Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 (2019) Laptop Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Nov 22, 2021 at 10:37 am
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 (2019) Picture
7.5
School
5.4
Gaming
7.8
Multimedia
5.7
Workstation
7.2
Business
Size
15"
Operating System
Windows 10
CPU
AMD Ryzen 5 3580U
GPU
AMD Radeon Vega 9 Graphics
RAM
8 GB
Storage
128 GB

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 (2019) is an exceptionally well-built laptop with a full aluminum chassis. It has a sharp and well-calibrated display with a 3:2 aspect ratio, which gives you more vertical screen real estate so that you don't have to scroll as much when viewing documents. The keyboard is comfortable to type on and easy to adapt to, the touchpad is large and responsive, and the webcam's video quality is outstanding. Its AMD Ryzen CPU can handle light productivity tasks, like web browsing, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations, but it struggles in demanding workloads. Also, it isn't ideal for any graphically intensive tasks because there's no option for a dedicated GPU. Sadly, the battery doesn't last a full 8-hour workday, and there are very few ports. 

Our Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 has an AMD Ryzen 5 3580U Microsoft Surface Edition CPU with Radeon Vega 9 integrated graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. You can upgrade to the AMD Ryzen 7 3780U if you need more processing power, though the increase in performance isn't significant. You can get a Surface Laptop 3 with an Intel 10th Gen CPU, but only on the 13.5 inch model because the 15 inch Intel models are only available for businesses. You can configure the memory up to 16GB and the storage up to 1TB.

Our Verdict

7.5 School

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 is good for students. It has a full aluminum chassis that feels exceptionally well-built, and it's very portable due to its thin profile. The keyboard is comfortable to type on for long periods, the touchpad is responsive, and the display is large enough for split-screen multitasking. Unfortunately, the battery doesn't last very long, so you'll likely have to carry the power adapter with you. Its AMD Ryzen CPU can handle light tasks like word formatting and web browsing, but it isn't ideal for demanding workloads like 3D modeling or graphic design.

Pros
  • Sharp and bright display.
  • Large touchpad and comfortable keyboard.
  • Easy to carry around due to thin profile.
  • Outstanding build quality with full aluminum chassis.
Cons
  • Poor port selection.
  • Short battery life for productivity.
5.4 Gaming

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 is inadequate for gaming. It's only available with low-power processors designed for ultraportable laptops with integrated graphics, so it isn't powerful enough to run any graphically demanding titles. Also, while it doesn't get too hot or loud, there's a fair amount of performance loss when performing demanding tasks for an extended period. The display is limited to 60Hz and has a slow response time, but it supports FreeSync variable refresh rate to reduce screen tearing, which is rare for a productivity-focused thin and light laptop.

Pros
  • Doesn't get overly hot or loud under load.
  • Variable refresh rate support.
Cons
  • Throttles under load.
  • CPU and integrated GPU not powerful enough for demanding workloads.
  • Few user-replaceable parts.
  • 60Hz display and slow response time.
7.8 Multimedia

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 is good for media consumption. It has a sharp and bright screen that's exceptionally well-calibrated out of the box, so it displays images with accurate and natural-looking colors. Its taller 3:2 aspect ratio means you'll have black bars at the top and bottom in most content. Battery life is decent for video playback, enough to get you through a couple of TV show episodes on a full charge. The speakers are only okay because they sound treble-heavy, and they don't get very loud.

Pros
  • Sharp and bright display.
  • Easy to carry around due to thin profile.
  • Superb color accuracy out of the box.
  • Decent battery life for video playback.
Cons
  • No wide gamut support for HDR content.
  • Speakers sound quiet and treble-heavy.
5.7 Workstation

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 is sub-par for use as a workstation. Its AMD Ryzen U-series processor and integrated GPU can't handle demanding workloads, and they also throttle under load. It has very few ports, and because its single USB-C doesn't support Thunderbolt, you can't plug in an external GPU for better graphical performance. The SSD is a bit slow when writing large files, but thankfully, it's user-replaceable.

