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Microsoft's new Surface Book 3 arrives May 21 with new Intel, NVIDIA hardware

Surface Book 3 Context
Surface Book 3 Context (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Surface Book 3 goes on sale on May 21 in select markets.
  • It features new 10th Gen Intel and NVIDIA GTX graphics.
  • There is a new option for Quadro graphics.
  • Pricing starts at $1,599

Microsoft has signed off on the new Surface Book 3 for 2020 for both the 13.5-inch and 15-inch models. The refreshed line promises an extra half hour of battery life and a 50 percent performance boost over the late 2017 Surface Book 2 13.5 and Surface Book 2 15.

While there is no significant change to the design of the 2020 Surface Book 3, there are many smaller modifications to the internal hardware, including a new NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 graphics option for those who need it.

Way more power

Surface Book 3: What's new for 2020

Externally, Microsoft is keeping the Surface Book 3 the same from 2017. There are no changes to the hinge, colorway, ports, or even the trackpad size, which is a bit disappointing.

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 1650 Max-Q (13.5-inch)
GTX 1660 Ti Max-Q (15-inch)
Quadro RTX 3000 (15-inch)
Charger102W (13.5-inch)
127W (15-inch)
AudioDolby Atmos
Power50 percent more powerful
BatteryHalf hour longer battery life

But internally, Microsoft has added significant improvements to all the components effectively, bringing this laptop up to date with 2020 standards. There is still no support for Thunderbolt 3, which was recently explained as security concerns via an internal Microsoft video.

The processors being used by Microsoft are the same ones used in many recent Ultrabook laptops. However, like the Surface Book 2, these 15-watt chips use more TDP (thermal design power) letting them run faster for more prolonged durations peaking at 25 watts.

The GPUs are also relatively new. The 15-inch model gets the GTX 1660 Ti with 6GB GDDR6, and it is similar to the GTX 1070 (Max-Q), but usually with a reduced TDP. On average, it yields a 40 percent boost over the Book 2's GTX 1060. NVIDIA last refreshed the GTX 1660 Ti in April 2020.

Surface Book 3 Dock

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Surface Book 2 13.5 vs. Surface Book 3 13.5 specs

Surface Book 2 (13.5)Surface Book 3 (13.5)
Processor7th Gen Intel Core i5-7300U
8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U
10th Gen Intel i5-1035G7
10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7
RAM8GB or 16GB LPDDR38GB, 16GB, or 32GB LPDDR4x
Storage256GB, 512GB, or 1TB256GB, 512GB, or 1TB
Display size13.5 inches
Touch
13.5 inches
Touch
Display resolution3000 x 2000
3:2 aspect
267 PPI
3000 x 2000
3:2 aspect
267 PPI
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 620
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050
Intel Iris Plus
GeForce GTX 1650 (Max-Q)
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 (Gen1) 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
Battery70WHr
Up to 17 hours
70WHr
Up to 17.5 hours
Charger39W (Core i5)
95W (Core i7)
65W (Core i5)
102W (Core i7)
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
WeightTotal: 1,905 g (4.20 lbs)
Tablet: 817 g (1.80 lbs)
Total: 1,905 g (4.20 lbs)
Tablet: 817 g (1.80 lbs)

There is also now an NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 option, which is typically reserved for graphic professionals, engineers, and auto-CAD uses, rather than consumer-focused gaming and video editing.

The 13-inch model uses a similar GTX 1650 with 4GB GDDR5 and not the just-announced version with GDDR6 memory. Its performance is just slightly ahead of the older GTX 1050, but it does not seem to be as big a jump as the 15-inch GTX 1660 Ti.

For die-hard Surface users, the continued switch by Microsoft away from Marvel for its Wi-Fi chip to Intel's more popular AX series is welcomed. Not only is there now Wi-Fi 6, which also works better on older Wi-Fi AC networks, but there is Bluetooth 5.0 too.

Surface Book 2 15 vs. Surface Book 3 15 specs

Surface Book 2 (15)Surface Book 3 (15)
Processor8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7
RAM8GB or 16GB LPDDR316GB, 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 (Gen1) 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)

Like before, the 15-inch model still retains Xbox Wireless controller support for gaming and, when paired with the new graphics improvement, should make it an even better gaming experience. Microsoft also calls out Xbox Game Pass and gaming at 1080p with a "smooth" 60 frames per second.

