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

Update Sept 16: A new report claims Microsoft won't release the Surface Book 3 at its October event. 

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.

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.

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.

In fact, Microsoft already sent invites for a special Surface Event set for Oct 2 where we'll likely see the Surface Pro 3. While it might seem like an obvious time to introduce the world to the Surface Book 3, The Verge says it's "unlikely" that Microsoft will unveil the Surface Book 3 at its October event. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.