It’s been two and a half years since Microsoft announced the Surface Book 2, and the detachable PC is finally getting its long overdue refresh. The Surface Book 3 doesn’t change much in terms of the design, but there’s a lot that’s going on under the hood.
First of all, contrary to some rumors, Microsoft went with Intel’s 10th-generation ‘Ice Lake’ CPUs instead of Comet Lake. Both would be 10th-gen, but Ice Lake is made on a 10nm process while Comet Lake is 14nm; however, Comet Lake is still a more powerful CPU since Intel had to turn down the clock on Ice Lake to get it down to 10nm.
Ice Lake makes up with that in graphics performance, including Iris Plus Graphics. Comet Lake is generally accepted as a better option for a machine with a dedicated GPU, but it’s worth remembering that the Surface Book series has a detachable screen. With Ice Lake, you’ll get that graphics boost while using it as a tablet, so it’s a major improvement from its predecessor.
The two CPU options are the Core i5-1035G7 and Core i7-1065G7, the ‘G7’ indicating that both chipsets have the best Iris Plus Graphics that Intel has. As was the case with the Surface Book 2, the Core i5 models don’t have dedicated graphics. Also, the 15-inch variant only comes in a Core i7 flavor.
The GPU is getting a big upgrade as well. On the 13.5-inch Surface Book 3, you’ll get an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 with Max-Q Design and 4GB GDDR5 memory. On the 15-inch one, it comes with a GeForce GTX 1660 Ti with Max-Q Design and 6GB GDDR6 memory. Microsoft says that with the latter, you can play the top games on Xbox Game Pass at 1080p at 60fps.
That’s not all though, because commercial customers will have the option to get an Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 GPU. That graphics card is aimed more at mobile workstations, but it does support things like real-time ray tracing and DLSS, things that you won’t get from the consumer model.
The exterior is exactly the same as the Surface Book 2. The 13.5-inch model has a 3000×2000 display for 267ppi pixel density, and the 15-inch model has a 3240×2160 resolution for 260ppi pixel density. The chassis is also the same. The 13.5-inch one is 312x232x13-23mm for the Core i5 model, weighing in at 3.38 pounds. The Core i7 model is slightly thicker at 15-23mm, but it weighs in at 3.62 pounds. And finally, the 15-inch model is 343x251x15-23mm and weighs in at 4.2 pounds.
The port selection has been improved a bit. Both of the USB Type-A ports and the USB Type-C port are now USB 3.1 Gen 2, meaning that you’ll get 10Gbps instead of the 5Gbps we saw in Gen 1. There’s also a Surface Connect port in both the base and the tablet, along with a 3.5mm audio jack in the tablet.
Microsoft says that the Surface Book 3 has the best battery life of any PC it’s made, with up to 17.5 hours on the 15-inch model and 15.5 hours on the 13.5-inch variant. The firm promised 17 hours on the Book 2, but that was for video playback, and this is supposed to be for typical usage.
The starting price point of the Surface Book 3 is a little bit higher this time around at $1,599, and it will be available on May 21.