Pros
  • Doesn't get overly hot or loud under load.
Cons
  • Throttles under load.
  • CPU and integrated GPU not powerful enough for demanding workloads.
  • Poor port selection.
  • Few user-replaceable parts.
7.2 Business

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 is decent for business use. It feels exceptionally well-built, and even with a fairly large 15 inch display, it's still very portable because it's very thin. The keyboard is comfortable to type on, the touchpad is large and responsive, and the webcam's video quality is outstanding. Unfortunately, its port selection is limited, and the battery doesn't last a full 8-hour workday. Its AMD Ryzen CPU can handle light productivity tasks, like Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations, but it isn't powerful enough for demanding workloads like video editing.

Pros
  • Sharp and bright display.
  • Large touchpad and comfortable keyboard.
  • Easy to carry around due to thin profile.
  • Outstanding build quality with full aluminum chassis.
Cons
  • CPU and integrated GPU not powerful enough for demanding workloads.
  • Poor port selection.
  • Short battery life for productivity.
  • Few user-replaceable parts.
  • 7.5 School
  • 5.4 Gaming
  • 7.8 Multimedia
  • 5.7 Workstation
  • 7.2 Business
  1. Updated Nov 22, 2021: Review published.
  2. Updated Nov 18, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
Form Factor
Traditional (Clamshell)

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 inch has a minimalist and premium design. The bezels are a little thick compared to other similar premium devices on the market, but they're under the glass and aren't distracting. There are airflow vents on the back, but there aren't any speaker grills because the sound comes through the keyboard. It's available in two colors, Platinum and Matte Black. Many users have commented that the Matte Black variant is a fingerprint magnet, but that doesn't seem to be the case with the Platinum model. The 15 inch model isn't available with the Alcantara keyboard deck; it's only on the 13.5 inch model.

9.5
Design
Build Quality

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 feels exceptionally well-built. It has a full aluminum chassis that feels solid, with almost no flex in the display or keyboard deck. The touchpad is glass and feels high quality as well.

9.1
Design
Hinge
Range
140°
Stability
Good
One Finger Lift
Yes

The hinge is outstanding. It's very sturdy, so the screen doesn't wobble much, but you can still open the laptop easily with one finger. Although the display is touch-sensitive, it isn't a 2-in-1 laptop, meaning you can't flip it around for use as a tablet.

8.5
Design
Portability
Thickness
0.6" (1.5 cm)
Width
13.4" (34.0 cm)
Depth
9.6" (24.4 cm)
Volume
74.3 in³ (1,216.9 cm³)
Weight
3.4 lbs (1.5 kg)
Charger Size
6.9 in³ (112.5 cm³)
Charger Weight
0.6 lbs (0.3 kg)

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 is very portable. It's quite thin, so it doesn't feel bulky even though it has a 15 inch screen. The power adapter is compact and should fit into most bags.

4.3
Design
Serviceability
Ease Of Access
4.5
RAM Slots
0
Storage Slots
1
Replaceable Battery
Yes
Replaceable Wireless Adapter
No

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3's serviceability is poor. Opening the device is relatively easy, but you have to remove the feet to gain access to the Torx screws holding the laptop together, and it's almost impossible to remove the feet without breaking them. Once inside, only the storage and battery are user-replaceable, and removing the storage drive disconnects the battery automatically. Opening the laptop and making changes to the hardware may void the manufacturer's warranty.

Design
In The Box

  • Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 inch
  • 65W power adapter
  • Documentation

Display
Display
Screen Specs
Resolution
2496 x 1664
Aspect Ratio
3:2
Pixel Density
199 PPI
Panel Type
IPS
Touch Screen
Yes
Screen-To-Body Ratio
81%

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 inch has a large screen that displays a very sharp image. The uncommon resolution is due to the display's 3:2 aspect ratio, which gives you more vertical space so that you don't have to scroll as much when viewing documents. The bezels are slightly thicker than other premium thin and light laptops of its class, but they aren't distracting.

7.0
Display
Refresh Rate
Refresh Rate
60 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
FreeSync

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 supports variable refresh rate technology to reduce screen tearing when gaming, rare for a productivity-focused laptop. However, it's still limited to 60Hz, and it also has a slow response time causing visible ghosting, which isn't ideal for gaming or viewing fast-moving content.

