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.

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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 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

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Header Cell - Column 0 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

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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 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

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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

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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

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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

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
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.