Microsoft Surface Book 3 gets a Quadro pro graphics boost

Among the handful of configuration updates, there will now be an Nvidia Quadro RTX option to appeal to graphics pros.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
2 min read

It's been about 2.5 years since the Surface Book 2, Microsoft's laptop that tries to be all things to all people; it's a clamshell, a convertible and a detachable, where most laptops settle for two out of three. Even after all that time, the Surface Book 3 gets a mostly run-of-the-mill refresh, launched along with a brushed-up version of Microsoft's tiniest tablet, the Surface Go 2: 10th-gen Intel processors with the accompanying memory improvements, current-generation Nvidia GTX graphics, upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 and a bump to 10Gbps USB-C from 5Gbps

But the 15-inch model does get a new configuration option with an Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 graphics processor. a professional GPU that's roughly equivalent to the GeForce RTX 2070. Quadro graphics enable professionals to take advantage of some acceleration capabilities in high-end video and 3D-intensive software that aren't enabled for GeForce consumer-level GPUs. 

It's the first Microsoft system to enter that fray -- not even its supposedly high-end Microsoft Surface Studio 2 desktop offers that level of graphics -- and pits it against the 16-inch MacBook Pro models (the Radeon Pro graphics in Macs are workstation-class GPUs). 

Chances are Microsoft's trying to appeal to the smattering of pro users who want the flexibility of its breakaway tablet design (the discrete GPU is in the keyboard base), much like those whom HP's ZBook x2 and, to a lesser extent, the Wacom MobileStudio Pro target.

For the rest of Surface Book devotees, the updated graphics in both the integrated GPU and the GTX 1650/1660 Ti should provide a noticeable improvement over the previous generation, in part because the Iris Pro graphics (G7) in the Ice Lake chips are notably better than the earlier generation, and the discrete GPUs have more memory than earlier models. And Microsoft seems to have incorporated them without sacrificing battery life.

The Surface Book 3 will be available later this month starting at $1,599. That's for the 13-inch model base configuration. Given the current pricing, a maxed-out Quadro-equipped model will likely run to more than $3,330.

Surface Book 3 specifications

Surface Book 3 (13.5 inch)Surface Book 3 (15-inch)
Price (USD) starts at $1,599n/a
CPU Intel Core i5-1035G7, i7-1065G7Intel Core i7-1065G7
Graphics Intel Iris Plus, 4GB GDDR6 GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q (i7)6GB GDDR6 GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Max-Q (i7), 6GB GDDR6 Quadro RTX 3000 Max-Q
RAM 8GB, 16GB or 32GB 3,733MHz LPDDR4x16GB or 32GB 3,733MHz LPDDR4x
Display 3,000x2,000 PixelSense3,240x21,60 PixelSense
Storage 256GB, 512GB or 1TB PCIe SSD, SD card reader256GB, 512GB or 1TB PCIe SSD (2TB option in US), SD card reader
Connectivity Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.0Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.0, Xbox
Connectors 1 x USB-A, 1 x USB-C, headphone, 2 x Surface Connect1 x USB-A, 1 x USB-C, headphone, 2 x Surface Connect
Battery life stated (hours:min) Up to 15.5 hoursUp to 17.5 hours
Weight 3.4-3.6 lbs/1.5-1.6kg4.2 lbs/1.9kg
Dimensions 12.3x9.1x0.9 in/312x232x23 mm13.5x10x0.9 in/343x251x23 mm

Microsoft Surface Book 2 (15-inch)

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