Finally, it is worth noting RAM and SSD changes. The Surface Book 2 used slower and older DDR3, but the new Book 3 leverages faster (and more power-efficient) LPDRR4x. Microsoft has also been making headway with improved SSD speeds, and the new Book 3s have the fastest ones yet used by Microsoft.

Surface Book 3: Pricing and availability

Pricing starts at $1,599 and the new Surface Books will be available May 21 in the US and Canada and will roll out to other markets in the weeks to follow.

Here are all the Surface Book 3 SKUs for 2020:

Surface Book 3 13.5 Consumer

CategoryFeatures
10th Gen Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB, Iris Plus$1,599
10th Gen Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 256GB, GTX 1650$1,999
10th Gen Intel Core i7, 32GB RAM, 512GB, GTX 1650$2,499
10th Gen Intel Core i7, 32GB RAM, 1TB, GTX 1650$2,699

Surface Book 3 13.5 Commercial

CategoryFeatures
10th Gen Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB, Iris Plus$1,699
10th Gen Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 256GB, GTX 1650$2,099
10th Gen Intel Core i7, 32GB RAM, 512GB, GTX 1650$2,599
10th Gen Intel Core i7, 32GB RAM, 1TB, GTX 1650$2,799

Surface Book 3 15 Consumer

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

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

The consumer version of Surface Book 3 ships with Windows 10 Home, while the commercial ones have Windows 10 Pro, hence the extra $100 difference.

For Surface Book 3 15, there are also options for Nvidia Quadro graphics.

