Surface Laptop 3 | Review of the 15-inch model

Surface Laptop 3 | Review of the 15-inch model
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, in its 15-inch variant, caught our attention since its presentation in autumn 2019. Abandoning Alcantara in favor of a more traditional design, configurations based on AMD Ryzen (for individuals) or processors 10th generation Intel (for business) and a 15-inch screen with 3: 2 aspect ratio were the factors that most intrigued us in this laptop. Having finally had the opportunity to test the version equipped with Intel i7 for a few weeks, we can finally formulate an evaluation on what, at least apparently, seemed to be a really interesting product.

Design

Undoubtedly the design of the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 is the element that convinced us the most. Aluminum shells, impeccable construction, solid materials and hinges that offer the right resistance, without presenting annoying creaks, are just the first elements that catch your eye once you open the laptop box. Once you pick up the laptop, you are immediately amazed by its lightness and its ridiculous thickness. 1.5kg by 1.4cm thick are not measures that can commonly be found on laptops that accommodate 15 inches of screen but the optimization of space advertised by Microsoft surprises from the very first moments in the company of the computer.

By turning the laptop in your hands, however, you begin to understand the solutions designed to achieve such a result. First of all, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 has only three ports available on the left side (a USB Type A, a Type C and a 3.5mm jack), while on the right side we find the magnetic housing for the proprietary power supply of the Surface series. Regarding the latter, we can immediately say that the solution chosen by Microsoft seemed to us very intelligent, as the laptop can be recharged both through the MagSafe-style port, thus using the proprietary power supply that allows total recharging in a couple of hours, which through the USB Type C port, using a power supply that delivers the right power. A small trick that could make a difference while traveling when, perhaps, you need to optimize space by opting for a single power supply to recharge the different devices.

Returning for a moment to the ports available to the Surface Laptop 3 , it is immediately understood that the optimization of spaces is also given by a limited and non-invasive hardware in terms of space. While on the one hand it gains considerably in lightness, on the other hand there is the lack of an integrated SD card reader and, perhaps, of an additional USB Type C port or, at least, compatible with Thunderbolt 3 technology. however, there is no doubt that enough doors are available to satisfy the most common functions of the user but in relation to the list price, some more expedient on this side would certainly have been pleasing.

The panel can be opened using only one hand, a factor that combined with the minimal design of the Surface Laptop 3 immediately brought to mind Apple's Macbooks. A feeling of deja vu that became more present once the laptop was open in front of us. Sober and elegant with a management of the internal spaces that is appreciated more and more with daily use. The trackpad, in fact, seems too small compared to the side surfaces suitable to accommodate the wrists but, once you find yourself writing to us every day, you realize how well everything is spaced correctly to ensure a comfortable posture and that allows the hands to easily reach each key without making excessive movements with the wrists.

Keyboard, Trackpad and Speaker Omnisonic

The keyboard is undoubtedly one of the elements that we liked the most and, as far as we are concerned, knowledge of the subjectivity of the subject, we can only praise the silence, the not excessively high key travel, a well-balanced spacing and resistance to pressure. All elements that make writing operations, in the company of the Surface laptop 3, always pleasant and never tiring for the hands. Finally, the automation of the backlighting of the keys is very effective, which has always proved to be precise, reactive and able to decide the right level of brightness based on the current lighting of the environment. The trackpad is also excellent which, while not having the generous dimensions proposed by some competitors, is well positioned inside the body, allowing it to be reached easily in all conditions. We appreciated the high sensitivity of the trackpad, excellent for those who often use the various gestures to speed up the execution of operations, but we did not appreciate the, almost, excessive stroke of the click that immediately brought to mind the clumsiness of the trackpads of the past. . A very subjective detail, however, which varies from user to user but it seemed useful to point it out to you.

The audio sector, equipped with the Omnisonic speakers sponsored by Microsoft, is located, as usual, under the keyboard. A solution that avoids unsightly grids, cracks or holes and still manages to send the sound signal directly to the user. In terms of volume, and natural equalization of the speakers, it all seemed very balanced and with a more than satisfactory output volume. We are not faced with the high output volume present in some high-end laptops but undoubtedly the Surface Laptop 3 is able to satisfy those users looking for a generous volume and a sound performance able to never show the side towards an excessive presence of low or medium frequencies. The Omnisonic speakers performed very well with the more mainstream genres and with classical music, while they required an equalization retouching to better enjoy the more predominant low-medium frequency genres. Nothing to say about the audio in the videos, always clean, crystal clear and well balanced.

