Microsoft’s new Surface Pro 7 and 15-inch Surface Laptop 3 are hitting stores this week, and the first reviews have hit the web. So what do the critics think? Largely, the Surface Pro 7 keeps its spot as the top 2-in-1 to get, but its design is getting a little long in the tooth, especially when compared to the forthcoming Surface Pro X. Meanwhile, the new AMD-powered Surface Laptop 3 seems to be a solid first attempt, but could use some work.
We’ve rounded up snippets from several reviews around the web to condense some of their most salient points. Here’s a quick rundown.
Surface Laptop 3 (15-inch)
Brett Howse, writing for Anandtech:
What AMD has given Microsoft, in turn, is a potent processor. AMD has a stout GPU in Vega, which works surprisingly well at 15-Watts. But the Zen+ CPU core doesn’t offer the same CPU performance of even the previous gen Core-U series from Intel, leaving the Surface Laptop 3 trailing a bit in CPU tests. Meanwhile, platform power is a mixed bag; Microsoft and AMD have made some incredible strides here in bringing down AMD’s platform power, but on the whole even the highly tuned 15-inch Surface Laptop 3 is hobbled a bit by a higher platform power draw that eats away at battery life. Even with Microsoft’s help, there’s only so much AMD can do with their current-generation silicon, especially without LPDDR4X support.
Dan Seifert, writing for The Verge:
The Laptop 3 has the same level of fit and finish as Microsoft’s other Surface devices and it fits right in a modern workspace or coffee shop. It is an excellent thin-and-light computer for doing productivity work on.
Still, if you were hoping that the 15-inch Laptop 3 would be more than just a bigger Surface Laptop, I’m sorry to report that you’ll be disappointed. Fortunately, there are plenty of other, more powerful 15-inch laptops available, such as Apple’s MacBook Pro, Dell’s XPS 15, or even Microsoft’s own Surface Book 2. I don’t know if Microsoft needed to make a 15-inch version of the Surface Laptop, but it did, and it mostly did a good job with it.
Phillip Tracy, writing for Laptop Mag:
I really like the Surface Laptop 3. I just don’t love it as much as I’d hoped I would. With an attractive, lightweight chassis and a gorgeous 15-inch display, the Surface Laptop 3 successfully bridges the gap between ultraportable laptops and those with large screens. Unfortunately, the laptop falls frustratingly short in other ways: Its performance and battery life are unimpressive, there are very few ports, and upgrading storage and RAM increases the price exponentially.
Tom Brant, writing for PCMag:
So it’s clear that the Surface Laptop 3 does what Microsoft wants it to do: serve as an excellent conventional laptop, and perhaps the pinnacle of the Windows desktop experience. There’s nothing flashy or cutting-edge about it, but there are still plenty of unique features you won’t find anywhere else. These range from the supremely comfortable touchpad to the custom AMD silicon to the document- and spreadsheet-friendly 3:2 screen. For times when you just need a regular laptop, the Surface Laptop 3 expertly obliges.
Mark Hachman, writing for PC World:
Even in a world with nothing in it but the new Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, the Ryzen-based consumer model we reviewed might not be the best choice. Admittedly, we haven’t reviewed the Surface Laptop 3 for Business. But for just $100 more, Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 3 for Business offers a similarly configured model as our test unit, with a Core i7-1065G7 inside it as well as improved wireless capabilities.
Surface Pro 7
Tom Warren, writing for The Verge:
The Surface Pro 7 is still best in class, and it’s undoubtedly the 2-in-1 to beat, but there’s more that Microsoft could do here. I do wonder if Microsoft has been waiting on Intel to get its act together on 10nm and beyond, and perhaps opted for the Surface Pro X design with Qualcomm instead. Either way, the usability of the Surface Pro 7 has certainly improved with quick resume and USB-C this year, but things like the clever Surface Slim Pen that slots into the Type Cover on the Surface Pro X just aren’t here. It’s all too familiar.
Cherlynn Low, writing for Engadget:
The Surface Pro 7 ultimately is fine… I guess. It doesn’t inspire any excitement. Yes, I was stoked for the introduction of USB-C, but I’m also disappointed it didn’t come sooner. The loss in battery life from the previous model is also a major con. It’s nice, though, that Microsoft is offering the Pro 7 at a cheaper starting price ($749) than before, albeit with lower-end specs to match.
Joe Osborne, writing for TechRadar:
All things considered, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is the company’s most powerful Surface tablet to date. However, that boost in power appears to come at a cost to battery life – at least for the time being.
If you’re willing to wait for those battery life improvements to come, and you don’t necessarily need all day staying power, then by all means jump in on the most technologically advanced Surface ever. But, know that those technological gains aren’t exactly massive, and come at the expense of other aspects of performance, specifically battery.
Frederic Lardinois, writing for TechCrunch:
If you’re in the market for a Surface Pro, this is obviously the one to get. If you own a Pro 5 or 6 and you’re still happy with their performance, then there’s no real reason to upgrade. Depending on your use case, the Surface Pro X may be the one to get anyway, but that’s still two weeks out and we’ll have to say how well it performs in the real world and if it’s worth the higher starting price of $999. Come back in two weeks and we’ll let you know.
For more on each Surface, it’s definitely worth checking out each review in full. Also be sure to check out our reviews for the Surface Pro 7 and Surface Laptop 3. Also chime in and let us know if you’re picking up either device, or are waiting for the Surface Pro X to hit store shelves in the coming weeks.
Better and faster than ever
Type-C and 10th Gen Intel are game-changers
Microsoft has finally added a loaded-out USB Type-C port to the Surface Pro 7. When combined with Intel’s latest 10th Gen processor and GPU, this year’s Core i5 blows away last year’s Core i7 all without a fan. Minor tweaks to the RAM, going to Intel for Wi-Fi 6, and Instant On ability make this Surface Pro 7 an absolute joy to use.
It looks beautiful, but…
It’s a huge Ultrabook, but that’s it
The Surface Laptop 2 was one of Microsoft’s most fabulous creations, but in making a larger 15-inch version, the company missed the mark. The AMD Ryzen and Vega are merely OK and don’t offer much over Intel. The lack of Wi-Fi 6, extra ports, Thunderbolt 3, slightly worse speakers, and occasional battery drains make it even harder to recommend. There’s a lot of style but not a lot of substance.
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