7.7
Display
Contrast
Native Contrast
1,589 : 1

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 has a good contrast ratio. It's better than most IPS panels, but it's still not good enough to produce deep blacks like a VA or OLED panel. The Surface Laptop 3 has an adaptive contrast feature, but we disabled it for testing. The contrast ratio can vary between individual units.

8.0
Display
Brightness
Maximum Brightness
401 cd/m²
Minimum Brightness
4 cd/m²

The screen brightness is great. It's bright enough for use in most settings, but just barely sufficient for outdoors or in direct sunlight.

6.2
Display
Reflections
Screen Finish
Glossy
Total Reflections
5.9%
Indirect Reflections
0.572%
Calculated Direct Reflections
5.33%

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3's reflection handling is mediocre. Direct reflections are visible and somewhat distracting, even with the screen at max brightness.

7.5
Display
Black Uniformity
Uniformity (Std. Dev.)
1.022%

Our Microsoft Surface laptop 3 15 inch has good black uniformity. There's a tiny amount of backlight bleed at the bottom edge and some minor clouding here and there, which are only visible when viewing dark scenes in a dark room. Black uniformity can vary between individual units.

6.4
Display
Horizontal Viewing Angle
Color Washout From Left
26°
Color Washout From Right
29°
Color Shift From Left
24°
Color Shift From Right
31°
Brightness Loss From Left
33°
Brightness Loss From Right
31°
Black Level Raise From Left
60°
Black Level Raise From Right
60°
Gamma Shift From Left
19°
Gamma Shift From Right
28°

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3's horizontal viewing angles are passable. Image quality degrades relatively quickly when moving off-center. That said, you can still share the screen with someone else as long as you don't need perfect accuracy.

6.1
Display
Vertical Viewing Angle
Color Washout From Below
25°
Color Washout From Above
22°
Color Shift From Below
24°
Color Shift From Above
25°
Brightness Loss From Below
28°
Brightness Loss From Above
24°
Black Level Raise From Below
45°
Black Level Raise From Above
45°
Gamma Shift From Below
22°
Gamma Shift From Above
19°

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 inch has mediocre vertical viewing angles. You have to look at the screen almost directly to get the best image accuracy, limiting the range you can tilt the screen.

9.8
Display
Out-Of-The-Box Color Accuracy
Avg. White Balance dE
1.53
Avg. Gamma
2.18
Avg. Color dE
0.72
Avg. Color Temperature
6,613 K

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 has superb color accuracy out o the box. The small amount of color and white balance inaccuracies aren't noticeable to the naked eye. The gamma follows the sRGB curve almost perfectly, with only very dark scenes appearing slightly over-brightened. The color temperature is cooler than our 6500K target, but that small difference isn't noticeable. There are two color profiles: 'Enhanced' and 'sRGB'. 'Enhanced' is the default profile and covers a slightly wider color space than the standard sRGB. We performed the color accuracy test in the 'sRGB' color profile. Color accuracy can vary between individual units.

8.3
Display
Color Gamut
sRGB xy
99.6%
sRGB uv
99.08%
Adobe RGB xy
74.38%
Adobe RGB uv
85.14%
DCI P3 xy
74.16%
DCI P3 uv
79.51%
Rec. 2020 xy
53.22%
Rec. 2020 uv
57.96%

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 inch has a great color gamut. It covers the entire sRGB color space, which means it can accurately reproduce all the colors used in most web content. Its Adobe RGB coverage is excellent, but it's still a little too low for professional-grade work. It has good DCI P3 coverage; however, its Rec. 2020 coverage is much more limited and doesn't meet our threshold to be considered a wide color gamut, so it isn't ideal for viewing HDR content.

10
Display
Flicker
Flicker-Free
Yes
Flicker Frequency
No Flicker
Flicker Active Below
0%

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3's backlight is entirely flicker-free, which helps reduce eye strain for some people.

