Surface Book 3 15-inch review: Beautiful, yet limited

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The Surface Book 3 is a curious beast. Just like its predecessors, it’s a premium notebook with a unique feature: Hit a button, and the screen pops out to serve as an enormous tablet. Plug the screen on backwards, and you can use the keyboard as a kickstand. The Surface Book 3’s removable screen and hinge still stands out in the laptop world — many PC makers took a stab at making their own Surface-like tablet PCs, but none dared to mimic the Book’s approach. Now, I’m beginning to see why.

Gallery: Surface Book 3 | 24 Photos

The Surface Book was originally designed to be the “ultimate laptop” for creators, something Microsoft nearly achieved with the Surface Book 2. But that was three years ago. These days, competitors like the MacBook Pro 16-inch and Dell’s revamped XPS 15 are cramming in a ton of power into slim cases. And notably, they’re using much faster hardware than Microsoft. Despite a few upgrades, the Surface Book 3’s unique design severely limits its potential.

Engadget Score

Poor

Uninspiring

Good

Excellent

Key

Pros
  • Materials feels high quality
  • Excellent screen
  • Better GPU than Surface Book 2
Cons
  • Hardware isn’t as fast as the competition
  • Heavy
  • Detachable screen isn’t very useful

Summary

The Surface Book 3 offers a few hardware upgrades, but its unique design is clearly holding it back against more powerful competitors. It’s still a compelling option for creatives, but be aware there are far faster machines for the same price.

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