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Microsoft says the Surface Book 3 will be 50 percent faster than before

Microsoft launched the Surface Book 3 on Wednesday, refreshing the powerful detachable 2-in-1 with 10th-gen Intel Core chips and the choice of either an Nvidia GTX or Nvidia Quadro RTX GPU to enable real-time ray tracing.

With the new Surface Book 3, Microsoft employed the same basic strategy it’s pursued with other Surface devices: Maintain the overall look and feel, while improving the microprocessor and GPU. The Surface Book 3 will ship in either a 13.5-inch or 15-inch configuration beginning May 21, for $1,599 and above.

Microsoft claims the Surface Book 3 will deliver 50 percent more performance than the Surface Book 2, which offered a choice of Intel’s 7th-gen and 8th-gen processors. The Surface Book 3 offers Intel’s 10th-gen Ice Lake chips and a choice of GPUs: Nvidia’s GTX 1650 (Max-Q) and GTX 1660 Ti (Max-Q), as well as its Quadro RTX 3000 (Max-Q). Maximum memory soars to 32GB, and there’s a whopping 2TB storage option for what the company is claiming is its fastest SSD ever. Microsoft’s also claiming that the Book 3 delivers up to 17.5 hours of battery life, divided between batteries in the tablet and the base.

Microsoft surface book 3 side shotMicrosoft

The Surface Book 3 remains Microsoft’s flagship 2-in-1, which can detach into tablet mode as well.

Surface Book 3 basic specifications

You don’t have to look far down Microsoft’s pricing list to be able to say with certainty: with a starting price of $1,599, the Surface Book 3 is going to be expensive. As you can see from the configuration options below, you should be able to find a version that’s a productivity powerhouse, a decent gaming machine, and/or a portable workstation.

Microsoft is saying that, by default, the Surface Book 3 will ship with Windows 10 Home, a somewhat odd choice for a mobile workstation. Users can also upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, or buy a Surface Book 3 for Business, which will apparently ship with Windows 10 Pro by default.

  • Display: 13.5-inch (3000×2000, 267 ppi) PixelSense 10-point touch; 15-inch (3240×2160, 260 ppi) PixelSense 10-point touch
  • Processor: (13.5-inch) Core i5-1035G7, Core i7-1065G7; (15-inch) Core i7-1065G7 
  • Graphics: (13.5-inch) Iris Plus, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 (Max-Q) with 4GB GDDR5; (15-inch) Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (Max-Q) w/6GB GDDR6,  Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 (Max-Q) with 6GB GDDR6
  • Memory: (13.5-inch) 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB 3733MHz LPDDR4x; (15-inch) 16 GB or 32GB 3733MHz LPDDR4x
  • Storage: (13.5-inch) 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB PCIe SSD; (15-inch) 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB PCIe SSD (2TB in United States only)
  • Ports: 2 Surface Connect, 2 USB-A, 1, USB-C, SDXC, headphone jack
  • Camera: User-facing: 5MP, 1080p; Rear: 8MP, 1080p
  • Battery: (13.5-inch) up to 15.5 hours; (15-inch) up to 17.5 hours
  • Wireless: 802.11 ax (Wi-Fi 6); Bluetooth 5.0; Xbox Wireless (15-inch only)
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro
  • Dimensions (inches): (13.5-inch) 12.3 x 9.14 x 0.90 inches (13-23mm); (15-inch, Core i7) 3.5 x 9.87 x 0.90 inches (15-23mm)
  • Weight: (13.5-inch, Core i5) 3.38 pounds total (tablet is 1.59 pounds); (13.5-inch, Core i7) 3.62 pounds total (tablet is 1.59 pounds); (15-inch, Core i7) 4.2 pounds total (tablet is 1.8 pounds)
  • Color: Silver
  • Price: Starting at $1,599

One important fact that doesn’t show up in the Surface Book 3’s spec sheet is this: During our original Surface Book 2 review, we discovered that under peak load (including gaming), the Surface Book 2 drew too much power for the Dock to provide. In other words, the Book 2 drained the battery while plugged in. Subsequent testing confirmed other reports that the power draw exceeded that of the charger.

Microsoft surface book 3 with monitors attached Microsoft

The Surface Book 3 should be able to connect to a pair of 4K monitors at 60Hz resolution.

The company appears to be covering its bases this time. It will ship with one of three chargers: a 65W (13.5-inch, Core i5), a 102W (13.5-inch, Core i7) or a 127W (15-inch) charger. Offering the lower-power Max-Q version of Nvidia’s GPUs should help, too. The new Surface Dock 2 will supply up to 199W, Microsoft representatives say. Considering the various options, we’d anticipate that Microsoft’s engineers have solved the power issue.

Surface Book 3 prices

Microsoft provided us with a long list of Surface Book 3 pricing options. At this point there is no “Big Kahuna,” a hypothetical 15-inch Surface Book 3 with 32GB of RAM, 2 TB of SSD storage, and the Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000.

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