We tested and compared the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 vs Surface Book 3 in terms of Performance, Display Quality, Price, Battery life, Portability & more.
Above you can see the ranking with the test results and below you will find the in-depth reports of the two Microsoft Surface Laptops.
Ranking First: Microsoft Surface Pro 7
- Best performance (speed; gaming; heavy workload)
- Surface Pen included
- Very lightweight & Great webcam for business meetings
- More expensive than Surface Book 3
It is the latest 2-in-1 convertible with x86 CPU from Microsoft: The Surface Pro 7. We are testing whether the new edition ties in with the performance of its predecessors.
Our Surface Pro 7 comes with a latest generation i7. The hardware community has been waiting a long time for the 10 nanometer production process used here.
In its mobile form it promises for the first time a drastically increased effectiveness. So power should be available again, but our test will clarify that. First of all, let’s take a look at the other technical data:
You can already tell from the packaging: Microsoft is once again attacking the competition from Cupertino with the Surface Pro 7. Everything is kept in minimalist white and the box is solidly manufactured. You can also expect a touch of premium at the price of about $1250 for our test device. The box contains the Surface Pro 7, the manual and the charger.
Microsoft also sent us the attachable magnetic keyboard Surface Pro Type Cover. This is what turns the Surface Pro 7 into a full-fledged laptop. The package is completed by the Surface Pen and the stylish Arc Mouse. All in all you will get a price of over $1300.
The in our case red Surface Pro Type Cover is fixed with a magnet like the previous one. All you have to do is hold it to the left edge of the Surface Pro 7.
The magnets then contract very satisfactorily. Once attached, the keyboard sits bombproof and also serves as a screen protector. If red is not your thing, the model is also available in classic black.
The area around the buttons and trackpad is roughened and gives a feeling of Alcantara. Although it is only a few millimeters high, the keyboard of the Surface Pro 7 has a key illumination. The keys have a pleasant pressure point and very short stroke. Even when opened and closed, nothing wobbles and remains very quiet even during heavy typing.
The trackpad leaves a pleasant impression from the first touch. It works accurately and has a soft surface with a beautiful feel.
Unfortunately, the Surface Pro 7 has again a wider display edge compared to its ARM brother Surface Pro X. Overall, it appears more angular than many of its competitors, but lies very well in the hand due to its rounded edges.
Microsoft again relies on a magnesium unibody for the case. Fingerprints are no problem due to the slightly roughened and yet very soft surface. Only the Windows logo is susceptible to this because of its glossy finish as the only part of the back.
Weighing only 1.74 lbs, the Surface Pro 7 is the perfect daily companion. I never found the weight disturbing when carrying it around for the test. It is perfectly balanced and the volume and display buttons have a good pressure point.
The hinge of the stand on the back also leaves a very good impression. It closes flush and does not wobble in the slightest. It keeps the Surface Pro 7 in a stable position at all angles of inclination.
The processing can be seen in general: There are no excessive gap dimensions at all. Everything is processed to a high standard of quality, manufactured to fit perfectly and thus more than does justice to its price.
As far as connections are concerned, Microsoft didn’t seem to be too ambitious at first glance: USB, 3.5mm jack and – finally – USB-C. On one side there is also the connection for the Surface Type Cover.
It also comes with an SD card reader, so you can quickly feed the Surface Pro 7 with your photos. It’s nice to get along without those annoying adapters. Plug in a USB hub and the Surface Pro 7 becomes (almost) a complete workstation.
All the more incomprehensible that Microsoft does without support for Thunderbolt 3 in the USB-C port. So there is no possibility to connect an external GPU to the Surface Pro 7 for the time being.
If you still need more display space, the USB-C port is sufficient for external monitors. Most of the time you will use the integrated display anyway. We will take a closer look at this in the next step.
The display becomes very bright for a convertible: An average of 388 nits is enough for summery trips to the park. But you should sit in the shade, because the display surface is reflecting – as usual with tablets. The illumination is also satisfactory.
