Benchmarks: Surface Book 3 15-inch with GTX 1660 Ti shows promising boost in performance

Surface Book 3 Lead
Surface Book 3 Lead (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Microsoft Surface Book 3 13.5- and 15-inch models are set to on sale on May 21. While Microsoft has not changed the fundamentals of its most powerful laptop, it has overhauled the chips that power them bringing them up to speed for 2020.

My Surface Book 3 15 review sample arrived for some testing this week. While it is still too early for general remarks on battery life and the overall experience (though I'm not expecting a radical shift in opinion), I can run some benchmarks to see what that new Core i7-1065G7 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (Max-Q) deliver.

Surface Book 3 15 – What's new at a glance

Surface Book 3 Logo Grass

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Before we get to the benchmarks, let us recap what is different from the Surface Book 3 15 over the Surface Book 2 15:

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CategorySpec
Wi-FiIntel Wi-Fi 6 + Bluetooth 5.0
RAMUp to 32GB LPDDR4x
StorageFaster, up to 2TB (15-inch only)
CPU10th Gen Intel Core
GPUGTX 1660 Ti Max-Q (15-inch)
Quadro RTX 3000 (15-inch)
Charger127W (15-inch)
AudioDolby Atmos
Power50 percent more powerful
BatteryHalf hour longer battery life

The wire mechanism that controls the display detaching is reportedly three times faster and quieter than Surface Book 2, which is a minor change, but I can report it as accurate.

And here is a full specification comparison between Surface Book 2 and Surface Book 3:

Surface Book 2 15 vs. Surface Book 3 15 specs

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Header Cell - Column 0 Surface Book 2 (15)Surface Book 3 (15)
Processor8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7
RAM8GB or 16GB LPDDR38GB, 16GB, or 32GB LPDDR4x
Storage256GB, 512GB, or 1TB256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB
Display size15 inches
Touch
15 inches
Touch
Display resolution3240 x 2160
3:2 aspect
260 PPI
3240 x 2160
3:2 aspect
260 PPI
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 620
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060
Intel Iris Plus
GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (Max-Q)
NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000
PortsTwo USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen1)
One USB Type-C w/ video, power in/out and USB 3.1 (Gen1) data
Full-size SDXC card reader (UHS-II)
Headphone jack (3.5mm)
Two Surface Connect ports (1 in tablet, 1 in keyboard base)
Two USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen1)
One USB Type-C w/ video, power in/out and USB 3.1 (Gen2) data
Full-size SDXC card reader (UHS-II)
Headphone jack (3.5mm)
Two Surface Connect ports (1 in tablet, 1 in keyboard base)
ConnectivityMarvel Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Blueooth 4.1
Xbox Wireless
Intel Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax
Bluetooth 5.0
Xbox Wireless
Camera5MP Front-facing 1080P
8.0MP Rear-facing AF 1080P
5MP Front-facing 1080P
8.0MP Rear-facing AF 1080P
BiometricsIR cameraIR camera
Battery80WHr
Up to 17 hours
80WHr
Up to 17.5 hours
Charger102W127W
Dimensions343 mm x 251 mm x 15-23 mm (L x W x D)
13.5 in x 9.87 in x 0.57 to 0.90 in
343 mm x 251 mm x 15-23 mm (L x W x D)
13.5 in x 9.87 in x 0.57 to 0.90 in
Weighti5 total: 1,533g (3.38lbs)
i7 total: 1,642g (3.62lbs)
Tablet: 719g (1.59lbs)
i5 total: 1,533g (3.38lbs)
i7 total: 1,642g (3.62lbs)
Tablet: 719g (1.59lbs)

Surface Book 3 15 Preliminary benchmarks

Surface Book 3 Logo Profile

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Putting the Surface Book 3 15-inch through a few popular synthetic benchmarking apps reveals expected results. There is a slight boost in CPU performance when switching from 8th Gen to Intel 10th Gen Core i7, but the significant increase comes from the GTX 1660 Ti graphics card, which is significantly faster (especially on CUDA). See how it stacks up to other best graphics card options out there.