Interface
8.1
Interface
Keyboard
Typing Quality
8.0
Numpad
No
Backlighting
Adjustable
Operating Force
64 gf
Actuation Force
38 gf
Pre-Travel
0.92 mm
Total Travel
1.4 mm

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 has a great keyboard. It's comfortable to type on and easy to adapt to because the keys are well-spaced, have a good amount of travel, and don't require much force to actuate. The backlight has eleven brightness levels that you can adjust with the function keys.

8.7
Interface
Touchpad
Tracking Quality
9.0
Size
13.7 in² (88.6 cm²)
Material
Glass
Dedicated Buttons
No

The touchpad is excellent. It's large and smooth, and it tracks movements and gestures well. Palm rejection is very good, and you can click anywhere on the touchpad.

6.9
Interface
Speakers
Max Volume
70 dB SPL
Standard Error @ Normal Vol. (65 dB)
5.5 dB
Slope @ Normal Vol. (65 dB)
1.4
Bass Extension (Low-Frequency Ext.)
250 Hz
Treble Extension (High-Frequency Ext.)
14 kHz
Dynamic Range Compression @ Max Vol.
3.2 dB

The speakers are passable. There aren't any speaker grills on the laptop, so the sound actually comes through the keyboard. The overall sound is treble-heavy as there's almost no bass, and they don't get very loud.

8.7
Interface
Webcam & Microphone
Video Quality
9.0
Resolution
720p
Position
Top Center
Privacy Cover
No
Face Unlock
Yes

The Microsoft Surface 3 15 has an excellent webcam. Even though it's limited to a 720p resolution, it picks up a lot of fine details, with good color reproduction and minimal noise. The microphone sounds clear and natural, with very little noise in the background.

Connectivity
4.5
Connectivity
Ports
USB-A Ports
1
USB-C Ports
1
Thunderbolt
No
USB-C Charging
Yes
USB-C Display Out
Yes
HDMI
No
DisplayPort
No
3.5mm Jack
Combo mic/headphone
Card Reader
No
Ethernet
No
Proprietary Port
Surface Connect
Security Lock
No

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 has a poor selection of ports. The single USB-C port supports charging, video output, and USB 3.2 Gen 2 data transfer speed (up to 10Gbps). The USB-A supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 as well. It also has a proprietary Surface Connect port, Microsoft's implementation of a magnetic charging port to lessen the chances that the laptop gets pulled off a table should you accidentally trip on the cord. The Surface Connect port also supports the Surface Dock and Surface Dock 2, which are hubs with various ports, that you can buy separately.

Connectivity
Wireless Communication
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac)
Bluetooth
5.0

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3's wireless adapter is a Qualcomm Atheros QCA61.

Configuration
Configuration
CPU
Brand
AMD
Model
Ryzen 5 3580U
Core Count
4
Thread Count
8

The AMD Ryzen 5 3580U in our Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 is the base CPU configuration for the 15 inch model. It's a four-core, eight-thread processor based on AMD's Ryzen 5 3500U, but with some improvements and optimizations for the Surface Laptop 3. It can handle general productivity tasks without issues, like web browsing, word formatting, and Excel spreadsheets. You can do some light photo editing with it, but it'll struggle in very demanding workloads like physics simulation or 3D modeling. The only other CPU option is the AMD Ryzen 7 3780U, which has the same number of cores and threads, but it runs at higher clock speeds. It'll feel snappier than the Ryzen 5 in general, though the performance difference isn't noticeable unless you perform extremely demanding tasks that push the CPU utilization to near 100%.

There are 15 inch models with Intel 10th Gen CPUs (Core i5-1035G7 and Core i7-1065G7). They perform significantly better than their respective AMD counterparts in single-thread workloads, but they're slightly behind in multi-thread workloads. Unfortunately, you can only buy the 15 inch Intel models through a business account. For general consumers, the Intel CPUs are only available on the 13.5 inch models of the Surface laptop 3.

Configuration
GPU
Brand
AMD
Model
Radeon Vega 9 Graphics
Dedicated/Integrated
Integrated
VRAM Size
N/A

The AMD Ryzen 5 3580U has Radeon Vega 9 Graphics, while the AMD Ryzen 7 3780U has Radeon RX Vega 11 Graphics. They're both integrated GPUs designed for relatively light workloads, with roughly the same performance as an NVIDIA MX150. The Radeon RX Vega 11 performs better than the Radeon Vega 9 because it has two more compute units and a slightly higher clock speed, but the difference is negligible in most uses.

