When Panos Panay showed the Surface Laptop 3 at their October 2 event in Manhattan I immediately knew I had to get it. I briefly owned a Surface Laptop 2 but wasn’t a fan of the Alcantara, so when I saw the 3 was available in all black without Alcantara I was sold. I ordered the Surface Laptop 3 on October 4th through the Dutch Microsoft store (and not the Belgian store, just to be able to get a Qwerty keyboard like a civilised person) and it arrived this morning as promised.
Specs wise it seems to tick all the right boxes, I went for 13.5 Inch, Quad-core 10th gen Intel Core i7-1065G7-processor, 16GB of LPDDR4x RAM, and 512GB SSD. Microsoft claims 11.5 hours of battery life with normal use, I’ll have to see how that pans out in the real world. The Surface Laptop 3 also supports Fast Charging so you should be able to power your battery up to 80% in about one hour. (Battery life testing was conducted by Microsoft in September 2019 using preproduction software and preproduction 15” Intel® Core™ i7, 512GB, 16 GB RAM device)
Keyboard and Trackpad
I travel extensively for work so having a great built-in keyboard is very important to me, I’ve owned IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad’s in the past just to be able to use the excellent keyboards, I must say the Surface Laptop 3 Keyboard feels great, the keys are a little concave which gently guides your fingers, key travel is a respectable 1.3 millimeters and feedback is wonderful. The Trackpad on Surface Laptop 3 13.5 Inch is 20% larger compared to the trackpad on Surface Laptop 2,glass-topped, and a joy to use.
First of all the 3:2 aspect ratio seems so much more conducive to productivity work than a widescreen laptop, I don’t really use my laptop to watch full screen videos (YouTube tutorials in default view yes, Netflix not so much) and I opted for the 13.5 inch over the 15 inch mainly for portability. You can definitely watch full screen content on this device you’ll just get some large black bars on the screen reminding you to stop slacking and get back to work. The screen is beautiful overall, brightness is great, pretty glossy though so lots of reflections. The screen is also a lot less wobbly then on Surface Laptop 1 and 2 which is a good thing, and it has a nice solid “ump” sound when closing the lid, very premium indeed.
There are no openings (grills) on the surface of the laptop to allow sound out, instead the sound emanates from the keyboard itself through what Microsoft has dubbed “omni sonic speakers”. They get more than loud enough and sound pretty decent for laptop speakers, definitely one of the better speakers I’ve come across in a laptop.
One of the reasons I wanted to get my hands on a 10th gen (10nm-based Ice Lake) Intel Core laptop was to get the benefit of the new Intel Iris Plus (Gen11 Iris Plus graphics) GFX performance. It seems to even come out on top of the much touted AMD Vega 10 graphics in most situations. The fans run at an acceptable noise level under load, installing the latest windows update prompted them to go full blast but not annoying at all. I’ll test this by installing some games over the weekend but performance so far is very snappy. (sometimes on other laptops when you hear the windows notification sound it feels like it lags somehow or sounds distorted, not the case on this machine)
The Laptop comes with one USB Type-A port, and one USB Type-C port (but not Thunderbolt), a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the Surface connector is also still there which, through the powercharger also provides an additional USB Type-A port. The system also supports Intel Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+). I tried connecting to my LG 32UL950 monitor using USB-C but that doesn’t work (apparently the LG only supports Thunderbolt over USB-C, still need to verify this), then I tried connecting with the official Apple USB-C to HDMI dongle and that works, somewhat, I get 4K resolution but only at 30Hz, the Surface does not correctly detect the monitor, I have a VAVA USB-C Hub on the way to test with so let’s see (hopefully).
During setup you are asked to pose for Windows Hello, using it is super snappy, opening the laptop logs me in without any noticeable delay.
Windows 10 Home
The Laptop arrived with Windows 10 Home version 1903 - build 18362.329 installed which has been available since the end of August if that is any indication as to when these machines where staged, before installing anything else I ran windows update to get to build 18362.418. Not having the option to select Windows 10 Pro at the time of purchase is a bit of let down imho.
I’m very impressed with this machine at first glance, I’m planning on using it as my daily driver going forward. Another nice surprise was that the Surface Laptop 3 automatically picked up the Microsoft Complete extended warranty from the Surface Laptop 2 I returned in March.