The tests, as always, are run with the laptops plugged in and set to maximum performance in a 70-degree Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) room.

Geekbench 4

Geekbench 4.0 (CPU) (Higher is better)

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DeviceCPUSingle coreMulti core
Surface Book 3 15i7-1065G71,2984,511
Surface Book 2 15i7-8650U1,1303,602
Samsung Galaxy Book Flexi7-1065G71,3174,780
Dell XPS 13 (9300)i7-1065G71,2844,848
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 7390i7-1065G71,2093,571
Surface Laptop 3 15i7-1065G71,3364,893
HP Elite Dragonflyi7-8665U1,1252,942
Surface Laptop 3 13.5i5-1035G71,1774,413
Lenovo Yoga C740i5-10210U1,0943,767
HP Spectre x360 13i7-1065G71,0063,402
Surface Pro XSQ17252,819
Surface Laptop 3 15Ryzen 57692,720
Surface Pro 7i5-1035G41,1914,441

Geekbench 5

Geekbench 5.0 (CPU) (Higher is better)

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DeviceCPUSingle coreMulti core
Surface Book 3 15i7-1065G75,16618,743
Surface Book 2 15i7-8650U5,03614,237
Surface Book 2 13i7-8650U4,86214,694
Surface Laptop 3 15Ryzen-53,98512,079
Surface Laptop 3 15i7-1065G75,72719,593
Surface Laptop 3 13.5i5-1035G75,26517,345
Surface Laptop 2i5-8250U4,20313,233
Surface Laptopi5-7200U3,7257,523
Surface Pro 7i5-1035G45,24517,350
Surface Pro 6i7-8650U5,03713,864
Surface Pro 6i5-8250U4,28714,031
Surface Pro 5i5-7300U4,3028,482
Surface Pro 5i7-7660U4,5139,346
Surface Pro 4i5-6300U3,3196,950
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 7390i7-1065G75,45919,097
Razer Blade Stealthi7-8565U5,13916,339
Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1i7-8665U5,46915,800

PCMark

PCMark 10

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DeviceScore
Surface Book 3 154,393
Surface Book 2 154,228
Surface Laptop 3 15 (AMD)4,006
Surface Laptop 3 15 (Intel)4,604
Surface Laptop 22,748
Surface Pro 7 i53,992
Surface Pro 6 i73,644
Surface Pro 6 i53,501
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 73904,427
Dell XPS 15 75905,521
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 73904,427

GPU

Geekbench 4.0 CUDA (higher is better)

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LaptopGPUScore
Surface Book 3 15GTX 1660 Ti233,528
Surface Book 2 15GTX 1060132,785
Surface Book 2 13GTX 105075,665
Razer Blade 2017GTX 1060138,758
XPS 15GTX 105075,636
Surface BookGTX 965M59,945

SSD

CrystalDiskMark (Higher is better)

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DeviceReadWrite
Surface Book 3 512GB2,370 MB/s1,458 MB/s
Surface Book 2 1TB2,428 MB/s730 MB/s
Surface Book 1TB1,018 MB/s967 MB/s
Surface Laptop 3 152,028 MB/s806 MB/s
Surface Laptop 3 13.52,338 MB/s1,583 MB/s
Surface Pro 72,040 MB/s809 MB/s
Surface Pro 61,632 MB/s814 MB/s
Samsung Galaxy Book Flex3,376 MB/s2,983 MB/s
Dell XPS 13 (9300)3,000 MB/s1,217 MB/s
HP Spectre x360 (Optane)2,092 MB/s515 MB/s
Dell XPS 13 2-in-12,400 MB/s1,228 MB/s
HP Elite Dragonfly (Optane)2,124 MB/s548 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 2)3,416 MB/s3,016 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad P533,567.23 MB/s2,813.25 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad P523,120 MB/s1,551.5 MB/s
Dell XPS 15 75903,000 MB/s2,796 MB/s
MSI PS63 Modern3,300 MB/s1,875 MB/s

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Running some other 3DMark benchmarks like Time Spy, Night Raid and Fire Strike show how the GPU shifts favorably for Surface Book 3 but falls short of most gaming laptops.

