Years of reviewing laptops and hybrids, and watching Apple not-so-quietly chip away on the foundations of the very kind, have taught us one factor. There’s nonetheless a great deal of room for a plain outdated laptop computer.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 is more-or-less what a MacBook Pro 13 can be like if Apple hadn’t added and brought away the bits it has over the past 5 years. It has a superb keyboard, crowd-pleaser connectors and completely zero fluff. And in return you save round £300 off the value off a MacBook.
There are a great deal of different nice Windows options within the “smart MacBook options” pantheon, from HP, Asus and Acer. But we’re positive undecided any of them matches the sheer loveliness of the Surface Laptop 3. This actually is a love at first contact laptop computer.
Design: Traditional luxurious
Think “Microsoft Surface” and the picture of a hybrid laptop computer might come to thoughts. That just isn’t the Surface Laptop means.
This is a really standard pc. It would not have a flip-around hinge or perhaps a 180-degree display. But it does really feel incredible. Microsoft would not use any of the furry Alcantara or magnesium-rich alloys of the opposite Surface laptops.
Our Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 is aluminium, for an unmistakably metallic really feel. There’s additionally an Alcantara model, for the furze-addicted. Add that to a nearly zero-flex shell and the impression is pure luxurious. The purpose is evident. Microsoft needed to make a laptop computer that appears as fancy as a MacBook Pro, and it has accomplished the job completely.
The Surface Laptop 3’s aspect contours are a little bit extra angular, however even this smells like a fastidiously contrived selection. It’s slim and light-weight sufficient too. At 1.3kg we have been comfortable to hold the Laptop 3 round all day. Sure, there are lighter choices, however none are fairly as sturdy.
Microsoft caters for nerds who have been round earlier than it was cool to be geeky too. The Surface Laptop 3 would not simply have USB-C ports. There’s a full-size USB 3.1 and a headphone jack too. Two major connectors is a bit stingy, granted, and the USB-C would not assist the ultra-quick Thunderbolt 3 commonplace. But we’re glad there is a full-size USB and that the ability connector is separate, so would not hog the USB-C.
Screen: Look sharp
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 has a 13.5in display. This is a little bit of an odd measurement. Most 13-inch laptop computer screens measure 13.3 inches throughout. It begins to make sense once you take a look at the display form.
This is a 3:2 side display, one considerably taller than these of different laptops. It’s worse for motion pictures, naturally, however Microsoft would in all probability argue it’s higher for some productiveness apps. Microsoft optimising for the boring stuff? Who’d have thought it? Either means this can be a pretty display.
Its 2256 x 1504 decision is properly above Full HD, and makes textual content particularly look sharper than loads of 13in laptops hovering round £1000.
Colour is nice, photographs look punchy and this can be a touchscreen. The border is the one potential weak level.
Other laptop computer firms attempt to make their display surrounds as tiny as attainable, however there’s nonetheless greater than an inch of clean area at both sides. In sensible phrases this implies the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 has a bigger footprint than it would in any other case. We’re not too bothered, although, when the laptop computer is handsome as an entire.
Keyboard and Trackpad: Near excellent
Remember after we received a bit slushy and began speaking about “love” and laptops at the start of this review? That applies to the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3’s keyboard too.
You may not be capable of discover a higher keyboard outdoors of a Lenovo ThinkPad X1, and that laptop computer’s deep-dish buttons are techy traditionalist catnip, which some Gen Z’ers may not fairly perceive. These keys are like these of any outdated model laptop computer, however higher.
The barely springy, meaty, reactive really feel is sensible, and makes nearly each different Windows rival appear a bit inert. And, sure, this keyboard is rather a lot higher than that of the MacBook Pro 16 should you ask us.
It additionally has a 3-intensity backlight. There aren’t any compromises within the trackpad both. The Surface Laptop 3 has a pretty big glass pad with, as you’d hope, excellent driver integration. It behaves because it ought to. That feels like a given, but it surely is not.
The keyboard is likely one of the greatest round, however is the trackpad? Not fairly. It’s wonderful, however the loads of rivals have higher glass texturing, which lets your finger glide throughout extra easily. The minimal texturing right here does consequence within the odd little bit of finger judder. However, the press really feel is great, simply as finely tuned as these keys we appear to be quickly falling for. Microsoft says it has made the pad 20% for the reason that Surface Laptop 2.
