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Surface Book 3 15-inch Review: Beautiful but limited

Get the new hardware. Surface Book 3 features quad-core 10th-generation Ice Lake processors from Intel’s tenth-generation, which maximize speeds of 3.9 GHz Turbo Boost. (These chips also appear in the Surface Laptop 3, an ultraportable that doesn’t even pretend to handle heavy lifting). On the other hand, the 16-inch MacBook Pro offers Intel’s latest six- and eight-core processors, including the monstrously powerful 5GHz Core i9. Dell’s XPS 15 can also be configured with similar chips up to 5.1

GHz. You do the math. There’s just no way Surface Book 3 can compete in a CPU battle.

At least Microsoft is competitive on the graphics front. You have NVIDIA’s GTX 1650, GTX 1660 Ti and Quadro RTX 3000 as options, the latter of which is much faster than the 16-inch 16-inch MacBook Pro graphics processors. You’ll need to skip a few more hoops to get this Quadro GPU, as it’s only available to corporate customers.

I’m not saying that Surface Book 3 is not impressive. It still looks and feels like a high-quality machine, although the design has not deviated from the latest model at all. It has the same all-metal case, the unique bulb hinge (which leaves a small gap open when closed) and a large 15-inch screen. But since we last saw the Surface Book, most computer manufacturers have begun to seriously reduce their bezels to fit larger displays and lose weight. Book 3, unfortunately, still has thick screen frames that make it look like a notebook from 4 or 5 years ago.

Surface book 3

Devindra Hardawar / Engadget

I also knocked out the 15-inch surface book before, as it was 4.2 pounds heavier than its competitors. But ironically, Apple eventually made the 16-inch MacBook Pro a bit, so it now slightly exceeds Book 3. But as you’ll see, I think Apple justifies its urge a little more. And the MacBook Pro is also significantly thinner – Book 3 is up to 23 millimeters thick, while the MacBook Pro increases to 16.3 millimeters. As usual, Microsoft’s curved hinge makes things stick out quite a bit.

One of the advantages of being so large is that the Surface Book 3 is able to accommodate a wide keyboard and a spacious touchpad. It’s all the same hardware we saw a few years ago, but they’re still great. The keys have a lot of depth and responsiveness, which makes them a dream to enter. A smooth glass touchpad is one of the best I’ve used in a Windows laptop.

So there are certainly a lot of things about Surface Book 3. But if you want to know why I’m so critical of its new hardware, just look at the performance. In PCMark 10, it marks a break below Dell’s recent XPS 13. Even worse, it’s only a few hundred points taller than the HP Elite Dragonfly, a 2-pound computer whose performance we call “average.” If you are trying to be a powerhouse, this is not the company you need to maintain. Its multi-core Geekbench 5 speeds also lag behind the new 13-inch MacBook Pro and it was again defeated by the XPS 13. The Surface Book 3 performed better in the Geekbench 5’s Compute benchmark, where the NVIDIA GPU brought it in line with the Excellent Zephyrus G14 of ASUS (much cheaper machine with much better CPU results).

The GTX 1660 Ti is obviously the pinnacle of Surface Book 3 performance, and also means that the notebook can finally handle some decent gaming. Running in 1080p, I clocked between 110 and 130 FPS in Overwatch with “epic” graphics settings. The most Hitman 2 The benchmark also delivered a solid 72 FPS with maxed out settings. To be clear, you can get similar performance from game notebooks that cost half as much. But at least the owners of Book 3 will be able to do some shocks along with their creative work.

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