deck, but works great. It clicks very loudly though, which has annoyed my fellow home-workers.

Microsoft Surface Book 3 review

You can hand-hold the tablet portion, but at 719g it is heavy and really for occasional browsing, watching video or annotating documents.

The screen is still crisp, bright and beautiful – and now detaches significantly faster. Taking it off to go show someone something, or to annotate a document, watch a movie or just browse the web is still a great experience. As is the ability to dock it in reverse to the laptop deck and fold it down like a drafting board.

At 1.5kg to 1.6Kg in weight, Surface Book 3 is heavier than most of its 13in competition. The 13in MacBook Pro weighs 1.4Kg, while Dell’s XPS 13 weighs just 1.27Kg. Neither of those machines have a discrete graphics card; that sort of horsepower is mainly reserved for gaming laptops or larger 15in plus machines, such as Apple’s 16in MacBook Pro, which weighs in at 2Kg.


  • Screen: 13.5in LCD 3000 x 2000 (267 ppi)
  • Processor: Quad-core Intel Core i5 or i7 (10th generation)
  • RAM: 8 or 16GB
  • Storage: 256, 512 or 1TB
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Plus + Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 (4GB)
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Home
  • Camera: 8MP rear, 5MP front-facing
  • Connectivity: Wifi 6, Bluetooth 5, 2x USB 3.1, 1x USB-C, SD, Surface Connector, headphones
  • Laptop dimensions: 232 x 312 x 23mm
  • Laptop weight: 1.534 or 1.642Kg
  • Tablet weight: 719g

Graphics power and work-day battery

Microsoft Surface Book 3 review

The fulcrum hinge is still novel, but leaves a large gap between screen and body when closed. The Surface Connect and USB-C ports can both be used for data and power.

The Surface Book 3 has Intel’s 10th-generation Core i5 or i7 processors, with the later models also shipping with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 discrete graphics processor.

That means you can pull the screen off, and other than the increased performance of the Nvidia GPU, you have the entire computer.

Microsoft Surface Book 3 review

The reason quad-core chips are used in the Surface Book 3 is that they have to fit in the thin, compact tablet section, which limits the amount of power and heat you can have. Still, the quad-core power in the Surface Book 3 is more than enough for most users.

The port selection includes the Surface Connect port, that is used for power but also connectivity via the Surface Dock or adapters; two USB-A ports, which are a rarity in 2020; a full-size SD card reader; headphones socket in the tablet part and a single USB-C port. Having only one USB-C port is disappointing for a powerful machine, as is the lack of Thunderbolt 3 support, which is now standard across most Windows laptops.

Microsoft Surface Book 3 review

The Surface Book 3 has two batteries that work together: one in the screen and one in the laptop deck. Combined they last up to 8 hours 30 minutes between charges, using Chrome, Windows Mail, Evernote, NextGen Reader, Typora, several messaging apps, plus an hour of image editing in Affinity Photo.

With the included 102W charger, the Surface Book 3 fully charged in just more than three hours while under light use.

Microsoft Surface Book 3 review

There’s a small battery in the tablet portion and a larger one in the laptop deck, which work together for over eight hours of productive work.


The Surface Book 3 is one of the more difficult of laptops to get fixed due to its construction – it’s similar to the Surface Book 2, which repair specialists iFixit gave a score of just one out of 10.

Microsoft does not provide an estimate for the expected number of full charge cycles from the Surface Book 3’s batteries, which is typically 500 while maintaining at least 80% capacity. The batteries in each part of the machine are not user replaceable. Repairs must be performed by authorised service providers.

Microsoft did not comment on whether the machine contains recycled materials, but the company operates trade-in and recycling schemes for old machines.

Source : The Guardian

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