Configuration
RAM
Capacity
8 GB
Modules
2 (Soldered)
Type
DDR4
Speed
2,400 MHz

You can get the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 with 8GB or 16GB of RAM. 8GB should be enough for most people doing light productivity tasks, but it might be worth going up to 16GB if you tend to have a lot of apps or browser tabs open simultaneously.

Configuration
Storage
Advertised Capacity
128 GB
Usable Capacity
74 GB
Drive 1
SKHynix HFM128GDGTNG-87A0A
Drive 1 Type SSD
Drive 2
No 2nd Drive
Drive 2 Type No 2nd Drive

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 has four storage configurations: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB. All options are solid-state drives, and you can also upgrade the storage yourself after purchase.

Performance
4.9
Performance
Geekbench 5 (Synthetics)
CPU Single-Thread
478 points
CPU Multi-Thread
3,073 points
GPU Compute
11,953 points

Our unit's AMD Ryzen 5 3580U scores poorly in the Geekbench 5 synthetic benchmarks. It's particularly slow in the single-thread test, with performance closer to an Intel Celeron processor. Its multi-thread performance is better and more in line with a U-series CPU, like the Intel Core i5-1035G1 in the Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020). It's still powerful enough to handle general productivity tasks but not demanding workloads like 3D modeling. Its GPU compute score is also poor, which is expected for an integrated GPU. The AMD Ryzen 7 3780U will perform better overall, but not significantly so.

6.9
Performance
Cinebench R23 (CPU Rendering)
Single-Thread
945 points
Multi-Thread
3,905 points

The Ryzen 5 3580U performs reasonably well in the Cinebench R23 benchmarks. Its single-thread performance is decent and comparable to an Intel Core i5-1035G1, a similar U-series processor designed for thin and light laptops. Its multi-thread rendering performance is just okay, performing similarly to the 4-core, 8-thread Intel Core i7-1165G7. The AMD Ryzen 7 3780U will perform better overall because it has higher clock speeds, but it's still limited to the same number of cores and threads, so its multi-thread performance increase won't be significant.

4.4
Performance
Blender (3D Rendering)
CPU Render Time
9.4 min
GPU Render Time
11.2 min
GPU Render Time (Optix)
N/A

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 performs poorly in Blender's 3D rendering test. It takes almost ten minutes to render the simple bmw27 scene with the CPU and even longer with the GPU. If you need to do 3D rendering work in Blender, you're better off with a laptop that has a dedicated GPU, like the Dell Alienware m15 R3 (2020).

3.9
Performance
Basemark GPU (Game Scene)
Overall Score
9,566

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 inch performs badly in the Basemark GPU benchmark. This level of GPU performance is good enough for some light puzzle games or older titles that aren't as graphically demanding, but it's nowhere near powerful enough for AAA titles.

8.2
Performance
Storage Drive Performance
Sequential Write Speed
409.3 MB/s
Sequential Read Speed
1,156.1 MB/s
Random Write Speed
49.9 MB/s
Random Read Speed
31.6 MB/s

The Microsoft Surface Laptop's storage drive performance is great; however, it's still somewhat slow compared to the SSDs in other laptops of its class, like the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, Late 2020). The system boots up and launches apps quickly, but it's slow to write large files. The speed of the SSD may vary depending on the size, as larger SSDs tend to perform better.

6.1
Performance
Battery
Capacity
46 Wh
Battery Life (Web Browsing)
6.6 hrs
Battery Life (Video Playback)
5.8 hrs
Battery Life (Gaming)
2.7 hrs
Charge Time
2.3 hrs

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 has mediocre battery life. It doesn't last a full 8-hour workday of web browsing and light productivity, but it performs decently for video playback, enough to get through a couple of TV show episodes. Battery life while gaming is outstanding, but keep in mind that it only has an integrated GPU, which consumes significantly less power than a dedicated one. The 65W power adapter charges the laptop very quickly, getting it from 0% to 80% in an hour. The power adapter has a USB-A port if you need to charge your smartphone or peripherals. Battery life varies greatly depending on usage.