Daniel Rubino
Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

33 Comments
  • Why no Ryzen.. :(
  • Yeah, I'd have gone for one of these with Ryzen, but Microsoft has firmly established as a lazy follower in this market, behind even Apple. They couldn't even be bothered to put an upgraded track pad in there?
  • I think you guys focus to much on the bezels (which aren't even a bad thing for a tablet screen like Surface Book has) and to thin devices that lead to overheating without having any practical advantages (these laptops are already thin enough anyway). Form over function.
  • The Surface Book 3 15 Commercial also comes with a Quadro GPU on the upper end spec so it is more than just $100 bump for Win 10 Pro
  • Its $100 more for the exact same build, he wasn't referencing the Quadro build.
  • I'm just bit sad that no Thunderbolt 3 support (though reason behind leaked not including one due to security at least gives a bit of light, though still leaves question since other enterprise laptop from HP, Dell and Lenovo offer Thunderbolt). Also didn't try to make the screen little bit bigger to make bezel smaller (though I'm not too bothered by this since the bezel isn't huge). So far this can be my long overdue replacement of my Surface Book 1. Though I'm just bit afraid that maybe on SB4 might get a true redesign. I'm still glad they continue this model since this is really the only laptop in the market with this detachable tablet design and still have dedicated GPU and respectable power, without going full bulk of a workstation laptop and thick 2-in-1 screen flip laptops.
  • Microsoft missed the bus big time. This could lose bezels, add Thunderbolt 3 support, make trackpad bigger. For the detachable fans, try Spectre 360 13', incredibly portable when folded to use as a tablet. I sold my SB 2 to get the Spectre, cheaper and more powerful. Hope SB 4 sees a real change. SB 3 is clearly hit by Corona and that is understable.
  • I'm sure these specs were finalized long before coronavirus.
  • I bet this is already been finalised before the pandemic. Only the current production were slowed. But yeah likely SB4 will likely get its redesign, though I would be sad if it's become rotating screen though practical, it looses the benefit of having pure tablet when needed and angled position when drawing, which this Surface Book does. Which is why I'm not bothered with its hinge since there is actually several pros with it like allowing vents even when on tablet+base mode so no vents needed underneath the base, angled position for drawing, and able to balance the weight of the laptop when opened. It's clipboard mode allows me to use it like an iPad Pro 13. If only Windows Tablet Mode were better though. I've been eyeing for Spectre X360 13, thing is rotating screen to make it as a tablet still have the same bulk of the laptop and not allowing angled position when on tablet state. Also the aspect ration feels cramped. It's cheaper and powerful though.
  • Configuring them with a 6 core i7 10710U (that performs the same as an i7 9750H in other thin and light laptops, at least on the MSI Prestige 15 which has a 10710U) would make so much more sense instead of the 4 core Ice Lake one. Maybe they did it because it is a 10nm vs 14nm chip which might improve a bit on power consumption? Or maybe because those who will use it in tablet mode and do gpu-bound work on it will see an improvement with the iris plus g7 vs the uhd 630. Without tb3 support on those usb c ports, they could've at least give an option to configure them with Ryzen 4000 cpus, similarly how they did this with their Surface Book 3 15.
  • similarly how they did this with their Surface *Laptop 3 15.
  • Comet lake is outdated. The cpu is in the tablet part so it needs to be as efficient as possible to prevent overheating. Agree about Ryzen 4000 though.
  • Wait, you can't get 2TB with Quadro? Why?
  • When you hit the link to configure on MS website, you get "we're sorry, the page you requested cannot be found" - good start Microsoft.
  • And again no Thunderbold 3 ... I just don't understand it. Ok, then it becomes a ThinkPad.
  • Well it was leaked it is due to security flaw inherit with Thunderbolt 3. The real question is why they still didn't went through with it and implement a complementary hardware security for Thunderbolt. MacBooks have T2 security chip which patches that security flaw. Microsoft could have done the same way. For that we don't have any answers unless somebody leaked that info if it even exist.
  • No Thunderbolt 3 in 2020 then no buy for me even for their "security" reasons. Every other manufacturer has them. This is way too expensive to not include that. Pretty boring update for a device that is really showing its age.
  • Yikes, they did basically nothing but slap in the new core components. The pricing continues to be industry-leading while the innovation and progress are nowhere to be found. Not sure how they justify keeping such high prices while doing so little to properly update the thing. Surely build costs are way down with a matured production line. I'd pay the ignorant premium if they went with AMD, to at least show SOMETHING in these new products, but they're yet another sign of minimal updates and little long-term goals for the Book. I keep wishing we'd see the Microsoft that actually moved the market forward and took bold steps with the initial Surface Pro and Book and the hopes of the now-delayed Neo and unmentioned Duo. Instead, this is more of the "Apple of PC" stuff that has taken Surface from a go-to recommendation to an overpriced avoidance.
  • We can't expect AMD for this though considering how it was recently announced, this was likely finalised before AMD 4000 ever nearly done. They have to redesign the motherboard and maybe some physical chassis changes to accomodatw the AMD 4000 thermal requirements. It would be sweet if they manage that but I wasn't expecting this to have AMD option sadly.
  • What's the significant improvement you mention? I just see a spec bump and shouldn't this always be the a minimum anyway?
  • Yup, might as well just stick to the Book 2
  • NVIDIA Quadro rtx3000 was announced less than a year ago so this is top-notch industry leading technology implementation in the SB3 in view of the development time of the SB3
  • No gonna lie, was hoping for a new design, even slightly.
  • i guess i'll have to get one..
  • Is there a new surface dock on the way? Or the older surface docks are compatible. I thought I had seen a more powerful dock was on the way...As of now, I can't see it in the Store.
  • As Bruce Wayne once said.. "does it come in black"?
  • A NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 is pretty impressive for such a device (also impressive in costs though :p).
  • The Tech Specs on the Microsoft store say the SB3 now has USB3.1 Gen 2 ports - which should mean an upgrade from 5gbps to 10gbps over the previous generation. While I'd still rather Thunderbolts 40gbps, usb3.1 gen 2 will be good with external nvme SSDs.
  • This wouldn't have been a disappointing upgrade if it had been released say, a year after the Book 2. As it stands, waiting 2.5 years for this is.... a let down.
    I wanted to upgrade my Book 2, seems I'll be thinking about other options in the future.
  • I am thinking that because it is has no big changes to the design this version of the Book might be more reliable than previous versions (just like how 2 was more reliable than 1). It is easier to remove engineering faults if you don't overhaul the design. That might make this device actually more interesting (to me at least).
  • Good point, I keep waiting for the next one thinking it will be better and realize I have been waiting since the very first one. It is certainly mature and stable and time to make the jump.
  • I was realy hoping for a kick-stand on that clip-board. I sow badly want to use it more, but without the kick-stand its as stupid as a ipad.
  • I know it is not the real deal but there are probably covers for the tablet part that have a kickstand build in them (alternatively you could add/glue a stiff metal hinge to the cover yourself). Cooling should also not be a problem if the cover does not cover much of the grills (or just use a scissor remove some of the cover).