So this is the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3! This is the 15-inch version. A size or form factor that I’ve always wanted on the Surface lineup. But the problem is when Microsoft announced it. They announced it with an AMD processor.
Now, I have nothing against AMD. They make fantastic desktop processors. In fact, I use one myself to edit video almost every single day. They’re beating out Intel in the desktop market right now for processors that run faster for a lower price point. But in the laptop market, their CPUs are not as good as the Intel equivalents. And it’s not going to be as good for another year or two when they release their new architecture.
When I tested this Surface Laptop 3, it ran fine with everyday use. But if you’re using specific applications. The AMD processor is actually a drawback over a slower Intel equivalent. For example, if I’m using Adobe Premiere and I want to make a quick couple of changes on my video work. You can’t traverse the timeline on this. It’s just way too slow!
You’re dropping way too many frames, and my 4k render test took me an hour and a half to render that video, compared to an 8th Gen i5 from Last year. Which only took 30 minutes on the Intel version. Now, I know Intel has the advantage of using quick-sync and integrated graphics to speed up the process. But this has Vega 9, and a Vega 9 chip is supposed to be faster than last year’s Intel’s GPU.
The problem is mostly to do with AMD and Adobe not having the optimizations to make these applications work better. The next area is compiling code the CPU here has four cores, they’re quite capable. But if you’re compiling code, it takes a lot longer on this laptop then an i5 Intel version on let’s say a Macbook Pro 13. It took me an hour and 20 minutes to compile Mozilla Firefox compared to 47 minutes on an i5 MacBook Pro.
Now, if you’re just buying Surface Laptop 3 for like regular productivity work like. You know, using Adobe Photoshop or maybe you’re doing some Microsoft Office or Google Docs, this thing is excellent. Like it runs fine, never had any stutters or problems, it’s nice and smooth. It’s just when you start making things up to an intense level with specific applications, that’s when you’re gonna notice the little hiccups.
Now I decided to test out some gaming on this laptop just to see how capable the Vega 9 is. And I was able to play Overwatch comfortably with settings set to 1920 by 1200 with the resolution set to low. If you’re curious, how powerful this GPU is. It’s a little bit stronger than MX150, the 15-watt version. But not as powerful as the 25 watt MX150 found in something like the Razor Blade Stealth 2019.
Now with a performance out of the way, I want to talk about this display because it is absolutely stunning. Not only do you have good color accuracy, but it’s also bright, it’s big, and because it’s using a 3:2 aspect ratio, it’s perfect for productivity. If you’ve only been using 16:9 monitors for your entire life and you mostly work on them. Trust me to try a monitor with 3:2, it will completely change your life. You have more vertical space to work with, which feels a lot more natural when you’re browsing a web page, and working inside of a document.
Windows hello is insanely fast now. It feels as fast as a smartphone login. The camera, it’s only 720p, which is kind of unfortunate because the Surface Pro 6 or 7, and even the Surface Book, both use 1080p cameras. Now is it a bad 720p camera? It’s fine. I think most people would be happy with it for video conferencing. The keyboard is another area that they improved. It feels super comfortable to type on not as soft as the previous generation. There’s a lot more force to the click. It’s just a really enjoyable typing experience.
The improvements they made are exceptional, and I wish like companies like Apple would take some notes. There’s Backlighting so you can work in the dark. Unfortunately, there’s no Numpad, so that might be a deal-breaker for number crunchers.
Touchpad! So good, like I’m talking about on par, almost on par with a MacBook Pro touchpad. Like they did an excellent job optimizing the windows precision drivers. Battery life could be better, only six hours and 30 minutes before needing to charge. Now, it does have fast charging. You can top this up fairly quickly, but for 2019 standards, a lot of ultrabooks are lasting anywhere from 8 to 12 hours. And I think one of the reasons is because of the battery size, it’s only a 45-watt hour battery inside of here. I know they’re using a 15-watt processor, but still, 45 is a little bit too small.
Repairability was also a big deal like last year’s laptop. Forget about it was really tough to get inside. This year you can do it. It’s a lot easier to get inside of there. You can swap out the SSD and make a few changes. RAM and everything else are still soldered onto the motherboard. Now before I wrap this up, two other things I want you to let you know.
The pen works with this, so if you want to draw or sketch on this, not an issue. Microsoft Pen works with this display. And two, the Wi-Fi card in here is not as good as the Wi-Fi card that’s inside of the 13-inch version. It’s only AC, not Wi-Fi 6. So here’s the bottom line, The Microsoft Surface laptop 3 15-inch is a beautiful, well-designed laptop. But the performance suffers because of the AMD CPU. I think if you’re looking for the most performance out of a surface laptop. You’re better off buying the 13-inch version. However, if you just want a surface laptop for general productivity. This is more than capable if you don’t mind the mediocre battery life.
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