Performance: Better than common
Our Surface Laptop 3 has a 10th Gen Intel processor. It’s the Core i7-1065G7, and is paired with 16GB RAM. Let’s reduce to it. This just isn’t the model we advocate for most individuals.
Don’t edit video, make music or do deep dive edits on 100MB photographs? The Surface Laptop 3 with 8GB RAM, a Core i5 and 256GB will in all probability do the trick. And it prices rather a lot much less.
The primary Windows expertise is not going to vary an excessive amount of between these two specs, and Windows 10 runs fantastically right here. This review can also be a superb check of Intel’s new processors. See that “G7” on the top of the Core i7-1065G7 processor title? That means it has much more gaming energy than the usual stuff tacked onto an Intel CPU, because of Iris Plus graphics.
We’re not blown away by the ability right here, however this Surface Laptop 3 can deal with video games a little bit higher than the typical model laptop computer. Skyrim runs properly at Ultra settings at 900p, hovering round 29-32fps. Or you get across the similar pace at 1200p, Medium settings. Alien: Isolation runs a bit higher. Ultra settings on the native decision is a little bit of a stretch, dipping a bit too far into the 20fps vary. But drop the decision to 1200p and it largely sticks round 30-42fps. That is greater than playable.
This just isn’t a gaming PC, however Intel’s higher-end built-in GPUs get you nearer to the efficiency of an entry degree graphics card. We are additionally very impressed by how quiet the Surface Laptop 3 is underneath strain. After a half hour of wandering round in Skyrim, dancing round giants, there was nonetheless only a quiet whirr coming from the again of the laptop computer. It makes us surprise how a lot thermal throttling it has to make use of, the place a laptop computer slows down a bit when it will get sizzling. But we have not seen any radical dips right here.
The Surface Laptop 3’s audio system additionally make it significantly better for the enjoyable stuff than you may guess. These audio system are nice, and likewise bizarre. Microsoft makes use of “Omnidirectional” drivers that sit underneath the keyboard. There aren’t any retailers on the aspect right here. You can just about neglect this odd design when utilizing the Surface Laptop 3 and benefit from the outcomes. The audio system have a number of the greatest spatial imaging and tonal character we have heard in a Windows laptop computer, with pure audio that appears to broaden properly past the laptop computer’s dimensions.
Their mid-range is unusually good too, which makes voices appear way more actual than they might by means of the typical set. Good as they’re, the Surface Laptop 3 audio system usually are not in the identical class as MacBook Pro 16’s, that are so loud and big-sounding they appear to interrupt the legal guidelines of physics. The bass additionally drops off right here in busy preparations, a results of Dolby processing that tries to squeeze probably the most out of tiny drivers.
Battery: Modest mouse
Almost each a part of the Surface Laptop 3 appears fastidiously curated. So we have been a bit disillusioned to see it has only a 45.8Wh battery, smaller than the Dell XPS 13’s 52Wh, however Microsoft claims it nonetheless lasts for 11.5 hours.
You can belief laptop computer maker battery claims as a lot as the typical Tory MP, although, so we put it by means of some checks. Using it for nothing greater than writing docs appears to let the Surface Laptop 3 final a little bit over 10 hours. An hour of YouTube streaming took 9 p.c off the battery degree, once more suggesting it will final round 10 hours and alter with a recent cost.
With blended use, and leaving a bunch of browser home windows ticking away within the background as most of us do, you may anticipate the Surface Laptop 3 to final round eight hours. This is not the longest-lasting laptop computer round, but it surely meets the gold commonplace of all-day use.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop additionally has a cool charger, one impressed by Apple’s brilliant-but-binned MagSafe. It disconnects routinely when snagged, so your laptop computer is not dragged onto the ground should you journey over the cable.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 verdict
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 appears painfully plain on paper. There’s no second display, no graphics card, no hybrid hinge, and even no fingerprint scanner. But Microsoft has put a lot consideration to element into each half that issues, this finally ends up top-of-the-line Windows laptops at any worth.
Its construct is great, the keyboard is incredible, the display is nice and its uncommon audio system are up there with one of the best accessible in Windows laptops. There’s nothing showy right here, and a few rivals final a little bit longer between costs. But Microsoft has nailed the whole lot it has targeted on right here.