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Is Surface Laptop 3 good for gaming?

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

Is Surface Laptop 3 good for gaming?

A laptop, with a side order of light gaming

Surface Laptop 3 (Image credit: Windows Central)

We won't be able to offer conclusive results until we get our review units in, but Microsoft has already released details on the internals that can give us a decent idea of what to expect.

The Surface Laptop 3 simply isn't designed for gaming. Like the Surface Pro series, any gaming you can do on the Laptop 3 is a direct consequence of its decent internals and Windows app legacy. Ultimately, you'll be able to game on it to some degree as long as you're willing to compromise.

The Surface Laptop 3 comes with either a Vega 9 or Vega 11 Ryzen graphics, which are fairly impressive as integrated chips. The Surface Laptop 3 sports a thermally-challenging slim design, with low-power internals that are oriented more towards browsing, light entertainment, and productivity tasks.

That said, older games from previous generations, such as Half-Life 2, DOOM 3, Bioshock, Team Fortress 2, and World of Warcraft Classic, should run reasonably well on the Surface Laptop 3. Even some modern, highly-optimized games with relatively light graphics like Overwatch, Fortnite, and Minecraft will also run pretty well in the higher-end models. However, photorealistic modern games like Gears 5, or Forza Horizon 4 won't run without significant compromises in resolution, graphics quality, and frame rates.

Microsoft is working on a cloud streaming platform called Project xCloud, which will enable virtually any device to play the latest and greatest games, streaming over the internet. Sony's PlayStation Now is also proving itself to be a very viable option for streaming modern games to PC, although its library is a little anemic.

For any serious contemporary laptop gaming in the short term on local hardware, however, you'll want something with a dedicated GPU, such as the Razer Blade 15 (opens in new tab). These are pretty pricey however, compared to a desktop PC build, although you'll sacrifice portability in the process.

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!