Unfortunately, the difference between the lightest and the darkest spot is a little more than 10%. In everyday life, however, you should in most cases not notice any of this.
With 2736×1824 pixels, you can look forward to a razor-sharp display of all content. The rather unusual aspect ratio of 3:2 I find very pleasant after a short acclimatization. One quickly wonders why more manufacturers do not rely on it. Because even multitasking is possible on the 12.3 inch display without any problems.
After calibration, only a few differences in color are visible. So you can look forward to a well pre-set display. As an IPS screen, it offers an above-average contrast of 1230:1 in addition to very wide viewing angles – making it suitable for nightly Netflix sessions. Whereby black in completely dark rooms will appear rather greyish to you due to the construction. However, this is the same for most competitors without OLED screens.
The color space coverage is 96% sRGB and 75% AdobeRGB, making it suitable for most types of image editing. Especially for the sRGB color space there are slightly better models. Nevertheless, nothing should stand in the way of quick editing on the road.
A fast NVMe-SSD is used as data storage in our test device. Here numbers say more than a thousand words:
The built-in model shows its strengths especially with large files. Subjectively, however, loading times are largely a thing of the past, even for smaller files. Some full-fledged laptops are indeed a little more performant, but for a 2-in-1 device, the Surface Pro 7 is an absolute top performer.
The heart of the device is the new 10th generation i7. Normally, this clock is only clocked at a little over one gigahertz. For this you get a boost clock of 3.5 GHz on all cores simultaneously and 3.9 GHz on one.
The main memory is also extremely fast: 16GB LPDDR4x RAM provide a very fast memory connection with 3733Mhz clock speed.
In our Photoshop benchmark, the chipset shows its strengths and can also compete with “full-fledged” laptops. This makes the processor by far the fastest 15W chip. The efficiency gain of the new generation is really impressive with over 11% more power. And that with a lower cycle time and the same consumption.
The integrated graphics solution has also made a real generation leap compared to its predecessor. This has not always been the case at Intel in recent years.
The Iris Plus ranks between an Nvidia MX 250 and a Vega 10 in terms of performance. So nothing stands in the way of occasional gaming in 1080p and low settings. But hardcore gamers should look elsewhere.
The active cooling works on a very high level and keeps the i7 well in check. In everyday use, the four cores and eight threads work at 1.1 Ghz and an average of 38 degrees. Even with hardware-intensive tasks, the Surface 7 Pro’s exterior is hardly more than hand-warm.
The fan only makes itself felt in our stress test and is clearly audible from a seat distance of about 80cm. But he never gets unpleasantly loud. With 86 degrees it keeps the CPU in an excellent range even under full load. This means we are very far from the maximum permitted temperature of 100 degrees.
This will be particularly beneficial to the longevity of the chip. Let’s now look at how the new production technology affects the battery.
Intel officially states the battery life with 10.5 hours. Here I was rather sceptical at first, because the battery even shrunk minimally compared to the predecessor Surface Pro 6.
For our battery test I calibrate the display of the Surface to about 200 nits and work with several tabs. This corresponds to about 75% of the maximum brightness. YouTube videos in 4k and working with Photoshop are among the more challenging tasks the Surface Pro 7 has to cope with.
In the end, Microsoft’s new 2-in1 device has a battery life of about 340 minutes. Due to the highly reflective display this is at least outdoors the absolute minimum you should use the Surface Pro 7 with.
The new Surface thus takes a small step backwards, at least in this area of application. However, if you turn the display down and operate the Surface at about 55% display brightness, you can easily reach ten hours.
At least for office work, Microsoft has promised only minimally too much. Nevertheless, it is a pity that they are treading water a little bit here.
One should not expect miracles from the two cameras. On the front you have 5 megapixels at your disposal, which are sufficient for occasional selfies. On the back, however, Microsoft built an 8 megapixel camera with autofocus.
This can also be used to create snapshots. But in everyday life, most of the mobile phone cameras are superior to those of the Surface Pro 7. Much more important is a 1080p video function for meetings via Skype or Messenger. Both cameras are well suited for this purpose.
