class=”cnetReview row” section=””> Though we loved the 13-inch Surface Laptop when it first shipped two years ago, a lot has changed for thin and light premium laptops since then. Now the line just doesn’t stand out the way it once did, even the new 15-inch model. At first, it isn’t clear who the 15-inch Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 is for: Compared to the rest of its many competitors, it’s not particularly light, or fast or feature-packed. It’s not inexpensive or full of cutting-edge tech and it doesn’t have an especially long battery life. But it’s reasonably portable, sufficiently fast, looks pleasantly sleek, is partly upgradeable, and even backward-compatible with previous power supplies sold by Microsoft. So it probably does make sense for one class of laptop buyers: enterprise.
7.8 Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15-inch
$1,429 at Walmart $1,382 at Amazon $1,400 at Best Buy CNET may get a commission from these offers. Like
Microsoft finally adds a USB-C connection to its Surface Laptop line
The 15-inch model Surface Laptop 3 offers easy opening for storage upgrades.
Meh battery life for its class
No Thunderbolt 3 support
We originally reviewed the consumer version of the laptop. Microsoft made a big deal about its AMD partnership for this model — it uses AMD graphics for its Xbox consoles, but this is the first collaboration for laptops — touting the new Surface Editions of the Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 processors.
Now we’ve tested the Intel models Microsoft doesn’t don’t talk about much, with Core i5-1035G7 and i7-1065G7 chips. All you have to do is follow the small “Surface Laptop 3 for Business” link. They are identical except for the CPUs, the Wi-Fi and the version of Windows installed. The Intel models come with Wi-Fi 6 and Windows Pro, while the AMD models have Wi-Fi 5 and Windows Home.
It pains me to say, but there’s no reason to buy the AMD model. At all. Because for only a $100 price gap between the two, the Intel version performs better, has better battery life, better Wi-Fi and a more full-featured version of the operating system.
The pricing for the 15-inch model starts at $1,199 (£1,199, AU$1,999) for AMD and $1,299 (£1,279, AU$2,149) for Intel, but that version has only 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. Windows 10 takes 20GB, and if you’re a Microsoft Office shop that will take another 6GB, and with that little memory you’ll run a pretty large swap file. You really can’t run anything on that configuration except maybe cloud-based applications, and even then it’s barely really enough memory to hold Windows and a lot of browser tabs. It’s possible that this configuration was intended to run a lightweight version of Windows rumored to compete with Chrome OS, but who knows.
Now playing: Watch this: First look at Surface Pro X, Pro 7, Laptop 3 5:52 Our test configuration, with 16GB RAM and a 256GB SSD, is the minimum configuration I could recommend for either model, and even that storage is only enough if you don’t save a lot of files locally or download the video for travel. And that’s a lot to pay for what you get compared with competitors: Laptops like the Lenovo Yoga C930, which is smaller at 14 inches but superior in every other way for hundreds less, or the LG Gram 17, which has a slightly larger footprint (a 17-inch display in a 15.6-inch size) but delivers a lot more for the same money. On sale, it might be a different story, though.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 (15-inch)
Price as reviewed $1,699 (£1,699, AU$2,799) $1,799 (£1,779, AU$2,949)
Display 15-inch 2,496 x 1,664 (201 ppi, 3:2 aspect ratio) pen and touch display 15-inch 2,496 x 1,664 (201 ppi, 3:2 aspect ratio) pen and touch display
PC CPU AMD Ryzen 5 3580U Microsoft Surface Edition 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-1065G7
PC Memory 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2667MHz 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2667MHz
Graphics AMD Vega 9 Intel Iris Plus Graphics (64CU)
Storage 256GB SSD 256GB SSD
Ports 1 x USB-C, 1 x USB-A, headphone jack, proprietary power 1 x USB-C, 1 x USB-A, headphone jack, proprietary power
Networking Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), Bluetooth 5 Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5
Operating system Windows 10 Home 1903 Windows 10 Home 1903
Weight 3.4 lbs/1.5 kg 3.4 lbs/1.5 kg
The design is essentially the same as the 13-inch Surface Laptop 3, which means it’s basically a bigger Surface Laptop 2, which was essentially just the Surface Laptop. There are two nontrivial differences: A monitor-compatible-via-dongle USB-C port replaces the mini DisplayPort connector and it’s more easily opened, so the SSD can be upgraded (the memory is still soldered and the battery difficult to remove). It also has a metal keyboard deck rather than the odd Alcantara fabric.
It retains the proprietary magnetic Surface Connect port, though at least now it supports fast charging. The connector has a lot of fans, just as the old Apple MagSafe connector did, but as someone who accidentally disconnects it on a regular basis without realizing and then wonders why the battery hasn’t charged, I’m not one of them. And an extra USB-C port with the ability to charge through it might have been nice. Instead, it’s just a single USB-C and a single USB-A; given that it has the same battery as the 13-inch but a bigger chassis, another USB port of any type would have been lovely.
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