1.4
Performance
Borderlands 3
Avg. FPS
9 fps
1% Low
4 fps
0.1% Low
2 fps
1% Low Delta
140 ms
0.1% Low Delta
334 ms
Avg. FPS On Very Low
48 fps

Borderlands 3 runs terribly on the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 inch at high graphical settings. The Radeon Vega 9 integrated GPU only manages to push out frames in the single digits on average, with frequent stutters. It can get over 30fps at the lowest settings, but it's still pretty choppy, which isn't ideal for an FPS game. The Radeon RX Vega 11 Graphics on the Ryzen 7 3780U will perform a little better, though not by much.

3.7
Performance
Civilization VI
Avg. FPS
19 fps
1% Low
10 fps
0.1% Low
6 fps
1% Low Delta
50 ms
0.1% Low Delta
117 ms
Avg. FPS On Minimum
76 fps
Avg. Turn Time
9.21 s

Civilization VI runs terribly on the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3. Although it's a turn-based game that doesn't require fast reaction time, it's still too choppy at high settings. However, you can get a much better experience if you drop the settings to minimum. The turn time is not bad; it's within the same ballpark as other U-series CPUs, like the Intel Core i5-1035G1 in the Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020). The AMD Ryzen 7 3780U will only perform slightly better, but it isn't enough to make much difference.

5.5
Performance
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Avg. FPS
52 fps
1% Low
26 fps
0.1% Low
20 fps
1% Low Delta
19 ms
0.1% Low Delta
31 ms
Avg. FPS On Low
99 fps

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 can achieve decent frame rates at high settings in CS:GO, but it stutters a lot, with the frame rate regularly dropping into the 20s. It's much more playable if you lower the settings to minimum, though you might still see some choppiness here and there. The AMD Ryzen 7 3780U's Vega 11 Graphics will likely get you to a more stable 60fps at high settings.

1.9
Performance
Shadow Of The Tomb Raider
Avg. FPS
12 fps
1% Low
3 fps
0.1% Low
1 fps
1% Low Delta
313 ms
0.1% Low Delta
928 ms
Avg. FPS On Lowest
23 fps

Shadow of the Tomb Raider isn't playable with high graphical settings. The average frame rate is very low, with frequent drops into the single digits, causing noticeable stutters. It can't even reach an average of 30fps at the lowest settings. The AMD Ryzen 7 3780U's Vega 11 Graphics will perform a little better, but still not enough to make the game playable.

7.3
Performance
Thermals And Noise
Keyboard Temp While Idle
32 °C (89 °F)
Keyboard Temp Under Load
45 °C (113 °F)
Fan Noise While Idle
25.0 dBA
Fan Noise Under Load
46.0 dBA
Power & Fan Control App
No

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 has decent thermal and noise performance. The keyboard deck is a bit warm even when idle, but it's far from being uncomfortable. It does get pretty toasty under load, though, with the hottest part being around the letters Y and U. The heat also extends to the left side of the keyboard, around the letter W. The fan is only audible under load, producing a high-pitch whine, but it isn't annoying.

6.3
Performance
Performance Over Time
CPU Temp (Cinebench)
66 °C
CPU Perf. Loss (Cinebench)
10% loss
GPU Temp (Heaven)
61 °C
GPU Perf. Loss (Heaven)
12% loss

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3's performance over time is mediocre. Both the CPU and GPU throttle, even though their temperatures are relatively low. However, the amount of performance loss isn't significant and is only noticeable when performing demanding workloads with near 100% CPU and GPU utilization.

Additional Features And Software
Additional Features And Software
Software
Operating System
Windows 10
Additional Software
Yes

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 inch comes with Microsoft Office (30-day trial) and Spotify pre-installed. It's normal for Surface products to have very little bloatware because it's first-party hardware.