3DMark Graphics

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ModelTestScore
Surface Book 3 15 GTX 1660 TiTime Spy4,979
Surface Book 3 15 GTX 1660 TiNight Raid9,448
Surface Book 3 15 GTX 1660 TiFire Strike3,406

For the full review, I'll include comparison scores for the above 3DMark ones, though you can easily compare them to 3DMark's online database. For example, the Surface Book 3 is more potent with its 4,979 score on Time Spy, while the Surface Book 2 only managed 3,557.

I'll also toss in some gaming benchmarks and framerates to see just how much better the GTX 1660 Ti is compared to the older GTX 1060 used in Surface Book 2.

While Microsoft is offering an option for NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 graphics, please make no mistake that option is not only pricier, but it won't be any better for gaming or general consumer applications. Indeed, due to the lower core clock rate, it will likely be worse. Quadro is optimized for 3D rendering and CAD applications, where its memory system is ideal for more precise work versus gaming, which is more reliant on faster core speed.

Surface Book 3 Charger 127watt

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

The Surface Book 3 15 charger is now 127 watts versus the older 102 watts that came with Surface Book 2. The Surface Book 3 can utilize 120 watts with 7 watts for the Type-A port found in the base. This improvement in wattage addresses a power-draining issue with the Surface Book 2, which, while rare, was a problem for some. Even though the charger does not seem bigger, it certainly is heavy (1lb, or 455G). Luckily, it is still a dual-prong plug without a ground, which makes it great for travel.

Dolby Atmos sound tuning is also here. The physical speakers are unchanged with Surface Book 3, but Dolby Atmos gives more spatial representation to audio and it sounds great. But due to the lack of a dedicated subwoofer, audio remains a little bit less rich than preferred. In theory, I can't see why this software tweak can't be implemented on Surface Book 2, save for the licensing cost.

Surface Book 3 15 Consumer

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CategoryFeatures
10th Gen Intel Core i7, 16 GB RAM, 256GB, GTX 1660Ti$2,299
10th Gen Intel Core i7, 32 GB RAM, 512GB, GTX 1660Ti$2,799
10th Gen Intel Core i7, 32 GB RAM, 1TB, GTX 1660Ti$2,999
10th Gen Intel Core i7, 32 GB RAM, 2TB, GTX 1660Ti$3,399

Surface Book 3 15 Commercial

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CategoryFeatures
10th Gen Intel Core i7, 16 GB RAM, 256GB, GTX 1660Ti$2,399
10th Gen Intel Core i7, 32 GB RAM, 512GB, GTX 1660Ti$2,899
10th Gen Intel Core i7, 32 GB RAM, 1TB, GTX 1660Ti$3,099
10th Gen Intel Core i7, 32 GB RAM, 2TB, GTX 1660Ti$3,499
10th Gen Intel Core i7, 32 GB RAM, 512 GB, Quadro RTX 3000$3,499
10th Gen Intel Core i7, 32 GB RAM, 1TB, Quadro RTX 3000$3,699

For configurations, Microsoft is offering multiple for Surface Book 3 15, with 32GB of RAM being the most common choice. Surface Book 3 is aimed at software developers, creative "doers," social creators, architects, and engineers, and it seems to succeed in that regard with this refresh.

If you have any questions regarding Surface Book 3 15, leave them in comments, and I'll try to answer them in our review due next week.

Oh, and for those wondering, you cannot switch the tops of Surface Book 2 with Surface Book 3. Doing so causes it to get jammed on the base, and you'll have to do a manual release, which is not fun at all. Do not ever attempt this maneuver, as it won't work anyway (Microsoft seems to have reversed the magnets to avoid confusion when lining the two parts together, not that it stopped me from trying).