Microsoft’s new 13.5-inch Surface Book 3 looks exactly like the 2017 model — all the changes are on the inside. The big updates include 10th Gen Intel processors and new graphics options. Both are welcome updates, but they don’t fundamentally change the value proposition of the Surface Book.
That proposition is potentially a good one: for a higher-than-usual price for a pro-specced laptop, you get a device with a detachable screen you can carry around as a tablet. For many, it’s more than an impressive trick — when we recently joked on The Vergecast that there are only a handful of cool architects who actually need this feature, I was inundated with replies letting me know that yes, in fact, many real humans want a detachable tablet / screen.
The model Microsoft sent us for review is a $2,499.99 machine, which includes an Intel Core i7 processor, a healthy 32GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage. That’s all fairly standard, but the bigger upgrade is Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU. It’s not the most powerful GPU you can get in a laptop by a long shot, but if your applications can take full advantage of it (when docked, of course), it could be meaningful.
Of course, that processor is a lower-wattage chip than you might find on other “pro” laptops — at least larger ones. But on the Surface Book 3, the 15W version is what you get on both the 13.5 and the larger 15-inch models. That’s simply because Microsoft needs the computer to, you know, work when you detach the screen. So most of the essential computer guts need to fit in there.