Microsoft’s Surface line is full, but the 13.5-inch Surface Laptop 3 (starting at $ 799, valued at $ 1,299) remains a decent option for those who want a high-performance, non-rotating portable system, twist or release. The few changes made to the last model are enough to elevate it above previous versions. First of all, the clamshell device has been updated with 10th generation Intel CPUs, which provide faster computing and graphics performance. This is our Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 Review.
The Surface Laptop 3 comes in an all-metal chassis with new color options (similar to what the 15-inch Surface Laptop offers), and the new USB-C port is a feature we’ve been waiting for a long time. We still expect the Thunderbolt 3 port and the thinner screen panels, and Microsoft’s striking price structure questions the value of the Surface Laptop 3. Still, the 13.5-inch is one of the best laptops for business users or anyone who wants to elegant and high quality system.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 Review – Design
Surface Laptop 3 is available with a metal or Alcantara fabric cover. After choosing the desired material, you can choose between black, cobalt, platinum and sandstone. I’m glad that Microsoft sent us the golden sandstone finish because the blush is beautiful. Our Surface Laptop 3 looked like something to be pulled out of a Gucci bag by someone with a rose gold Shinola watch. The Surface Laptop 3 is a stylish notebook with a modern design and high quality materials.
Do I miss the luxurious Alcântara fabric? Sure, but I don’t have to worry about stains or wear with the new aluminum option. There are some similarities between the Surface Laptop 3 and MacBook Air designs. These similarities have always existed, but the new all-metallic design of the Surface Laptop 3 emphasizes them. Like the MacBook Air, the Surface Laptop has a sleek, minimalist aesthetic, characterized by smooth curves and clean surfaces.
The Surface Laptop 3 sandstone looks a lot like the new gold MacBook Air. Still, I prefer the corresponding taupe keyboard on the Surface rather than the ugly black keyboard on the MacBook. I’m also a fan of the stylish Microsoft logo. Microsoft made Surface Laptop 3 a priority, but not at the expense of the function. The company has simplified the replacement of the laptop’s SSD, although technically that drive cannot yet be replaced by the user.
You may not expect a large number of ports on a 13-inch laptop, but the choice of Surface Laptop 3 is minimal. On the left side of the notebook, you will find a USB 3.1 Type A port, a USB Type C port and a headphone / microphone connector. On the right side, there is a magnetic Surface Connect port to charge or connect to the Surface Dock.
Keyboard and TouchPad
Apple, Dell and other companies have switched to low-profile keys to cut tenths of an inch off their laptop chassis. Microsoft didn’t do that – and I hope it never happens. My fingers bounced effortlessly from one key to another, thanks to the return buttons on the Surface Laptop 3, which surprisingly made for a decent journey. The keyboard on the Surface Laptop 3 has a smooth touch surface and a quiet, satisfying click, and is a break for anyone who suffers from Apple’s strong and strong butterfly keys.
But even if you compare that keyboard to Apple’s keyboards, the butterfly or the scissors, it would be a disservice. Instead, the Surface Laptop 3 keyboard offers a typing experience closer to that of the brilliant ThinkPad keyboard. The soft touch coating of the 4.5 x 3-inch glass touchpad stays soft against my fingers while I efficiently performed Windows 10 gestures, such as pinching to zoom in and slide with three fingers to switch between windows, on the Surface Laptop 3.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 Review – Screen
Microsoft has one of the best screens on its Surface devices, and Laptop 3’s 13.5-inch, 2256 x 1540 resolution panel is no exception. The touch screen is bright and vibrant, and the 3: 2 ratio is growing with me. It’s not a 4K, but the Surface Laptop 3’s screen is so detailed that the serial numbers of the small armored plates could be seen in front of a car when I watched a trailer for the upcoming Fast and Furious 9 movie.
Those iconic British double-decker buses were a very strong scarlet, and the blue flames that shot from Vin Diesel’s car were the color of blueberry candy in that ridiculous flying car scene. Microsoft hasn’t yet put a bad screen on its Surface devices, and the 13.5-inch, 2256 x 1540 Laptop 3 resolution panel is no exception. The touch screen is bright and vibrant, and the 3: 2 ratio is growing with me.
It’s not a 4K, but the Surface Laptop 3’s screen is so detailed that the serial numbers of the small armored plates could be seen in front of a car when I watched a trailer for the upcoming Fast and Furious 9. Those iconic buses from two British floors were a very strong scarlet shade, and the blue flames that shot from Vin Diesel’s car were the color of blueberry cotton candy in that ridiculous flying car scene.
According to our colorimeter, the Surface Laptop screen covers 3 121% of the sRGB color range, making it as vibrant as the average luxury laptop (122%). The Surface screen is more colorful than the Dell XPS 13 (111%, 4K) and HP Specter x360 13 (109%, 1080p) panels, but not as vibrant as the Apple MacBook Pro screen (163%).
The Surface Laptop 3 screen reached 348 nits of brightness, overshadowing the Specter x360 screen (287 nits) and again approaching the category average (354 nits). The 13-inch Dell XPS 13 (382 nits) and Apple MacBook Pro (441 nits) monitors are brighter than the Surface Laptop 3.
