Surface Book 3 vs. Surface Pro 7: Which is better for you?

Microsoft Surface Pro 7
Microsoft Surface Pro 7 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Both of these devices are quite similar regarding the internals, but it's the design and functionality where everything changes. While the Surface Book 3 is technically a 2-in-1, it's designed as more of a traditional notebook experience, whereas the Surface Pro 7 is a tablet through and through. Whether you need a laptop or tablet will undoubtedly make your decision a little easier. Surface Book 3 also comes rocking dedicated graphics processors and far longer battery life.

Surface Book 3 vs. Surface Pro 7: tech specs

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Header Cell - Column 0 Surface Book 3Surface Pro 7
OSWindows 10Windows 10
Processor10th Gen Intel i5-1035G710th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G710th Gen IntelCore i3-1005G1Core i5-1035G4Core i7-1065G7
Display size13.5 inches15 inchesTouch12.3 inchesTouch
Display resolution3000x2000 (267 PPI)3240x2160 (260 PPI)2736x1824267 PPI
Aspect ratio3:23:2
GraphicsIntel Iris PlusGeForce GTX 1650 (Max-Q)GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (Max-Q)NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000Intel UHD (i3)Intel Iris Plus (i5, i7)
PortsTwo USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen1)One USB Type-C w/ video, power in/out and USB 3.1 (Gen1) dataFull-size SDXC card reader (UHS-II)Headphone jack (3.5mm)Two Surface Connect ports (1 in tablet, 1 in keyboard base)USB-C 3.1USB-A3.5mm audioSurface ConnectmicroSD card reader
CameraFront-facing 5MP (1080p)Rear-facing 8MP (1080p)Front-facing 5MP (1080p)Rear-facing 8MP (1080p)
BiometricsIR cameraIR camera
Battery70Wh (13.5-inch), 80Wh (15-inch)Up to 17.5 hoursUp to 10.5 hours
Dimensions13.5-inch Book 312.3 x 9.14 x 0.51 - 0.90 inches (i5)12.3 x 9.14 x 0.59 - 0.90 inches (i7)15-inch Book 313.5 x 9.87 x 0.568 - 0.90 inches11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 inches(292mm x 201mm x 8.5mm)
Weight13.5-inch from 3.38 pounds (1.53kg)15-inch from 4.2 pounds (1.9kg)From 1.7 pounds (775g)

Features and design

Microsoft didn't change much with the physical design of the Surface Pro 7 compared to the Pro 6, aside from adding a USB-C port. The same goes for the Surface Book 3. It looks almost identical to a Surface Book 2. While the Pro 7 has USB-A for older devices, a 3.5mm audio jack, Surface Connect, and a microSD card reader, the larger Surface Book 2 can make use of its more substantial form factor with two USB-A 3.1, USB-C, two Surface Connect ports, 3.5mm audio, and a full-size SD card reader.

The Surface Pro 7 is designed first and foremost as a tablet, which you can add a Type Cover for a notebook-esque experience. Surface Book 3 comes as a complete notebook package with a display, keyboard, and touchpad. The display part can be disconnected from the base unit and used as a tablet (since all the inner workings are found within), and it can even be re-connected facing the other way.

Both devices use IR cameras for biometric security with Windows Hello and use similar shooters for video calls and photos. It's all about whether you want a portable tablet or a more powerful laptop.

Display and inking

Surface Book 3 comes in 13.5-inch and 15-inch flavors. The smaller display has the same 267 pixel-per-inch (PPI) count as the 12.3-inch Pro 7 display, but the larger 15-inch falls a little shorter at 260 PPI. The larger Surface Book 3 comes equipped with higher resolution, but no matter which device you choose, you'll appreciate just how good the screens are.

All three Surface PCs have an aspect ratio of 3:2, and all are compatible with Surface Pen for inking. Four thousand ninety-six levels of pressure sensitivity and tilt support are present throughout, and you can combine a Surface Dial for improved productivity — though the Pro 7 only supports the dial off screen.

Performance and price

Like other Microsoft PCs, Surface Book 3 can be configured with various specifications. The 13.5-inch model is available with the same 10th Gen Intel processors the larger 15-inch model has, though you won't be able to enjoy either the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (Max-Q) or Quadro RTX 3000 dedicated GPUs. The smaller Surface Book 3 can only take the GTX 1650 (Max-Q) or Intel Iris Plus.

The same goes for storage, which can go up to a whopping 2TB with the 15-inch Surface Book 3. RAM is the same for both sizes. Pricing starts from $1,600 and $2,300 for the 13.5- and 15-inch Surface Book 3, respectively. Where the Surface Book 3 truly shines against the Surface Pro 7 is battery life, allowing you to go up to 17 and a half hours before needing to find a power outlet.

That's so long as you keep the tablet portion of the Surface Book 3 connected to its keyboard base (which also houses an additional battery). The battery on the Pro 7 is around 10 hours. But you won't be stressing it with games since you can't upgrade to dedicated GPUs inside the tablet like you can in the Surface Book 3. However, it'll keep up with most tasks and allow you to use it on the go, thanks to its lighter build.

The best part about Surface Pro 7 is the price, which comes in at $749, a massive discount compared to the Surface Book 3. Though do keep in mind that Type Covers are sold separately.

Go with the Surface Book 3 if you're a power user

Surface Book 3 is the one you need if you're planning to run intensive software like video editing suites. The dedicated GPUs, powerful 10th Gen Intel CPUs, and speedy LDDR4x RAM make it quite the capable machine. You can remove the main display from the keyboard base and use it as a tablet, though it will not feel as portable as the Surface Pro 7.

Surface Pro 7 is a better portable, more versatile PC

Surface Pro 7 is best suited to those who value portability over all else. You still get the same 10th Gen processors from Intel, support for Wi-Fi 6, all wrapped up in a tighter, lighter package. The only downside is the slightly poorer battery life, lack of any dedicated GPUs, and additional cost for Type Covers. It's on our list for best Windows 10 tablet too.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.