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Surface Laptop 3 review

The Surface Laptop 3 blends gorgeous design with some serious power - Apple better watch its back.

Surface Laptop 3 review
(Image: © Microsoft)

Our Verdict

The Surface Laptop 3 is one of the most versatile laptops we looked at. It's powerful, with a ton of options to configure it to your needs. It also looks gorgeous and has a real premium feel while costing less than you might expect.

For

  • Looks great
  • Powerful hardware
  • Cheaper than rivals

Against

  • Battery life is just OK

With Microsoft's Surface Laptop 3, the company has built on the stellar reputation of the Surface Laptop line, which - simply put - offers a Macbook-esque premium quality and feel for users who would rather opt for a Windows operating system.  As a result, the Surface Laptop 3 is easily one of the best laptops on the market.

With bundles of connectivity, great performance, and a thin and light form factor, it's hard not to recommend the 13-inch Surface Laptop 3. Especially when you consider the cutting edge features like USB-C fast-charging. 

There are two different Surface Laptop 3 models, the 13.5-inch Surface Laptop 3 we're writing about here, and the chunkier 15-inch model. We're talking about the 13.5-inch here, which - if you're not fussy about size - is the model we'd recommend.

Tech Specs

CPU:  10th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7
Memory: 8 to 32GB DDR4
Storage: 512GB SSD
Display: 13.5-inch touchscreen (2256 x 1504)
Graphics:  AMD Radeon Vega 9/Vega 11
Ports: 
1 x USB-C, 1 x USB-A, Audio out, Surface Connect port.
Dimensions: 
12.1” x 8.8” x .57”
Weight: 
Starting at 2.79 lbs
Operating System:  
Windows 10

Surface Laptop 3 review: Design

  • Gorgeous to look at
  • Optional Alcantara fabric on keyboard

The Surface Laptop 3 is a real looker. Like Apple's own MacBook Pro 2019 (our last comparison, we promise) the Laptop 3 is all sleek curves and aluminum, with a weight of 2.89 pounds that has it in the same weight class as Apple's offerings, too.  

The external look is pretty much the same as the Surface Laptop 2. As with its older sibling, it's also a sleek and simple aluminum clamshell design in a wedge shape. Package up a nice looking touchpad and some ports, and it's a looker, even if it's wearing last season's fashions. . 

However, there are a few key changes: the Alcantara fabric that the keyboard is mounted onto is now optional, depending on which color you choose: you have the chance of black or sandstone aluminum, a cobalt blue, or platinum Alcantara. 

Surface Laptop 3

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Whether you want it or not is up to you. The Alcantara looks and feels premium and it is a unique offering that sets the laptop apart from many others in the premium space. However, with our extensive time with the earlier Surface Laptop 2, we found that the Alcantara can get grubby over time, especially if you tend to be quite rough and ready with your devices. It's also something of a pain to clean if you're ever going to use it with dirty hands. If you want the premium feel you can still have it, but the option of a finish that's friendlier for cleaning is a giant boon.

Elsewhere, Microsoft has added a USB-C port to the laptop which can be used for connectivity but also to fast-charge the device.

Surface Laptop 3 review: Performance

  • 10th Gen Intel processor
  • SSD makes simple tasks a breeze

Pulling on our specs head for a bit, the $999 for the version of the Surface Laptop 3 gets you a 1.2GHz intel core i5-1034G7 CPU, 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. From there, it scales up all the way to a $2,399 offering with much beefier performance. 

What this means, generally, is that you're getting a top-end 10th Gen Intel processor, which should handle most everyday tasks without a second thought, while giving you a little bit of support for graphics too, although this isn't the sort of Laptop you should be getting if you want to work with video editing or play video games. 

Surface Laptop 3

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The SSD is pretty speedy, a big increase on the Surface Laptop 2's somewhat sluggish HDD, which should make things like booting the computer, moving files around or even just saving bigger projects much simpler: having a good SSD isn't sexy in the same way as a meaty processor or top of the range graphics card, but it's going to make a lot of annoying tasks a breeze, and just works in a way that makes the laptop satisfying to use. 

This all combines to create a machine that's going to handle everyday tasks without any trouble and is even capable of some basic gaming, although if gaming is what you want you should look at the Alienware m-15.

Surface Laptop 3 review: Battery Life

Battery life is decent, although it's not best in class, like the Huawei Matebook 13. Turn the laptop to flight mode and whack the brightness to a reasonable level and you could get around eight hours off of a new battery.

In the real world, this will translate to 5-6 hours of usage, roughly. It's a solid figure and should get you through a stint working in a coffee shop or even leaving your charger at home when coming into an office.

Surface Laptop 3

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Surface Laptop 3 review: Value for money 

At $999 (£999 in the UK), Microsoft's entry-level Surface Laptop 3 configuration is a fair bit cheaper than many of its rivals, while offering a similar setup. It's notably a few hundred dollars cheaper than Apple's MacBook Air, its most direct competitor. You're still paying a small premium for the look and style of the laptop, but it's in line with what you're getting elsewhere for the money. 

Should I buy the Surface Laptop 3?

The Surface Laptop 3 13.5-inch an excellent thin and light laptop. If you're looking at upgrading from an older model or need an ultra-portable Windows 10 laptop, then you'd be foolish not to consider the 13.5-inch Surface Laptop 3. For a work machine, for using around the house, or even for light creative work, this is spot on. Pick a finish that works for you, and enjoy.