The Zimbabwean Perspective

A look at our lives and the tech we use in them


Microsoft Surface book 3: Not exactly a beast, but perfect for what it aims to be.

Not an overhaul, but still impressive…

Microsoft unveiled 2 new Surface computers yesterday in the form of the adorable and admirable Surface Go 2, and the much-anticipated mobile powerhouse, the new Surface Book 3. And well, we like it, but we’re not exactly in awe of it. And that says a lot about where the current laptop market is than Microsoft’s capability to make a compelling and impressive machine. In other word’s while it’s not an undisputed king of the hill like the Surface Book 2 was when it launched, it’s still well, a Surface. And you’re likely to fall in love with it as we dive into its specs below.
So, if the video above didn’t give you enough details allow us to give you the spec sheet below. Simply put, the Surface Book 3(in both its 13.5 and 15 inch variants) is essentially a spec bump on the Surface Book 2 , with a few additional upgrades in the form of studio mics for better recording for creatives, as well as a TPM 2.0 security chip meant to protect the computer from processor based vulnerabilities that Intel hasn’t exactly been great at plugging as of late. Not impressed yet? Fine, let’s start with the fact that this machine is a laptop tablet hybrid where the screen essentially splits off to be a fully functional tablet, comes with the industry leading surface pen that makes this machine an amazing digital canvas, an infrared camera for windows face unlock, great USB Type A and Type C support, and SD card reader and graphics cards that blur the line between productivity champion and full on gaming PC.
CategorySurface Book 3 (base configuration)Surface Book 3 (top configuartion)   
Starting price$1,599$2,699   
OSWindows 10Windows 10   
Display13.5-inch (3000 x 2000)13.5-inch (3000 x 2000)   
Pixels per inch267 ppi267 ppi   
Refresh rateUp to 60HzUp to 60Hz   
Aspect ratio3:23:2   
Dimensions12.3 x 9.14 inches12.3 x 9.14 inches   
Thickness0.90 inches0.90 inches   
Battery capacityClaims up to 15.5 hoursClaims up to 15.5 hours   
Processor1.2 GHz 10th-Gen quad-core Intel Core i5-1035G71.3 GHz 10th-Gen quad-core Intel Core i7-1065G7   
GraphicsIntegrated Intel Iris PlusNvidia GTX 1650 Max-Q with 4GB GDDR5 memory   
Storage256GB M.2 NVMe SSD1TB M.2 NVMe SSD   
PortsTwo USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, One USB-C, two Surface Connect ports, SDXC card readerTwo USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, One USB-C, two Surface Connect ports, SDXC card reader   
Rear camerasSingle 1080p lensSingle 1080p lens   
Front camerasSingle 1080p lensSingle 1080p lens   
BiometricsWindows HelloWindows Hello   
Power Adapter65W102W   
Wi-Fi 6YesYes   
3.5mm headphone jackYesYes
That’s obviously an impressive spec sheet, and makes the surface Book 3 the most versatile laptop on the planet . Except of course most of these features are in the Surface Book 2, so what else makes the 3 worth the upgrade. Well, power. The Surface Book line has always been as much about power as it’s been about versatility, and while the Book 3 isn’t the most powerful laptop coming out, it knows exactly the kind of Laptop it ants to be; powerful enough to do what it’s meant to. Both the 13.5 and 15 inch variants come with 10Th gen intel core i5 and i7 processors, 15W chips to be exact, due to the tablet part housing the processors and while these may be a slight drawback for some, they are still very powerful chips that deliver where developers , IT professionals , visual or graphical artists and even machine learning experts expect the most. In fact, where the CPUs might fall short a bit, the GPUs come out full force to essentially claim back the crown, with a GTX 1650 Super being found in the 13.5-inch model while a GTX 1660 Ti being found in the 15-inch machine. Both of these make the Book 3’s competent gaming machines, even if they lack the ray tracing aspect of the RTX cards, but considering that is still a niche feature, most people don’t seem to mind. Instead these cards will play pretty much any game you want at medium to high settings and handle all the graphical and video editing tasks you can throw at them. Then there’s the special NVIDIA Quadro card option for enterprise customers, which essentially ramps up the productivity workload capability and specializes at machine learning computations as well. In other words, further cementing this machine as the Surface PC for developers of all kinds. And with its versatility and power, it’s the surface PC with something for almost everyone else too.
So why are we less impressed than we should be? Well, as we’ve said before, the market. Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro can’t match this machine’s graphical power, but it’s a 45W intel 10th gen processor that can at the very least make those on the fence put at least one feather in Apple’s cap. But that machine get’s beaten in almost every other department. What doesn’t get beaten however are the slew of high end Windows gaming laptops, that offer higher power processors, the same or better graphics cards (albeit with the useless RTX function instead) , faster refresh rate screens and higher storage options as well (the Book 3 makes out at 2TB of SSD memory).  The upcoming dell XPS 15 and 17 also seem like they might want some of that challenger’s pie, especially since they might have 2 in 1 convertible variants that essentially match the Book 3’s tablet ability as well. Hence, the book 3 isn’t as much of a king as the Book 2 was, which essentially wiped the floor with everyone when it first arrived, but that’s a good thing. It means the Windows laptop market has finally matured to the point where even Microsoft wanted it to reach. It’s no longer just Surface Vs Mac out there. We have HP’s Specter line, Dell’s XPS line, Razer’s Blades, Lenovo’s C9 series and multiple other entries from companies all over the Windows ecosystem throwing their hat in the ring and what used to be a one on one match is an all-out brawl. That’s great for us consumers, as we get more choice, competitive pricing and unique features and form factors to fill our heart’s content. And besides, all the PCs I’ve talked about here have one or two things up against the Surface Book 3, but none match all it’s features and capabilities. And that still makes it arguably the most unique Windows laptop coming out this year, and hopefully I get my hands on it soon to test it in its full glory.

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