Surface Laptop 3 vs. Surface Laptop 2: Which should you buy?

Surface Laptop 3
Surface Laptop 3 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Unless you're looking to save money, there's no other reason to consider the previous generation Surface Laptop 2. Whether you get the 13-inch or 15-inch Surface Laptop 3, the performance improvements are big enough to ignore its predecessor if you really want the best from your laptop.

Surface Laptop 2 vs. Surface Book 2 tech specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Surface Laptop 2Surface Laptop 3
Processor8th Gen
Intel Core i5-8250U
Intel Core i7-8650U
10th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 (13-inch)
AMD Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7 (15-inch)
RAM8, 16 GB8GB, 16GB, or 32GB LPDDR4x
Storage128, 256, 512 GB, 1 TB128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB SSD (replaceable)
Display size13.5 inches
Touch
13.5 inches
Touch
Display resolution2,256 x 1,504
3:2 aspect ratio
2,256 x 1,504
3:2 aspect ratio
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 620Intel Iris Plus
AMD Radeon Vega 9
AMD Radeon Vega 11
PortsUSB-A 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, Surface Connect, 3.5 mm audio1x USB-C, 1x USB-A, 1x Surface Connect, 3.5 mm headphone jack
BatteryUp to 14.5 hoursUp to 11.5 hours
Dimensions12.13 inches x 8.79 inches x 0.57 inches12.13 inches x 8.78 inches x 0.57 inches
WeightFrom 2.76 poundsUp to 2.79 lbs (13-inch)
Up to 3.04lbs (15-inch)

Only one reason to get the Surface Laptop 2

Surface Laptop 2

Surface Laptop 2 (Image credit: Windows Central)

With the arrival of the Surface Laptop 3, there's now only one reason to consider buying the older Surface Laptop 2, and that's the price. With the arrival of a new model comes the inevitable price cuts on the old one.

The Surface Laptop 2 looks basically the same as the newer one, and it's hardly a bad laptop. It's been one of our absolute top picks since it arrived for anyone buying a laptop, but its time in the spotlight has passed.

You can get a Surface Laptop 2 with a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) and a Core i5 for $899, a $100 saving over the entry-level Surface Laptop 3. However, considering the Surface Laptop 3 has a replaceable SSD (albeit with caveats), you'll still be getting a much better value with the newer model.

Claimed battery life is also a little higher on the Surface Laptop 2, but in real-world scenarios, you're unlikely to see that much difference.

Surface Laptop 3 is the way to go

Where the Surface Laptop 2 was a mild, but still meaningful update over its predecessor, the Surface Laptop 3 is a much bigger jump. For one, there's now a choice of two sizes, 13 inches or 15 inches, and each comes with their own individual internal hardware.

The smaller model uses Intel's excellent 10th Gen processors with the new Iris Plus graphics, the larger going with a customized AMD Ryzen chip with the potent Vega integrated GPU.

Toss in the inclusion of USB-C on the new model, a lack of Alcantara if you wish, a replaceable SSD (so long as you get Microsoft to do it), and the same gorgeous display as the Surface Laptop has always had, and you've got a strong package.

Unless you absolutely want to spend as little as possible, you should definitely get the Surface Laptop 3.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.