Microsoft Surface Book 3 revealed: 13" and 15" get big performance boost

Microsoft's Surface Book 3 has debuted, and if you've been in the market for a potent convertible Windows notebook with the latest Intel quad-core processors, you're in luck. Billed as Microsoft's most powerful laptop ever, the Surface Book 3 will be offered in two sizes – 13-inches or 15-inches – with both using the company's clever detachable tablet-screen design.

Surface Book 3 15-inch

Powerhouse of the two, the 15-inch Surface Book 3 promises 50-percent more performance than the Surface Book 2, yet without sacrificing on battery life. The PixelSense display runs at 3240 x 2160 resolution, with a tablet-friendly 3:2 aspect ratio and 1,600:1 contrast. It's compatible with the Surface Pen and Surface Dial, of course.

Inside there's only one processor on offer: Intel's new quad-core 10th generation Core i7-1065G7. That's paired with either 16GB or 32GB of 3733MHz LPDDR4x memory. Storage is either a 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB PCIe SSD.

Microsoft will have two graphics options for the notebook. On the one hand there's NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1660 Ti with 6GB of dedicated GDDR6 memory; Microsoft says that's enough to run the top Xbox Game Pass PC titles in 1080p at 60fps. Alternatively, there's the company's Quadro RTX 3000, again with 6GB of memory, which Microsoft will target at commercial users and higher-education.

Perhaps most impressive is battery life. With both the display section and the keyboard base's battery, Microsoft claims, you could see up to 17.5 hours of typical use.

Connectivity includes two USB-A 3.1 Gen 2, one USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 (with USB-PD), a 3.5mm headphone jack, Surface Connect ports, and a full-sized SDXC memory card slot. Still no Thunderbolt 3, however, which is bound to frustrate more than a few people. There's also WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, and integrated Xbox Wireless. A 5-megapixel camera is on the front, and an 8-megapixel camera on the back; both can shoot 1080p Full HD video, and there's Windows Hello face authentication support too.

Dual far-field Studio Mics have been included, plus front-facing stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos. The keyboard has 1.55mm of key travel, and a glass trackpad with anti-fingerprint coating. Microsoft bundles a beefy 127W power supply with a secondary USB-A 7W charging port. With both tablet and keyboard, you're looking at 4.2 pounds; the tablet alone is 1.8 pounds.

Surface Book 3 13-inch

Smaller of the two, the 13-inch Surface Book 3 gets a 13.5-inch 3000 x 2000 PixelSense display. There'll be a choice of two processors, both from Intel's 10th generation range. The entry-level machine will have the Core i5-1035G7, while Microsoft will also offer the Core i7-1065G7.

There'll be 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB options for the 3733MHz LPDDR4x memory, and a choice of 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB PCIe SSDs for storage. As with the larger model, there's a full-sized SDXC card slot as well.

For graphics, the Core i5 Surface Book 3 13-inch uses Intel Iris Plus Graphics. If you opt for the Core i7, however, you get an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 with 4GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory.

All of the ports and connectivity are the same as on the larger of the two notebooks. Battery life is up to 15.5 hours from the keyboard and tablet combined; Microsoft includes a 65W power supply (with 5W USB-A port) with the Core i5 model, or a more powerful 102W version (with 7W USB-A port) with the Core i7.

As for weight, the Core i5 tablet alone is 1.59 pounds, and 3.38 pounds with the keyboard attached. The Core i7 version is a little heavier: 1.59 pounds for the screen section on its own, or 3.62 pounds when the keyboard is connected.

Surface Book 3 pricing and availability

The Surface Book 3 13-inch will start at $1,599.99 for the Core i5 (8GB RAM / 256GB), then $1,999.99 for the Core i7 (16GB RAM / 256GB). The Core i7 with 32GB of RAM and 512GB is $2,499.99, while the same machine with 1TB of SSD is $2,699.99.

As for the Surface Book 3 15-inch, that starts at $2,299.99 for 16GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD, and the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU. Upgrading that to 32GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD takes it to $2,799.99, while the 1TB configuration is $2,999.99 and the 2TB version $3,399.99.

The NVIDIA Quadro version of the Surface Book 3 15-inch will be focused on commercial buyers. It'll be priced at $3,499.99 with 32GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, or $3,699.99 with 1TB of storage.

Microsoft says that the Surface Book 3 will go on sale from May 21.