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Review: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

  • February 19, 2020

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 3 is the latest member of a steadily-increasing hardware line from the tech colossus, and aims to do for the conventional laptop landscape what the Surface Pro series has done for the tablet or 2-in-1 market. While the Surface Laptop 3 looks largely identical to its second-gen predecessor – and it’s a luxurious, high-end look – the inclusion of Intel’s 10th Generation processors provides peak performance when needed, while idling during less-demanding tasks to preserve battery life.

The Surface Laptop 3 supports fast charging so you can get to around 80% battery life with 40 minutes hooked up to a handy AC socket: perfect for a quick top-up between meetings or during a short stopover. One welcome addition to the Surface Laptop 3 is a USB-C port, alongside the still-popular USB-A socket, so you can hit the road with fewer connection dongles to weight you down. And while the Surface Laptop 3 still includes Microsoft’s proprietary Surface charger, you can also charge it via USB-C – although only the special Surface port lets you do fast-charging. Editing large Photoshop files or doing extensive online and cloud-based work with Google’s memory-leaking Chrome browser meant vastly decreased battery life. A single hour using Chrome saw the Surface Laptop 3’s battery drop by 20%, although that’s not uncommon with any modern laptop. However, for typical business tasks, you should comfortably make it through the day on a single charge. When testing the laptop with my standard set of tools – Microsoft’s Office suite, the battery-friendly Edge Web browser and Spotify – I was seeing around 10 hours of battery life, give or take an hour.

The front-facing camera uses Windows Hello to unlock the device by scanning your face, and it’s lightning fast: the laptop is ready to use in the time it takes to open the lid. Microsoft has worked hard to make the Surface brand synonymous with great design, beginning with some bold choices such as the Alcantara finish of the original Surface. The keyboard is quiet and comfortable to type on, with a decent amount of travel for each key press and a good deal of spacing between keys to limit accidental keystrokes.

A durable material with a suede-like feel, Alcantara is most commonly found on the dashboards of luxury cars. It was a decision which concerned some prospective buyers over how well (or not) the material would age. But if you’d prefer your notebook in a more traditional finish, the Surface Laptop 3 is available with three aluminium cases (platinum, sleek matte black and a subtle ‘sandstone’ gold) alongside the platinum and ‘cobalt blue’ Alcantara. The matte black model is a standout choice and thankfully doesn’t hold onto fingerprints.

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