Microsoft Surface Book 3: What to Expect (And What We Want)

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It’s not a shock that the Surface Book 2 has been overshadowed by the Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2. And that’s because Microsoft decided not to update it’s most powerful 2-in-1 for 2018.

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But that should change in 2019. 

The benefit of the Surface Book’s detachable design is that you get a full-fledged laptop, complete with discrete graphics in the base. There’s no awkward kickstand here. When you want a tablet, you simply remove the 13.5-inch screen from the base.

surface-book-2-13in-take-off

However, now that the Surface Book 2 is really starting to show its age, it’s time for Microsoft to upgrade this system or revamp it. Here’s what to expect from the Surface Book 3 — and what we want.

Surface Book 3 Release Date

The 13-inch and 15-inch Surface Book 2 went on sale in November of 2017, so it’s possible the Surface Book 3 won’t debut until the fall of 2019.

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But it’s also been a very long time since Microsoft upgraded this system, so the company could move up the timetable to take advantage of newer processors and graphics.

Surface Book 3 Price

The 13-inch Surface Book 2 starts at $1,499 ($1,299 on sale), while the 15-inch model costs $2,299 with a Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. That model comes with Nvidia graphics.

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If you want Nvidia graphics on the 13.5-inch model, it costs $1,799. We expect the 2019 pricing for the Surface Book 3 to be in line with current pricing for the Surface Book 2.

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Whiskey Lake or Ice Lake?

Intel’s latest 14-nanometer processor, Whiskey Lake, is finally hitting Windows laptops, promising a mild performance boost. But the much faster 10-nanometer Intel Ice Lake chip is on the horizon, perhaps for late 2019 or early 2020, so it’s possible it could land in the Surface Book 2 if Microsoft decides to ship towards the end of next year.

Next-gen Nvidia Turing graphics

The 13.5-inch Surface Book 2 comes with Intel integrated graphics on the Core i5 model and Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics on the Core i7 model. The 15-inch Surface Book 2 steps that up to 1060 graphics.

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Nvidia has debuted next-gen GPUs with Turing architecture, and the higher-end RTX 2080 Ti, 2080 and 2070 chips are available in powerful gaming PCs. So it’s possible GTX 2060 and 2050 cards will be out in time for the Surface Book 3 launch.

Thunderbolt 3

Although Microsoft added USB-C to the 13.5-inch and 15-inch Surface Pro 3, it doesn’t support Thunderbolt 3 for the fastest transfer speeds. This would also open up the Surface Book 3 to connecting to a wider array of Thunderbolt docking stations.

Lose the bulky hinge—and some weight

The Fulcrum hinge on the Surface Book and Surface Book 2 works well and feels sturdy, but it’s time that Microsoft ditches this design for the Surface Book 3 and make a more Yoga-like convertible.

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Let the Surface Pro lead the way with a detachable design.

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While Microsoft is at it, it should try to make the Surface Book 3 thinner and lighter than its predecessor. The 13.5-inch model, for example, weighs 3.6 pounds and is 0.9 inches thick, which is one of the heaviest 2-in-1s in its class.

4K screen

While both Surface Book 2 units boast some of the brightest and most colorful displays around, the resolution maxes out at 3000 x 2000 pixels for the 13.5-inch model and 3240 x 2160 pixel for the 15-inch model. A 4K option would be great for creative pros.

Slimmer bezels

To be fair, the narrow bezel trend wasn’t in full force when the Surface Book 2 debuted, but now everyone is on the bandwagon and Microsoft should join the party. The Surface Book 3 could easily fit a 14-inch display in a similar or even more compact chassis.

Author Bio
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief on
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12 comments
  • Mjauritar Says:

    Nooo, so wrong about going with yoga hinge. If you have used a surface book 2 and a laptop with 360 flip youll understand why. Instead they should improve the very essence of what makes the book awesome...

  • Frederik Lerche-Tornoe Says:

    I agree to most in your article but not on your comment on the Fulcrum hinge. I beleive this is the essence of the Surface Book and one of the top things that i personnally love about the machine. If i wanted a Yoga and Yoga hinge i would buy that. But I avoid all of these laptops because they do not have the super cool hinge that comes with the Surface book and the flexibility that follows. Please keep this statement as a personal one a not as if this is want surface fans like me would want. I believe your are not in line with surface book users on this one. :-)

  • Chuzz Bot Says:

    Keep it detachable why change that? Just give it a kickstand. Not having the kickstand is clumsy and wobbly, really rubbish for pen use. This guy should just buy a normal laptop, he sounds like a guy who bought a sports car but wants a minivan.