I was concerned about the placement of the Surface Laptop 3 speakers, hidden under the keyboard, but my doubts disappeared the moment Billie Eilish’s soft, clear and loud voice filled our lab. The slow, rhythmic drums of Grammy-winning artist Idontwannaobeyouanymore’s music played with surprising depth, and the guitar was well defined, even at full volume. Track changes, strange sounds, clapping and arcade sounds in Glass Animals’ Season 2 Episode 3 were well separated, and Dave Bayley’s voice was clear and progressive.
By choosing Ice Lake chips over Comet Lake, Microsoft chose to increase the graphics in relation to the maximum performance of the computer. You still want unobtrusive graphics to play modern games at high settings, but the integrated Intel Iris Plus GPU in Surface Laptop 3 is suitable for casual games. The Surface Laptop 3 reproduced Dirt 3 (high settings, 1080p) at 47 frames per second, which matches the pace of the HP Specter x360 13 and exceeds the result of the XPS 13 (34 fps). As for the general test, 30 fps is the minimum for a game without frustration.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 Review – Performance
I loaded 27 Microsoft Edge tabs on Surface Laptop 3 and has never been slowed down by delays or locks. Armed with Intel’s Core i7-1065G7 CPU and 16 GB of RAM, the Surface Laptop 3 quickly loaded three YouTube videos in 1080p and I saw Reverse2k win a round of Fortnite in the Ninja Mixer stream with all these tabs in the background . There was a slight delay in loading the last guides in another batch of 10, but that didn’t bother me too much.
We saw varying results from Surface Laptop 3 in our benchmark tests. The laptop scored 19,078 in the overall performance test for Geekbench 4.3, with the performance of the Dell XPS 13 (Core i7-10710U). The 10th Ice Lake processor on the Surface Laptop 3 helped him beat the MacBook Pro (17,366, Intel’s 8th generation Core i5), the Specter x360 13 (18,404, Core i7-1065G7) and the average of premium laptops (16,559).
Microsoft must have received the memo about its slow hard drives. The 256 GB PCIe M.2 SSD on our device duplicated 4.97 GB of multimedia files in 9.4 seconds, for a speed of 541.4 megabytes per second. This is faster than storage on previous Surface devices and Specter x360 13 (318.1 MBps), although XPS 13 (727 MBps) or MacBook Pro (1,220 MBps, 128 GB SSD) or the average premium laptop (580.56 MBps) has not yet delivered the best results.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 Review – Battery Life
The battery life of the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 is significant, but it has a record size. The laptop lasted 9 hours and 17 minutes with our battery test, surfing the web continuously over Wi-Fi at 150 nits. That time is above the average of the premium laptop (8:39) and the result of 4K XPS 13 (7:59), but the 13-inch MacBook Pro (10:48) outlived the Surface Laptop 3 for an hour and a half. The Specter x360 13 may have a 1080p screen, but the run time of 13 hours and 20 minutes on this laptop is just ridiculous.
Overheating is not an issue on Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 3. After a 15-minute 1080p video, the Surface Laptop 3 peaked at just 90 degrees Fahrenheit, which is well below our 95-degree comfort zone. The maximum temperature was measured near the hinge. The rest of the laptop was even cooler, with the touchpad reaching just 81 degrees and the center of the keyboard heating up to 86 degrees.
Pricing and configuration options
The Base 3 Surface Laptop (available in platinum only) with a Core i5 CPU, 8 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD is currently on sale for $ 799. Another $ 200 will give you a 256 GB SSD and expand your color options for golden sandstone, cobalt blue and black. For $ 1,299, you can get our review unit with an Intel Core i7-1065G7 CPU, 16 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD. Doubling storage to 512 GB raises the price to $ 1,699. There is a configuration with an Intel Core i7, 16 GB of RAM and a 1 TB SSD that costs $ 2,099 or $ 350 more than a 4K XPS 13 with similar specifications.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 Review – Conclusion
The Surface Laptop 3 is not a revelation, but the new 10th generation CPU and metal finish make it a worthy successor to one of last year’s best portable laptops. These improvements match everything we liked about previous versions, including a sharp and vibrant 13.5-inch screen (with a 3: 2 aspect ratio); healthy battery life; and a comfortable keyboard.
There are some visible changes that Microsoft could make to Surface Laptop 3 to improve the next model. This includes shortening the screen panels and adding a full Thunderbolt 3 port, not just the Type C USB port. Microsoft prices are also daunting, with storage upgrades that cost up to $ 400. That’s why the Dell XPS 13 and the HP Specter x360 13 value it better than the Surface Laptop 3.
Still, Surface Laptop 3 is your best option if you want to combine sophisticated hardware with pure Windows software.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 Sccore
8.5 Total score
Microsoft’s Surface Laptop combines sophisticated, first-class design with fast performance, making it one of the best portable laptops available.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 Pros and Cons
- Elegant and premium design
- Crisp and vivid display
- Good performance
- Decent battery life
- Comfortable keyboard
- There are no Thunderbolt 3 ports
- Thick frame