Sound is often just as important in meetings. The Surface Pro 7 masters the recording with flying colours: Two high-quality far-field studio microphones ensure excellent voice quality for your counterpart.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about playback: Bass is hardly present. No wonder, with such a small resonating body. After all, mids and highs are relatively easy to separate from the hearing and do not run into each other.
In addition, stereo loudspeakers are installed and thus provide a somewhat wider sound image. If you want to enjoy music or blockbusters with the Surface, then you should use external speakers.
With a 3.5mm jack, USB, USB-C and Bluetooth, you can hook up pretty much anything the market has to offer. For the occasional Netflix series, however, the built-in speakers of the Surface Pro 7 are sufficient.
Software & Surface Pen
Microsoft has been very cautious about bloatware. Candy Crush is also available on the Surface Pro, but only in one version. For this purpose Farm Heroes Saga is still included.
Otherwise the device only comes with Spotify as a third-party app and Microsoft’s own Xbox Game Companion. Compared to some other manufacturers, however, this is almost sparse. I’m glad this still exists.
With the Surface Pen, Microsoft has once again given us the creative tool par excellence. Tap the button at the top to open the Microsoft Whiteboard. With its easy-to-use interface it invites you to creative work. The pen glides smoothly across the screen, gives good feedback and has hardly any delay in transmission.
As you can see from the pictures, I do not count myself among the greatest artists. Nevertheless, you can already guess how powerful and versatile the Surface Pen is.
With its speed and outstanding design, Microsoft is once again delivering a top-of-the-line device with the Surface Pro 7. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel in comparison to its direct predecessor, but it can surpass it in all respects – except battery life. Due to the more effective new chipset you get more power, which should be sufficient for some time.
No other device then also conveys this direct “want to have” feeling. The processing is excellent. Everything is integrated, highly portable and works as it should. Once you have worked with it, it is difficult to go back to a “normal” laptop.
Even 13-inch devices look clumsy in comparison. I also liked the 3:2 display very much. Although smaller than most other portable Ultrabooks, it feels like it offers more workspace.
Owners of the Surface Pro 6 do not necessarily have to change and are welcome to wait for the next generation. If the last ounce of performance isn’t decisive, energy savers can also fall back on the Intel® Core™ i5-1035G7.
Here you get about 7% less power at the peak, but you also save almost 20%. With this one you will also be on the road for the next years without any problems, which is why the Surface Pro 7 is ranking in front versus Microsoft Surface Book 3.
Ranking Second: Microsoft Surface Book 3
- Fast work speed
- Better price than Surface Pro 7
- Not upgradable
The Microsoft Surface Book 3 is a noble convertible with lots of speed and a great display. The all-round carefree package in top quality has a high price, however. The test shows what the laptop can do.
The bad news first: All notebooks from the Surface Book 3 series are expensive – especially those with the larger 15-inch display. Here even the smallest model is worth $1000.
Expensive, but also really good: that’s what puts the Surface Book 3 15 inch at the top of the list. All the strengths and weaknesses of the top laptop are revealed in the “techtestreport” review.
The most important difference between the two Surface Book 3 is the screen size: 13.5″ and 15″ are available. Both with very high resolution in the somewhat rarer 3:2 format. On the 13.5-inch model, the display shows 3000×2000 pixels, on the 15-inch model it is 3240×2160 pixels.
The slightly higher screen format provides black extra bars at the top and bottom when watching videos, but is a real advantage when working, as more space can be used for texts and tables. It also fits perfectly for photo editing, as it has the same page format as many high-quality cameras.
Also top for image editing: The 15-inch display is very high-contrast and reproduces colours very accurately. The display can also be removed and used as a tablet.
Those who like to use fine tools such as the brush from Adobe Photoshop CC can also use the Surface Pen ($75), the built-in touch screen can be operated not only with the touch of a finger, but (even more precisely) also with a pen.
In comparison to its predecessor Surface Book 2, Microsoft has made a considerable improvement in computing power: In the larger 15 inch model, the Redmonders always install a Core i7.
