When I was hunting for a MacBook alternative three years ago, I gravitated toward the Surface Book. Its unique, detachable design blurred the boundary between tablet and laptop, while providing enough power to code and game on a single device — it felt like the best of both worlds, and I kept coming back to it, despite trying a ton of different devices over that time.
This year, Microsoft is finally back with an update to that design with the Surface Book 3. At first glance, the Surface Book 3 looks largely the same as the previous versions, but there are improvements under the hood: better performance across the board and a series of tweaks that iterate on one of my favorite laptop designs.
If you’re not familiar with the Surface Book, it’s Microsoft’s top-end portable computer. Its design uses a keyboard that can be ejected from the display, allowing you to use the Surface Book as a giant tablet, or flip the screen around entirely when you’re sitting at a desk. Unlike the Surface Pro 7, which is a tablet with a soft keyboard attached — you might compare it to an iPad — the Surface Book has a real keyboard and trackpad (and good ones at that).
I’ve been test-driving a review unit provided by Microsoft: the 15-inch version of the Surface Book 3, with a quad-core i7 1065G7 processor, 32 GB of memory, 1 TB hard drive, and a beefy Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU.
After using the Surface Book 2 for the last three years, this new model feels like a breath of fresh air while remaining eerily familiar; Microsoft didn’t try to reinvent the wheel or change up the hardware too much — instead, it buffed out the rough edges from previous generations and threw in more raw power.
Microsoft took everything that wasn’t quite perfect about the previous version and fixed it.
The Surface Book 3 is a fast computer that’s capable of essentially any workload I can throw at it; I write PHP in PHPStorm and Docker, then switch gears and jump into a quick match of Overwatch without skipping a beat. With so much…