Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 Laptop Review
If you have used and loved the 13″ Intel processor-equipped Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, chances are that you’ll like the 15″ AMD Ryzen Processor version of the same laptop.
But if you’re getting the first taste of this laptop and its AMD chip that is the bee’s knees in processor technology, then you’ll most certainly love the little perks that come with it, that and the bigger screen too.
While the laptop’s computing performance gets a little shot in the arm, the battery will breathe fresh air and the fans now have a much easier job to do.
Other than that, this laptop can still count a decent build, better ergonomics, and a portable profile as some of its many big hits.
There are some big misses here though, like a port selection that is short on options, most especially the Thunderbolt port, as well as speakers that are screaming for an upgrade.
Design and Appearance
The laptop employs aluminum for its framework and options of matte black or silver/platinum for its color. It ditches the more feelsome Alcantara fabric design that we’ve come to like on the keyboard deck of its predecessors for a sturdier metallic provision, and it feels like a fair deal too.
What you get in return is a laptop that is solid across all of its parts, and classy looking too. The keyboard will not waver or flex, regardless of how hard you press on it. And when you flip the lid open with the use of a single finger, it will respond keenly with zero resistance and remain steadfast at any viewing position that you so desire.
Weighing in at about 3.4 pounds and thinning down to 0.5, it is a little over a pound heavier than the LG Gram 15, but a half-pound lighter than the 15″ Macbook Pro, and only marginally trimmer too.
Ports and Connection
Ports are the odd luxury that this laptop can not afford, and it is both surprising and disappointing, to say the least. What you get is the dated USB-A, as well as the USB-C port. The latter can be used to plug into external displays, for the transfer of data at speeds of 10Gps, and for charging too if you’re willing to stretch your luck.
The Surface Connect port is the designated charging provision, more so as it now comes with a fast-charging feature.
The wireless connectivity provision can not lay claims to faring any much better, with Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5 to call on.
Keyboard and Input devices
There’s very little to complain about the keyboard on this laptop, both in terms of layout and functionality. There’s sufficient travel on keys that are full-sized and well-spaced, to go with the decent feedback that results from a click.
The touchpad follows suit, with its silky and highly responsive surface making for ease of navigation and accuracy of inputs. There’s ample room to traverse the length and breadth of your web pages and spreadsheets, and precise cursor control to keep you in the right direction.
It can count superb tracking and Windows gesture support among its other highlights, as well as the capacity to discern between inadvertent palm contact and conscious inputs on its glassy surface.
Much like its 13″ counterpart, the 15″ surface still sites its speakers at the bottom panel of the laptop. The sounds that emerge will mostly not be in tune with the listening audience, and it speaks volumes about the premium, or lack thereof, that the laptop maker places on its audio department.
Speaking of volume, the Unisonic speakers have enough punch to fill a small room, but bass, highs, and lows are at a much lower wavelength.
With a resolution of 2,496 x 1,664 pixels on a 15″ screen, the display of this laptop is certainly not short on raw materials. Barring a black bar surround that barely impacts the screen’s 3:2 aspect ratio, there is plenty of color and detail to dot this screen.
The display is as bright and crisp as it can afford to be, enough to catch the eye at any turn. And as the viewing angles are equally impressive, there is sufficient clarity at any viewpoint that you settle for.
There is ample screen real-estate to cater to all your content creation and consumption needs, whether you’re scrolling down long web pages or word documents. And as it is a touchscreen, it gets plenty of pressure levels to boot, making it highly responsive to the slightest of touches.
It also comes with gesture support for all your multi-finger maneuvers, making for a quicker register of inputs.
Lastly, you’ll find a webcam and an infrared camera that grants access to the computer in the blink of an eye via a Windows Hello facial recognition provision.
Graphics and Gaming
The performance of the AMD Radeon RX integrated graphics card in this laptop is only marginally better than the Intel UHD provision in its Intel chip-equipped counterpart.
It doesn’t count for much still, seeing as this laptop can only do the basics in terms of graphic performance, picture editing, multimedia content streaming, and very light gaming, emphasis on light.
Any form of video editing or advanced graphic designing will be asking for too much, and the laptop will answer with spells of lags and stutter.
Gaming is a more delicate matter. You’ll have to meddle with your graphic settings and sacrifice some level of visual details to get anywhere near halfway decent frame rates for games like Borderlands 3 and Civilization vi.
Titles like League of Legends and Forza Horizon are better options. Even then, we can not guarantee that your gaming sessions will turn out devoid of incident.
Microsoft touts a significantly improved battery life as one of the major gains of using the AMD chip in this version of the Surface Laptop 3, but we’re not entirely convinced that that’s the case here. They project a runtime of about 11.5 hours and that in itself is a sticking point, with lots of ”buts” and ”ifs”.
But if you mostly use this laptop for light tasks, as with editing documents and video playback, with spells of idling in the mix, then you should be able to inch closer to the timeframe.
On a brighter note, the surface connect port should charge the laptop up to 80% in a little over an hour, impressive much.
Cooling and Noise Emission
This is one area, or two, where the Surface laptop 3 puts the competition in the shade, Macbook Pro, Dell XPS 9570, and the likes. The much-publicized energy efficiency of the AMD ryzen processor comes to play here, and it delivers some good returns.
And as it creates a serene workspace at the insides, it results in a cooler keyboard, bottom chassis, and other parts of the laptop.
As for the fans, they keep a low profile in the scheme of things for the most part. Even at the heat of processor-intensive activity, the fans will not whirl with whip and spur.
The processor options for this laptop start from the Ryzen 5 3580U processor to the upgrade that is the Ryzen 7 3780U chip, but it does not exactly deliver the ground-breaking performance that we expected.
The jury is out on the winner of a face-off between these AMD chips and their Core i5 and Core i7 processors, Intel-equipped counterparts. This is so as our review laptop does not deliver any surprises when it is put to the test.
It will still struggle with video editing and plod through most of your gaming sessions, but that is mostly down to the incapacity of its integrated graphics.
On the plus side, this laptop will chew up basic computing tasks like a piece of cake, word processing, picture editing, and hi-res video streaming.
Another area where it shines is multitasking. With tons of chrome tabs, hi-res video streams, and lengthy pages of word documents and spreadsheets all jostling for space on the 15″ screen, this laptop will remain largely unruffled.
Your web pages will load in no time and the boot-up time is quick as a wink. It is fair to say that the AMD chip does come with its benefits, even though it does not turn surface 3 into a workstation.
The 15″ Microsoft Surface laptop 3, Ryzen processor edition can not boast of very powerful specs or a record-setting performance. It is AMD’s debut into the Microsoft Surface laptop line, and it doesn’t exactly live up to its promise or make a great case for AMD in the perennial AMD versus Intel debate.
What it can do with relative ease is edit documents and photos, browse the web while streaming Hi-res content, and take a good shot at some light gaming.
It struggles to maximize the extra space that derives from its form factor.
Where it could have assembled more ports, featured a couple of top-firing speakers, or even fit in a Numpad, it instead settles for the very bare minimum.
The laptop has its moments too, and it borders on an improved energy efficiency that leads to decent battery performance and a more efficient cooling system. It remains to be seen if these are just enough to convince the average consumer.
2496 x 1664 pixels
AMD Ryzen 7 3780U
16 GB DDR4
512 GB flash memory solid state
AMD Radeon RX Vega 11
Windows 10 Home
13.4 x 9.6 x 0.57 inches