The Core i7-1065G7 comes from the current Ice Lake series (called 10th generation at Intel) and has plenty of power – office programs almost bore it.
In comparison to smaller processors, such as a Core i5, the extra power is noticeable when using power-hungry software for video or photo editing like Photoshop. And so the Surface Book 3 easily achieves a good score in both tempo disciplines.
Also new is the graphics chip. The 15 inch model comes with a Geforce GTX 1660 Ti. It convinced in the test with high speed: With reduced resolution (1366×768 pixels) it calculated a proud 119 frames per second. With the very high display resolution (3240×2160 pixels) there were after all 37 frames per second.
With reduced resolution, even the graphically more complex DirectX 12 games run smoothly on the 15er with up to 57 frames per second. Surface owners don’t necessarily need a gaming laptop for gambling.
Only those who want to gamble with the full resolution (3240×2160 pixels) or even in 4K (3840×2160 pixels) need a notebook with an even stronger graphic chip (like GTX 2080). But they are usually much heavier and clunkier – this is more for professional gamblers.
Top: Despite powerful chips the Surface Book 3 15 inch is really quiet. In normal operation (0.1 sone), the user must already put the ear on the running notebook in order to hear the fans.
Even better: Even when the processors run under full load, the fan noise remains low: The larger 15-inch model is only 0.1 sone louder than the smaller 13.5-inch model with 0.9 sone despite stronger graphics (and correspondingly higher waste heat due to the higher power consumption).
Using an Ice Lake processor to build a notebook that offers long battery life? Not great art, but almost standard. With a very fast graphics chip and a high-resolution display, things look quite different. Fortunately, Microsoft puts two batteries in the Surface Book 3, one behind the display and one under the keyboard.
Together, they provide over seven hours of battery life: seven hours and 40 minutes when watching videos and a good seven hours when working. The user only notices that the battery is even larger than the 13.5’s when charging. Here, the 15-inch model takes ten minutes longer (two hours and 43 minutes).
One thing has not changed in the new edition of the Surface Book. The third edition also comes in a solid aluminium case. This is noticeable in the weight: The 15 inch model is quite a chunk with 4.25 lbs, only as a tablet it is (for the screen size) quite light (1.78 lbs).
And unfortunately only real repair professionals can open a Surface Book 3 without damage. The equipment has to fit right from the start, because a subsequent upgrade of the storage tank is not possible.
Keyboard & Touchpad / Surface Pen
In addition to the touchscreen and stylus, the Surface Book 3 also has a keyboard and touchpad. They are in the bottom, including a second battery, and scored points in the test with precise operation (touchpad) and a pleasant typing feel (keyboard).
The only real point of criticism: In daylight the keyboard illumination can be disturbing (too bright). However, the user can then switch it off at the touch of a button.
Somewhat unusual for a 15-inch model: Microsoft uses the same keyboard as the 13.5-inch model and does without an extra number pad, although there would be enough space for it. Instead, the main keyboard remains in the middle – an advantage when writing longer texts.
Unfortunately, typical for chic noble notebooks: The Surface Book 3 is a bit stingy with connections, no matter if 13.5 inch or 15 inch. Three USB ports, one of them in modern type C format, and a connection for a headset or headphones must be enough. Or the user connects a docking station.
Microsoft also has something suitable in its program: the Surface Dock 2 for $200 (network, loudspeakers, 6xUSB), which is connected via a special socket on the right side.
However, the USB C socket with display port is sufficient for connecting a single external monitor.
A Surface Book 3 is always an expensive notebook, especially the larger 15 inch model. Even the tested, smallest version (test score 2.0) with a Core i7, 16 GB, 256 GB SSD costs $1000.
But there’s also an all-round carefree package in top quality: whether it’s speed at work (high) or gambling (nice and smooth), display (super sharp and true to colour), stamina or keyboard – the Microsoft top models always score points. Only the SSD is very small for the hefty price, which is why the Microsoft Surface Book 3 is ranking behind vs Surface Pro 7.