  • Gamedev Says:

    Creative professional here, also agreeing that the next version should have Thunderbolt 3 (4-lane) but otherwise it’s great as-is.

  • MikeDot Says:

    There needs to be a 32GB config. USB C WITH 4 lane thunderbolt. The pen should be included and it should charge wirelessly via a strong magnetic contact. It doesn't need to be slimmer If it means sacrificing battery life because we love the battery life. If you want lighter weight package, then buy the surface laptop, pro or the 13 inch version.

  • TD7010 Says:

    No, don't lose the hinge. This is a durable laptop and is designed for power users. Don't give us some flimsy hinge, just to save a few grams.

  • Guy_Galt Says:

    Dear Microsoft,
    Please ignore all of Mark Spoonauer's recommendations. If we wanted a lenovo x1 carbon extreme, we'd buy one. we don't.
    Regards,
    A real surface book 2 owner!

  • Willem Says:

    Silent running should be a priority. Ice lake and Turing can help with that. A configuration with 32gb ram and/or some extra cores would be lovely. Thunderbolt lightning obviously. But throw in a magnet connector. The 3.5mm input should be moved from top right to bottom right in laptop mode. The hinge is great. One extra benefit is that the keys never touch the screen when closed & no pressure on the glass in a stuffed bag. The pen should be part of the deal. Factory setting should be full hibernate, not sleep, definitely not the 'opposite of intelligent standby' that was proived by default on the surface book 2. And wake from full hibernation on opening the lid please. Is there any way to not need to shut down adobe when converting to tablet? There are still some bugs with decoupling when the screen is mounted in reverse.

  • Javier Osorio Says:

    The Fulcrum hinge is one of the successes of the surface book if you change it for conventional ones such as yoga would lose its essence and lower your sales.

  • Fidowithsomemorecharachtersbecauseihadto Says:

    I disagree with a lot in this article.
    I think the hinge of the surface book 2, not only looks awesome, but it's what makes the surface book stand out from other 2-in-1 laptops. I am writing this comment on a Lenovo Yoga laptop, and i can confirm that a design where the you can take the screen off works so much better than folding the laptop. The yoga hinge is very bulky and quite unusuable at times.
    Also i disagree with the 4k part. 3000x2000 is more than enough, the PPI of the 13.5inch verion is already huge. I think thinner bezels, (disagree with Angelo here, look at the ipad pro), better specs (obviously), USB-C and a better, bigger trackpad(like the Macbook pro).
    I honestly don't care that much about the weight or slimmnes of the device, it is quite fine as it is. I would much more prefer better specs over a couple hg of weight loss.

  • David Says:

    It needs to stay with a 3:2 aspect screen, but if they made it 3840x2560 then at least 4k videos could be played at 100% scaling so all detail was visible.

    The surface book already has an eGPU, the PC is in the screen/tablet portion with Intel GPU and the NVidia eGPU is in the base. So it's not obvious how they could daisy chain that out to an eeGPU.

    Smaller bezels would be great, with options to dynamically adjust the used screen area for people who like to hold it that way.

  • angelo joseph Says:

    I'm a "creative pro," and I could not disagree more on your hinge, bezel, and screen resolution points.

    Thin bezels are fine for laptops, but a tablet with any smaller of bezel is impossible to hold comfortably while maintaining accurately responsive.

    4k is a non-issue, and one of the most lauded features of the surface lineup is the 3:2 aspect ratio (same native ratio of 35mm film, and much closer to the ratio of art paper) over a 16:9 ratio. at 260/267 ppi, you're at a resolution that is about perfect for working at arm's reach. 4k is a buzzword, and means little in reality. PPI is what counts. the zenbook UHD (4k) barely has better resolution than the surface book 2 (280ppi vs 267ppi) and then you're stuck with a 16:9 screen.

    And the hinge is brilliant. being able to flip the screen around and set it to a comfortable drawing angle is something you could never do with the Lenovo hinge.

    real improvements over the obvious hardware upgrades would be:
    Lightning ports.
    Being able to use an eGPU would be fantastic.
    A larger, more responsive track pad.
    more levels of pressure recognition in the pen, less lag, different nibs.

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