Screen

The greatest strength of the Surface Laptop 3 is undoubtedly its large screen 15-inch with 3: 2 aspect ratio. An IPS panel manufactured by Sharp, pre-calibrated by Microsoft, with a resolution of 2469X1664 pixels and a density of 20ppi. A display with undoubtedly generous dimensions and which has faithful color reproduction and a contrast ratio that allows excellent reading of the screen even when exposed to strong sources of light. The screen is touch, as per tradition for the Surface line, and is compatible with the various Surface Pen models even if the impossibility of removing the display, or at least tilting it until it is aligned with the supporting surfaces, makes this feature a simple exercise in style useful only for affixing some digital signature quickly and easily. Finally, the HDR support is excellent, even if the automatic management proposed by Windows 10 has not always proved to be precise in activation.

In daily use, the display of the microsoft Surface Laptop 3 has given us very positive impressions . Readable in any context, well defined and with a natural and never excessively saturated color rendering. A screen that seems devoted to those who work in the graphics sector but which, unfortunately, is not flanked by a machine capable of allowing excessively complex operations on that front. The screen frames, on the other hand, we found them excessively bulky and, although we understand that an aspect ratio of 3: 2 may require them, they are the only element that clashes in a product with such a minimal and refined design. Finally, the impressions returned to us by the sensors and the camera placed in the upper frame are discordant. The 720p camera used by Microsoft accomplishes the canonical "homework" by offering nothing more than a tool to ensure video calls with the right image definition. The brightness sensor seemed particularly "confusing" when our laptop was exposed to natural light, continuing to adjust the brightness of the screen without ever stabilizing at a certain value. In the same way, we found the management of "night" lighting (designed to yellow the shades of the screen so as not to strain the eyes) that, although correctly programmed in the Windows 10 settings, tended to turn on and off freely. Finally, functional and practical, the recognition of the face that at the same moment we opened the laptop recognized our face, even when not perfectly centered with the camera, instantly unlocking the laptop.

Performance

Before addressing the delicate issue of the performance of the Surface Laptop 3, it is right to specify that the unit in our possession was equipped with this configuration:

10th generation Intel Core i7 processor, 4 cores at 1.1 / 3.9 GHz Intel iris Plus Graphics G7 16 GB of RAM DDR4-2400 Welded to the 256 GB Toshiba SSD machine A laptop, therefore, able to guarantee more than satisfactory performance to perform the classic daily routines but far from being able to define a machine designed for gaming, video editing or high-level photo retouching. Although it is possible to perpetrate even complex operations with Photoshop, or engage in video editing with 4K footage, you are constantly confronted with very dilated response times and rendering with a gargantuan duration. For gaming, however, there is nothing to do, apart from some older titles that can be enjoyed at 1080p and 30fps, almost all of today's productions are not supported in an enjoyable way by the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3.

Even if the technical data sheet suggests slightly more performing performance, Microsoft wanted to optimize its laptop by focusing on two very specific elements: autonomy and TDP (Thermal Design Power) management by creating a laptop that, in addition to show an energy consumption that adapts according to the use of the owner, never reaches excessively high temperatures presenting itself, in use every day, with a constantly cold chassis and constantly managing the use of CPU frequencies to achieve this result . In terms of autonomy we find a 45Wh battery which, while not seeming enough for a laptop of this size, guarantees really interesting timing. The Surface Laptop 3, in fact, almost always abandoned us after 8 hours of mixed use, where we alternated work with the suite of excel, streaming video and web browsing with several tabs opened consecutively. A more than good result that, however, was drastically reduced when we tried our hand at editing in 4K, photo-retouching or gaming experiments. In these specific cases, in about two hours, the Surface Laptop 3 was already clamoring for us to be charged. Ultimately we are faced with a computer capable of offering excellent autonomy if it is subject to the type of uses for which it was conceived and the various functions introduced to better manage consumption during the day.

Surface Laptop 3… how much does it cost me?

The Surface Laptop 3 is definitely not a budget laptop. With a list price starting from € 1699.00 (on offer at € 1399.00 these days) and reaching the dizzying heights of € 2949.00, Microsoft's 15-inch fully enters that niche of products where, normally , the various models of Macbook Pro and laptops dedicated to specific uses are positioned. A niche that Microsoft seems happy to occupy, offering a product that strongly recalls the philosophy of Apple both in terms of construction and in terms of performance. However, an important factor must be taken into consideration: Apple has always had the strength of the OS closely linked to proprietary hardware, an element that is missing from Windows 10 and, above all, to the Surface Laptop 3. However, there is no doubt that we are in front of a laptop built in a painstaking, reliable way, balanced in all its features and addressed to a type of user looking for a machine that accompanies them throughout the day, allowing them to complete the different daily routines in total tranquility.



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