Additional Features And Software
Extra Features
RGB Illumination
No
Touch Pen
No
Secondary Display
No
Biometrics
Face Recognition

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 supports Windows Hello, allowing you to log in via facial recognition. It also supports pen input; there's a first-party Surface Pen (sold separately), though any third-party styluses that use the Microsoft Pen Protocol should work.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

We tested the 15 inch Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 equipped with an AMD Ryzen 5 3580U CPU, AMD Radeon Vega 9 Graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. The CPU, memory, and storage are configurable; you can see the options in the table below.

There's a 13.5 inch Surface Laptop 3 as well as variants equipped with Intel 10th Gen CPUs; however, there are certain limitations. For general consumers, the 13.5 inch Surface Laptop 3 is only available with Intel 10th Gen CPUs, whereas the 15 inch model is only available with AMD Ryzen CPUs. There are 15 inch models with Intel CPUs, but you can only purchase them if you have a business account with Microsoft.

Screen
  • 15" IPS 2496 x 1664 60Hz touchscreen
CPU
  • AMD Ryzen 5 3580U Microsoft Surface Edition (4 cores/8 threads, 2.1GHz to 3.7GHz)
  • AMD Ryzen 7 3780U Microsoft Surface Edition (4 cores/8 threads, 2.3GHz to 4.0GHz)
GPU
  • Radeon Vega 9 Graphics Microsoft Surface Edition (integrated - Ryzen 5 3580U)
  • Radeon RX Vega 11 Graphics Microsoft Surface Edition (integrated - Ryzen 7 3780U)
Memory
  • 8GB DDR4 2400MHz
  • 16GB DDR4 2400MHz
Storage
  • 128GB SSD
  • 256GB SSD
  • 512GB SSD
  • 1TB SSD
Color
  • Platinum
  • Matte Black

Our display and performance results are only valid for the configuration that we tested. If you come across a different configuration option not listed above, or you have a similar Surface Laptop 3 15 inch that doesn't correspond to our review, let us know, and we'll update it. Some tests, like black uniformity and color accuracy, may vary between individual units.

You can see our unit's label here.

Compared To Other Laptops

Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020)

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 (2019) and the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) are both premium thin and light laptops. The main differences between them have to do with the operating system, CPU performance, and battery life. The Surface Laptop 3 runs Windows, while the MacBook Air 13 runs macOS. The MacBook Air 13's M1 SoC performs significantly better than the AMD Ryzen 5 3580U in almost all aspects, and because it's more power-efficient, the MacBook Air 13 has much longer battery life. The MacBook Air 13 also has a better wide gamut display with full DCI P3 coverage, whereas the Surface Laptop 3 only has full sRGB coverage.

HP ENVY x360 13 (2020)

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 (2019) and the HP ENVY x360 13 (2020) are thin and light Windows laptops, with the main difference being that the ENVY x360 is a 2-in-1 convertible that can be used as a tablet. The ENVY x360 is better overall because it's available with newer and more powerful CPUs, has longer battery life, and doesn't get as hot our loud under load. The ENVY x360 also has more ports, a faster storage drive, and it can be configured with a much brighter screen to combat glare. On the other hand, the Surface Laptop 3 has a much better touchpad and webcam, and it feels significantly better built.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 (2020)

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 (2019) and the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 (2020) are thin and light productivity-focused laptops. However, the IdeaPad Flex 5 is a 2-in-1 convertible, whereas the Surface Laptop 3 is a traditional clamshell laptop. For the most part, the Surface Laptop 3 provides a better user experience because it has a larger, brighter, and more color-accurate display, a better touchpad, and a significantly better webcam. On the other hand, the IdeaPad Flex 5's battery can last much longer, and unlike the Surface Laptop 3, it doesn't throttle under load.

Google Pixelbook Go (2019)

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 (2019) and the Google Pixelbook Go (2019) are thin and light ultraportable laptops. However, they're quite different because the Surface Laptop 3 runs Windows, while the Pixelbook Go runs Chrome OS. This means that the Surface Laptop 3 can run full x86 applications like Adobe Premiere, whereas the Pixelbook Go is limited to web apps, Android apps, and Linux apps. The Surface Laptop 3 has a larger display and a better keyboard, but its battery life is significantly shorter than the Pixelbook Go's.

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